In this 3 episode OVA (it still says its ongoing but there is no release date for the next dvd), the world's prominent figureheads battle it out in a furious high stakes battle of...
Yes in this universe, every figure head is a master Mahjong player and all the worlds politics are dealt by playing a game of mahjong. The first episode is entirely based on the manga while the other 2 episodes are original stories written by creator, Hideki Ohwada. Forget Hetalia Axis Powers, this is how political satire should be.
There are no cute looking bishounen characters running around here. In this anime every figurehead
is drawn in a fairly accurate anime depiction of themselves. Because we all know satire is funnier when it's more 'realistic'. Anyone can make a sports anime (go, cards, koi koi, basketball, etc) but it takes a genius to make take such a silly idea and just run with it. If you can't laugh at how Kim Jong, GW Bush, etc then its apparent that you have no soul. This type of comedy made me reminiscent of shows like Monty Python's Flying Circus. The characters are what makes this show 24 minutes of nonstop political laughs.
I say 24 minutes since it is a 3 episode OVA and yes each episode is about 8 minutes long. The short time gives it a perfect amount of time to keep the hilarity at high octane. One of my favorite moments is that they gave Kim Jong's oldest son, Jong-nam, donned Mickey Mouse ears because he's famously known for sneaking into Japan just so he can go to Disneyland. There are many other jokes such as these that are very subtle yet insanely funny if you are fairly up to date with current events. Now if you're not up to date on things like this, I highly recommend reading up on this titles Wiki page first that will make sense out of what you are watching since translator notes are minimal.
The Legend of Koizumi is definitely worth your time. Even if you care about current events or not, its only 24 minutes long. Everyone should watch as many Short OVA's as possible.
A lot of OVA based on manga don't do very much character set-up, and instead just drop you right in, assuming you're already familiar with the manga and it's characters.
The Legend of Koizumi is no stranger to this, and does very little set-up for it's cast of characters. Despite the fact that they're all political figures, the lack of very much introduction is very jarring.
The story is also very jarring, as it simply jumps from one scenario to the next, trying to squeeze as much as possible out of each episode's 8-minute runtime. This seems unnecessary, especially considering each story doesn't actually have very much
of interest going on, and they all follow the same basic formula of "Koizumi gets into a match of mahjong with a political leader and pulls off some great play". Perhaps these stories would be more interesting to me if I understood the rules of mahjong, but since the writer doesn't do anything to explain the rules, I don't have that context, so the stories simply fall flat to me.
There also isn't much comedy to be had here. The funniest part would likely be how they paint George W. Bush as being a child, but that's simply one good joke out of a 27-minute runtime. The rest of the humor is supposed to come from flashy sequences that are supposed to be so over-the-top that it ends up being ridiculous, but this didn't actually work very well for me, so the presentation just ended up feeling somewhat lackluster.
That's not to say the art is bad, as it's very nicely done, with great character design befitting the political setting, and smooth, detailed animation as one would expect from an OVA. However, the art can't save the poor directing and pacing.
The sound design is also very well done, feeling loud & powerful at key moments, and the voice actors also do a nice job with their characters. The soundtrack is perhaps a bit generic and forgettable, and while the ending theme is catchy, I doubt it will stick with me for very long.
Still, despite these good aspects, the lack of congruity or interesting aspects in the story make this no more than simply a fun romp through a crazy world. It's a somewhat enjoyable watch, that has a handful of flaws and overall manages to feel somewhat tepid and uninteresting in terms of it's story, despite it's over-the-top, ridiculous nature.
Politics is often thought of as a dull and dreary affair; several old men in suits debating issues like agricultural legislation and increasing taxes a little. But perhaps the most uninteresting of all is international affairs; a battle to get as much as you can from someone else while giving them back as little as possible in return. It’s a world of faked smiles and awkward handshakes.
If only the countries of the world could compete against other like men; pitting themselves against one another in fierce competition, as they battle for ultimate supremacy.
And what better way to do that, than a game of 2v2
‘The Legend of Koizumi’ sees the former Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi Junichiro doing diplomacy with six of Japan’s deadliest enemies, including North Korean leader Kim Jong-il and Chinese Premier Wen. Also taking part in the (trash) talks are a range of Japanese and international political figures.
While all but the most informed of Westerners are unlikely to recognise all but the most infamous members of the cast, this barely detracts from The Legend of Koizumi’s humour. Even if the names are new, the characters are not; Dictators that don’t play by the rules, and exaggeratedly manly “heroes of freedom”.
And it is this that makes Legend of Koizumi very accessible, even to a foreign audience; something that isn’t easy for a political satire that uses localised, real world figures. In fact, the main reason Legend of Koizumi is funny is simply because it is so over the top; from letting out a primal scream while declaring Riichi to intercepting a nuclear missile with a Fighter Jet, Koizumi is so ridiculously manly that he can burn a hole through a mahjong tile simply by pressing his finger up against it.
Since Legend of Koizumi is mostly about poking fun at political figures, it doesn’t really have much of a story. Essentially, he settles Japanese diplomacy by battling various communist dictators. Given that there are three episodes and each one is only ten minutes long, we can forgive Koizumi for lacking any real character development or providing much in the way of introductions before the games begin. But remember that although these figures may not be well known in the west, in Japan they are household names; they don’t need any lengthy introductions.
Koizumi is the single product of a small animation studio, and hence did not receive a very large budget. Thankfully however, the art doesn’t really feel cheaply made; animation is largely avoided, however the animation that is there is as smooth as any television production. Reaction shots are kept to a sensible length. And while they are somewhat frequent, multiple angles are used to prevent it from feeling static. What’s more, these flaws only become apparent with a well trained eye, or upon closer inspection.
The art style is reminiscent of fighting or martial arts anime; butch, muscular bodies and faces, with blood vessels ready to pop at any second but are still recognisable, bearing obvious resemblances to the figures they parody (if you know what the figures they parody look like, anyway).
The background music is mock suspense; loud and heavy percussion throughout, spaced with tense silences and touches of dramatic, orchestral strings. Most of the cast have exaggerated deep, masculine voices; dialogue is delivered in a style similar to a bad action movie. For example, in one scene, Koizumi (having been shot only moments ago) calmly steps out of a helicopter and simply says: “Let’s delegate”.
Aside from catchphrases delivered like they were lifted from a Schwarzenegger movie, Koizumi’s dialogue is limited guttural screams when declaring a hand, and trash talking his opponents, who are given silly accents and have their mannerisms and characteristics blown out of proportion.
But being so over the top is what makes the Legend of Koizumi so good; even without the satire it is still hilarious to watch and easy to enjoy. And, since it only lasts 30 minutes in total, it doesn’t have enough time to become stale or repetitive.
If I was going to be diplomatic about it, I’d probably cite that the easily accessible humour, the very short running time and the large enjoyment factor that Legend of Koizumi has, make for good incentives to watch it. But then, diplomacy never gets anyone anywhere does it?
So watch Legend of Koizumi, or I’ll declare ‘Rising Sun’ on your ass, pinko!