Punchline – 06

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There’s no doubt we’re finally getting some big clues about what’s really happening with Punchline.  But the operative question for me is whether or not I still care.

My recent track record with NoitaminA shows and huge mid-series plot twists isn’t especially encouraging.  But while the temptation to recall Samumenco and “Guillotine Gorilla” is strong, I don’t think this one was nearly as shocking or game-changing, and not just because we were effectively told from the beginning to expect it this week.  And to be honest, in the case of Punchline my buy-in has already been on the wane for a couple of weeks as-is, so it doesn’t have anywhere near as steep a potential decline.

I’m just not feeling this series much any more, to be honest.  There are still some nice moments (Meika’s parade of musical instruments in recounting her story to Ito was very amusing) but on the whole, it feels like Uchikoshi is throwing everything but the kitchen sink here simply because he can.  There are so many random twists that the audience couldn’t possibly have guessed based on what they’d seen that the entire plot feels kind of meaningless now.  Yeah, we can theorize as to what’s really happening – but again, the question for me is why I should care.

I’ve already talked about how manufacturing an arc for Yuuta halfway through the series was also kind of a bail-out, and it does appear that’s what’s going on.  I don’t know whether to call him “him” anymore, or “her” – but while I have no reason to doubt Meika’s “biologically definitely female” claim, merely adding in yet another random twist doesn’t make the half-series lack of depth any less of an issue.  Well, at least someone (Rabura) finally asked where Yuuta was – I suppose that’s progress…

So what is really up with Yuuta?  I suppose the simplest explanation is that he’s a girl who identifies as a boy, but based on what’s happened so far I hardly expect Uchikoshi to go with the simplest explanation.  We were shown that flashback in Episode 4 for a reason, and there definitely seemed to be a boy (Pine) in that group of espers, so perhaps we have some body-switching going on here.  And with the expected revelation that Yuuta’s body was “possessed” by a future Yuuta, we see that the spirit Yuuta seems to definitely consider himself biologically male.  Or who knows, maybe the whole bit is nothing more than Uchikoshi trying to pander to the audience with yuri appeal.

Other developments, if you’re keeping score – the terrorist was actually Ito’s teacher, another unsurprising twist, though he claimed to be have been possessed by Qmay.  “Yuba” now looks like a bad translation, because clearly they were going for “Über” here – as in Übermensch.  And the asteroid really was headed for Earth all along, and it seems as if this cycle has played out repeatedly, with future-Yuuta failing to stop it from happening.  Also – “Yuuta” sure sounds an awful lot like “U-turn” in Japanese-accented English, doesn’t it?

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  1. E

    It makes me quite sad seeing this happen as I happened to complete Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward today too and the twists were a lot better choreographed and intellectually satisfying. The episode was just quite boring for me, visuals are still interesting but plot was a mess, honestly it felt like a poor mishmash between Uchikoshi's love of plot twists and a visually creative comedy. Guess this will end up as another example of how pairing up talented people doesn't always work…

  2. R

    I still don't know how to feel about Punchline. So far I have tried not to think to much about its plot and decided to "just go with it". I have enjoyed moments but the whole manga has been kind of "meh" for me the whole time. I liked Yuuta's sentai alter ego, but the whole "she is a girl" revelation seems just too random, I hope we are not getting trolled here.

    The next chapters could be interesting, it might be amusing to see how Yuuta tries to change the future during the next two weeks before New Year.

    Am I the only one who thinks that Qmay might be that crazy scientist dude?

  3. c

    This show seems to cut people in half whether it appeals to them or not, ahahahaha. Even Uchikoshi fans. Especially when it comes to the characters. It's weird when the panty show is the anime I most look forward to every week — and that's with an excellent line of anime this season.

    I'm thinking there's likely two things going on with Yuta here — either he's a trans dude (wow!) or somehow the Über Labs did something to the kids' minds that made them switch bodies, possibly permanently. Would that still make him trans? We don't have gender identity notes on this kind of fantasy sci-fi what-ifs. lol

    As much as you say Uchikoshi is just throwing out random junk for lol's, he usually plans and foreshadows his stuff meticulously so I'm leaning towards that having to be the case for Yuta's reveal. All three of them. One obvious, one not so obvious, and one that is in your blind spot. I'd say having the protagonist in a nosebleeding 'ecchi comedy' to be the easiest cover to hide a trans protagonist.

    If I had to make a few guesses, to think of some hella subtle foreshadowing, there'd be the opening song in which the men/women symbols on the bathroom sign, among others, come out of their signs to beat on Yuuta. The uh, obsession the cat had with breasts pudding and breast metaphors — the cat *had* to have known — as well as the sex vids that seemed to be done on purpose for Yuuta's 'benefit'. Or to aggravate a sore issue, maybe? Too, the foreshadowing about Yuuta being one of these Über Lab kids when the flashbacks showed only two girls and one guy, with the guy looking very little like Yuuta (except around the eyes). I'd say Yuuta is either Pine or Chiyoko, now trans Chiyoko or Pine in Chiyoko's body. Then — and this is wild speculation and probably wrong — there's the panty fan service itself. It could be the Übermenschification was triggered by Yuuta's awakening sexuality, or it could be extreme feelings on his body not being what he wants. Like, "if only i didn't have this weak body I'd feel more powerful. i could help," and then his powers awakened.

    Could be the boyish coming of age story you were expecting around the first episode could be a uh. Trans man "coming of age." Since I get the strong feeling that Yuuta isn't the young teen we thought, but an older trans dude with a petite girl's body.

    But who knows? Totally unexpected development. Looks to be respectful about it so far, which is real nice. Hope the show starts (or keeps) working for you. Will miss your blog posts about it. </3

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