First Impressions – Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu Love!

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Whether it’s a good or bad thing is in the eye of the beholder, but that premiere was certainly truth in advertising.

Of the two madcap fantasy shows that premiered today, Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu Love! (hereafter referred to simply as “Binan”) was by far the better in my opinion.  I’ll get into my issues with Yuri Kuma Arashi in that post, but my feeling going in was that the success or failure of Binan was likely going to come down to one basic question – would it be willing ti sell-out completely and go all the way with the joke?  And so far, I think the answer is yes.

I only had one sleeper pick this season (Sodatekata was a sheer filler pick – I’ve never had less confidence in a so-called sleeper candidate) and Binan was it.  I think you have to start with the idea that mahou shoujo is a genre that’s absolutely crying out to be parodied, and the notion that a full-bore mahou shounen send-up is the perfect way to do it.  Then add a director in Takamatsu Shinji who’s shown a deft touch in high-school comedies from the male perspective and a pretty solid writer in Yokote Michiko, and you had to figure this series had a chance to be pretty good.  And happily, it seems to be.

The only way Binan was going to work is if it was completely madcap, and the fact that the designated alien granter-of-powers is a pink wombat played by Mugihito was a good sign that it would be.  Here’s the thing: what takes place in this series is really no more ridiculous than what takes place in 90% of the mahou shoujo series out there.  The only difference is that the magical children are boys, and because of our conditioning that makes Binan feel an order of magnitude more silly.  It actually isn’t, and I think this show works best if one understands that this is the wellspring from which Yokote and Takamatsu are drawing most of the humor.  But even if one chooses not to focus on the satirical side of the series, I think it works well enough on the superficial level to be solidly entertaining.

Plot-wise this is very much a twist on the arch-typical mahou shoujo premise, with the aforementioned wombat being the cause of the transformation of five high-school boys into mahou shounen.  His aim?  To save the planet with love – and the boys of the “Binan High School Earth Defense Club (lol)” are the vehicle through which he chooses to do it.  The central figure appears to be bathhouse scion Hakone Yumoto (Yamamoto Kazutomi) who embraces the magical boy ethos with the same abandon that he embraces the reluctant wombat.  Along for the ride are club members Yufuin En (Umehara Yuuichirou), Kingawa Atsushi (Nishiyama Koutarou), Naruko Io (Shirai Yuusuke) and Zao Ryuu (Masuda Toshiki).

There are lots of clever japes in the premiere, starting with the fact that each of the boys is named for a well-known onsen town in Japan.  Then there’s that in their first fight – with an anthropomorphised Chikuwa (a strange tubular food product used in Oden) – the boys randomly throw out meaningless attack names, much to Wombat’s irritation.  I also enjoyed the fact that the chikuwa itself was actually a boy who was kind of a human chikuwa – an indeterminate “third type” who leads an indistinct existence, barely noticed.  And the mahou shounen here get a full-on transformation sequence, complete with nudity – which may sound like a small point, but is actually rather important if a show wants to be fully committed to the premise.

I’m sure this series isn’t going to be for everybody, but I quite like it.  I think those who really dislike mahou shoujo and those who really love it (if they have a sense of humor) are the best potential audience, but those who’re indifferent towards it may not quite get the point.  A lot of the premiere is taken up with the boys jumping around acting silly (especially Hakone), but it’s done with enough abandon and a sufficient lack of self-importance that it works.  I also find it quite amusing that in order to save the Earth with love, Wombat appears to have zombified a teacher to act as his avatar.  It’s very silly – but the sort of silly that gets taken way too seriously if you tweak it just a bit.  And that, I think, is really the point.

OP: “Zettai Muteki☆Fallin’ LOVE☆ (絶対無敵☆Fallin’ LOVE☆)” by Chikyuu Bouei-bu

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  1. A

    I do love a good parody, and this seemed to parody the genre well while still remaining vaguely true to it. For me it's going to come down to whether they manage to keep the humour fresh or whether they run out of steam after a few episodes.

  2. That was largely the same thing I said after the premiere of the last Takamatsu show, Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou. And I would say the results were decidedly mixed. Binan may have an advantage though, because it's parodying one very specific genre, and it offers seemingly endless possibilities for parody.

  3. i

    Honestly, the best thing for me about this premiere was just how easy it was to watch. Decent aesthetics and animation, and the the voice acting…I dunno what it was, but all those male voices just sounded /nice/. Maybe I've just spent so much time hearing high-pitched moegirl squealing that the warmer tones of a cast of guys ended up being a refreshing change of pace.

  4. e

    *this is my 4th commenting attempt. For an episode I haven't watched yet* The things you make me do, you furry creature with the beautiful (facial) appendage. <—- I'm referring to the Pink Wombat of course (?).
    The little fellow had me intrigued since your season preview Enzo. In the absence of killer Pink Koala, bears+maiden fair or troll bears owning bars – and trolling space bears storms dodging aside – what's a girl to do.

  5. m

    It reminded me of a mix of shugo chara and uta pri, will stick around to see what it does. Hakone is abit too high-pitched for me though.

    Hahah yes I think you're right, mahou shoujo is a genre i pretty much dislike entirely so I find this very entertaining (in a mocking way).

  6. e

    Update: I don't know how many full transformation sequences I can take. But the food talk? Sign me up *___* . It did sound a bit dirty in places too. Ahah. And chikuwabu instrumentality (with delinquent pompadours).
    Also… on top of the zombiefying [the dark side of the Love Power force!] momoiro wombatto < there is an evil alien green hedgehog as well!
    Oden is the world. The world is oden. Such is the depth and beauty of the cosmic bowl…

  7. G

    I watched it and thought it was just creepy and stupid, but not in a stupid funny way either. Gonna have to pass on this one.

  8. R

    mmm, I'm not that enthusiast about this episode. The male mahou shoujo parody has been seen in a lot of works so it's no surprising. This episode in particular it wasn't that funny.

  9. N

    Not really sure about this show yet it was interesting and could be a bit fun like Gugure Kokkuri-san madness. The mahou shoujo parody premise is at least novel enough.

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