Breaking the Weirdness Barrier

In our last installment, it was found that Japanese cartoons are weird, man. But being ever the scientist at heart, I was left with a question: just how weird can they get? Do they approach some weirdness asymptote as you get farther out, or is the weirdness unbounded? Does the knob only go to 11? Inquiring minds want to know!

I think I found the answer by watching Puni Puni Poemy, a spin-off of Excel Saga made by the same group of people. So right there, you know going into it that it’s going to be weird. But unlike its predecessor, Puni Puni Poemy blows right through mere Weird all the way to Seriously Messed Up, with a generous helping of Just Plain Wrong on the side.

You see, there’s nothing deep or meaningful about Puni Puni Poemy, no real story or significance behind it; it’s just two half-hour episodes’ worth of sheer, unabashed, frantic, no-holds-barred weirdness for the sake of being weird. And it does an outstanding job at doing so.

Allow me to give you a taste of what lurks within Puni Puni Poemy. I suppose what follows could be considered spoilers, but nobody in their right mind would watch it for the plot anyway. (You could also argue that nobody in their right mind would watch it, period.) Those who wish to keep their sanity may want to skip the next few paragraphs.

At its heart, Puni Puni Poemy is a send-up of magical girl anime, though it most certainly not geared for, let alone appropriate for, kids. Its main character is Poemy Watanabe, daughter of Nabeshin and Kumi-Kumi (aka Soup Girl), both reprising their roles from Excel Saga. Poemy can transform into magical girl Puni Puni Poemy by gutting a fish (yes, with a knife), even though she prefers just punching her enemies rather than actually using magic-type stuff, but what she really wants to be is a voice actress. However, she can’t even stay in character — she always refers to Nabeshin as “Director” (which he is) and often refers to herself in the third person as Kobayashi, the name of her character’s voice actress.

Following along so far? Good, because that’s the easy part.

One day, Poemy’s family is killed by Alien 1, a jive-talking alien with, um, interesting genetalia. Poemy returns home to find Nabeshin, Kumi-Kumi, and their pet AIBO all dead, in the most comical use of crucifixion since Life of Brian (with Xenogears getting an honorable mention). Orphaned, Poemy is taken in by the seven Aasu sisters, at the urging of Poemy’s friend Futaba Aasu, who really really really likes Poemy and isn’t at all subtle about it. The Aasu sisters turn out to be their own magical girl team to defend Earth, but their superpowers make Heart look useful (unless you consider “powers” like falling over without getting hurt or having the precognitive ability to sense an enemy while you’re fighting it “useful”). They also don’t much care for Puni Puni Poemy horning in on their turf, even though they don’t realize that that’s actually Poemy, and even then only because they both call themselves Kobayashi and babble about being a voice actress.

Still with me? Well, hang on.

Besides dreaming of being a voice actress, Poemy longs for K, a boy in her class who doesn’t like Poemy in the least. K, meanwhile, is actually the mastermind of an evil alien plot to ravish the planet. You see, as it turns out, the aliens’ reconnaisance of Earth consisted entirely of watching Japanese cartoon porn, and K’s species just happen to be tentacle monsters. He sends Alien 1 to kidnap the Aasu sisters (did I mention one of them works in an S&M dungeon?) and captures Poemy when she unwittingly comes to their rescue. K, of course, had previously sent Alien 1 to kill Nabeshin, so that with the Director dead, he’d be free to have his way with the show, which means having his way with the Aasu sisters, but not Poemy, because he hates voice actresses. However, Alien 1 and Alien 2 (who has twice the unusual dangly bits as Alien 1) reveal themselves to be Nabeshin and Kumi-Kumi in disguise — you see, Kumi-Kumi used her acupuncture skills to bring the two of them back to life. Out of desperation, K tries killing the Writer, but Nabeshin is such a Great Director that he can draw storyboards even without a script, and so Futuba and Puni Puni Poemy combine their powers to bring about world peace.

Like I said, Seriously Messed Up (and that’s just the abridged vesion of the “plot”) with a side of Just Plain Wrong. I now understand what this commenter meant. Heck, if you added a few frames here and there, animated the “hidden” scene where K, um, gets to work on the Aasu sisters, and edit out a certain duck that keeps getting in the way of the bath scenes, you’d pretty much turn the second episode into porn. Heck, according to Wikipedia the show is banned in New Zealand for some of what’s in the second episode (and if it’s on Wikipedia, it must be true).

Even though Puni Puni Poemy’s a spin-off of Excel Saga, there’s no real continuity between the two of them (aside from Nabeshin and Kumi-Kumi having gotten married in final scene of Excel Saga), though there’s quite a few references between them, from the overt (whenever Poemy auditions for a part, the other voice actresses are all dressed like Hyatt), to the subtle (Poemy’s middle school and Excel‘s high school are both in the Inunabe (literally, “Dog Stew”) school district), to the meta (Poemy’s voice actress also sang the opening song for Excel Saga and played wannabe pop-idol Excel Kobayashi on it), to the lazy (pretty much all of Puni Puni Poemy’s background music is lifted directly from Excel Saga).

Nevertheless, even though the premise is all messed up and the plot makes no sense, and you’ll probably be rendered incapable of rational thought after watching it, Puni Puni Poemy is surprisingly well-executed, especially for something that essentially started off as an in-joke in Excel Saga. If you can keep up with it, there’s more than enough weirdness to revel in. And even if you can’t, there’s still plenty of visual gags.

In short, as a wise man might’ve said, it’s the sort of think you’d like, if you like that sort of thing.

Just don’t let your kids watch it.

2 Responses

  1. I’m not sure if I need to see this or run away screaming.

  2. You can do both!

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