Many patients with different problems visit the psychiatric ward of Irabu General Hospital; a trapeze artist suffering from insomnia after suddenly failing his jumps, a gangster afraid of knives and sharp objects and a business man who has an erection 24 hours a day. They undergo counseling by Dr. Ichiro Irabu, who is the child-like son of the hospital director. His assistant is the sullen faced sexy nurse Mayumi. With his mysterious injections, and advice that does not make sense, Dr. Irabu confuses his patients. But at the end of his unique treatments, the patients are lead to digging further into their souls to find peace of mind.
Here is an anime that will turn 90% of its viewers away. Why? Because it dares to be distinctly different. For the remaining 10% who watched after the first episode, you probably know already how great this anime is. Now let's hope to switch these figures, so everyone can enjoy.
The story is of Dr. Irabu, a psychiatrist who also happens to be the vice chairman in his fathers hospital. He's an incredibly skilled doctor who welcomes many patients, and his treatment is always vitamin injections. The story revolves around the people with disorders such as OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder), and
many others. The story takes place all within ten days, December 16th to December 25th, and all the stories somehow affect one another, whether it be minutely or dramatically. Now up to this point you may think this sounds really dreary and serious, right? Wrong. The stories are very light-hearted for the most part and the comedy is boundless. There's a case where a man has an uncontrollable boner, and the only way to cure it is by forgetting his past. Crude? Yes. Hilarious? Yes. The interwoven ten day tale of the wacky doctor and his just-as-wacky patients will surely amuse you if you give it a chance.
Well. You might hate it. You might love it. But you gotta admit, it's interesting to watch. Kenji Nakamura used the same kind of art in Trapeze as he did in Mononoke. It's really cool stuff if you're a fan of his. The terrificly strange style really does help the mood of this anime, a psychedelic off-key kind of a mood - something weird. And listen here folks, this is anime is as weird as it gets. Trapeze sometimes even incorporates live-action materials like faces and bodies, once again setting it apart from the usual anime. If you liked the art styles of anime like Mononoke, Mind Game, and Gankustuou this may be the artsy-fartsy anime for you.
Character voices for Irabu are great. Whiny and shrill, loud and fast-paced, slow and chiseling - actually three different "voices" altogether (two voice actors). When Irabu changes persona's from his middle-aged man, to his bear-mask, to his child form, his voice changes and personality slightly changes as well. A really nice touch. As for the rest of the cast, nothing out of the ordinary, good voices, but nothing historic. The opening is loose and odd and fits the anime quite well, it has a good beat you might even start to hum. The ending is really great though. It fits the anime perfectly and whenever I hear it, I just feel like dancing. The ending suits the feel you get at the end of an episode of Trapeze, and that's what really counts. You have to make your catchy songs not only be catchy, but also connect to viewers emotions for more of an impact, and that's what Trapeze does.
A new character every episode? How am I supposed to like that? I won't even care for them if they just disappear in twenty minutes! Right? Wrong. A great cast of characters, just about every single one of them memorable. The recurring cast is Irabu, who I've already touched on, Mayumi - Irabu's nonchalant maid-nurse who supplies the patients with injections (and cleavage), and Fukuicchi the live-action doctor who pops up from time to time to inform the viewer about certain things he may not be familiar with (i.e. what OCD is). The interchanging cast is the patients. All appear in more than one episode, but only one episode is mainly focused on them. There's a reporter who's afraid of causing people trouble, there's a failed child actor who still thinks he's "got it", there's a baseball star who's feeling like he's lost his touch, there's even a man afraid of sharp edges. Just check them out for yourself.
Not a single episode I didn't enjoy more than the average anime. If I had to rate each episode, I'd give nine out of eleven of them a solid 10 and two of them a 9. Not too shabby. But this rating is only mine. It's not yours. If you don't like this anime, it's not because it's bad, it's because you simply *didn't like this anime*. It's a psychological show, about emotions and personal distress and what can happen to it when left alone. It's not the kind of a show with a message that reaches the world easily. All I can ask is that you try it out, and if you didn't like it after one episode don't drop it and give it a 1 out of ten (unless you seriously hated it that much, but I'd have to question your judgment skills - only watching one eleventh of something and turning it off).
Wildly different and stunning in every sense. I'd be terribly disappointed if this anime didn't win some kind of award somewhere out there, whether it be for "Strangest Anime of All Time" or what I don't know*. But this is good. Watch it, and watch more than one episode. Why not watch two? I mean, twenty minutes won't kill you if you end up enjoying it.
I guess the point I'm trying to hit home is that a lot of people drop this anime because it isn't their cup of tea, and there's nothing wrong with that. This anime deserves more than that though, it deserves a chance for all the hard work put into it for making it as off-beat as possible and I'm just trying to supply a voice to do that. Now go forth, and witness the birth of the freak known as Trapeze!
