Synonyms: Gosenzosama Banbanzai!
Status: Finished Airing
Aired: Aug 5, 1989 to Jan 25, 1990
30 min. per episode
R - 17+ (violence & profanity)
L represents licensing company
Score: 7.281 (scored by 392 users)
1 indicates a weighted score
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SynopsisThe Yomota family is small and typical: father Kinekuni (42), mother Tamiko (38), and son Inumaru (17). One day, a beautiful girl appears at their front door, calling herself "Maroko Yomota," granddaughter of Inumaru who travels back in time with a time machine to visit her ancestors. Even with Tamiko's strong objection, Kinekuni and Inumaru welcome her to stay with them, and the structure of a happy family has begun to collapse.
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||Aug 5, 1989 to Jan 25, 1990
Related AnimeSummary: Maroko
Characters & Voice Actors
Gosenzosama Banbanzai! is an oddity to me. Rather than the absurdly comical source of entertainment I experienced in this taking the forefront of my mind as I write this, I think I’ll always remember it as experimentation within the medium, or a merging of two or more you might say. For this OVA was nothing like anything I’ve seen in anime. Now you’ve all heard that before at some stage and hopefully that statement doesn’t put any potential viewers off because it’s certainly something to at least appreciate if not enjoy.
Mamoru Oshii was at the helm of this voyage, and as many of you who have experienced his past ventures you hopefully have an idea what to expect from him. Angels Egg, Ghost in the Shell, Je T’aime, Jin-Rou. They’re all works ripe with heavy atmosphere; they’re oozing with symbolism and full to the brim with philosophical messages. He’s a man who honestly respects the medium, he’s a creator who isn’t afraid to create. The clear focus in his works isn’t the characters, it’s not the story either. It’s generally the presentation, the visuals, it’s the effect it will have on us. The level of craft put into his works ensures that they’ll either be remembered by all or they will fade into obscurity to be appreciated by the few members who decided to peek into the past.
Gosenzosama Banbanzai! in my opinion is in the latter group. It’s the object behind the museum glass window that requires you to read the plaque alongside it to understand what it is, what impression it’s trying to give you. For if I was to go into this blind without prior knowledge of the staff behind it, I wouldn’t have figured he’d made it. It’s too obscure for me. There’s layers of cultural reference that went over my head despite my earnest attention. There’s way too much diversity in the way the story is presented to the viewer to get a solid feel for what I’m supposed to think, how I’m supposed to feel. The lack of coherent direction, in my eyes, robbed me of that. It was too much of an experimentation to feel satisfied with the outcome. But despite that lack of satisfaction, I can still appreciate this OVA, for its execution was extremely refreshing.
Gosenzosama Banbanzai! at heart, is about family. If I cast aside for a moment all the directorial choices I’m urging to talk about then I can firmly say this ova is about exploring the dynamics within a family. It’s done by introducing someone new into the family, someone who ultimately warps this show from a comedy to something certainly more… dramatic. Light hearted goofy characters transforming into tragic complex members of a family was something quite extraordinary to behold, especially when done over the course of just 6 episodes. The opening scene of the OVA is about the cuckoo bird. A bird which is known for brood parasitism, they lay their eggs in the nests of other birds and the eventual hatching of the chick(which is inherently faster than the others) leads to that new-born chick evicting all the other young of the host and then forcing the host to take care of them. I hope you can see what I’m getting at with this. That new character is that egg in the foreign nest. She makes quite the impression on the nest she has been dropped into and leads to a certain loss of unity within the family. If you enjoy series depicting the strain of interpersonal relationships in an unusual manner, the story of Gosenzosama Banbanzai is your golden ticket.
Story aside, the creation of this is what truly interested me. My first thought – this does not belong in animation. Why, you might ask? Well because I felt like I was in a theatre when I was watching it, with characters atop a stage with curtains to the left and right. Characters would suddenly burst into soliloquies out of nowhere. A scene will suddenly freeze, an area isolated involving a character, and then that character will start having a conversation with nobody in particular. In some cases they’d even get an actual spotlight put on them. Very peculiar, I was quite surprised when I first experienced it. A scene will pan across slowly with nothing animated occurring, and then the scene will come to life as characters start suddenly moving, almost as if the characters were waiting for the curtains to fully open the stage to the audience. In a certain scene within the OVA a character actually slowly descended through the floor like it was some sort of trapdoor. Scenes that belong in a stage play were ripe in this work. It’s stagecraft injected straight into animation and I’ve not really experienced it all that much to this degree.
The animation itself feels beyond its date, and certainly beyond what you expect even in what’s offered in the market of today. It’s very expressive, when characters are moving they feel life like. There’s a real sense of weight to how the characters interact with the world. They yawn and stretch randomly during conversation, they wave their arms in exasperation in scenes of annoyance, they do things that any ordinary person would do such as twist a lock of their hair impatiently. The characters are very natural and feel like they belong in the world due to the very careful and considerate use of animation. Keeping in line somewhat with my theatre-like comparison, you could say the characters were puppets, and in scenes where characters are far away, they’re even drawn like puppets. Like mannequins. It feels like someone above is pulling their strings and guiding them into dancing around a room, to go from suddenly still and dejected to leaping up with anger. It’s very entertaining to watch and experience.
Kenji Kawai supplies the music, as he has done on quite a few of the projects Mamoru has been involved with. They make a fantastic pair and it’s a certainty that he was aware what was expected of him. Some of the music, particularly during the dramatic scenes was delivered in an almost perfect manner. The harmony between the music and the atmosphere present on the stage in the final sequence of the OVA is one of my favourite endings to anything I’ve seen in anime. The use of sound is astonishing and it felt like it came straight from the heart rather than a guide. Rather than what you expect nowadays. This sums up much of Gosenzosama Banbanzai!
It’s not a seller, it’s an artistic piece to be appreciated from afar by those without full knowledge of the culture, without seeing any of Mamoru’s other works you may suffer to understand him. To get a feel for what he’s trying to portray and tell you. There is no spoonfeeding knowledge, he respects his audience enough in this to figure things out for themselves. But in a sense this is both a refreshing form of direction and a downfall of it. Unless you are prepared to delve into his filmography, unless you’re willing to rewatch this OVA again to examine certain scenes of a confusing nature, you may not ever be able to enjoy this. Appreciating it for showcasing animation in a whole other manner comes easy, but the enjoyment of it is lost when such choices strengthen the notion that you’re simply a viewer, that you cannot get completely drawn in without frequent reminders that you’re supposed to sit there and listen to what a character is telling you. The stage play style comes on a little too strongly for my taste, and for one who has never been much of a fan of that form of entertainment, it was quite testing at times.
A great OVA. However, the positives I found in this sadly also spawned a fair few negatives that I was hard pushed to simply overlook. I would still urge anyone to give this is a try if they appreciate unusual directorial choices. If they appreciate older art styles, and if they appreciate stories about family. read more
Two titles directed by Mamoru Oshii at the end of the 80s, and two titles which are curiously poised somewhere between comedy and something else. Oshii's influence is more overt in Gosenzosama Banbanzai, which is also a much less accessible piece -- it has deliberately stylised, puppet-like character designs and very careful character animation, plus a theatrical conceit. But it's certainly an interesting watch.
Opening Theme"Gosenzo-sama Banbanzai! (御先祖様万々歳!)" by Yumi Kojima
Ending ThemeNo ending themes found, add themes.
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Related ClubsMamoru Oshii Fan Club, Old School Anime Club, The Aironic OVA (Original Video Animation) Club, Obscure Anime/Manga
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