Onyankopon watched over people long ago, but one day an old woman accidentally hit Onyankopon in the head with a mallet while mashing yams. Since then, Onyankopon has been nervous about greeting people directly, and so sends subordinates to speak to them and solve their problems. He will use Afrobeat and dance to help Japanese high school girls with problems such as dieting, love, and cramming for exams.
Let me start out by saying that I'm not one to default to being biased towards children's media or 3D animation. One of my favorite shows of all time is children's media that utilizes 3D animation.
However, there is a certain bar of quality one needs to hit. Either the 3D animation needs to be actually good, or at least passable, or the story needs to be good enough to make up for the animation. Onyankopon fails on all fronts in this regard. And unfortunately, when your show is shorts, that tends to kill it, badly.
On top of the generally hideous, poorly done animation that involves
such delights as the hair clipping upwards randomly when connecting too much with a character's arm, content actually gets reused. In fact, one of the running gags of the series is just to repeat the same thing over and over again to attempted humorous effect. Sadly, it doesn't make it enjoyable. Somehow, hearing the same four girls yell the same thing out multiple times in a row doesn't make me laugh.
I get it. Not everything that a kid would find funny is something I, as an adult, can find funny. But that's where another issue comes in. This show is clearly aimed at young children, but the jokes are aimed at tweens-younger teens, who are not going to laugh at these jokes or waste their time on the series in the first place. Children aren't going to think these jokes are funny because they'll likely go over their head. The jokes that aren't obviously aimed at tweens come off as boring and crude at best.
About the only thing that's remotely enjoyable about the show is the random music number thrown in near the end of each episode, as the background music for some of the songs is quite nice. This is again, ruined by repetition, because the characters can't stop singing "Onyankopon." The lyrics that aren't the name of the main character/show are nonsense lyrics about what the writers clearly think young girls think about, which they don't. Nobody does. None of the problems presented are real.
Speaking of characters, I remember the name of exactly one character. Can you guess who? Surely not the character who gets his name said at least twenty times an episode, half of which by himself. The four girls that are in this show probably had names. I've already forgotten, and I'm writing this review right after watching the show. If they were meant to be memorable, they weren't. They don't even have different personalities beyond the girl wearing glasses kind of appearing to be the "smart and calm" stereotype. The other three just blend.
I can't even recommend this in the sense of "it's so bad it's funny," because it's not. It's just incredibly dull, unfunny, and badly animated to the point of being insulting. Huge avoid. This isn't even something to throw on for the children to watch.
If you're ever thought to scroll past the popular shows of each season to look at the lower scored offerings nobody watched; chances are you'll see at least one weird looking CGI or Flash animated show that makes you rapidly ask “Why is this?” A small cottage industry of sorts has sprung up in the last decade or so, producing a small but fairly regular number of these mostly ONAs; mostly about girls doing things. While it would be wrong to claim there was one starting point or one man responsible; if you trace the links back far enough from many of them you'll find
the 2011 show Gdgd Fairies & its director Souta Sugahara.
Seeing Souta's name attached to Onyakopon explains a lot. In it, a cat god, allegedly from West Africa, sort of but doesn't really help a group of Japanese high school girls with their girl problems. Each episode mostly follows a set routine of something happening in the god world; something similar happens in the girl world; they do a musical number that sort of relates to the issue; then the issue resolves itself. It looks like a low budget, short edutainment show for young children; & the involvement of Toonz Entertainment (part of the animation outsourcing monolith that, among many things, churns out a some of those seemingly computer generated cartoons for babies flooding Youtube) only furthers the impression that this is meant to be a cheap attempt at a Japanese Octonauts, or something similar.
But like many of these shows, one is left more with the impression that this is a parody of children's TV made by & for men who, for various reasons, have to plan their travels to avoid being near schools. The subjects of each episode & the general way the characters converse all leave the impression that the writer's main source of information about high school girls is Lucky Star. Indeed, one of the background tracks sounds rather similar to the one that plays in the back of a lot of that shows conversations. The songs only add to the impression that this some weird experiment to see what men think girls are like, with themes like: “Please, god, don't make my face look fat!” & “I need the toilet; come with?”
Yet there's an appeal to a lot of these types of shows that Onyankopon is lacking. A key feature of Gdgd Fairies & its ilk is that the actresses will eventually go off-script &/or break character; which is where a lot of the humour comes from. The scripted conversations in this one are pretty dull & there's no time for things to get weird or go wrong. Nor does the short runtime & regimented, episodic structure leave any space for anything like a narrative or plot line to be developed; or for characters to form something one might confuse for individual personalities. In a weird way, the show is also too well produced for its own good, lacking the amateurishness that somehow adds to the charm of a lot of these shows.
In short, Onyankopon is just kinda boring. Some moments, like when a black guy's head suddenly appears in one episode to comment on what the girls are doing, liven it up a bit; & I'm sure the singers who voice the girls & do the end song will appreciate the exposure; but I struggle to see what the point of this all was. If it's meant to be one of those parody series, there are plenty of better ones out there (Tesagure! Bukatsumono is probably the best of them). If it really was sincerely meant for children, then the gods' have punished us with something much worse than a fat head.