Feb 16, 2010
Splitter (All reviews)
In the past year, we’ve seen a phenomenal glut of anime made almost exclusively for the sake of pandering. One of those titles was “Isshoni Training”, a lucrative fanservice anime with the premise of convincing anime fans to get off their butts and exercise, when in reality, it’s an excuse for the trainer to give the viewer a lot of T&A. It was a silly but profitable venture, and so it was hard to be surprised when a sequel was announced. Now here we have “Isshoni Sleeping” which takes the pandering of “Isshoni Training” to a whole new level, one that your humble reviewer is both impressed and frightened at the implications this new level of pandering brings us to.

Capitalizing off its successor, “Isshoni Sleeping” continues with its nonexistence of a fourth wall. Hinako has returned in continuity of the first, saying it’s nice to see you again upon our first glance at her still very-well-endowed and very-loosely-dressed self, hanging spaghetti straps and all. This time, we start by going to sleep, and Hinako has agreed to go to sleep with us. At this point, I’d like to remind you all this is a 45 minute long anime and we’re only two minutes in. Anime being a visual and audible medium, to think we are going to sleep is ridiculous. The director and staff agree and what follows both scares and amazes me.

To begin with the scary part, anyone with previous knowledge of “Isshoni Training” went into this knowing there would be fanservice galore, and the next 40 minutes certainly does not skimp. 99% of the following frames are nothing but cheesecake shots. There are close-ups on Hinako’s cleavage, her camel toe, dragging the camera up and down her body and sometimes just focusing on her breasts, underwear, or lips for a good minute before moving to another just as degrading shot. In short, it is voyeurism and I don’t blame anyone who feels uncomfortable watching it… and yet at the same time, I don’t blame anyone who feels comfortable watching it either. Allow me to explain.

Part of pandering is rooting into what makes otaku tick and catering exclusively to that. But there’s always the problem of the fourth wall. Otaku are almost always kept out of the action, away from it all, and it tempts them so far that they end up bringing 3D items into their lives with depictions of these girls (see; dakimakura). Now here we have an anime of a young well-endowed girl who acts like a five-year-old and makes the audible mouth gestures of a two-year-old. Moe GOLD, and this is where the lack of a fourth wall is most beneficial to it. Because there is no fourth wall, there is nothing separating this 2D girl from her audience other than the screen. Hinako looks at you, blushes at you, sings to you, and dreams of you. Despite being animated, Hinako has been made to love you, thus rooting into the hopes and dreams of many lonely otaku. Though it can and probably will be used as ecchi material, there is a well-placed aspect of comfort to the audience that, as a marketing device, is hard not to be impressed with. The OVA knows its audience and wants the audience to be satisfied, and really you can’t fault this production for that.

Is the audience being used by the first-person gimmick? Absolutely. Is it true they’ll probably have another moe idol in a week? Wouldn’t be surprised. Yet, “Isshoni Sleeping” fulfills everything otaku look for in an anime and more. As fanservice, there’s better out there that’s both more revealing and far less shameful to watch, but as a detached look into the otaku psyche and a marketing approach, it’s rather stunning work. It is lucrative and enlightening, shameful and pure, and it will surely be polarizing, but it’s always honest about its motives, the good ones and the bad ones.

Overall, I give Isshoni Training a 5 out of 10.