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.
Do you truly know the people around you? Do you notice the chirping canaries that fly by your side?
Psychiatry deals with grave issues; perhaps triggered by a past trauma, perhaps by an insufferable present; patients find themselves struggling to cope with their daily lives. This gravity is what makes the eccentric Irabu Ichiro, certified psychiatrist, so bewildering a character. Accompanied by his seductive nurse Mayumi, he runs a psychiatric ward offering consultation and treatment for people suffering from various mental disorders. The deceptively simple premise of Kuuchuu Buranko lays the groundwork for an extraordinary exploration of human mind and society.
The first thing in Kuuchuu Buranko
to catch people’s eyes is often its distinctive artistic style which utilizes a combination of animation, live-action, and rotoscopy. The colours are vibrant and lively; patterns inspired by pop art overlays various background objects, and work in conjunction with the vivid palette to surround the viewers in a psychedelic ambience. The atmosphere straddles the line between real and surreal. Far from a superficial attempt establishing a psychological tone, the unique style is appropriate for an investigation of the human psyche where reality intersects perception and imagination. The bizarreness does not move out of line: the lifelike character designs and the sincerity of the stories both serve to ground the show in reality. The human mind can be an alien place, but the problems it may cause are nonetheless real.
Being an episodic anime, each episode deals with a new patient and his disorder. Though those who consult doctor Irabu may display exaggerated traits or disorders, these are reflective of universal problems present in the general public. Insight into the viewer’s mind follows alongside the development and unravelling of the characters’ stories. Kuuchuu Buranko does not take the disorders lightly; they can lead to severe difficulties as they do in reality. Yet, the comical depiction of the disorders give the viewers a laid-back and sometimes ironic view of the traits that they themselves likely display to a milder degree. The seemingly detached standpoint on the veritably personal problems stresses the importance of perspective in psychiatry. Each episode ends on an uplifting note, but is not blindly optimistic as the disorders are not always cured. It is rather the outlook on the problems that change by the end of each episode. The psyche is shown as the dynamic and flexible being that it is
Much of the themes of Kuuchuu Buranko are best embodied by Dr Irabu himself, who sporadically transforms between a patched-up teddybear, a young adult, and a child. At times indifferent and other times caring, each persona is marked by a distinctive personality. He is seemingly unbound by physical limitations as he appears at any place and time as he wills. Being the only character without a live-action face, Dr Irabu embodies a concept which drives forward the patients and the show’s messages rather than appearing as a realistic character. In psychiatry the source of the cure is always the patient, whereas doctors and drugs merely facilitate the patient’s self-discovery. Operating completely at his own whims and without regard to traditional medical ethics and practice, Irabu illustrates the importance of personalized and adaptive care instead of systematic approaches on patient treatment.
Often understated in importance is the nurse, whose explicit fanservice scenes may overshadow her comparatively minimal characterization. Shown simply as eye-candy in the first few episodes, her humane side is gradually revealed as time goes on. Through subtle gestures and short remarks, she establishes herself as perhaps the most human of all the characters, in contrast to Dr Irabu. Animated entirely using live-action techniques, she acts as a foil to the doctor and emphasizes the importance of caring for those around you. We are all human being with our own feelings and motives behind each action. She, just like everyone else, quietly and subtly supports others in her own way from the background.
Whereas the doctor and the nurse are both entertaining and thematically dense, the real highlight of Kuuchuu Buranko is the rest of its cast. With focus on characterization rather than plot progression, the patients show significant depth and development despite each being cast in only a single episode. Each episode condenses a widespread problem into a character’s mental disorder, slowly provides perspective and insight into the problem, and ends on a satisfying manner be it conclusive or not. Take episode ten for example, in which a sentimental businessman struggles to relive his youth through his sense of duty and patriotism. Rather than dealing solely with the often deceptive notion of youth, pride and strength, it also discusses the mismatch between the self we conceive and others’ conception of us. The issues dealt with are usually far broader than is apparent but do not suffer from the superficiality commonly resulting from broadness, due to the depth and effectiveness with which the specific issues are tackled and developed. Kuuchuu Buranko is powerful because it knows us.
Others don’t see the world as you do; each person has his or her own struggles and imperfections. Without trying to truly understand and empathise with those around us, we will never see beyond face value. Kuuchuu Buranko is not just a story about psychiatric professionals and patients; it’s a story about each of us struggling with our mind and coming into terms with the world surrounding it. Do you, my friend, notice the chirping canaries that fly by your side?
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.
Kuuchuu Buranko is based on a series of short stories by Okuda Hideo. The stories have been adapted into multiple live action films, a television drama and this anime series from Toei animation. That's right, the same studio behind Dragonball, Sailor Moon, Precure, Digimon and many other anime. So, how did they do with this series? Let's delve in.
Irabu is a psychologist who works with all kinds of patients. The series basically covers eleven of his cases. What their neuroses are and how he treats them. All in a way that's supposed to be comedic.
But that's also the big flaw of the series. It's largely
not actually funny. A lot of the humour is supposed to come from shifting art styles, Irabu's weird fetish for vitamin shots, his patients being shown with animal heads and other things that aren't actually funny. They're strange, certainly, but strange doesn't necessarily equate to comedic. Part of the issue is just that the setups are all pretty similar. We get a glimpse of the patient and their problem. Irabu has them given an injection and then we see them go about their lives for a bit while Irabu follows them to dispense advice and then we get a small indication that things are going fine for them before the episode ends. For a series that relies so much on surreal artwork the comedy is all rather sterile and predictable. From a comedic standpoint, it's pretty lacklustre. Another issue is that the attempts at comedic content are distracting enough to undermine the series' more serious elements
That being said, the series does keep your attention pretty well. Seeing the daily lives of the various people and how they carry on while trying to control their mental problems can be interesting. I also appreciate that the series does inform you of how the illnesses its portraying actually work or if they're pure fiction, as one is, instead of claiming to be any kind of accurate representation of those illnesses.
In terms of characters, this is a kind of odd series. The major characters don't have much to them. Irabu is just kind of quirky. His nurse, Mayumi, doesn't have much personality aside from being kind of cold. The side characters ie the patients, however, get pretty nicely fleshed out. The series spends time setting them up and the bulk of them are fleshed out, believable characters. Which is a big part of why the psychological aspect of the series does generally work.
The series has an art style unlike any other series I've seen. There are a good three or four different art styles and the series mixes them together, shifts between them and it results in a pretty surreal atmosphere. That being said, there is one major failing to the whole thing. It's way too damn busy. The combination of bright primary colours and shifting artwork can be physically painful to look at. There were multiple points where I had to stop watching in the middle of an episode, take off my spectacle and rest my eyes for a while before continuing. Especially since it's pretty constant. Even putting the discomfort aspect aside, it just comes across as half ocular cacophony and half surreal.
The acting is another heavily mixed element. The series did get some good actors, Paku Romi & Mitsuya Yuuji being the big ones, and they sound fine when they're talking normally, but they frequently don't speak normally. They operate with loud, exaggerated, bombastic performances that make Brian Blessed sound subtle. Irabu's character, voiced at times by both of the aforementioned actors, is the worst when it comes to that. Whenever you see him with a mouse's head, he sounds ear-bleedingly obnoxious. The music is brought to us by Mori Hideharu, who also worked on the music for Black Rock Shooter TV. It's all right. I wasn't super fond of it but I also didn't dislike it.
There really isn't any in this series.
