Ebiten: Complete Collection Review

Anime

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Ebiten: Complete Collection
Studio: AIC Classic
Publisher: Sentai Filmworks
Format: DVD, Blu-ray (Reviewed)
Release Date: April 1, 2014
Price: $59.98 – Available Here

Overview
In Japan there are numerous channels where anime is aired nightly and many long running series are shown throughout the day. However with the amount of anime produced every season, some series are only shown online through NicoNico. One recently released series to be given this treatment was Upotte!! and now Sentai Filmworks has released another series, Ebiten, that was only shown online. Despite being relegated to an online broadcast, many of these series can be quite enjoyable but the question is… is Ebiten one of those series?

Story
Ebisugawa High School is home to a certain club that like many clubs in anime is full of weirdos. Despite seeming like an astronomy club thanks to being called the ‘Asstronomical Club’ this club is anything but and this leads to a new student named Itsuki Noya joining the club without realizing that everyone in this club is strange in some way and only a few of them are even interested in astronomy in the first place.

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Instead the club consists of a strange leader named Kyoko Todoyama who is constantly harassing her fellow clubmates and simply acting crazy at times, a girl who loves anything with boys love in it, has delusional erotic fantasies, and is the fanservice girl of the club since she is always being stripped down to her underwear, a smaller girl with an obsession for felines, and the club’s older-sister type vice president who is always having to deal with a tsundere Student Council President trying to shut down the club.

Oh and did I forget to mention that Noya is also a boy in this all girls club? Well that doesn’t actually get referenced itself for a few episodes as Noya is forced to cross-dress as a girl in order to remain a club member, simply because Kyoko doesn’t want things to become “complicated.” Throw in a delusional stalker supervisor who abandons her position and leaves a cat in her place and a person from both Noya and Kyoko’s past and place everyone together in a basement club room and you have the recipe for an odd but fairly enjoyable show.

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Ebiten is the type of show that thrives off not only the way the characters interact with one another and the strange situations they get into, but also on how the numerous jokes land. Despite placing all of these personalities in one place, there really isn’t too much of a running storyline for most of Ebiten as the focus is instead placed on the strangeness of the club and countless parodies.

In an interesting twist, every episode in Ebiten contains parodies of other anime series, though a few of them are more obscure or older parodies that viewers might not have seen. Some of these are very obvious however, with the first episode tying astrology together nicely with Saint Seiya references, another episode involving Sailor Moon transformations and characters and even full on Dragon Ball Z and K-on! sequences that are impossible to miss.

Now as mentioned before, a show like Ebiten lives and dies off of its humor and unfortunately a lot of the jokes in Ebiten become stale halfway through the series and at that point it is only surviving by the parodies that viewers are able to connect with. Sure the character personalities help make up for this, and fourth wall breaking jokes never get old, even with these eclectic personalities more of the gags fell flat compared to those that had me laughing.

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With this only being a ten episode series, Ebiten quickly throws a plot together in the last few episodes which, despite how absolutely absurd it sounds, actually works considering the various things that led up to the events that occur. In these final episodes we not only see some actual character development for two members of the cast but also a conclusion that is rather satisfying and rare for a series such as Ebiten which thrives off being random and is generally something viewers simply enjoy while they are watching it and forget about later.

Visuals
If you forget that Ebiten was originally a net anime, then it simply falls into looking rather generic in a number of areas, however for a net animation it actually is rather impressive how well a number of sequences in the series are pulled off. Almost all of the parodies in Ebiten have visuals to match the jokes, my favorite being an almost exact Sailor Moon transformation sequence with a little bubble in the corner showing the girl quickly trying to change clothes normally.

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As for the series itself, the character designs are unfortunately rather basic with generic school uniforms being the standard and the characters themselves being rather simple looking. The animation quality is also subpar as a number of movement sequences and mid-range shots look extremely poor. As for the fanservice aspect, Ebiten is rife with panty shots and a girl constantly being stripped to her underwear, but the main series does not contain any actual nudity. The same cannot be said about the special features in the release.

Audio
Now it is worth mentioning that Sentai Filmworks’ release of Ebiten contains only the Japanese dub with English subtitles. This is a disappointment, however it is made up for by the act that the Japanese voice actresses all do an amazing job with their characters. The standout here is Kyoko’s voice actress Kana Asumi who matches the characters personality perfectly, though her performance in Ebiten sounds exactly like her performance as Haiyore! Nyaruko-san’s Nyaruko.

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As for the background music, the standard music is rather basic but there are a number of songs with vocals laced into a few episodes. Special mention has to go to the fact that while there is one opening theme used as a standard for every episode, every episode has a special ending theme with a song and animation sequence that seems to parody that episode’s theme, such as an ending looking similar to Sailor Moon.

Extras
With this release of Ebiten from Sentai Filmworks, there are a large amount of on-disc bonuses included in the second disc. There are some rather standard inclusions such as a clean version of the opening theme, clean versions of every single ending theme, Japanese promotional material and web comercials, and trailers for other Sentai releases, but these are followed by some standout extras.

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This release contains the OVA that was released after the main series completed and the OVA seems to take place after the events of the final episode and follows the cast of the club as they completely break the fourth wall and realize that there is actually an anime being made following the exploits of the club. Along with this OVA there are two live action music videos involving the voice actresses for the cast and a set of five “Heart Throb Hot Springs” shorts. These hot spring shorts are about five minutes long a piece, though the first few minutes are always the same, and feature the female cast being placed in lewd situations or poses with nipples being exposed, to put some extra fanservice out there for viewers.

Overall
Ebiten follows the life of a bunch of weirdos all in one club and bases many of its jokes off of the characters’ personalities and how they interact with one another. This works well for the most part and the numerous parodies help add an extra layer of humor when things start to get stale. Despite its limited episode count, Ebiten does what it can and actually produces a strange but enjoyable final story arc and although it is limited in a number of areas it may be worth checking out for fans of club-based comedies that thrive off of randomness.

6-5-capsules-out-of-10
Capsule Computers review guidelines can be found here.

As a big fan of anime and games I'll be quick to cover anything that happens to be of interest.

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