52 of 52 episodes seen
Laydees. Dudes. Everything in between. Non-organic lifeforms. This - and I repeat, this - is the stuff. The anime of the season? There's some stiff competition, but quite possibly - there's a lot of potential in this lovechild of Chi's Sweet Home, Welcome to the NHK and Mawaru Penguindrum.
So, Poyopoyo Kansatsu Nikki (that's Fluffy Observation Diary to you peeps who like Anglais) is a story of a totally rad cat. The deal here is, and I'm not kidding, he's circular. Try to wrap your head around that for a bit. We've seen many cat-based anime in the past - the memorable but ultimately disappointing Nyanpire, Asobi ni Iku yo!'s sci-fi satire spin the utterly sweet LoGH-level epic of the Chi franchise, and even the homolust drama of Loveless, but no show has ever gone as far as to turn their protagonist into a symbol of eternity and the samsara of life alongside a material, inexplicable portrayal of cuteness in distilled form, serving as a visual and narrative metaphor for the innocence of childhood. And hell, that's not even getting into the content of the show!
So let's talk about some other stuff. The cast we've seen so far are well developed - nothing amazing, you might argue, but think about it, how long have we known them? Three minutes, and already we can see a complex family relationship, multi-faceted characters and curious symbolism and parallels. For example, take Moe's distinctly 'mature' outlook on work, being an OL and getting utterly smashed, and compare them to the distinctly teenage characteristics she has - a focus on cuteness and severe jealousy, and still living under her parents' roof; what we've got is a woman trapped between the sexy, inviting woman she wants to be and the adolescent world she has yet to throw off, her motherly instincts leading to her adoption of the titular Poyo-chan/Fluffy. Sure, it's no Utena, but the show's communicated this in about a minute, even less; how many shows have characters that are barely as fleshed out as that over 13 or more episodes? Poyopoyo's got a strong sense of writing at its core.
Even the less-developed figures, like her father, are distinctive - his lack of face beyond basic lines creates a strange, nostalgic illusion, of a child unable to perceive the world properly - much like Poyo, as the child/parent illusion parallels continue - and her brother highlights social issues as a layabout who seemingly has much more free time to spend than the rest of his family - is this a reference to impending NEEThood? I have a feeling that as more characters are introduced (for which I'll update this review) we'll see even more depth and suprisingly difficult questions tackled.
That's not to say the comedy is neglected, either - the off-key yet distinctly anime bent of the show's wit isn't necessarily the most original, but is pulled off expertly - not since Bakemonogatari's pantsu-timer has a more bizarre, mortifying and hilarious sequence opening sequence been pulled off, as our drunkenheroine finds the mysterious Poyo in the street and uses him as a pillow, before being woken up the next day by a crowd of onlookers. It's cutting, vivid and bizarre, much like the rest of the show - Poyo becomes a local celebrity (an homage to the also cute and charming Tamayura?), is seen as an alien creature to society and instills a massive family feud in about two and a half minutes. Yet the pacing never feels breakneck or jarring - the soft watercolours and good-natured vibes means the show remains consistenly charming and lovable.
The animation for the show isn't a SHAFT or A-1 Pictures job, but it's definitely successful - Poyo is ridonkulously round, and utterly appealing. Not one of those series where you're told frankly average-looking characters are appealing, PKN delivers in visual beauty in simplicity. The other characters are drawn in the same cute style, but none of them come off as hugely visually appealing - a clear sign of the otherworldly adorability of the titular character.
Music and seiyuuing is similarly low-key but effective, again with the exception of the stunning OP. Evocative of The Tatami Galaxy (a clear inspiration for this series, visual components aside) and its legendary Master Higuichi's Circle Song, the opening track starts as a low key guitar-driven kids' song that evolves into a summery pop-beat that perfectly suits the series, even highlighting the concept of 'sum[ming] up even the most complicated stories nicely and roundly'. A more appropriate song could not be used. Poyo's voice is similarly charming - the strange utterances from its mouth deviate from the regular 'nyaaa' and similarly derivative examples in other series, going for something much more accurate to real-life mewls. It's unique, and utterly sweet.
Clearly, Poyopoyo Kansatsu Nikki is one to definitely keep an eye on. The short running time may put some off, but the substance present in the show, along with the lovely attention to detail and potential present, means it could become the underground phenomena of this season. Be round, or be square.
A post-script: Having finally finished the series, much to my dismay, I can confirm that Poyopoyo keeps the same level of quality throughout, with some spectacularly brave turns at points. The introduction of a canon gay lead in a non-yaoi-centric series, and a male love interest for Poyo; the slow, budding friendship between Poyo and Hide; the themes of racial conflict and eventual understanding when the Satou family gain new neighbours; and even a few touching messages on the meaning of love and loss. Consistently and hugely enjoyable, entertaining to all ages, and utterly charming - Poyopoyo remains still nothing but a ball of pure brilliance. read more