When it comes right down to it, the big issue with Kuuchuu Buranko is that there's so much about it that's overblown. A lot of the acting is bombastic. The artwork is overdone to the point where it can be painful. The comedy relies on things being overly strange and the other exaggerated factors. That being said, the psychological elements generally do work but I don't know if I can recommend it on that basis since this is a psychological comedy and the comedic elements generally don't work. Ultimately, it's a pretty average series. My final rating is a 5/10. The stuff that does work works well and the stuff that doesn't gravitates towards being obnoxious. If you want something a bit different and you like psychological elements, it might keep you entertained. If you want the comedic or dramatic elements, you'll probably be disappointed. Next week I'll look at something else psychological with Haibane Renmei. Until then, keep being fabulous.
The study of psychology has always been a fascinating subject to me, particularly when it is the focal point of some kind of medium such as literature or anime. One word that comes to mind when I think of Kuuchuu Buranko is bizarre. This series assaults its viewers with peculiar, even somewhat grotesque visuals that will both perplex and amaze you. Prepare to go down the rabbit hole, because this anime is a colorful and confusing journey into the inter-workings of the human psyche.
The story follows the young psychologist Ichiro Irabu, who counsels people with disorders such as depression and obsessive compulsion. Many times he
forces his patients to get out of their comfort zone in order to try to conquer their mind. What does it mean to be happy? People spend their entire lives trying to discover true happiness for themselves and many times never find it. Kuuchuu Buranko would have you believe that the root of happiness lies in the ability to take a step back and examine oneself objectively. We all have flaws and the first step to smoothing them out is admitting they exist, whether or not that requires the help of those around us, or perhaps even a professsional.
This is an episodic series. The episodes are linked only by reoccurring characters. As the series goes on we see them intersect each other’s lives and affect each other in a major way. An episodic series is dependent upon its characters to tell the story, and this is where Kuuchuu Buranko succeeds. The patients at the psychiatric ward are all facing very real, very relatable problems that people of all ages have to deal with daily. The disorders are presented and examined in a way that makes the viewer almost feel the anxiety that the character under examination is feeling.
As mentioned earlier, the art in this series is truly strange. Every episode creates a psychedelic atmosphere by utilizing a lush and vibrant color palette. The characters as well are influenced by this art style. Time and time again the animated faces switch to realistic looking ones that create a disturbing image of panic or some other uncomfortable feeling.
The psychological genre has long been known to take a different, and sometimes strange approach to storytelling. Many titles in this genre are hit and miss, and Kuuchuu Buranko is no exception. Many people will be turned away by the hallucinatory art style. But if you find that you enjoy this unique approach to the medium, then this can be a truly unique and entertaining look into the human mind.
Some people say that the best way to solve a problem concerning internal conflict is to talk to someone about it. Whether this proves true or not is to be decided by those with said conflicts, but even so, who should one of these people talk to in order to ease their conscience? Friends, family, strangers, celebrities? These are all likely possibilities, but what is debatably the most regarded choice in the matter is the local psychiatrist. People believe that because psychiatrists have a degree in psychology or study in the field of human development and interactions that they'd make a suitable choice to fix
one's mental problems, because they would know what was going on in their minds. However, if Kuuchuu Buranko is any indicator, every patient has the exact same problem, and the doctor who's responsible for their treatment doesn't have to stray far in order to combat their inner struggles.
What those who choose to watch this series will immediately notice from the beginning sequences is that it's bizarre. It is bizarre in the sense that the animation switches between standard animation and live-action, and some of the imagery is so vivid and bright that they would think they were in a dream. Along with some scenes that don't make sense, Kuuchuu Buranko begins as a lost cause. To the unknowing, the series is just a mess of random characters doing unusual things with a single individual being guided by a doctor in a bear helmet. If one chooses to continue the series, the events that transpire within the first episode begin to unwind into a chronological system, wrapping and binding each and every character to ever visit the doctor into one central setting. Through whimsical determination, the plot of this series dances around our own image of a continuous, straight-forward story progression and shows that there are other ways to mend a conceivable plotline than previously possible. And it's all possible due to the star of Kuuchuu Buranko: Dr. Ichiro Irabu.
When thinking of doctors, one would expect them to be clean, fresh, professional, and straight to business. Dr. Irabu is the exact opposite of all of these traits, which automatically makes him a cliche character. However, this kind of cliche is easy to like, seeing as his charm comes from the combination of his uncharacteristically child-like antics and the pure intentions behind them. While his role in the show is to push the plot forward and to help his patients recover from their problems, the beautiful thing about this anime is that he isn't shown too much. When it comes down to it, he's a psychiatrist, and his job is to help his patients. By taking this role, he becomes only a side character when compared to his patients, the real stars of each individual episode. However, due to his forms of treatment, it's hard to form any sense of satisfaction after his patients find peace within themselves at the end of each episode, seeing as his methods only serve as a stepping stone to make way for the patients to figure out their quirks themselves. Again, this could be another example of his role as the doctor, which only makes him less obnoxious as a character in general. Not to mention, he's genuinely funny.
While Irabu and his patients are the driving force behind the story's progression and likability, there are notable side characters that also deserve some recognition. Mayumi, Dr. Irabu's "sexy nurse," is normally shown through live action shots, which make her more attractive... to some. She assists Dr. Irabu with giving each patient of his an injection shot, which both of them take extreme pleasure in. Basically, she's an assistant to comic relief. However, she also has individual scenes that give her a sense of humanism, albeit minimal. Then there is Fukuicchi, a doctor who spontaneously jumps out of mid-air to inform the viewer of facts that may not be apparent to everyone watching. He only serves as a fact machine and gives additional information towards each patient's condition. For the most part, the things said are interesting, but nothing more.
Probably the most noteworthy thing one could take from this series is its direction in art style and animation. It likes to mix between standard animation and live-action within each episode, usually with each patient, but Mayumi is normally live-action and Fukuicchi is always live-action. The amount of symbolism present with its unrealistic design also comes into play. With each injection given to Dr. Irabu's patients, said patient's head (or other limbs) turn into that of an animal, which appear whenever they struggle with their condition afterwards. Each animal represents the condition each patient has in some way, which makes for an entertaining watch. The most bizarre of issues arise with this, as Dr. Irabu and Mayumi can see these animalistic transformations, but seemingly no one else can. Whether this is supposed to represent that they can see the struggles that the patients go through or not has yet to be confirmed, but it would be a plausible theory. Other than this, specifically with the last episode, there are also visual phenomena that represent the struggles that each patient goes through outside of the realm of possibilities. It's usually dots, but other symbols are also used.
At first, I believed this series was so laced with symbolism that it was hard for me to concentrate on the story at hand, but with each passing scene, the story became so much harder to follow. It wasn't until the end of the second episode that I began to realize that while each episode feels formulaic in general, it also tries to take its time to create an ever-lasting ball of yarn, constricting each and every character together into a single, amassed creation of creativity and dots. The phrase, "Good things come to those who wait," is easily applicable to this kind of series, as Kuuchuu Buranko doesn't try to force its strengths upon arrival. It has just enough appeal to lure in the audience with its artistic design, and keeps the audience watching through its attention to detail and symbolism. Seeing as none of the central characters change between episodes one and eleven, it's hard for the viewer to feel impacted emotionally upon finishing the series, but it does provide an appreciative empathy for what truly matters: helping people in need.
