After escaping a bus hijacking with the help of masked superhero Strange Juice, Yuuta Iridatsu finds his soul separated from his body and in the care of a perverse cat spirit, Chiranosuke. As a spirit, Yuuta wanders around his residence, the Korai House, aiming to regain his body and observe the other residents: Meika Daihatsu, a genius inventor; Mikatan Narugino, a cheerful idol; Ito Hikiotani, a shut-in NEET; and Rabura Chichibu, a spiritual medium. After catching a glimpse of Narugino's undergarments, Chiranosuke reveals to Yuuta that he becomes exponentially stronger upon seeing panties. However, if he sees another pair while he is still a spirit, his power will cause an asteroid to crash into the earth, ending the world and killing his friends.
Punch Line follows Yuuta as he unravels the mysteries surrounding Korai House, its residents, and a villainous organization attempting to end the world. Will Yuuta be able to save everyone, or will the ever-present threat of panties result in their doom?
I had to write a review for Punch Line because the current score (7.11 as of 6/25/15) is far underrating this surprise favorite.
Punch Line is a show that many people dropped within the first few episodes and honestly, I don't blame them. It harbors an absolutely ridiculous premise and while the first episode is action-packed, the next four episodes focused more on (admittedly) lackluster comedy. However, those that stuck around to episode five got on a train ride with no stops.
The art and sound production were one of the main draws to the show for me and for many others that initially picked
up the show. It has unique character designs, bursting with personality. The soundtrack isn't extremely memorable, but it always did a good job at setting the mood and drawing me into the story. The voice actors all portrayed their characters amazingly well.
But more importantly, let's get to the story. Punch Line's premise, again, is ridiculous. What's amazing about Punch Line is that it manages to make its premise MAKE SENSE. From episode 5 onwards, almost every weird and ridiculous thing in the show is explained in a way that makes logical sense within the confines of this universe. There are a few plot threads left open at the end of the series, some of which I really wanted a conclusion to, but for the most part, everything that we see in episode one comes together by the final episode.
That is the single biggest reason to watch Punch Line, in my opinion. Watch the first episode and observe the wacky premise and wonder to yourself, "How the hell does this make any sense?" Then watch the rest of the show and be impressed at how it comes together. Punch Line, although its first half is rather weak, comes together in the second half to become an absolute must-watch for any anime fan.
Have you ever been at a modern art exhibit and felt like the artist just threw paint at the canvas? Many around you proclaim that it's "original," " bold," or "expressive," while they point at the rectangle of incomprehensible shapes and sloppy paint. While they might see something praiseworthy, from where you're standing, it looks like a kindergarten arts and crafts project, where the kids ate a little too much Elmer's paste.
Punch Line gives me that feeling, but instead of paint being thrown randomly at a canvas, we have themes and concepts instead. It felt like the creators just threw a bunch of ideas into
a hat after one too many drinks and began selecting random slips of paper from it to form the finished product. A string of loose thoughts, unsupported themes and underutilized concepts that somehow made it past the rough draft stage of some drunken editor's desk, where it was prematurely approved to become a final script. It's a tumultuous mess that tried to contain as many elements as possible and ended up imploding as a result.
Organized chaos isn't impossible to obtain, there has been countless of shows that have proven itself in accomplishing that. As long as the 'chaos' is guided by some kind of subtext or uniformity in each aspect's inclusion, it should turn out fine. However, if there's little in the way of connective tissue to hold the madness together, it doesn't take long before onlookers notice the shortcomings. With elements that do little to nothing to mesh together, it's hard to feel like there's any semblance of being behind Punch Line's existence. It's a project that confuses quirkiness with creative merit. There's no coherency between any of the show's plethora of flavoring, just a bunch of "whys" that are never properly explained. Why cinnamon? Why a bear for a pet? Why super saiyan? Why ghost cats? Why super sentai? Why panties? Why do panty-shots cause the world to explode outside of an obvious innuendo? Why body swaps? Why paradoxical time-travel? Why witchcraft? Why moe robot girl? Why anything? All these needless aspects that the show continuously tosses in felt like it was only there to distract from what little plot it was working with. A dribble of ideas thrown together, hoping a few would stick. And for the occasional instances where the show attempted to answer some of it, thematically it was as conclusive as the writers saying "just because." Punch Line brings up more questions than it answers, a trend that finds itself bleeding over into the main story-line.
For the most part, the show tries to tell a straightforward story about our protagonist, Yuuta Iridatsu, who has to travel through time to stop the impending destruction of Earth by ways of a meteorite strike. While it seems simple enough, it's the inclusion of the aforementioned elements that makes a fairly ordinary tale into a muddled mess. With plot twists and reveals that do absolutely nothing for the show's overall story or the characters involved, these tacked on tidbits ended up being questionable content instead of tasteful flavoring. Flavoring isn't bad by itself, but it needs to be used in moderation, or at least add something to the overall dish. A little dressing on a salad will enhance the taste, but adding too much would just make it into a repulsive swampy soup. Punch Line became that swampy soup, by effectively drowning out its content with too many unwarranted aspects.
