Reviewby Carl Kimlinger, Oct 23rd 2010
Episodes 8-13 Streaming
Mitsuba, Futaba and Hitoha Marui return, accompanied by their class of misguided misfits. Along with hapless rookie teacher Yabe they try to live normal lives—going to the mall, losing weight, watching DVDs, making friends, mentoring children, playing with Gachi Rangers merchandise—but fail in catastrophic, often spectacularly perverted ways.
Can a series that once spent an entire sub-episode extolling the multiple misuses of urine take its place among anime's best comedies? If you were to go by Mitsudomoe's ninth episode alone, then yes. Within its twenty-minute confines are more imagination, invention and hilarity than many comedies contain in their entire runs. Like any episode of Mitsudomoe it's divided into several parts, and they run like a litany of the various potentialities of comedy. One is a standard Mitsudomoe misunderstanding; one of those innocent exchanges that spiral out of control until someone is pantsing the teacher to demonstrate their erotic ninjutsu. Another is a warm familial comedy sketch; a holiday-themed snapshot of the Marui household that doesn't forget to seal the deal with a killer sight gag. Another is an extended comic set-piece sans dialogue; a brilliantly funny tribute to the silent genius of Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and the like. The last is pure physical comedy; a bit of business involving Futaba, an icy swimming pool, and a game of human nine-pins that would have done the Three Stooges proud. Though the punchline—a patented Mitsudomoe malapropism—probably wouldn't have. Even the end credits, themselves a lengthy sight gag, use classical music (The Blue Danube specifically) in a way that recalls nothing so much as the Looney Tunes and Merry Melodies. It's possibly the single greatest concentration of comedic panache and outright daring in lord knows how long.
Of course, that it got singled out already tells you that episode nine is different from the rest of these episodes. And given its adventurous spirit, that can only mean bad things for the others. And they are indeed a couple of rungs lower on the ladder, comedic quality-wise. Jokes fail, humor is abandoned in pursuit of simple characterization, warm fuzzy bits fail to warm or fuzzy us, and most of all, the series fails to replicate the pure inspiration of the silent-film tribute or the Blue Danube credit sequence. Too often the series falls back on familiar joke structures—the escalating misunderstandings about Hitoha's love of the Gachi Rangers, Yabe accidentally casting himself as a pedophile, Shin's upstanding front crumbling before his real and imagined perversions. And times when director Masahiko Ohta uses Bridge's solid animation and humorous art in inspired ways are far outnumbered by those in which he uses them in staid and functional (though admittedly very funny) ways.
Ultimately the difference is less qualitative than quantitative, however. It isn't that episode nine is a gem of transcendent genius; it's just that it's all that's best in Mitsudomoe all in one place. Everything that made episode nine great is there in the other episodes, just more diffuse; spread out between clunker jokes and less-than-entirely-effective familial warmth and stretches of straightforward execution. A sketch involving Hitoha and Mitsuba locked in a PE storage shed, for instance, balances the warming sight of Mitsuba's inner softie with a wicked punchline just as neatly as number nine's Christmas episode did. Hilarious little inventions pop up everywhere, from the blank-eyed stares of the worshipful kiddies that Mitsuba teaches some very wrong vocabulary to, to the eyecatches heralded by the word "Mitsudomoe" called out in an appropriate cadence by the butt of the previous sketch's joke. Unabashed pratfalls pepper every episode, while unbridled weirdness such as Mitsuba's flab-based erotic defense mechanism and Hitoha's beautifying cold symptoms diversify the usual mixture of perverted misunderstandings.
And even if the rest of the episodes aren't on par with number nine, overall they're still an improvement over the series' first half. The piss and booger jokes have gone the way of the dodo, Yabe has surrendered the series' reigns to the far more deserving triplets, and the characters and their lives definitely grow on you—enough so to qualify parts of these episodes as genuinely warm. The episodes based around characters like well-meaning Miyashita and the multiple-episode riffs on the family of frenemy Sugisaki have done their work. As insane as it may sound given that the series' mind rarely leaves the gutter, by series' end Mitsudomoe is an honest-to-goodness feel-good comedy. Even the hideous character designs eventually acquire a quaint charm.
Make no mistake, though; Mitsudomoe is still pustulent with mind-boggling vulgarities. If a punchline like "You gotta nail me in the butt again sometime! It felt great!" doesn't strike you as funny, don't bother bringing yourself to this particular party. And again make no mistake, for all the comic invention both in and out of episode nine, this is seriously lowbrow stuff. But all criticisms aside, legitimate (pedophilia isn't the best basis for humor) and otherwise, one thing is indisputable: Mitsudomoe brings the funny, brings lots of it, and with laudable consistency. Maybe it won't take its place among the comedy greats, but that doesn't mean it isn't great comedy.
Overall (sub) : B+
Story : B-
Animation : B
Art : C+
Music : B
+ Hilarious; warmer, more character-based, and less gross that the first half; episode nine is downright brilliant.
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