Often you’ll hear how being unique isn’t enough to make a good anime. That’s not entirely true, since being unique is overall a good trait. Why would you want to sit in front of a screen, watching the same thing over and over? What these people do get right is that mere uniqueness isn’t enough. Although in the end, all great works of art are unique and highly original, not all original works are great works. That’s because true greatness which comes from true uniqueness isn’t just a unique art style or a cool storytelling method, but a thematic depth.
All the problems with this anime
are in this sector. It’s eccentric and utterly bizarre. Better anime don’t break their conventions like this, but in the end it’s all just quirks and a unique style that don’t reach any profound conclusion. As an aesthetic experience, it’s awesome with how wacky it is. As for its narrative, it’s just there.
The narrative is fairly empty and the symbols, while cool, don’t mean anything. Having a psychiatrist and people with psychological disorders isn’t an automatic ticket for actual character psychology. The anime mistakes exaggeration for madness, like a 16-year-old kid who thinks a Facebook cover photo with blood shows how ‘crazy’ they are.
The anime deals with the old notion of ‘crazy’, something that I think the mental health institutions abandoned even before Thomas Szasz took an axe to their heads. Here characters don’t struggle daily with a disorder. The problem isn’t present in every fabric of their existence but, rather, explodes out of nowhere. Most of these characters lead normal lives until something triggers them.
Now, it’s true that a lot of mentally ill people function day-to-day, interact with people and buy eggplants without causing a massacre. Notice how their normality is only something we experience. They don’t. Someone who is suicidal (A major problem that the series oddly avoids) is always suicidal. Some days it hurts less, some days it hurts more. However, the normality is only an external thing.
Inside, everything pushes him towards death. For the depressed person, every thing demands extra effort and the question of ‘why go on?’ is always present. That’s why mental illness is such a problematic thing and a lot of philosophers had to step in to redefine it. Mental illness is not a wound, it’s not a specific area of the body we can target and diagnose and seperate. Mental illness is an integral part of being. Depression isn’t a distortion of reality but a part of someone’s personal reality.
The characters here aren’t even reduced to their mental illness. They’re reduced to their onsets. Although we see them do ordinary stuff like jobs and family, we rarely get insight into how they exist with this. It’s all just build-up until the dude panics over not being sure if the stove is on. This prevents the show from having any serious psychology. In order for it to be truly psychological, it needs to present these people as whole human beings and it needs to show how the illness relates to the whole.
In truth, these aren’t really characters. Their disorder defines them more than anything. Most of the differences between them comes from that. The show belongs to the tradition of a main character who’s a vessel for other stories. In general these type of anime have a cool style and an empty narrative. It’s not just because there is no major conclusion – although it tries for something sappy like how we need to listen to others. Their problems are also very illness-orientated.
If mental illness was so exaggerated and obvious, we would’ve had an easier time dealing with it. We don’t. The problems these characters face tend to be only their illness. How it relates to other problems is unclear. Sure, it disrupts their day-to-day life but that’s not enough. How does it affect sexuality, social interactions, worldviews? The series loves to portray extras as cardboard, but in truth no one is cardboard for people. Our ilness and these passerbys are part of our lives. The anime treats mental problems like an obvious wound.
It doesn’t help that most of the stories involve OCD. I’m sure it’s a common disorder, but where’s schizophrenia, depression, bipolar? Perhaps because OCD is far easier to exaggerate. It has onsets, things that are easy to transmit visually. Depression is harder since depression is everywhere, showing itself in every action and relates to a person’s inner life. You have to show a worldview in order to portray depression. That’s why its status as an illness is such a problematic issue. Eventually, all these people with OCD blur into one another. The only thing that changes is how it works.
When a different illness comes, they fail to show its psychology. A person’s narcissism ends up being monotonous. The big problem isn’t narcissism, but a dude who can’t stop smiling. The whole agony of living in the past, in glory days that are never to return and trying desperately to re-create them isn’t there. Rather, it’s just a person repeating his shtick over and over. It’s an excellent example of how they take a serious issue and reduce it to a single symbol, stripping it of any depth.
The surrealistic, bizarre art and storytelling also leads to an air of self-satisfaction. It’s not as bad as it looks from the outside, but it’s there. Nothing is particularly funny about these jokes, since they don’t point to any absurdity and hardly a taboo. So the psychiatrist gets off on vitamin shots. That’s kind of odd and amusing, but not out of place. Early on the anime establishes how wacky it is with these colors, so this is fairly ordinary. Irabu is also not really funny, just quirky and high-pitched. There’s also a sexy nurse who thankfully has little screen time. Her role is mainly to inform the viewer that the makers are totally fine with ultra-sexy yet placid women, some pathetic symbol of ‘sexual strength’. I don’t know. Nothing about her is interesting, including breaking into live-action. Overall, the series sets itself up as weird, but can’t ever up the weirdness.
It’s not all bad though. In fact, in its format, the anime is quite excellent. It’s the old format of a single main character whose a narrative device to show the lives of various characters, like Kino’s Journey or Mushishi and it does it so much better.
First off, merely dealing with mental disorders – an integral part of the experience of being – gives these stories a more emotional, personal angle. Already here it lifts itself up above the aforementioned anime. Unlike them, there is some sort of humanity here. It’s exaggerated, caricature-esque and shallow but it exists. The main driving symbol has a far more personal nature so the stories are by their nature more emotionally engrossing. The distance that harmed Mushishi is mostly absent.
There’s also concern and empathy for these characters. For all its exaggeration, the series has some awareness that underneath it all there should be humanity. The tone is not mocking, something that the aesthetics and the ultrasexy nurse hint at. Rather, it’s empathetic towards these little lost humans and their madness. Episodes don’t end with a complete return to normality, but with a way to cope with the madness.
It’s this vibe and demeanor that prevents the anime from being only an exercise in aesthetics. There is a clear meaning underneath some of these symbols, like how cardboard-like people merely means these aren’t important characters. The mental conditions are caricatures, but at least they make sense – extreme worry is a problem. Even if the series isolates these parts, it does fit with the style. In a way, the series never pretends to actually be psychological. From the start it’s concerned more with flash than substance, but it has just enough substance and humanity to prevent it from being vapid.
As for its aesthetics though, they’re fantastic. It’s true there isn’t an anime quite like this one. You might compare its surreal style to Tatami Galaxy, but that one had an overbearing, total aesthetic. Here they take a realistic art style and utterly distort it, creating a weird clash of realism and cartoon. The storytelling is knowingly expressive, so much so that sometimes things don’t have meaning. There are polka dots everywhere, but then again why not? It’s self-awareness which doesn’t try to be clever. Knowing that none of it is real, they let themselves go with wacky, memorable images. It’s a style weird enough to hold on for 12 episodes even if there isn’t much variety among them.
Utterly bizarre and original, yet its lack of depth prevent it from being one of the greats. It had the premise and the aesthetic boldness, but it’s also satisfied in just being fun. Often we talk about how ‘just fun’ shows need to be unoriginal, yet this anime demonstrates you can have fun without aiming too high. Set expectations about how mind-blowing this is, and you’ll be disappointed. This is just another in the long line of episodic anime with a wide cast, but its one-of-a-kind style breathes life to the format.
The Mind is as defined by Webster’s Dictionary and Thesaurus;
the element of a person that enables them to be aware of the world and their experiences, to think, and to feel; the faculty of consciousness and thought.
Synonyms; brain, intellect, intelligence
Oh man, is our mind a weird place or what? Our brains are able to process thoughts and daydreams, the conversations we’re having, what we’re hearing, and what we’re looking at, all at the same time. Not to mention, all the dark, twisted things no one wants to admit crossed our minds… (or is that just me?)
