Reviewby Carl Kimlinger, May 12th 2007
Best Student Council
The Best Student Council tires of Rino badmouthing them via Pucchan, so they confiscate the offensive little puppet to force her to reflect on her habit. In the resultant melee Rino's insecurities incapacitate her, while the members of the student council learn the hard way that simple Rino wasn't lying when she claimed that Pucchan was a separate person entirely. Later, the straight-arrow Treasurer gets involved with an amoral playboy—igniting the protective instincts of the entire council, Rino's abysmal grades threaten her with expulsion from the Council, bespectacled assault team ace Hida must face the victim of a violent past misdeed, and the Council tries to protect its precious student charges from the lustful gazes of the local boys once swim practice commences.
The licensing of some series is a mystery. Take Best Student Council. The story thus far isn't doing a stellar job of impressing, there's precious little drama, no big laughs, it doesn't seem to target any specific fan group, and while Director Yoshiaki Iwasaki is a past master of all things cute (Bottle Fairy), he's at best an adept purveyor of cute fluff, and at worst a bandwagon-hopping hack. There is scriptwriter Yousuke Kuroda, whose resume is equal parts high comedy (Excel Saga) and brutal drama (Infinite Ryvius); that he's proved capable of powerful third-act transformations (think Trigun and Madlax) does provide a glimmer of hope that BSC might evolve. Of course, his last collaboration with director Iwasaki was the ultimately empty Mao-chan. And the trite, obvious dialogue so far doesn't exactly inspire confidence.
So what are the (dozen? half-dozen?) viewers who are waiting in hopes that the hints at a larger picture in the first volume will bear fruit to do? Well, after this volume...wait some more. This volume shows only passing signs that the show is even tinkering with the idea of moving beyond the weightless silliness of episodes past. Of the five episodes presented here, only two manage to evoke any emotional response. In the first episode we get another glimpse of Rino's insecurity, while the school test episode forefronts her abandonment issues with surprisingly affecting results. Unfortunately the other three episodes are so forgettable that they don't even deserve the epithet "filler." The word "filler" implies the filling of gaps with something, but there's so little to these episodes that it's actually a chore to remember what they were about. Most attempts at seriousness are crude and painfully half-hearted, though the series' habit of undercutting them with straight-faced parody—often by including Pucchan as a participant in an emotional scene—helps immensely. As such, what one gets from this disc will depend heavily on one's sense of humor. Luckily there're no "Youth Cannons" or flaming puppet punches this time around, but there're also less of the nudge-in-the-ribs shoujo-ai parodies that were first volume's comic highlights. On the rest of the humor...whether the pain in your gut at the thought of a girl's puppet giving her a "live on without me" deathbed speech comes from belly-laughs or plain old nausea should determine your compatibility with it.
Those familiar with Bottle Fairy will recognize many of the stylistic elements used here, such as the faux screen-tone dots and concentric circular waves of sunlight. BSC also reduces the action to virtually nil, resulting in a run of episodes that consists largely of people sitting around and talking, with a little walking around thrown in for good measure. What action there is is predictably simple—minimal movement, no backgrounds, and lots of cutting to imply movement—indicating that perhaps the lack of action is all that prevents the animation from flirting with the underbelly of mediocrity. Character designs are a little longer in the face than is the norm, and feature enough variety to make them easy to differentiate. Backgrounds are sufficient to their purpose and no more: good for communicating location and geography but absolutely useless for atmosphere.
BSC's soundtrack is virtually invisible, the musical equivalent of theater stagehands: it supports whatever mood is prevalent, but makes damn sure not to call attention to itself. Given the overall tone of the series, this means that the score tends heavily towards uninteresting humorous compositions. The opening and closing songs are typical pop fluff.
ADV handles the dub with their usual second-best aplomb: professional and generally pleasant without being outstanding. Characters match well across languages, and the script is a virtual clone of the subtitles. Pucchan is a little ruder in language (but not in tone) than his Japanese counterpart and Rein's motor-mouth doesn't translate well into English, but Cyndi (who could be a wig-wearing clone of R.O.D. the TV's Maggie) is hilariously dead-on.
The only extra of note is a "pilot episode" that consists of some preliminary artwork and quotes for each character, showcasing some slightly different designs and a decidedly darker tone than the series itself.
Some light humor—the best of it so dead-pan that it seems unintentional—and one refreshingly sad scene are all that this volume has to offer. It isn't great (or even that good), but it's painless going, and there's nothing overtly offensive about it. If you don't count Pucchan that is. Putting his shocking ugliness aside, it's strange that no one in the series seems to realize just how creepy he is. Perhaps Japanese babysitters don't watch freaky-ass movies about psychopathic ventriloquist dummies around their young charges, but I still can't stop myself from getting the willies each time he opens his mouth.
Overall (dub) : C+
Overall (sub) : C+
Story : C-
Animation : C+
Art : B-
Music : C
+ Some humor; finally has a scene where you feel something for the lead.
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