That may just be my favorite episode of Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu LOVE! LOVE! – in fact, it may be my favorite episode of the series so far. This was pretty much a perfect comedy outing – big laughs, some heart, callbacks and Easter eggs, another terrific guest performance. Not all Binan Koukou is created equal, as befits an episodic series like this one, but when it’s really on its game it’s one of the smartest and funniest anime comedies out there.
Goura-san steps into the spotlight this week, as we learn a little more about the past of the Hakone family. And it seems as if the parents have been gone on their “onsen tour” for pretty much Yumoto’s whole life. That has the feel of telling a kid his dog went to a farm upstate, but who knows the real truth – what matters is that Goura has basically been the ideal parent to Yumoto since he was still in high school. That includes telling inspirational fairy tales, setting up educational games, and even brushing his teeth (which is a clever segue to one of those Easter eggs).
The villain this week is Katari-kun, who’s played with hilarious abandon by Konishi Katsuyuki (who specializes in hilarious abandon). He’s the sole member of the Poetry Recitation Club, and he’s incensed that the Earth Defense Club has been chosen to read fairy tales to kindergartners. Katari is a riot, with some of the funniest use of Engrish (“Jesus!”) you’ll hear in anime this or any year. Meanwhile the other members of the Boei-bu aren’t exactly keen on the idea of reading to kids, even after hearing Yumoto recite genuinely moving tales of his youth. Eventually it’s Goura’s (axe-wielding) presence himself that wins them over, and that leaves Katari as the perfect candidate to be subjected to the Beppu twins surrealistic stage show and mind rape.
I’m with Yumoto-kun on this one – I like “Jizo and the Five Hats” best too. Jizo is my favorite Buddhist deity (Buddha of children and travelers – how can it be otherwise?) and you see Jizo all over Japan with hats and scarves placed on their heads by loving followers. Also, kudos to Comet for bringing in real kiddies to play the kindergartners, because they make the whole storytelling sequence that much more fun. Katari’s monster form is an especially clever one – he turns into “Mic Monster” (he’s always switched on) and his weapons of choice are words given physical form and fired as projectiles at the Battle Lovers. I feel you, Boys – Kanji are damn painful, and I speak from experience.
The kids are cool with all this – they just think story hour turned into a hero show – and so is An-chan, who watches from the wings, beaming with pride at how much Yumoto has grown up. Silliness, sweetness and surrealism are mixed together in perfect proportions in this episode, which pretty much captures everything that makes Binan Koukou such a winning show. And I’m a big fan of “Vepp!” and their freaky green master, too, who present a somewhat different and more unsettlingly skeevy antagonist than the Student Council did in the first season.