All in all, it’s a complex process. So naturally,
we don’t know everything about our brains, and today I’m here to uncover an obscure little anime that explores the human psyche and it’s many unsolved mysteries.
Kuuchuu Buranko, or in English, “Trapeze,” is a psychological comedy/drama about an insane psychiatrist that works in the bowels of the hospital, “Irabu General.” Any patient with a mental health problem is sent to him, and just maybe, he can help them out.
Have a mental dilemma in need of recognizing? A diagnosis of some kind? Or maybe a vitamin injection that’s TOTALLY necessary? Drop on by Doctor Irabu’s office, and he’ll help you out the best way he can!
IMMEDIATELY what should grab you about the series is its utterly bizarre presentation. It can have you asking,
during almost every episode. Its unique style is unlike any other, a collage of the strange and colorful that can only be found in the wonderful country of Japan, and the individual stories it tells are just as different as its appearance. Trapeze takes a semi-episodic approach to storytelling (often times getting awfully confusing because of it), and follows the many patients of Psychiatrist Ichiro Irabu in the span of only a week, that come for his aid in hopes of fixing their problems. Each episode covers a different patient, and most of them suffer from an altered form of OCD (DSM-IV 300.3, “Obsessive Compulsive Disorder”) that includes problems like constantly having to check something just to be safe, or never letting go of their cell phone. Other problems the patients have are physical problems that are caused by emotional difficulty, (DSM-IV 300.11, “Conversion Disorder,” a type of Somatoform Disorder) like a never being able to make any face but a smile, and a never-ending erection. Also… that wasn’t a joke.
But Irabu isn’t always able to immediately cure his patients. Most of the time, all he can do is have them realize what exactly it is they’re suffering from/what caused it, and provides support anyway he can to help them fix that. He spends the rest of the day after their first arrival following them around, and seeing how exactly their problem affects them in their daily life, offering guidance and tips to what it is they should do.
And due to the injection they get at his office, their head randomly turns into an animal’s every time their condition is confronted by the outside world. The stereotype or behavior of said animal mirrors the problem they have, too. The man with the permanent erection is a rhinoceros (Horned animal, heh heh, get it?), the kid who’s always on his cell phone turns into a woodpecker, (Constantly pecking, annoying as hell) among many more examples. The series is filled with double meanings like this, symbolism (with allusions to the purpose of mining canaries that fit into multiple, if not all of the patients lives, and the often vague, obtuse dialogue) commentary on the problems of youth, parents, athletes, and even Yakuza members.
So how do these different types of people fit into one another? How is it these commentaries intertwine? What are they all at the end of the day, just simply teenagers? Simply doctors? Lawyers and criminals? (as if there was a difference. OW, ZING!)
Jokes aside, no. We’re even simpler.
We’re all just people, regardless of age or social rank. The problems of these different individuals tie together to elaborate on the problems humans suffer as a whole. Nobody is perfect. Kuuchuu Buranko explores that concept of imperfection by not curing it, but coping with it. Because our psychological problems as a divided yet connected populace will never go away, but if we learn to live with them the best way we can, we’ll understand what and where those problems actually are.
In our head.
---Plot Score: -Amazing- ---
The anime succeeds at its plot because of the commentary/metaphorical aspects. But where it REALLY excels at are its patient characters and their individual experiences.
Cue Ichiro Irabu, the psychiatrist of the story. Implied since the beginning to have Dissociative Identity Disorder, (DSM-IV 300.13, Previously known as “Multiple Personality Disorder”) he helps patients that come to his office by…
…giving them injections. Even though they don’t need it. He has a needle fetish.
Yes you heard that right. Irabu gets off to needles.
But that’s not the only point of his injections. He has an ulterior motive, because he knows what it does for the patient. It’s a form of imposing the Placebo Effect. (The Placebo Effect, also called the Placebo Response, is a common phenomenon when a “fake treatment” can improve the patient’s condition if they believe it to be helpful) If he makes the patient believe he’s helping them with a long-term medication, it will be easier for them to recover psychologically. This further explores the territories of the human mind, where not only is the condition in our own head, but the cure is too.
He jumps between personas on a whim, one of them being an overweight man in a bear mask, the others being both a thinner adult and child version of himself without the mask. His bear character is off the walls; fascinated with the world around him and the people it holds. That personality translates similarly with his other adult counterpart. But what’s really interesting is his child form. Still curious as always, but much mellower emotionally, and a lot more filtered and reserved.
So what’s the purpose of this? What is Irabu’s double meaning?
Because Irabu’s problem is psychological, just like the many patients he sees on a day-to-day basis, perhaps the way he gives himself treatment is by being a psychiatrist to others who need support. That’s my hypothesis, anyway.
His assistant, Mayumi (or if you like, MAYUMIII CHANNNNNNNNN!) is a busty, chain-smoking nurse in an erotic outfit, most likely to please Irabu as she injects his patients. Initially there doesn’t seem to be much purpose behind her, but she’s more often than not a key motivator in helping Irabu’s patients cope and recover. Her words are few and far between, but they’re insightful enough to carry an impact, and she ends up being a very much a needed, though indirect asset for hopes of recovery.
The third character (though not really much of a character at all) is the doctor Fukuichi. He randomly pops up a few times over the course of the episode and presents facts about psychology and the condition of the patient at hand, though I’m not entirely sure he’s always telling the truth...
And if you thought these wackos were something, just wait till you get to the human characters.
As I’ve stated before, this series explores the fundamentals of the Human Psyche. Our fears and worries, and what makes us what we are. Everyone that is treated in this series has a unique life that is ultimately affected by their problems, and the anime does a brilliant job at exploring the reason and meaning behind the patient’s disorders. There is no patient that is ignored or does not develop somehow as a person. Irabu’s treatments may not seem like they do much, but they obviously work wonders even if the people he tends to don’t ever realize it. In this way he’s a much better Psychiatrist than most real ones.
So this anime is entirely character driven. It’s ALL about the characters and their daily interactions, they’re problems, and how Irabu helps them cope. They are never complex characters, but their relatable problems and personalities (even if exaggerated) is what really hits home, because at its very core, like I’ve said twice now, this series…
…is about people. Real people, with real problems.
---Characters Score: -Amazing- ---
“Only Japan.” That’s the best way to put it. I doesn’t matter who sees it, they automatically know, “Its probably Japanese.” But I can’t help but feel this unique style is meant to… mask the presence of a lacking budget or manpower of some kind. Any character that is not immediately relevant to the story is LITERALLY a cardboard cutout, and the movement animation is occasionally choppy and disheveled, so it appears to me that they studio behind it (Toei Animation, and their logo appears multiple times in the show) was hiding its actual quality.
And here is where the anime might… cause most people to look away. The already odd style is paired with rotoscoped Live-Action faces that are superimposed on the bodies of characters. Mayumi (Irabu’s assistant nurse) is actually a real woman that’s generated into the world, most likely via green-screen. Its one thing to see strange looking anime, but it’s a whole different ball game when we have real people in it. This isn’t always the case, as the anime switches from drawn to real faces every so often, but when it does, it’s trippy, man.
But despite the problems it has, (not calling the live action a problem) Kuuchuu Buranko’s world is extremely unique. It’s very much got a “psychedelic” vibe to it; with a little sprinkle of Kawaii Japanese game show and downright insanity. Its creepy and cute at the same time, filled with pinks, pale yellows, baby blues, and polka dots everywhere. (LSD was probably involved, now that I think about it)
This is seriously as weird as it gets.
