Puni Puni Poemii is an OVA from the early 2000s. It’s ostensibly a spin-off of Excel Saga although the two don’t have that much in common, but I’ll get to that in detail later. It was brought to us by JC Staff. Like Chocotan, Voogie’s Angel, Potemayo, Kill Me Baby or a whole bunch of other anime of varying quality I’ve reviewed. It was written by Kuroda Yousuke, which could also go either way considering he’s done scripts for absolute trash like Highschool of the Dead but he’s also done script work for solid anime like Battle Athletes. So, let’s see how this stacks up.
We open with an action sequence involving our “heroine” fighting her way through a bunch of magical girls including Usagi from Sailor Moon and Sally. But don’t worry, they appear very briefly and there’s a bright red filter so it’s not copyright infringing.
After this, we cut to Earth and the whole action sequence is never mentioned again which makes it entirely pointless. We meet Watanabe Poemi who calls herself Kobayashi because “her actress can’t get into character.” That’s the level of humour we have to look forward to. Kobayashi loses her parents to a stand user but gets taken in by the Aasu sisters, thanks to her friend/ red string of fate partner Futaba.
Let’s start with the big problem with the series. Most of the jokes aren’t funny. The opening sequence is a great example. Poemi goes through a bunch of familiar magical girls in a brutal fashion that just comes across as mean-spirited. Compare that to Excel Saga where there’s also a clear reference to Sailor Moon but it’s actually a joke and a very funny one. And having a battle between the characters could be funny. Just have Poemi win by pushing the Usagi look alike into a desk with a maths test or something to that effect.
Then there are the jokes that are based around Kobayashi talking really quickly and loudly. Which you can also compare to Excel Saga since that was also a part of Excel’s character. The difference is that Excel had funny dialogue to go with it and in this the entire joke seems to be that she’s ridiculously energetic to the point of being annoying. There are also a lot of fan-service jokes, which just come across as crass and exploitative. Then there are the fourth wall breaking jokes which generally just don’t work all that well. Fourth wall jokes work best in moderation and used at unexpected, strategic moments. Not so much when they’re a constant, in your face factor.
That being said, there are some funny moments. Having Futaba and Poemi’s relationship be like a super homo-erotic relationship you would get in a magical girl series while one of them pursues some random guy anyway works since they make it even more blatant and have the girl without any interest in a male love interest, Futaba, actually react to the way her obvious girlfriend is carrying on. There are also some funny action sequences. The scene where Nabeshin fights the one-balled alien is really funny. Unfortunately, those actual moments of comedy are heavily outweighed by the unfunny moments.
There aren’t much to the characters in this. Kobayashi is just kind of loud and annoying. Futaba’s main schtick is that she’s madly in love with Kobayashi. Her sisters are all one-note fetish fuel. Which becomes especially obvious towards the end with an egregiously unfunny scene, but it’s totally okay because they lampshade it as being fan-service.
My big issue with the art is the excessive fan-service. It’s not the only problem. The backgrounds are frequently lazy. The opening sequence with its red filter to marginally disguise the familiar characters we’re looking at actually hurts the eyes. It’s like that climactic battle with the red filter from Figure 17, but much worse. And there’s just not much to recommend the artwork except for the visual gags in the aforementioned Nabeshin fight.
The acting isn’t very good. I think that both Kobayashi Yumiko & Imai Yuka are capable actresses. They’ve been strong in series like Angel Beats or Doki Doki Precure but one of the by-products of going with the obnoxious, hyperactive style of humour is that your actors don’t come across very well. And I’m speaking as someone with ADHD. The music also isn’t very good. It’s the worst showing I’ve ever heard from Masuda Toshio. And we know he can compose because he also did music for Mushishi.
Like I said, the stuff between Futaba & Kobayashi is really obvious. To the point where there’s a red string of fate joke and they disappear together into a futon while Kobayashi is naked. So, they’ve had sex.
Areas of Improvement:
- Take better advantage of the magical girl parody aspect. Like I said, when it actually parodies the whole “blatant les-yay, but here’s a male love interest so we can pretend it’s not” element that’s common in magical girl series, it’s actually funny. They could do more with that. Have a character who they think has been brainwashed into turning evil, give the big speech about friendship & “opening their eyes” only to have the character just be mad over some minor sleight. Have a magical creature companion but no one can actually understand it when it tries to talk to give advice. There’s a lot of room for actual genre parody here.
- Have a modicum of class. Excessive fan-service in and of itself is not funny. So, just show some restraint and do something that’s actually funny instead of bringing in all the fan-servicey shite.
- Limit Fourth Wall Breaks. Like I said, these work best in moderation. In two episodes I would say the most you should have if you want them to retain their impact is three or four.
Puni Puni Poemii wants to have the style of humour that Excel Saga uses to great effect. The problem is, it doesn’t have a good sense of why Excel Saga works. As a consequence, it takes some superficial aspects like the quick, energetic dialogue and acts like that’s enough. And while it has the occasional comedic bit that works, most of it is just obnoxious. In the end, I give it a 3/10.