This show is definitely a living exemplar of the old adage “to thine own self be true”.
And so Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu LOVE! LOVE! glides to a conclusion, wrapping up its story in very much the same fashion in which it told it for two seasons. This was never the best series on the air at any given time, but it was remarkably true to itself – irreverent, fully committed to both its lunacy and its satire, happily residing in that delightful place where smart meets dumb and good comedy is born from their blissful union. It may not have been much noticed in the West, but I think it will be missed.
One thing Binan Koukou has always been good at is the head-fake, and this episode was bookended by them. The first was the Seitoukai, who – after their rather dramatic re-entry into the narrative – promptly refused to fight and sat in the audience for the rest of the episode. Their own battle with the Boueibu may in fact have been little more than a “lover’s quarrel” between At-chan and Kin-chan (the blush speaks way louder than the denials) and this is indeed the Battle Lovers’ fight, not theirs. Still, it was a clever but of misdirection by Takamtasu and Yokote.
Perhaps the most interesting revelation of the finale was that the Beppu twins (definitely Earthlings as it turns out) were actually goaded into becoming idols as a way to try and get closer to Gorar. This allows Binan Koukou to rather tartly call out the idol industry for the diseased cesspool of indignity that it is (the satire speaks way louder than the idealistic ending). From the beginning I’ve enjoyed VEPPer as an antagonist more than the student council, as they’re simply much funnier and more absurd, but they were no more convincing as true villains than Kin-chan and his sidekicks. This is Binan Koukou, and love and harmony (and bathing together) were always going to win out in the end.
Fitting that love should be the deciding factor in the final battle – though this time it’s fraternal love, as VEPPer seriously underestimate the power of Yumoto’s connection with his An-chan. But you know Gora’s heart was always going to be big enough for VEPPer too, and when his memories return (in the form of a dream) he still sees the Beppu twins as the adoring and lonely tykes they were, rather than the somewhat unsettlingly neurotic divas they’ve grown into. There’s one more fake-out coming our way – the “important announcement” at the end, which (exactly as it was supposed to) had me once again thinking it might be a sequel announcement. But no, it was just another disclaimer that Tawarayama-sensei was brought back to life in ridiculously arbitrary fashion after having been utterly forgotten for the entire episode.
I think two seasons was just about right for Binan Koukou. It was ripe for a sequel, not being serious enough to have any integrity to be undercut and being blessed with a premise that allowed for variations on a theme. The show very cleverly navigated the issue of a formula series and repetitiveness but I’m not so sure it could do so again – if Takamtsu and Yokote tried to do a third season I think they’d have to fundamentally reinvent the story, and in doing so I think Binan Koukou would lose the essence of what makes it such a winning comedy in the first place.
In the final analysis what makes Binan Koukou work as well as it does is that the things it parodies positively scream out to be parodied, and that it does so very deftly. It manages to be utterly ruthless and pull no punches, yet at the same time wear an unmistakable affection for the cast on its sleeve. It’s all in good fun, and the only folks who could be offended are the ones who take the stuff being satirized too seriously in the first place – which I think is rather the point. Binan Koukou may not aim as high as some series, but it knows exactly what it wants to be and makes no apologies for it. That’s a winning formula right there, and it was nice to see this unassuming little gem be rewarded with considerable commercial success.