---Animation Score: -Great- ---
BOY does this anime have one hell of a soundtrack. In fact, its worthy of a Japanese game show critique just like the animation!
OOOO OH OH I got it! This is how they made the sound effects;
-Fingernails scratching a comb or a ridged credit card
-Smacking tin cans with a stick
-Spitting on a drum cymbal
-Gyrating a cowbell
-Blowing through a straw
Kuuchuu Buranko has a fun sound to it, there is a lot of unique improvising in the music as well as a lot of really, really good pieces too, like the amazing opening “Upside Down” by Denki Groove and MAYUMIII CHANNN’S! Wonderful 80’s synth theme, “It’s Love.” Not to mention, the hilarious usage of classic musical scores like Nikolai Rimsky- Korsakov’s “Flight of the Bumblebee.”
---Soundtrack Score: -Amazing- ---
- While the premise is simple, its very intriguing and able to provide commentary on social issues, the human psyche, and make us laugh as well as cry at the same time due to the relatable contexts of human nature
- Fascinating, developing human characters, downright hilarious multi-faceted characters like Irabu and his staff
- Wonder-filled soundtrack, cleverly comedic usage of classic music and original, unique instruments
- Themes and morals that are presented awesomely using visual symbolism, metaphors, double meanings, and dialogue
- Despite being somewhat episodic, every different story is tied together, much like how people are (but we just don’t realize it)
- The “brainwashy” visual style is not bad; but it’s just so out there in Japan’s imagination that it is very difficult for most to watch (especially because of the live-action)
- The pacing is skewed, as it all takes place in one week and at once, making it difficult to tell sometimes what is happening when and where
I’m so happy I found this little hidden gem. There’s so much going for it; it still technically concludes mind you, but the setting is broad enough for it to get another cour. An infinite amount of cours, actually. It’s weird, it’s strange, and it’s definitely from Japan, but if you’re into this kind of weird s*** give this a shot. The needle won’t hurt too much.
MAYUMI CHANNNN! BRING ME THE SCORE OF 10/10
(As a side note, the little notes that contain the abbreviation DSMV-IV means, “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition, Text Revision, also known as DSM-IV-TR. They’re there to elaborate on the actual information of these said conditions a bit more, and the codes are there for reference if they are to be looked up.)
I'm writing this review purely to offer a different perspective from the ones I've seen. This isn't the type of anime that everyone likes. I happen to be one that was rather disappointed by it. Feel free to disagree, but here is a review from someone who thought this was a pretty mediocre show to counter all the 10/10 reviews.
The one major compliment I will give this anime is that it is rather unique and does try to do something different. Chances are you won't see many anime's quite like this one. This is made most obvious in the story and in the
art. The story follows Dr Ichiro as he treats 11 patients. 1 patient an episode. They each have some different disorder and he somewhat helps them to fix their problems.
The main problem I had with the overall story is that the pacing felt a bit.. off. And some character arcs were way better than others. For one of the arcs I felt that the problem was just randomly solved and I actually had to rewind and see what happened again just to try and put together the "treatment" that cured the patient.
These episodes don't really build over eachother, but its nice that it gives off that fibe that everything is happening in a living breathing world. Many of the patients have connections to other patients in one way or another and its nice to see that someone you got a glimpse of in one episode becomes a patient in another episode and we get to learn their backstory.
However, the story in general is pretty boring and dull at parts. The very first episode was hard to get into because it just jumps straight into the episodic formula with you just going "Wtf is this" the entire time. There were certainly parts I liked, but this took a long time to finish for an 11 episode series. This was due in part to the boring nature of the cases, the fact that half of them were OCD, and the rather quick endings to the episodes that don't really make you feel like the patient is fully cured. I know this isn't supposed to be the most series anime, but I cannot just brush off the problems because this is so unique and whatnot. Also this is labeled as a comedy, and while I found certain parts amusing don't watch this anime in hopes that you will be laughing. At most, I slightly smiled at a few silly scenes.
Art and Sound: 7/10
The art in this anime, like mentioned before, is certainly unique. And I don't mean that in a particularly good way. It takes some getting used to and I admit I did enjoy certain parts of it. The colorful environment was nice but the character designs left much to be desired. The sounds were nice. The opening and ending songs were okay. Nothing special there. Characters sound good. My favorite sound bit was probably the song while the nurse was doing the injections- it really fit the mood perfectly. I give this area of the anime a 7/10 because while I enjoyed parts of the animation and the sound, I will not give it a 10/10 just for being different. I didn't like it that much and I'm sure other people will be put off by the animation as well.
The characters in this anime really vary in terms of quality. There are maybe 3 patients that I actually enjoyed and my favorite character overall was the nurse. The doctor can be amusing and is obviously the character that tries to be funny- but sometimes he just comes off as annoying and I didn't care for him too much. As I try to write some more about the characters in this anime- I realize that most of them I already forgot due to just being mediocre. Nothing special in terms of characters in this anime. Though there is one family in the anime that was interesting to watch since members of that family got more than one episode. 4/10 for me for just being meh.
I came close to dropping this anime twice. I am grateful that I continued because some of the later episodes are the ones I liked better- but this should say something about the overall enjoyment I had with it. While unique, I found it had very little going for it. I'm sure many people will like this anime. But for me I just couldn't get into it. Perhaps if I was more interested in medical drama's then I would appreciate it more. But overall I was disappointed. I found this anime when I saw someone who was really into anime give it a 10/10. it was the only anime they gave a 10/10, I read the anime description, and thought I might like it. I was wrong.
Overall: 5.5/10 (which rounds down to a 5 since my exact average for the scores above is a 5.4)
From reading the reviews for this show I can tell that there will be a decent amount of people that like this show. For me, however, I found it to be unique yet boring and mediocre. Props to this show for trying something different, but I just couldn't get into it no matter how much I tried to like it. The best way to determine for yourself if you will like it is by watching the first episode. I would recommend trying this anime if you're looking for something super unique, but I can not give it an official recommendation to go watch it because I don't believe that this is for everyone. It certainly isn't for me.
The true genius of Kuuchuu Buranko is difficult to pick up on, veiled as it is by colourful characters, humorous dialogue and direction that rivals the likes of Satoshi Kon's work for sheer weirdness. Indeed, without the implicit subtext it would be little more than an intriguing novelty, a slightly unconventional documentary almost. With the layered messages that this show dispenses and leaves you to ponder, it becomes one of the most near-perfect masterpieces of the visual medium, and a hauntingly bitter one at that.
That's right: under the colours and the comedy, Kuuchuu Buranko is a series characterised by an impassioned attack on its own
The setup is simple: each episode follows the interactions between madcap psychiatrist Ichiro Irabu (whose primary methodology involves talking absolute nonsense) and one of his many patients, all of whom find Irabu's approach to psychiatric treatment baffling at first, but ultimately effective. Issues raised include common phobias, OCD, sexuality and addiction, and it's likely that at least one episode will seem relevant to you or someone you know. To help things along, a character known as Fukuicchi pauses the show semi-regularly to explain the various psychological conditions depicted in order to give us a fuller understanding of what's going on. That understanding is key to the show's underlying message, which is more subtextual and elevates the series above any heavy-handed attempt to simply raise awareness.
In short, Kuuchuu Buranko's key theme is empathy.
WARNING: We will now be venturing into the territory of mild spoilers.
