Reviewby Carl Kimlinger,
Sub.DVD - Complete Collection
Taro Sado isn't just any masochist; he's a super masochist, an unstoppable engine of abuse-loving lust. The problem is that he really, really doesn't want to be. In middle school a girl slapped him, and his slavering reaction left him pretty much of an outcast. Now he's in high school, and his greatest fear is that it'll happen again. He'd just avoid girls if he could, but there's this girl he likes, you see... So Sado goes to the Second Volunteer Club, a club said to help anyone in need. The club is run by Mio Isurugi, a rabid sadist, and counts among its members Yuno, the androphobic girl who first outed Sado, and Tatsukichi, Sado's best friend, whose cross-dressing habit happens to have a little something to do with the girl Sado is crushing on. The chances of them curing Sado? Not good. The chances of Sado joining them for an unending pervert-party? Not so bad.
Can a series about a group of rowdy perverts be sensitive and intelligent? Maybe, but you wouldn't know it from MM!. It's exactly as loud, broad, and vulgar as you'd imagine; considerably more so in some cases. So long as you're willing to put up with it, though, it can be fairly amusing.
The problem is whether you'll be able to put up with it. MM! doesn't know the meaning of restraint. It opens up at full throttle and never really lets up. Beginning with the opening scene of Sado fleeing from Mio and her bokuto, each episode is a screaming stream of Sado-abuse and the stupidest possible plot developments. Whether head-trauma-induced amnesia or a loli scientist bent on world pervertization or a hideously sweet fake date, no plot is too dumb, no twist too cliché for MM!. And nothing is too crowded or sick or idiotic that it can't be made more so by beating Sado and having him drool in pain/pleasure. There's nothing the series likes better than thinking of a new way to release Sado's inner masochist. At a zoo? Have a lady zookeeper accidentally step on his face. Caught in a love triangle? Have the girls fight over who is the better sadist—with Sado as judge. And if all else fails, have Yuno stomp him for being a man, or Isurugi try out another one of her "cures." Like boiling him in a pot, cooking him over a kotatsu, or subjecting him to black magic—which of course involves melted wax.
And MM!'s contempt for brakes doesn't stop there. When it waxes serious, it does so without any regard for propriety, fairly sprinting over the line into melodrama when Sado faces down the reason for Yuno's fear of men, for instance, or when the club comes together to assuage Mio's loneliness. Oddly enough, that works for the series. Emotions have to be overblown to be heard over the surrounding ruckus—and they are heard, though not as regularly or as predictably as perhaps we'd like. The show shoots for the same effect with its romance, approaching sweet after-school interludes, not-really-fake dates, and blushing tsundere confessions with fart-joke subtlety. Rather than getting caught up in syrupy goodness, however, one generally just ends up wanting to choke the goopy sweetness out of the characters. Perverts aren't supposed to have sweet, wholesome love lives. They're supposed to have perverse ones. As for the characters themselves, they're forever being pushed to go further over the top. Caricaturization is never enough for MM!. Yuno isn't just be afraid of men, she beats them to a pulp if they touch her. Sado's mother and sister aren't just overly affectionate, they're explicitly incestuous. Isurugi isn't just a violent tsundere, she's a tsundere who enjoys violence. Sado isn't just an unfortunate schlub, he's a schlub who gets off on misfortune.
To be sure, this all makes for a busy, noisy and generally tasteless experience, but it does have its advantages. Occasionally the overblown quirks of character, unremitting vulgarity, and gleeful perversion will come together just right to redeem one of its awful stories with some good humor. The amnesia episode, during which amnesiac Sado is inadvertently convinced that he has impregnated his mother, sister, and girlfriend and violated his best friend, is a good example. And barring that, the relentless barrage of stimuli pretty much guarantees that any given episode will have something to stimulate a chuckle or two. Providing, of course, that you have the right sense of humor. You have to be the kind of person who thinks incest, improper sexual arousal and Dragon Ball Z spoofs are all capital ways to get a laugh to get much of anything from MM!'s comedy.
It also helps if you're a sucker for sight gags. The show is crammed with them: Sado's face squidging after he's thrown under that lady zookeeper; Sado twisting himself into a fleshy rubber snake before dissolving into a puddle of pain/pleasure; any number of little things like Isurugi's cutely accessorized Sado-beating bat. They're generally the only things animated with any enthusiasm. You could say that the rest of the series is animated with an eye towards energy rather than quality or consistency if you wanted to be nice, or that it's lazier than a stoned couch potato if you didn't. If there's an animation shortcut known to man, it's here, and it's probably used more than once—per episode.
Sight gags are also the only things drawn with any enthusiasm. The backgrounds are blah and the character designs forgettable (and the score, by the way, of a piece with both), but when Sado gets that vacant-eyed, lost-in-pleasure look you remember it. The different variations on that face and the inventive ways the animators get it onto him (or get him to express his pleasure in more, um, exotic ways) are about the only things that could reasonably be called impressive about their work.
So where is the substance in all of this? Put simply: In a different show. Hell, the series doesn't even bother to ask why Isurugi started the Second Volunteer Club in the first place, or to explain why she insists she's a god. It doesn't delve into her or Sado's pasts and it never acknowledges the dark side of perversion. It doesn't even have a proper ending. Though how could it, not having a proper plot. Implicit in the series' treatment of perversion is a lesson about the ubiquity and necessity of accepting sexual kinks (lolicon, 2D-obsession, sadism, masochism, incest, cross-dressing: everyone in MM! is a pervert and is happiest when they embrace it), but that hardly counts as an intellectual bent. But, hey, who was expecting one anyway?
Included on this set are an appropriately chaotic commentary track by Ayana Taketatsu (Isurugi) and Saori Hayami (Yuno), and nine mini-episodes, the purpose of which, apparently, is to beef up the series' surprisingly tame fan-service. No dub is provided.
Overall (sub) : C+
Story : C-
Animation : C-
Art : C-
Music : C
+ Energetic opening and ending; energetic everything, really; fairly amusing all told.
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