Kuuchuu Buranko is based on a series of short stories by Okuda Hideo. The stories have been adapted into multiple live action films, a television drama and this anime series from Toei animation. That’s right, the same studio behind Dragonball, Sailor Moon, Precure, Digimon and many other anime. So, how did they do with this series? Let’s delve in.
Irabu is a psychologist who works with all kinds of patients. The series basically covers eleven of his cases. What their neuroses are and how he treats them. All in a way that’s supposed to be comedic.
But that’s also the big flaw of the series. It’s largely not actually funny. A lot of the humour is supposed to come from shifting art styles, Irabu’s weird fetish for vitamin shots, his patients being shown with animal heads and other things that aren’t actually funny. They’re strange, certainly, but strange doesn’t necessarily equate to comedic. Part of the issue is just that the setups are all pretty similar. We get a glimpse of the patient and their problem. Irabu has them given an injection and then we see them go about their lives for a bit while Irabu follows them to dispense advice and then we get a small indication that things are going fine for them before the episode ends. For a series that relies so much on surreal artwork the comedy is all rather sterile and predictable. From a comedic standpoint, it’s pretty lacklustre. Another issue is that the attempts at comedic content are distracting enough to undermine the series’ more serious elements
That being said, the series does keep your attention pretty well. Seeing the daily lives of the various people and how they carry on while trying to control their mental problems can be interesting. I also appreciate that the series does inform you of how the illnesses its portraying actually work or if they’re pure fiction, as one is, instead of claiming to be any kind of accurate representation of those illnesses.
In terms of characters, this is a kind of odd series. The major characters don’t have much to them. Irabu is just kind of quirky. His nurse, Mayumi, doesn’t have much personality aside from being kind of cold. The side characters ie the patients, however, get pretty nicely fleshed out. The series spends time setting them up and the bulk of them are fleshed out, believable characters. Which is a big part of why the psychological aspect of the series does generally work.
The series has an art style unlike any other series I’ve seen. There are a good three or four different art styles and the series mixes them together, shifts between them and it results in a pretty surreal atmosphere. That being said, there is one major failing to the whole thing. It’s way too damn busy. The combination of bright primary colours and shifting artwork can be physically painful to look at. There were multiple points where I had to stop watching in the middle of an episode, take off my spectacle and rest my eyes for a while before continuing. Especially since it’s pretty constant. Even putting the discomfort aspect aside, it just comes across as half ocular cacophony and half surreal.
The acting is another heavily mixed element. The series did get some good actors, Paku Romi & Mitsuya Yuuji being the big ones, and they sound fine when they’re talking normally, but they frequently don’t speak normally. They operate with loud, exaggerated, bombastic performances that make Brian Blessed sound subtle. Irabu’s character, voiced at times by both of the aforementioned actors, is the worst when it comes to that. Whenever you see him with a mouse’s head, he sounds ear-bleedingly obnoxious. The music is brought to us by Mori Hideharu, who also worked on the music for Black Rock Shooter TV. It’s all right. I wasn’t super fond of it but I also didn’t dislike it.
There really isn’t any in this series.
When it comes right down to it, the big issue with Kuuchuu Buranko is that there’s so much about it that’s overblown. A lot of the acting is bombastic. The artwork is overdone to the point where it can be painful. The comedy relies on things being overly strange and the other exaggerated factors. That being said, the psychological elements generally do work but I don’t know if I can recommend it on that basis since this is a psychological comedy and the comedic elements generally don’t work. Ultimately, it’s a pretty average series. My final rating is a 5/10. The stuff that does work works well and the stuff that doesn’t gravitates towards being obnoxious. If you want something a bit different and you like psychological elements, it might keep you entertained. If you want the comedic or dramatic elements, you’ll probably be disappointed. Next week I’ll look at something else psychological with Haibane Renmei. Until then, keep being fabulous.