It's important to note here that Kuuchuu Buranko is incredibly funny. You will laugh at Irabu's zany antics and the absolutely spot-on dialogue, and so you'll probably also feel reasonably comfortable giggling at the strange behaviour of seemingly unimportant side characters, including a yakuza mobster who keeps trying to stab himself in the eye with a pen (and is impeded by a pair of goggles) and a salaryman who walks around with a permanent bow. When those characters later appear as patients, you might start to pick up on what this series is really going for. And when the show's absolutely brutal finale kicks in, you'll be left feeling more than a little shitty. The point is, it's very easy to laugh at people whose behaviour doesn't seem normal, and to subsequently dismiss them as simply being weird, but to do so suggests a lack of understanding, and a refusal to consider the possibility that that behaviour reflects very real psychological trauma. It's not uncommon to pass people in the street who are behaving in unusual ways, and it's easy to dismiss and trivialise their actions by validating your own with social convention.
And that's Kuuchuu Buranko's real angle. With it's interweaving of various episodic narrative threads and with the charismatic Irabu at the centre, Kuuchu Buranko aspires to draw out prejudices that the audience doesn't even know that they've absorbed, and to then confront you with them in its absolute gut-punch of a final episode. Few examples of fiction promote introspection as effectively as this one, and next-to-none are this confrontational about it.
It hurts you because it loves you though; Kuuchuu Buranko simply wants you to be a better person.
The series' aesthetic style may be where people struggle slightly. I know a lot of people dislike rotoscoping, and it certainly can't be said that anything about the art is conventional if you approach the series as you would approach any other anime, but I personally love the use of colour, symbolic visual motifs and Irabu's strange (and constantly changing) character design. Even the rotoscoping serves to make the characters feel that little bit more human, and is just another way that this series sets itself apart from the industry around it. I found no fault with the aesthetics or animation.
One issue that I do have relates to the show's framing of gender, as the series features almost no female characters at all, and absolutely no female patients. Female cast members are limited to Mayumi, Irabu's sexy live-action nurse who's more supermodel than actual character and serves very little purpose, and certain side characters who mostly go unnamed and are never fully explored. The result of doing this makes the message feel a bit exclusive, and arguably suggests that the writer affords less importance to the psychological traumas of women or simply believes in a predominantly male audience that can't empathise as readily with female characters. There was no real reason that certain patients in this series couldn't have been female, and the result would've been a series that's more inclusive and accessible to a broader audience, which would only have helped the series' message to get through.
Still, few TV shows or movies have come this close to perfect, and it's hard to argue that I found Kuuchuu Buranko any less effective as a result of this one particular fault. If it didn't have this issue, I might actually be calling it perfect. As it is, it's only near-perfect. Its powerful and assertive assault on its audience's sensibilities is something I've never witnessed in any other example of narrative fiction, and the result is a truly stand-out anime series that'll have a remarkable impact on all who watch it. Highly recommended.
This is a very weird show, one of the weirdest I've seen. But somewhere in this madness, there is an enjoyable show, filled with memorable characters. The art style may be a turn off to many viewers, but if one can see past that, they will find a gem.
The story is not very progressive, featuring different characters every episode, with some intertwining in certain episodes (and did you notice that half the characters had OCD of some sort). In each episode, an actual psychologist appears and explains the real life problems, making for an educational show for someone interested in psychology, such as myself.
realise that not everyone will enjoy this show, but it is worth a try.
If you've been to a psychiatrist, you should see this.
If you doubt psychiatry to the core and question why your mental state should be cracked open by strangers who think they have the right to hide you from you, then this series will probably change your mind.
Irabu, like all psychiatrists, diagnoses his patients based on their behaviors, and like all psychiatrists, he only vaguely tells them what their problems are. Instead, he gets them involved in situations where their fear, insecurity, or hidden feelings would surface and hit them hard. This method does not always guarantee success, and in fact, not all his
patients are successfully treated. However, what changed in the end is that those people who are not entirely cured came in terms with their problems. They accepted who they are.
That to me is the only thing psychiatry should and can do.
The art takes some time to get use to if you haven't seen anime with real people in it, but if you keep watch, you'll get used to it and maybe even love it like I did. There are a total 11 patients but their lives cross each other's. Most of those patients know what their problems are, and one even knows the treatment, but again, the focus of this series is not on how to specifically cure OCD, PTSD, yips, etc. Any handbook would teach that. It's more on how to come in terms with these problems that get in the way of everyday life. Another way to look at it: If you see those problems as problems, they'll always get in the way. If you don't mind them, don't mind yourself being different, then you are a healthy being. That's all there is to mental health.
I think this show voices this simple fact really well.
"And now for something completely different" - John Cleese
Have you ever watched a medical drama series? They are VERY popular all over the world because people are fascinated by unusual disorders and tense medical emergencies. These shows essentially combine the genres of mystery, psychological, and high tension drama all while taking place in the real world with a "relatively" realistic scenario. Now I have a second question for you: "Have you ever watched an episode of House and said, Man this would be WAY better if I was on LSD?" If you said yes to that previous question, Kuuchuu Buranko is the show for
Describing Kuuchuu Buranko isn't exactly easy since it is so batshit insane! Imagine the bastard offspring of "House" and "PeeWee's Playhouse"! That is pretty much this show. The main character is Dr. Irabu, who is a highly unorthodox psychiatrist. He sees a new patient in each episode with cases ranging from OCD to general anxiety disorder to priapism (continuous male erection). Instead of just prescribing pills, Dr. Irabu tends to try solve all problems psychologically, which makes me wonder why he didn't just become a therapist instead. Dr. Irabu has a sexual fetish for needle injections (I'm dead serious) and he hires a sexy nurse to inject all of his patients with a completely unnecessary vitamin shot in each episode. Apparently Dr. Irabu has the anime super power of avoiding medical malpractice lawsuits...and his power level is over 9,000! However, Dr. Irabu's often wacky therapy techniques DO tend to work by the end of each episode. That means that Irabu is FAR from being the worst medical doctor in anime history. That distinction would go to Dr. Becker from Monster, a surgeon so profoundly incompetent that the viewer knows about 3 surgeries he performed and he killed them all in the first hour.
Although the main character is Dr. Irabu, my favorite character is the narrator who pops in to break the 4th wall and deliver facts about psychiatry. Some of these are actually accurate, while other times he just pops in to tell a lame joke. He even in one episode corrects the show itself by pointing out that the plot in that episode isn't medically accurate.
The art in Kuuchuu Buranko can get a bit tiresome at times, but they certainly succeeded in being unique. Kuuchuu Buranko uses cut out paper characters like South Park, odd rotoscope techniques, and a mix of traditional animation and live action. It basically does it all and throws the trippy results right in your face. Your mileage may vary.
The musical score changes with each episode, but there is a heavy emphasis on classical music, so I have it my utmost approval!
Kuuchuu Buranko is a bit of an odd show and certainly isn't for everyone. However, if you like medical dramas and don't mind a bit of Avant Garde art, it is well worth watching. Although I personally wouldn't go quite so far as to consider this series an absolute masterpiece, it is a very good show overall and well worth watching all 11 episodes!
This show is amazing, in my opinion. It focuses on psychologist and psychiatrist today. For example, a typical psychologist (in society today) would just prescribe a patient medicine or pills for the simplest disorders; however, this show places emphasis on what a psychiatrist should do. Actually help people get to the root of their own problem and solve it. If you enjoy shows that have to deal quite a bit with philosophy and psychology--this is a must-watch for you!
