'All those rectangular faces? Oh, they'll turn round as well.' - Maru Maru, OP to PKN
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
Recently, there seems to be an increase of anime short series with episodes spanning from 2 to 3 minutes per episode. Pretty much all of these are comedies that rely on quick gags to entertain for their short running times. Needless to say it is not a very diverse field, and its pretty easy to tell whether the show will be a success or a dud almost instantly. Poyopoyo Kansatsu Nikki most certainly is a success. While I could simply say this is because the show's gags work and leave it at that, I will elaborate further because I'm silly and like to do this sort of thing.
The premise of the show is, of course, very simple. It centers around an abnormally round (and absolutely adorable) cat named Poyo and the family he lives with. We see them in weird mishaps in their daily lives, usually involving the ball of feline cuteness that is Poyo. Often friends and neighbors join in on the shenanigans, providing many a belly laugh... and honestly that is all there really is to the show.
That may not sound like much, but for a show with episodes that are 2-3 minutes long it is plenty of material. The simplicity of the plot works very well for the show; it stays consistently fun and never gets dragged out thanks to the short running time of the episodes. A strangely round cat might not seem like comedic gold, but the show pulls out a surprising amount of gags from this simple concept. Furthermore, these gags are actually cleaver and witty, rather than overly gimmicky as they are in lesser short series like Nyanpire or Recorder to Randoseru; not to mention well timed. Watching Poyo fail to do cat-like tasks as simple jumping onto a table or licking his belly because of his abnormally circular body will have you laughing, as well as gushing over how adorable he is.
The entire cast of the show is a lovable collection of walking gags. Moe, Poyo's owner, is a cheerful woman who takes things in stride to a ridiculous degree. An example of this is how she takes in Poyo after using him as a pillow when she passed out on the sidewalk. In contrast, her brother Hide is on the grouchy side, but his battle for dominance with Poyo is one of the funniest things about the show. Their father is a stern looking man with a gooey soft heart underneath his tough exterior. Kuro, the neighbor's cat, has a close relationship with Poyo... so close that he regularly humps Poyo, despite the fact they are both male. Hide's classmate friends are a guy who has a thing for Moe, and a girl who has a crush on hide and has a hard time managing her hyperactive dog. All the characters are used solely for comedic effect, there is not much else they can be with only 3 minutes per episode, but they certainly fill that role very well.
The effectiveness of the show is largely due to having veteran director Akitarou Daichi at its helm. Daichi is best known for wacky, good-hearted comedies (the morbid and emotionally devastating Now and Then, Here and There aside, of course), most notably Fruits Basket and Kodocha. Both those series displayed Daichi's skill as a comedic director, and Poyopoyo shows that his skill has not diminished a bit over the years. His sense of timing is keen as ever, he knows to drop the punch line at just the right time, and the humor never gets stale or tiresome.
Daichi also has a great visual sense, which makes good use of the shows obviously limited budget. The character designs and backgrounds are simple; very cute but not much in way of detail. Not to say it is lazy at all, it is clear effort was put into the charmingly simple look. Animation is pretty minimal, with plenty of shortcuts taken; though this is hardly a hindrance and even adds to the shows charm. Solid editing is the life-blood of this show, as scenes flow smoothly and naturally into one another in the short run time of each episode. The music is appropriately bubbly and simple, fitting the art like a glove. Notably, the short opening song, of which majority of the music is a variation of, is unbelievably adorable.
Obviously, Poyopoyo Kansatsu Nikki is not a monumental achievement on any level. It adheres to the comedic formula of pretty much every 2-3 minute short series. Director Daichi isn't really doing anything different from what he has done before; with shows that had more room to develop, no less. But damn if it isn't unbelievably adorable and undeniably charming. It won't blow your mind or anything of the sort, but it is a pleasant way to spend a few minutes of your day; and likely one of the best shows of its kind.
Oh, and if you were wondering how Poyo could sound so adorable, it is because seiyu Ikue Ootani has over a decade of playing cute as the ever-loved electric mouse Pokemon, Pikachu. read more
When I finished this little 3 minute sound-bite, I blinked, put down my soda, and rubbed my eyes. What in the HECK did I just watch? Was this about a cat, named oh-so-adorably, or what? Worry not, my dear friends, this ride got just a little more bumpy.
Don't let that little intro deter you; this was by far one of the funniest clips of anime I've seen in awhile. It delivered to me more laughs than whole freaking episodes. The story was a little odd, let me tell you; the intro was an LSD trip, and I was sort of confused. I mean, hold on, nothing is square in this story. Everything comes in CIRCLES. Yes, the cat is a freaking circle with arms and legs sticking out randomly and a crooked tail. Cute, yes; creepy, sort of kind of. And it's got such a personality on its own! I don't really know what this is going to be about, but I was pleasantly surprised by the abrupt way the comedy is told. By the time the joke is told, another takes its place rapidly.
TL;DR: Story=FUNNY. I give it an 8/10.
The art is subpar, but who cares? THERE'S A CIRCULAR CAT. COME ON GUYS. A. CIRCLE. CAT. Tell me how often you see one on your way to school or work. Then talk to me. Anyway, the intro isn't anything special, and the colors are bright and cheery. Everything is so cute and chibi-like, it's almost hard not to like the cat or characters. Well-done for such a short amount of time.
The sound is where it gets me. The noises are funny and accurate, prompting me to listen out for the cat's meow (or nyan). The intro made me laugh. Now that laugh could be from hysteria or actual comedy; I'm not sure. I loved everything about the sound effects.
The character development - wait. There was none. What do you expect, it's barely more time than you brush your teeth! However, the cat's personality was golden - they portrayed him/her/it perfectly. The characters interact well, and the comedy that results from their cute personalities makes it all the better.
Overall, this was something funny and pleasant to watch. Plus it's so short, you can watch it quickly and continue on with your life. The pleasantries and laughs I got from this was well worth the download. QUICKLY. Cats have an acute sense of hearing. read more
Story is really cute and funny, it made my day easily babysitting kids, Poyo made them laugh a lot. And is a family but I was worry went, Moe is clearly drunk, and passes out in the street. She uses the fluffy round thing as a pillow. Since this is supposed to be a children’s show, I wasn’t expecting a scene like this. I really wasn't. Art was so cute and playful.( I love the colors. )
Sound where so cute, I love Poyo meow. The character designs are mostly chibified that are familiar. It's a basketball! It's a melon! It's… Poyo the cat?! Really. Enjoy it a lot. Hope everyone watch this anime it was really cute and funny. Even more if you don't have time to see anime. read more
2/22 is Cat Day in Japan because two (ni) sounds like the Japanese onomatopoeia for the sound cats make! Instead of meowing, they go "nya nya!" In celebration, here's our collection of cute cats and cat-like creatures in anime!