First Impressions: Binbou-gami ga!

I swear, this pose is in every anime OP nowadays.

Last year marked the end of an era. After more than 252 episodes, Gintama came to a close. With the shows it liked to poke fun at getting so terrible they slowly turned into parodies of themselves, studio Sunrise decided to pull the plug on the long-running staple of wackiness, but that gave Gintama’s reference-heavy chaos the opportunity to reincarnate into new projects. This year already gave us the mildly brilliant Daily Lives of High School Boys, which updated Gintama’s formula by aiming its crosshair at slice-of-life anime, rather than shounen. Now, the other director of Gintama unleashes his newest project onto the world: Binbou-gami ga!

Binbou-gami ga! tells the story of Ichiko Sakura, a seemingly perfect, well-endowed little princess who is worshipped like a goddess by everyone of the opposite sex, up to and including her elderly butler Suwano. The actual gods do not like Ichiko one bit, though, as the massive amounts of good fortune she possesses knock the equilibrium between good and bad luck off balance. The lead goddess of misfortune sends her sleazy disciple Momiji to earth in order to drain Ichiko of her fortune, yet Ichiko is not exactly enthusiastic about giving up her pretty little life for the benefit of others.

Unlike Medaka, Ichiko does have flaws.

Ichiko’s ambiguous characterization makes or breaks Binbou-gami ga! Though haughty, selfish and often downright mean, Ichiko is still a loveable character. This is in many ways thanks to Kana Hanazawa’s stellar performance, but also due to the writing, which adds a healthy bit of drama to this first episode to show that Ichiko definitely is not as perfect or happy as she is made out to be. The unkempt, uncouth and slightly sadistic Momiji serves as a great foil to Ichiko, resulting in some great comedic moments.

The drama in Binbou-gami ga! is never overwrought or inappropriate, but of course it is still the comedy that steals this show. The first episode throws a promising load of gags at you, ranging from blatant, yet well-thought-out references over traditional slapstick to wordplay which – sadly enough – not even gg fansubs manages to save from getting lost in translation. The humour is sometimes actually very reminiscent of that in traditional shounen, such as Naruto or Fairy Tail. This isn’t all that surprising, given that Binbou-gami ga! has been adapted by the guy who did the series composition for Bleach. I’ll let that sink in for a while.

Binbou-gami ga!’s cheap 6-frames-per-second animation and loud gags give off the aura of something made in the early 2000s, but that might be more of a plus than a minus. After all, it is not that often we get to see a comedy anime that is not about perversion, let alone a comedy anime that is actually worth two cents. The biggest challenge for Binbou-gami ga! will lie in remaining interesting throughout its entire run. It’s not the clever, self-aware festival of wit Daily Lives of High School Boys was in its prime, but it is deliciously engaging.

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