Not only does the show ponder with the complications of a modern psychiatrist, but it also has outstanding art and music. I loved how each cinematic
correlated with the abstract ,yet beautiful, art. Each scene was bolstered by vibrant colors that just made the show pop with life; yet, the music was warm and inviting. It was a fantastic combination of aesthetic and symphonic wonders.
Overall, the story has an absolutely fascinating story and the virtuoso to back it up!
Kuchu Buranko certainly does enough to stick out of the norm for an anime title with both its storytelling and animation. The plotting to the series is mostly episodic, mixing comedy and drama in exploring how different types of psychological problems like Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Yips negatively effect the lives of Irabu's patients. The characters in each story are fleshed-out enough where you get to know what their personal lives are like, how their disorder could have came about and how said disorder negatively effects them. Like Welcome to the NHK, you could be tempted to laugh at the problems effecting
these people yet at the same time, you may feel uncomfortable sooner or later upon realizing that these problems can happen in real life with you or anyone close to you.
The more comical elements from the series come from the immaturity of Irabu's character who while he does seem legitimately knowledgeable about the problems plaguing his patients, he often behaves selfishly for his personal amusement or gain while leaving his patients to confront their personal problems alone. Notably, Irabu takes on three different forms while tagging along with his patients in assessing how their disorders effect their everyday lives, taking on the form of a child, adult and his mouse-head form. The series also occasionally breaks the fourth wall when a real-life psychologist will interrupt the regular story and comment on different aspects of the disorder effecting a patient such as symptoms and ways to treat it.
The animation style for Kuchu Buranko definitely sticks out with its mix of live-action and 2D animation that are implemented. Close-up shots of psychologically-effected characters usually mix in live-action facial shots to enhance key scenes of when their condition effects them. It also looks like Irabu's nurse Mayumi is entirely filmed in live-action whenever she appears onscreen to either deliver shots to patients or make witty remarks at said patients. The 2D animation features brightly-colored details and usually mixes in bizarre design patterns used to reflect either the eccentricity of Irabu's character or the problems plaguing his patients. It also makes use of different cinematic effects to enhance the dramatic effect of seeing the problems of the patients unfold, such as experiencing hallucinations or seeing the heads of the character's turn into an animal head that represents the problems they are facing. The 2D animation and live-action mix does have its moments where the live-action bits stick out prominently, but they are still effective in enhancing elements to the character stories in this series.
Kuchu Buranko certainly won't be for everyone thanks to its avant-garde animation and episodic storytelling. But if you are looking for an anime title that is free of many of the conventional elements you would find in more popular titles, then Kuchu Buranko should certainly work well for you with its unique presentation and storytelling.
This was definitely different in almost every aspect.
Kuuchuu Buranko makes you go 'what the hell??' from the very first moment. I really was a happy person after watching the first episode. Let me explain.
Story : 10
I haven't bumped into an anime about psychology again. I'm not referring to the psychological genre, but psychology itself. Every episode examines a different case of psychological problems, their cause and the remedy recommended by the therapist. Well, the therapist is not the typical one nor are his treatments - this is what adds comedic and psychedelic elements as well.
The way the cases are presented gets your interest from the
start and as the episode advances you sympathize with the character and can't wait until he is finally cured - or partly cured. In some cases you can guess what the root of the cause is by the information you are given. The disorders are scientifically explained by a guy that pops up every now and then to enlighten you and advise you.
NOTE: you might find a few 'unexplained' scenes in the first episodes, but they are clarified later.
Art : 8
The art was undoubtedly unconventional. The characters were often replaced by real people's faces. It is not a bit confusing or irritating though, it is real fun. The realistic depiction of the nurse is also helping the viewer to understand why the patient tolerates the painful injection that the doctor imposes for every and each of the cases.
My only problem is that sometimes I found it simplistic and a little coarse concerning the characters' design.
Sound : 7
Nothing much to say here. Voice acting was fine, it reflected perfectly each character's personality. The themes were interesting too, especially the ending theme. Nothing out of the ordinary though.
Character : 8
The psychologist - and main character of the series - is an eccentric, sadistic and erratic persona, who suggests unconventional and sometimes perilous treatments to his patients. Nevertheless, he is very capable and finds the cause and remedy of the disorder right away - although he enjoys tormenting the patient before he helps him. He is assisted by a stunning nurse (the injection girl), who seems very distant and perfunctory, but in some cases she helps and empathize with the patients. The only defect is that you never get to know their backrounds.
The patients all have an interesting problem with their personality or behavior, that is either funny or depressing. The backround and the story of each case make us understand how grave the disorder is for the everyday life of the character and make us sorry for him. But the doctors always highlights its rediculousness and achieves to ease the atmosphere in a very effective way.
Enjoyment : 9
I really liked this anime. It was engaging. It was funny. It was a great way to pass my time.
Now here’s a show that caught me off-guard, but in a good way.
At face value, Kuuchuu Buranko, or Trapeze, seems like a collection of psychological case studies. Symptoms of eleven patients are examined throughout a short span that lasts for about 9 days. Patients are each given a full episode of spotlight as we join along in their rather short, but entertaining “journeys” of trying to figure out the reasons behind their conditions. True to form, Trapeze applies the biopsychosocial approach (I’ll be referencing the three parts within this review) when examining each patient. Treatments are not limited to medicine, and as in
all cases, a vitamin shot or some prescription drugs aren’t enough to solve the problem (the biological approach). Psychology is no simple matter, and director Kenji Nakamura knew that in order to properly realize Hideo Okuda’s novel, he would have to stretch the boundaries of his imagination in order to make a sensible, yet highly entertaining experience.
And boy did it play out well.
Instead of explaining everything black-and-white, the story of Trapeze has two main forms of storytelling. The first is what I would call the slice-of-life style (the social approach). We get to see how each patient lives his (all the patients are male) everyday life, and we see how his condition ultimately affects his life negatively. The second form, which is much less prevalent than the first, comes through Fukuicchi, a little “doctor” who breaks the fourth wall in order to further inform us of the situation, so that the viewer doesn’t have to pause the show and google a tidbit of information that may be more obscure than usual. Both forms are nicely incorporated together, and Fukuicchi’s fun facts (try saying that 10 times fast) seldom break the pace of an episode. Moreover, a show like this risks the chance of overloading the viewer by being pretentious, vague, or complicated; however, Trapeze finds a fitting equilibrium. Although the show was difficult to watch at times, most of the material was dealt with in a pithy, but entertaining manner.
One last thing about the story that surprised me was its continuity. Despite being episodic, patients from past or future episodes might appear from time to time. Whether by being present at the same café or through interaction between patients, Trapeze finds some way to prove that it really is a small world after all without making most of these attempts seem forced. Just as how different perspectives are important in Psychology, Trapeze also emphasizes the importance of perspective in terms of its storytelling.
Providing a wide variety of different cases with different conditions (or different variations of the same condition), the story of Trapeze is definitely a unique and memorable experience.
When it comes to art and animation, many viewers would prefer an art style they are familiar with. And why wouldn’t they? After all, familiarity tends to increase liking. In today’s market, there are probably only a few different types of art styles, most of which are centered around moe characters with huge eyes or characters with Barbie-like body proportions. In other words, they’re made to look as attractive as possible. The immediate turn-off of Trapeze’s art style is that it is different. The color palette is much more diverse and character faces are made to look realistic. Often, the art style takes actual human faces and puts them on the characters. By no means is it attractive or familiar, but for some reason, I couldn’t imagine it being presented in any other way.
