Sep 19, 2015
HaXXspetten (All reviews)
"What's the point of dirty jokes anyway if they aren't 'wrong'? They're appealing *because* they are wrong. They excite us *because* we have to be secretive. Because they're devilish, they shine. Because they're twisted, they entice us. That is why I vowed to become the 'devil' to crush this boring world where the concept of dirty jokes does not exist!" – Kajou Ayame

At first glance this may sound like a pretty stupid quote, but when you think about it there's a lot of truth behind it. In fact, Shimoneta as a whole functions in more or less the same way as underneath the hyperactive, wacky comedy there are a lot of shots fired not only against many societal norms, but also the censorship laws of Japanese media.

First thing first though: let's be honest here, how many people actually thought this was going to be a good anime before this season started airing? My guess is not so many, but Shimoneta came roaring seemingly completely out of nowhere and proved itself as one of the funniest comedies I've ever seen in anime, but also one of the strangest ones. The setting is honestly pretty similar to 1984 of all things, as it features a totalitarian, dystopian society with heavy governmental censorship. In this case however, the censorship is solely about sexual content. In fact all forms of pornography, sexual education, or anything along those lines has been completely banned from society for the last decade, and every citizen is forced to wear a vocal monitor at all times which summons the police to arrest them should they ever say a dirty word. Enter Kajou Ayame, a.k.a. the lewd terrorist “Blue Snow", a self-proclaimed freedom fighter who distributes sexual material wherever she goes in an attempt to educate people. Alongside our unfortunate protagonist Okuma Tanukichi whom she blackmails into assisting her, the two of them initiate a campaign of obscenities against the government with the hopes of one day managing to reform society to what it once was.

I could go on for days talking about the utter lunacy of Shimoneta, but I'd rather just recommend you to experience it for yourself as there is no way you can properly express its sheer absurdness with mere words. All I'll say is that it although it is fairly uneven, when it peaks it's without a doubt one of the best comedies ever.

What is definitely worth talking about though is the underlying message that the show is very clearly trying to send. After all, in a nutshell the entire story is essentially about fighting against the government's violation of freedom of speech and getting rid of all forms of censorship throughout society. It doesn't exactly take a genius to figure out what the author is trying to say with that. I'm pretty sure most people who watch anime on a regular basis are very familiar with just how severe the censorship can be for it. Whether it's about gore, sexual themes or anything else, there are always tons of things that have to be left out. Not only does this hinder the authors' and illustrators' ability to express themselves properly, but it can also severely neuter the experience for the series' viewers. And really, in this day and age even a kid can access essentially anything via the internet, so it's not like you're actually “protecting" anyone from graphical content by blocking it out anyway, not to mention that if someone didn't want to see that kind of stuff they wouldn't be watching the anime in question in the first place, censored or not. Shimoneta feels a lot like an author who had gotten fed up with the current system and who decided to write this story out of spite. Whether or not that is actually the case I do not know, but the fact that there are a lot of political messages in this story is undeniable. Although if it's really true that the author came up with the idea for Shimoneta when he was drunk like he claims to, then that only makes the whole thing even more peculiar.

Either way, regardless of whether you're watching this anime for the absurd comedy or the underlying messages, Shimoneta does a great job at both. It stands out as one of the most positively surprising anime I have seen in an extremely long time, and it will be remembered for being both hilarious and thought-provoking at the same time. Not many series can boast with that achievement.

Now sadly I don't really think the awareness that Shimoneta might raise will be enough to do anything about the censorship laws in Japan, but at least it stands up for itself and dares to make a statement. It's a step in the right direction at the very least, and I can only hope that more series will have the guts to do the same in the future.