Jungle De Ikou
In recent articles on Anime News Network in the fall of 2010, there's been a realization that fan service is a big problem in modern anime. It's not just the mindless shots of cleavage and panties and assorted anatomy; it's the mindset that anime is puerile entertainment made for off-kilter fans whose only interest is either in T&A or the latest moe or tsundere heroine. Admittedly, the latest couple of seasons of anime haven't given us long-time fans much to rejoice about, what with so many shows pandering to prurient interests...but the "fan service" discussion has been going on for a few decades.
There's a difference, however, between peekaboo moments of adults and the flashing of characters who haven't yet made it through grade school. That's my core problem with Jungle De Ikou, a 1997 3-part OVA series that centers around a ten-year-old girl. It's proof that this sort of crap has been going on in the anime world for quite some time. Even in the name of comedy, there's never a reason I need to see a prepubescent's underwear...certainly not multiple times in just a few minutes.
To be sure, Jungle De Ikou does have a plot. Natsumi, our young protagonist, receives a strange relic from her dad who's been archeologizing somewhere in New Guinea. It's not particularly pretty or interesting -- in fact, it's a little disturbing -- but she accepts it to make her dad feel better. The problem is, sacred icons are not play toys, and through the relic she encounters the demigod Ahem. Ahem is a wrinkly old fellow who claims to be the creator of Earth, and he wants to make sure that the evil Ongo doesn't wind up destroying the universe. Ahem teaches Natsumi a rather obscene dance that will supposedly give her power if she's ever in trouble, then disappears.
Sure enough, Ongo appears soon afterwards. He's a little dude, not somebody who seems ready to bring Armageddon. He comes close enough, however, when he decides he wants some whale meat and floods the whole city to bring one inland. Trouble ensues, Natsumi does her little dance, and she receives the body and power of Mii, the flower spirit. Only issue? Let's just say that Mii is going to have serious back issues later in life; it's no stretch to say she is over-endowed. Natsumi uses her new powers, the crisis is averted, and she turns back into her tiny self. But as you can guess, dealing with minor deities is only going to get worse, and Natsumi's schoolmates get pulled into the mess as the series progresses.
Jungle De Ikou is a series that intends to be seriously cute. Everybody is smiley and dimply and uber-precious. Even the intensely ugly Ahem is still wrinkly-cute. The soundtrack, animation, etc. all furthers the same vibe. It's colorful and spritely, and I can't argue that certain sequences with Mii (cough cough) aren't lovingly rendered.
My beef with the program is two-fold. First, it doesn't pass the funny test. It's possible to get a kick out of an ancient old guy dancing around doing pelvic thrusts with a huge rhino horn covering his privvies, I suppose. It doesn't amuse me. I can't think of another comedy in recent memory where I went forty-five minutes without laughing once. The whale floating into the city sounds like a humorous scenario, but it wasn't. It's wasn't as if the gags were falling flat; I didn't get the sense of any gags at all beyond the physical humor.
Second, nobody needs this kind of thing in their life. Seriously, who is so freakin' messed up so as create a show that shows off the panties of a ten-year-old and then makes that ten-year-old into an oversexed goddess with giant gazoombas? I nearly turned off the TV once during the first episode when it was clear this was a show about women's undergarments on little girls, but the semblance of a plot kept me going a little bit. But by the middle of the second episode when Natsumi's friend does a rumba that's not really a dance at all but just an overt sexual position, I was done.
I can appreciate some rude humor in my life; I thought Ebichu Minds The House was hysterical, even though it didn't just push the envelope but broke it in two. I'm not 100% averse to fan service, even; I still think that Plastic Little set the bar for fan service, and that's still wildly entertaining. But this crosses lines I am unwilling to even step near. I know things have gotten worse, and it's not as if there's blatant nudity on display. But nobody has to strip for this thing still to be perverse.
Reviews on the Internet have been fair to middling about this title; some recommended it strongly enough for me to get the tape for a buck years ago. All I can say is that I want my dollar back.
Jungle De Ikou -- significant fan service with significantly underage characters, crude anatomical jokes -- F