The art itself is a form of storytelling. After our lovely nurse Mayumi gives the lucky patient his vitamin shot, his body takes a different form. Most of the time, it is a sort of animal. What’s interesting is the animal he “transforms” into either accurately reflects the patient’s inner personality or has some other relation to the patient’s character. Whether he turns into a rhino or a rooster, there’s always a reason behind the madness. Outside of this, the scenery is rather…flamboyant. Although I am pretty sure that I missed some obscure form of symbolism through the background’s art style, sometimes the art is over-the-top and distracting. Nonetheless, despite that and some minor issues in the fluidity of the animation, the art style of Trapeze is both different and meaningful.
When it comes to looking at the sound as a whole, there are some points where Trapeze excels at and other points where it falls short. Let’s get the bad news over with first. To me, the OST was rather uninspiring. More often than not, the BGM was unnoticeable or lacking. The only tunes that really stuck out to me were the BGM that would play when Fukuicchi would come or the BGM that would play whenever Mayumi would administer a vitamin shot. Other than that, I do not have many other glaring complaints.
In terms of voice acting, most voices were done very well. The given emotion of each character was apparent in his or her voice, and some performances, such as the eccentric bear-head Irabu, were especially memorable. Small aspects such as sound effects were also well-placed. The opening, Upside Down by Denki Groove, has a memorable and catchy tune, but the vocal parts weren’t anything special. However, the ending, Shangri-La (also by Denki Groove), is a ridiculously addicting song to listen to. Like the unorthodox art style, for some odd reason, these songs just fit the series well. Overall, the entire sound set had its ups and downs. Although the series was set back by a rather forgettable OST, the excellent voice acting makes the sound set of Trapeze one I consider to be above average.
The one aspect Trapeze prides itself in the most is the tremendous amount of depth and development given to each character despite the minute amount of screen-time each is given (around 20-30 minutes per patient). This feat is accomplished through another form of storytelling that I would argue is a branch of the slice-of-life style I mentioned earlier. As viewers, we are often exposed to the patient’s inner thoughts in order to gain a better understanding of his personality (The psychological approach, there’s all 3 now). In other words, we get to see how they perceive their everyday situations. One perk of being an anime about a Psychiatrist treating patients is that we really get to know the characters inside-out.
Additionally, what makes Trapeze’s characters more brilliant is that the cast is extremely diverse. From a teenager obsessed with texting to a renowned romance novelist with a psychogenic vomiting issue, the show never shies from diversity. Tying all of these personalities together is our oddball Psychiatrist, Dr. Ichiro Irabu and his lovely nurse Mayumi. Out of all of these characters, the most interesting of the series is without a doubt, Dr. Irabu. He comes in three different sizes: a kid form, a young adult form, and a fat bear-headed form. Although that may seem odd enough, Irabu’s three different forms have three distinct personalities, each reflecting one of the three parts of Freud’s structure of the psyche. If we are going to have an anime about Psychology, why not reference Dr. Freud himself? I’ll leave it up to you to decide which is the id, ego, or superego. As for Mayumi, the viewer gets to see tidbits of her personality through interactions with the patients, but other than that, she is a character that nicely compliments Irabu.
The many risks taken in providing this colorful and memorable cast pay dividends because ultimately, Trapeze offers one of the most entertaining casts I’ve ever seen. Although I would have loved to see a female patient or two, that is a minor, personal preference that does not take away from the excellent cast this show has to offer.
Enjoyment and Overall
This series is difficult to watch; I would be lying if I said I enjoyed every minute of it. Sometimes I got distracted by the art style, and at other times I got lost following the abrupt transitions of many episodes. For being labeled as a comedy, I wouldn’t say there were many moments that made me fall off of my chair, but there were many scenes that were worth a chuckle. Haphazardly labeled as a drama by this site for some odd reason, I would say the most dramatic it really gets is in the last episode.
Nonetheless, the overall experience was rather entertaining and – keyword – unique. This is definitely an anime I would recommend watching if not for the sake of just experiencing it, but for really enjoying what this series has to offer. If the art style or pacing turns you off after an episode, chances are you won’t enjoy the rest of the series. However, if you are willing to try and complete an anime that goes outside of your comfort zone, I would not hesitate in recommending Trapeze.
*see my rating scale under the about me section of my profile for general interpretations of my ratings*
Also forgive me for my rather juvenile references to Psychology. I’m no expert, and I don’t mean to offend anyone who is.
First and foremost, don't watch this anime if you aren't interested in human psychology, or if you are too young (14, 15 years old). I'm glad, I've watched at present time and had already started thinking about the problems we face psychologically as modern day humans. Also, this is for those who think this is a medium for the expression of ideas, not just some cheap thrills.
This show is all about a subtle build up until you start getting why you are even watching this, if you are into waiting until everything makes sense - like me - you'll like this anime. 11 eps
is short and "marathonable".
The art is diferent, but it matches perfectly with the narrative, the facial expressions show with this tecnique (the same used in "Aku no Hana", but merged with actual animation) are needed for this theme. In my point of view, some shows are to be watched for the ideas behind the story they present, and Kuuchuu Buranko does not disappoint with its presentation and conclusion in regard of the problems facing every modern day person.
I came across Kuuchuu Buranko when I was looking for a psychological anime. I have no expectations as it's my first time ever knowing about it and I don't know anyone else personally who also knows it. Anyway, here's what I think about this under-the-radar anime:
Eblouir's No-Spoiler Summary:
Kuuchuu Buranko is about a psychiatrist named Ichiro Irabu, who together with his seemingly aloof and sexy nurse assistant Mayumi, take on different patients having various disorders. Despite the seriousness of the theme, the anime is not very grim as the carefree Dr. Irabu tries out unconventional yet weirdly funny ways in helping his patients out.
The graphics and how the characters were drawn are very different from the usual stuff I see in anime that I gave it a 9. Everything is in manic neon colors including the background, outfits of the characters and even the characters themselves! Plus, real faces of live people are used in the anime much like how they did it in Mind Game (just a reference in case you've heard of this title too).
Well, I haven't yet watched an anime focused on different psychological disorders and how to deal with them much like how Kuuchuu Buranko did it. I have a background in psychology and there were instances when I questioned the validity of the information provided in the anime. There was always one patient per episode and it would seem like each day is a story in itself. Later episodes would reveal something unexpected and that bit entertained me a lot.
Opening and Ending Songs:
Even the Opening and Ending songs for this anime are bizarre. At first, it's a bit awkward to listen to but having finished the anime, I don't mind them much anymore and even intentionally listen to both songs. They had that effect on me.
Well it has to be the cold and uncaring yet gorgeous nurse Mayumi! She's played by Yumi Sugimoto who's a famous gravure model in Japan. And she appeared more as herself than her animated version! She's so cool and the way she gives patients "vitamins" is funny to watch.
Would I recommend it to everyone?
As much as I have enjoyed this 11-episode series, I certainly wouldn't recommend it to people, especially non-anime fans. It's just not something everybody would appreciate, especially those who focus much on graphics. Story-wise, well despite the fact that the psychological bits mentioned in the anime are questionable, it's still helpful that the message they sent was clear: If you think something's wrong with you and it's affecting your daily life, don't hesitate to seek professional help (psychiatrist, psychotherapist, etc.)
Anyone up for a unique take on mental health? Give Kuuchuu Buranko a try.