*Actually Trapeze has won a few awards since, notably it's award for best show for young adults and "the Prize for Filming Technology by Motion Picture and Television Engineering Society of Japan."
Trapeze is a show that comes along once in a blue moon. There is no moe to be found here. There is no fanservice (apart from Mayumi's injections). There are no lolis. The art style is odd, and there is no bloodshed.
So, why should you watch it, you ask? Trapeze is a story that dares to be drastically different, with amazing writing and strong characters, while supporting a unique and engaging art style. The voice acting is top notch, and the stories are great.
Taking place mid-to-late December, the show is mostly episodic, covering the same time frame. Characters appear in episodes other than their
own, lacing the entire show together and creating a living, breathing world. The stories are all very human, and most are rather touching. Every episode is strong, focusing on a patient and following him around their everyday life, and how their mental illness debilitates them.
The real showstealer is Dr. Irabu, though. His three appearances, representing the Ego, Superego, and Id, give a variety of viewpoints, and Fukuicchi gives real medical advice (kind of).
Trapeze is a show that will never be as popular as it deserves to be, because it is so incredibly different than the norm. It will never be seen for the example of what a great show is. And that is the tragedy of this comedy.
Everybody has problems, everybody has fears, everybody needs help sometimes, but despite being as flawed as we are society seamlessly moves forward and knowingly or not we are each an important gear in advancing our culture and world.
Kuuchuu Buranko is an artistic, psychedelic expression of problems or doubts we have and getting through them or bettering ourselves. Some of us have common fears and anxieties from not being able to deal with our families and trying to run away, to maybe some stranger problems like uncontrollable erections, as well as everything in-between. Those are the types of experiences we handle in
this show, I say experiences because they are 'representations' of real life problems and feel very human to the core despite being very surreal and seemingly visceral on the outside. It presents various psychological problems in a visual way, makes the unseen seen as they attempt to rip out the problem at its root.
These problems and the characters suffering from them are dealt with in an episodic, case-by-case nature giving them all the time necessary for a self-contained journey of self-realization or epiphany that is pushed along by our central characters Ichiro Irabu, an eccentric, care-free psychiatrist with an injection fetish and a generally strange method of treatment as well as Mayumi, his sexy, somewhat cold nurse. The main characters I feel however, are the patients of each episode with Irabu and Mayumi there to help guide them to the path of recovery, but not outright curing them, making every episode cathartic and full of character development. Some of the outcomes are very blatant with their problems being completely solved, some of them are more subtle and only put them on the right mindset to recovery, but each and every one of them is educational, inspiring, full of catharsis, and a batshit crazy mind-trip that may seem random but is actually very precise and well-coordinated. That isn't to say that there aren't some weaker episodes, there definitely are but they all have a great sense of purpose and still manage to give you something to think about or reflect on. The finale may not be a grand-stand that makes its episodic nature into something more but it really puts an emphasis on the themes of the show and wraps it all up very nicely. All the events are actually linked together, not in a high impact epiphanic way but in a way that's meaningful to the show's purpose and ideas.
Our characters may not be the most fleshed-out but they're very engaging, sympathizable, and most importantly, human. Some of them are defined by their problems, some of them aren't but there's always a degree of depth to them that makes up for episodes of over-arching screentime with sheer writing quality. Kuuchuu always puts it's heart and soul into its themes and characters, always lively and ambitious but never pretentious or insincere. Sometimes the writing can seem sloppy here-and-there but despite that it proves itself as a masterful work with lots of meaning, artistry, expression, and heart.
I described this show as "surreal" or as a "batshit crazy mind-trip" and that's largely to do with its art direction. It's an interesting culmination of traditional style anime with lots of vibrant colors, real-life people or backgrounds, and rotoscoping. I know when I say rotoscoping a lot of you want to run for the hills, but here it works quite nicely. It's used in more of a comedic way or to properly emit facial expression, mostly comedic though. If I made the show sound like it's entirely serious up to this point, that's definitely not the case. It's really charming and extremely goofy in presentation, while also being dark and strong on its themes, the show knows exactly when to take itself seriously and when to throw in some great satire. There's never a jarring tone-shift and its comedy really works, atleast from my perspective. Back to the art, Kuuchuu features a ton of visual metaphor and is fairly heavy on symbolism, it doesn't use its symbolism as a crutch to make sense but it certainly adds a lot of content to the show. If you're the type to look deep into those types of things then you'll definitely get a lot more out of this show. All-in-all though the show just looks great, has tons of flair and style with lots of meaning to it, it's not just trying to look different for the sake of being different.
The voice acting is stellar to say the least. Everyone gives a really convincing performance and really brings their character to life, most notably Paku Romi and Mitsuya Yuji as Irabu, he has multiple voice actors as he is represented by three different appearances according to the personality traits he's displaying, but there's assuredly other reasons as well, he's shown as: A large man in a bear outfit, a child, and kind of a middle more 'normal' form. His seiyuus really bring out his personality and capture all his little quirks perfectly, I can't imagine him with different seiyuus. Kuuchuu also features an interesting soundtrack full of music that's kind of reminiscent of eurodance or technopop including the OP and ED which are really catchy and emits the feeling of the show pretty well.