Many of the plot points introduced during the show's run-time ended up not mattering in the long run since it was all negated by the "save the world" storyline that was introduced later on. The pointless elements discussed did nothing but further the issue, by taking time away from the narrative to travel down several detours that had no conclusion. It felt like a bait-and-switch from an over-the-top comedy/parody of super sentai, to an angst filled character drama along the lines of The Butterfly Effect. This was made even more jarring from the show's constant tonal shifts. Serious moments were often followed up by comedic gags, that not only downplayed the situation but also negated any tension that was supposed to arise from it. It destroyed any substantial weight behind incidents before it had time to sink in. There are times where serious moments that endangered the characters' lives were built up, only to be resolved by a flash of a girl's panties. It's not funny and it certainly isn't dramatic. The show's constant tonal shifts just kept on butting heads with each other. It made any conflict the show was trying to sell to feel pointless since it was easily washed away by the next scenario. When there's no consequence for life-threatening events, it's hard to get invested in a show's outcome.
But perhaps the biggest misstep of Punch Line was its use of time-travel. Time-travel is something that needs proper measure taken in order to stay relevantly coherent but the time-travel in Punch Line was beyond contrived and paradoxical. Every half-assed attempt to make sense of it only backfired. Since the theory of time-travel is riddled with paradoxes, to begin with, it's hard to put all the blame on the show. There are always loopholes whenever it is used in stories but there are some things that any iteration of time-travel tends to follow. Cardinal rules if you will. May that be the "butterfly effect" commonly found with linear travel or the "grandfather" paradox that's commonly shared with most iterations. Punch Line doesn't follow any of them, which causes it to make little sense when viewed as a whole. The closest thing to the type of time-travel Punch Line used would be parallel world jumping similar to what's used in TV shows like Sliders. But here's the problem, the protagonist already exist in this universe and even interacts with the other version of 'himself'. This should cause a rift in time or an anomaly to form but that never happens... and why you may ask? Well "just because", since it's something the writers seem to have no explanation for as usual. This lack of common sense was perfectly summed up with what I can only describe as the writer's not so subtle explanation via expository dialogue during the show's final moments. Our protagonist tries to explain and tie up the Gundam size plot holes by addressing the audience through the conversation 'he' had with the rest of the side characters. This laughable attempt to bring everything full-circle only shined a light on how improperly put together it was. All the explanation did was bring up more questions that would never get resolved.
If the show had anything going for it, it'll be the art and animation. It was vibrant and energetic. Similar to 2015 Winter season's Rolling Girls, it looked like a child's imagination brought to life. If you weren't watching this with any set standards it would be passable as visual entertainment. Being brought together by the relatively new studio MAPPA, Punch Line is yet another example of their visual prowess. The character designs were all very pleasant and felt well incorporated with the show's art choices. While they weren't all unique, it did have a trademark look about it that help to differentiate itself from other titles.
While it was well presented, for the most part, there were still times where the animation was stilted and stiff. This was more evident towards the middle portion of the show and the earlier slice-of-life episodes. The inconsistency from episode to episode can't be overlooked and hindered it from being better. But thankfully it made up for it by the 3/4 mark where the episodes maintained proper form and MAPPA strutted their stuff.
The soundtrack for Punch Line is your typical J-pop/rock musical selection, with the added bonus of a few keyboard synthesizers and electronic instruments tossed in for good measure. This gave the music a vibe similar to the Euro House music scene, which worked in unison with the visual flare presented throughout the show. While nice for what it was, most of it wasn't used to its fullest potential and could have been incorporated better. Some standout tracks included "Concentration", "Crisis" and "MUHI." It's nothing new and undoubtedly the kind of OST you would have heard many times over, but still did the job nonetheless. The opening theme "PUNCH LINE!" by Shokotan ♥ Denpa Gumi was a very catchy idol-heavy musical number. Like the OST, it worked well with the show's visual presentation. Again, nothing new but still a nice toe-tapping ear-worm.
Overall, the presentation of Punch Line was good and helped to make the nonsensical script more bearable than it would have been without it.
Now, what little appraisal I could offer Punch Line presentation-wise, the same can't be done when addressing the character lineup. With no memorable characteristics or features to speak of, each character was given a basic archetypal role and simple personality quirk to substitute for actual personality. They're no better than the cast of children shows like The Care Bears or Teletubbies, where it seems like their color palette and character design directly corresponded to their simplistic portrayal. They're more like caricatures than actual people.
