|This season was rather remarkable for having so many short, 3-minute episode series all airing at once. I used to write off shorts in general as garbage anime that were pumped out without any effort until I came across the likes of Fireball Charming a few seasons ago. It’s a show that proves brevity truly is the soul of wit. After Drossel won me over, I got over my bias and decided to give these bite-sized shows a chance. Since they’re so short that an entire season scarcely makes up an episode or two of screentime for a normal anime, it makes no sense to cover these episodically. However, I didn’t want these 3 shows to slide by without me having my own say about them, so I waited patiently for them to end before reviewing them.|
Yama no Susume
Yama no Susume is a lot like Tamayura, just with the healing aspects watered down a bit. Tamayura was a profoundly relaxing show, but Yama no Susume isn’t quite as potent since it’s shorter and a bit more comedic. Shorter runtimes limit to how emotionally invested you can get, but Yama no Susume does really well for itself given the constraints. It was actually rather therapeutic to watch every week as Aoi overcame her fear of mountains. I wouldn’t say I was attached to the characters so much as I was the message it conveyed in the end. I’m usually not the type to like fluffy, slice of life things, but I felt like I really gained something by the end of it. Just a little bit, but I felt like I treasured my friends more. It’s impressive how much momentum is picked up in such a tiny frame of time.
Fear not, it’s not purely about delivering some profound message with an agenda. The balance between the cute and the sappy is perfectly measured. It’s even genuinely funny every now and then! There are plenty of cute moments in between this rather inspirational story of a girl overcoming her fears. Aoi gets over her phobia gradually and in a fairly adorable manner, as she starts climbing a small hill (in full-on mountain gear) and escalates to tackling an actual mountain. It’s just really sweet, relaxing, and incredibly easy to watch no matter what mood you’re in. At only 3 minutes per episode, it’s worth your while to check it out if you haven’t already.
Trigger is a new studio formed from ex-Gainax people such as the prolific Hiroyuki Imaishi. They recently release Little Witch Academia, which is a marvel of animation mastery. They’re a promising bunch, but Inferno Cop takes a bit of a..er…different animation approach. At first, I was convinced Trigger just rummaged through their pockets for spare change and pooled together whatever fistfuls of coins and ripped bills they could find to fund this show. The characters are literally cut outs that float around. They don’t even move their mouths when they’re speaking. I almost didn’t watch this one at all. I’m glad I did.
Paradoxically, the shoddy animation style makes the show even better. Once you start to realize that Inferno Cop is just a giant parody, the fun really begins. You see, this is not some slapdash anime made by people who think a flaming skeleton is really cool. This is an anime laughing its ass off at over-dramatic TV shows where this tough cop brings justice to the city in his own, badass way. Inferno Cop is a Frankenstein monster of all the traits of those tough cops, but magnified times ten. For one thing…he’s on fire. He also reflects bullets. At one point he chastises the FBI for holding a nurse hostage and then destroys the whole lot of them in a fiery explosion…FOR JUSTICE! He also turns into a car and then goes back in time just by going too fast. What is the show actually about? Even I don’t know.
The way Inferno Cops plays on common TV tropes and archetypes (such as coming out of a hospital to a zombie apocalypse) is nothing short of brilliant. Everything is so gloriously tongue-and-cheek that it’s easy to miss some of the jokes or just scream “WHAT?!” at your television screen, but that’s what makes it so amusing. Admittedly, this brand of humour is so absurd that a lot of people may either miss the jokes, or just not find them funny. It’s not the typical anime approach to humour, that’s for sure. Let me end by saying this: Inferno Cop is a show about a flaming skeleton fighting a newborn baby underwater.
Let’s compare Senyuu to Cuticle Detective Inaba for a moment. Inaba is a full-length series that devotes 20 minutes to rapidfire jokes, hoping that by sheer volume, one gag will elicit a laugh, a smirk, or anything even remotely positive. It’s like a desperate kid constantly tugging at your pant leg and making funny faces. The main point of distinction here is that Inaba has jokes that are so short-lived that even a goldfish has a large enough attention span to get from the set-up to the punchline. Senyu is a much shorter show, yet it actually takes time to set-up running gags (such as there being 1000 different “Chosen ones”) and will actually build up on a joke. It’s not comic gold, but it uses time so efficiently and cracks such great jokes during that small frame of time that it puts Inaba to shame. The great thing about shorts is that you can have fast joke-pacing without getting fatigued since you only have to concentrate for a few minutes.
Furthermore, there’s something about the type of comedy in Senyu that I really like. It reminds me of all the experiences I’ve had playing video games with my friends. Not the working together part, of course. No, no, no. I mean the kind of cut-throat competition you engage in with your best friends where beating the level means nothing if you didn’t shove your buddy into a pit of spikes less than 5 times. Your teammates will stab you, ignore you in times of need, and casually heal everyone BUT you just because they can. The sort of dickery going on between the hero and his soldier partner is like the trash-talking and self-sabotaging that goes on in any multi-player game with close friends. The closer the friend, the more you’re gonna want to pick them up and throw them off a cliff.
The downside to Senyuu is that the charm starts to wear off a bit towards the last quarter of the show. It’s still funny, but some jokes get recycled too much such as the loli-loving old knight and Alba breaking his ribs. If your show is already short to begin with, you don’t have an excuse to use the same schtick more than once. The final episode (14) will be airing some time in July, so there’s a pretty big cliffhanger right now. Of course, that doesn’t really matter because no one in their right mind watches this show just for the plot. In fact, I liked it better when there was no plot and Alba was just wandering around and fighting monsters randomly.
It was a good season for shorts! I really found myself looking forward to watching all 3 of these shows each week. For the most part, they effectively utilized the time they had to either tell a good story or crack a bunch of grade A jokes. The best part is that they’re all quite different. Yama no Susume is a slice of life, Inferno Cop is a satire, and Senyuu is that genre of YELLING THE PUNCHLINE comedy with some actual thought put into it. If you’re the type to skip over these shows just because they seem like a hassle to watch just for 3 minutes of entertainment value, then you should..not be that type any more. Stop it. These are good shows! There were even more shorts this season but I didn’t find them interesting, so these are the cream of the crop! So if you have just a little bit of spare time, you should indulge in some Senyuu Inferno Mountain fun.