Kuuchuu Buranko is truly an artistic gem with a ton of merit. It doesn't shake off being formulaic, a problem most episodic shows have. However, it manages to be incredibly engaging despite that with it's zany narrative and art direction, human characters, solid comedy, great foreshadowing, and fantastic execution of it's themes. If you're a fan of psychological anime, willing go out of your comfort zone in terms of visuals, and don't mind episodic shows then I fully recommend this, you're in for a very powerful and different experience.
Do you really know the struggles your colleagues, friends, and family deal with on a daily basis? Unfortunately for most people, the answer to this question is a resounding “no.” Yet despite this, lots can be learned from understanding the problems of others, however trivial they may seem. There are a select few, however, that spend their time listening to the canaries and attempting to come to understanding with the complications facing other people. In quite possibly his most extraordinary project to date, director Kenji Nakamura attempts to analyze unravel the ever-complicated human psyche with his avant-garde spectacle, Kuuchuu Buranko.
Originally aired in the fall of
2009, Kuuchuu Buranko revolves around the bizarre office of Dr. Ichiro Irabu, a psychologist with a peculiar approach toward treatment and an ardent fetish for injections. Together, he and his astonishingly beautiful assistant Mayumi tackle many different psychological enigmas, ranging from a patient with an extreme case of erectile dysfunction to a man who can’t control the urge to constantly cause destruction and wreak havoc on his surroundings. Being an entirely episodic show, each episode brings a brand new patient and mental disorder that Irabu is tasked with diagnosing and treating. However, the timeline of the show is non-linear, with each case taking place over the same time period, leading to cases seen in early and later episodes to subtly intertwine with one each other.
The most distinctive and discussed feature of Kuuchuu Buranko is its incredibly vibrant and dynamic art style. While it may be off-putting to some, the trippy, resplendent visuals add an extra layer of depth and complexity hidden beneath the extravagant shapes colors in each setting and character design. It’s becoming more and more uncommon in the world of anime to see shows push the boundaries of animation toward experimental avenues, yet Kuuchuu Buranko is a refreshing reminder of how abstract visuals can be successfully employed and paired with a strong thematic narrative to exponentially enhance the viewing experience of a work. Not a single frame is wasted and not a single shot is the same as the next, making it one of the most brilliant and intoxicating pieces of art you will ever come across.
But Kuuchuu Buranko is more than just a compilation of awe-inspiring visuals with no substance to support. The nuance of each moment is what really captivated me. Each new patient carries a malady with them that is surprisingly relatable in more than one way. Every case investigated by Dr. Irabu is seemingly a minor hindrance experienced by most people blown up to epic proportions. Yet these problems never have a clear-cut solution, and in many cases, the patient is forced to accept their flaws rather than fight against them. Embracing your flaws, your weird and quirky tendencies, is what this show is all about. That theme speaks volumes in the context of Kuuchuu Buranko’s premise. There are no easy fixes to psychological dilemmas, and you must think outside the box when searching for a solution. That’s the whole vibe this anime gives off: outside the box, pushing the limits, and finding new ways to approach limitations. Adding on, the way the character’s and their surrounding changed as each episode progressed might just be the most intriguing aspect of the show. Whether it be the mind-bending way Irabu alters his persona to match the tone of the moment, or Mayumi and the patients switching between expressive live-action shots and detailed animation, every angle flawlessly accompanies the tone and the action unfolding in each scene perfectly. The visual synchronization with the well-timed comedic and dramatic moments, combined with an epic soundtrack and interesting and relatable characters makes each and every episode incredibly immersive. Nakamura really shows his full talent here, pulling out every trick in his bag to create an absolute masterpiece of animation. At the end of it all, there is no story left untold and no voice left unheard. If you want a completely different magical experience that will speak to you in volumes, look no further than Kuuchuu Buranko.
Is this show for everyone? Probably not. If you can’t appreciate the wacky storytelling and the audacious visual style, you probably won’t be able to buy into the message being portrayed. But if you can, an enchanting experience awaits. At its core, Kuuchuu Buranko is an absurdly fun and introspective work of art. So, will you listen to the canaries? Will you appreciate the little flaws and intricacies in your life and the lives of others? Ultimately, Kuuchuu Buranko may or may not help you answer these tough questions, but regardless, the adventure it presents is unlike anything else in the medium. So listen to what others are trying to say. Let Dr. Irabu enter your mind and change the way you think. And most importantly, do not miss out on the wacky, stylish ride that is Kuuchuu Buranko, an anime you undoubtedly won’t soon forget.
Action is awesome, romance is sweet, but when it comes to making you think nothing beats psychological anime. These top psychological anime will turn your perception of anime upside down. Prepare to have your mind blown.