Yuuta Iridatsu being our protagonist was the only one that was somewhat easy to relate to. Notice I said "somewhat," as there was not much done to flesh out 'his' character. 'He' would most likely be remembered for a plot twist that I dear not spoil here than for 'him' as a person.
Also, the ghost cat was probably the show's way of flipping the bird to the audience. For the entire run-time, he was presented as a guide for our protagonist that seemed to have an ulterior motive. There was no direct focus on the cat's actions but it always felt like it was meddling in the shadows. But it just turned out that the cat was just an expository mouthpiece for giving the audience painfully obvious info dumps, as well as serving as a plot-device for whenever the show(writers) needed to move the story along.
The antagonists for the series was also a let down since, like the rest of the cast, they had no proper characterization or personality to speak of. They were simply bad because the show demanded it and again was another pointless plot twist that didn't matter in the end.
Also, expect A LOT of troll character "death flag" scenes.
As a whole, the cast was a disappointment and forgettable almost immediately after completion. And while the show had some memorable moments, as a whole, it was a title that left me with more of a headache than anything satisfying.
With an inviting 1st episode, I thought I was getting ready to watch a fun super sentai journey with batshit insane presentation and over-the-top altercations but what I got instead was a show that quickly lost steam, a comedic gag that lost its novelty and a plot that went up its own ass. Visually, it was fine but the tonal shifts and misuse of concepts brought my enjoyment down.
The presentation ultimately saved this anime from being completely unwatchable. Where it could have worked as a satirical outlook on fanservice and super sentai flicks, it ended up going a more serious route, while not having the appropriate tone or pedigree of writing needed to back it up. It was an ambitious undertaking that fell short of the mark and squandered its chances of being better by trying to do too much at once. An idea was there but unfortunately, it was poorly realized.
Punchline is a fascinating and ambitious, but ultimately failed experiment by Studio MAPPA to tell unique, non-chronological, wacky, plot-twist filled story much in the same vain as Haruhi Suzumiya. What went wrong? To make a long story short: incompetent writing. This anime introduces a plethora of confusing and poorly explained plot devices that turn out to be completely pointless, totally nonsensical, and/or dead ends, making the show a ridiculous comedy at best and an incomprehensible mess at worse. But let’s talk about that:
Synopsis: Whenever out protagonist, Yuuta Iradatsu, sees a girl’s underwear, the world explodes. How? I don’t know. Why? Not important apparently.
Does this ever become a necessary plot point? No. Just roll with it. Anyway, Yuuta’s soul has become separated from his body, and his goal is to save the world, his friends, and himself by observing a particular series of events over and over again in spirit-form, with each iteration ending in a time reset.
Explaining exactly why a show doesn’t make any sense is not an easy thing to do to somebody who hasn’t seen it, especially without spoilers, but I’ll do my best. If I had to sum up the reason Punchline’s plot is absolutely awful in a single sentence, it would be this: Everything is pulled out of their ass. There is NO logical consistency or flow to the events of the show. Things that have no good explanations behind them just appear out of nowhere at random intervals as if the viewer is supposed to understand what is going on when nothing is being explained. I guess they were hoping that people would overlook the lack of explanation in favor of the fun factor, but that did not end up being the case because it’s TOO vague and TOO “out-there”. Most anime fans are willing to overlook minor or even major discrepancies if the rest of the show makes sense, but very few were willing to tolerate the sheer amount of incompetence that Punchline vomited onto our screens. If ever there was an example of throwing shit to the wall to see what sticks, this anime is now the quintessential case. To reiterate once more, since I can’t stress it enough, this show makes NO sense, and the very limited amount of mindless fun that it occasionally provides is not nearly enough to compensate for that.
Perhaps the main reason Puchline fails to connect with the audience is because its characters are so flat and one-dimensional. Any semblance of a backstory or motivations that a character receives are always the barest of barebones, not to mention that they don’t even make sense more often than not (have you spotted a pattern?). In fact, every time this show attempts to answer a question about one of its characters, it just raises three more. The show really banks on the fact that the viewers get attached to these basic archetypes and feel the chemistry/friendship that they have with each other, but they simply never give us a reason to. I didn’t care about these characters because I had no idea who any of them were, and that includes the protagonist, who is on screen over 90% of the time. That’s a major, MAJOR issue. Oh, and the pointless plot devices that have no reason to exist that I mentioned earlier? The characters have a ton of those. All I can guess is that they are an attempt to make the show seem more “crazy” and “fun”, when really they just serve to make it even more incomprehensible. I don’t remember any of their names; that’s how truly unmemorable and uninteresting they are. Oh, and I’m still pretty confused about who the villain was supposed to be and what his motivations were. This show is just one big giant clusterfuck of disorientation.
Being animated by Studio MAPPA, Punchline is not totally without its strong points. The art, art direction, cinematography, and animation in general are easily the highlights of the show. Actions scenes are made more fun with unique and experimental angles as well as over-the top choreography that can be pretty entertaining at times. MAPPA continues distinguish themselves with their stellar visuals. As for the use of sound, it’s pretty standard. The OP and ED themes are catchy, but I’ll forget them in a month. The OST is also pretty run of the mill and sound design was pretty hit or miss for me. To sum it up, Punchline has above average animation and average sound.
If you’re looking for an over-the-top, mindless-fun sort of show, Punchline tries too hard to have a plot. If you are looking for a complex, Suzumiya-eque, intertwining story, Punchline is too confusing and nonsensical. As a result, this anime gets caught somewhere in the middle to these two target audiences, satisfies neither of them, and fails to establish any positive identity of its own. All things considered though, I must applaud the attempt at creating an original, multifaceted show. I truly hate the fact that I have to bash this anime because I really wanted to like it, but writing was simply too awful to tolerate. I do not recommend Punchline to anyone.
I have lusted after a good ecchi for years. My friends at MAPPA and Uchikoshi, the author of the Zero Escape video games series collaborated together to bring us just that. Like it's spiritual predecessor Kill la Kill, which virtually allowed the market for shows like this to be created once again, it is ecchi parody. The whole concept of the show is ecchi, the gag of reflexively destroying the world when chancing on panties immediately feels too obtuse. Why the hell would anyone ever watch something so blatantly dumb? Probably because if the narrative wasn't daringly original it would have been definitively the worst
show to be made in quite some time.
With that said, the ecchi portions of the show are absurdly flashy and basically so in-your-face jokes that there is no ecchi at all. Punch Line is not an arousing show. It was not created with the purpose of being arousing. It was a slice-of-life mystery from episode one. It's a riotous comedy that inverts all sorts of terribleness from the known-to-all loved-by-none (or degenerate) genre of ecchi. It has everything; a zany premise, harem situation, super powers, nose bleeds, the promise of sex jokes, robots, time travel, ninjas, mascot characters, archetypal cast, forgettable lead, low-budget setting, and the list goes on. We are given the direct dose of horrible ecchi setting, but Punch Line just wants to shake you up a little bit. What if the ecchi setting was used for something other than... vapid and lustful entertainment?
We are dealt a handful of hilariously offbeat slice-of-life episodes and then as audience, MAPPA knocks in the head a few times. Were you paying attention? If you haven't seen Punch Line yet, look out - There's no men in the main cast.
The music arrangement in Punch Line is standard issue for the most part. It's electronic and it's ambient and retains some of the doujin and sugar coated feel that the opening brings. The opening theme is really an anthem though, a real stupid, a real catchy, and really bizarre anthem. An ecchi show is all about the assets. It does everything to get your attention. Yet where ecchi shows usually begin to shy away from sexualizing after a certain point, resigning that the audience either gets it or won't watch, they throw together a sloppily and hastily made opening and ending theme. Punch Line does the opposite. Since the show itself is barely about seeing panties or having perverted moments linger, the opening does that in a 90 seconds full salvo. The ending is the opposite, an innocent and childlike fantasy. This ending theme is often at odds with the shows rather dark themes of imminent destruction and isolation.
And that's actually what Punch Line is about. It's about a group of people with actually very little in common, living in the suburbs of Japan, in small rooms all right next door to each other. What do a bullied hikkikimori, annoying land-owner, a drunk floozy, and an ordinary school girl all have in common? Is it possible to live in such proximity to people and have no connection with them? The story of Punch Line is absurd and starts and ends promising, quite literally, the destruction of the world. And we get the destruction of the world. A couple times actually. But what Punch Line is a good flex of narrative muscle, bringing together originally stereotypical characters into a community that gives them just a little more innovation than the rest of the industry can do right now. Ecchi is a whole genre built on absurdism - how far can the label be pushed until the audience doesn't want to watch anymore and how far can the program go before the government axes production clean off the air for indecency. It is a totally unconventional place to actually enjoy a cast of characters, but Punch Line does it. Punch Line ends up being a believable story of unlikely friendships.
This completely absurd show with no boundaries and just an handful of troupes that the scriptwriter wanted to toy with actually manages to make you care. That is Punch Lines charm.
When you get down and dirty with Punch Line you end up with a more riveting and somehow believable conclusion than the finale of Steins;Gate. The finesse it takes to bring such a lurid and stupid premise and breathe life into a genre devoid of any human dignity makes for a grand display, one you can't believe. I have to seriously congratulate Punch Line for managing to show that Kill la Kill wasn't just a one and done thing. It takes a lot of lace to tie together a show this buoyant.
Who's that girl, the quiet one avoiding everyone and looking straight ahead? That girl who loves music? That weird girl who loves tech? What was her name again? Until you remember lets just say she is one fabulous anime girl with headphones.