Ebichu Minds the House

Gainax has always been a controversial animation house. They are responsible for the mecha head-trip of Neon Genesis Evangelion, the obsessive fandom of Otaku No Video, and the brilliant nonsense of FLCL. These guys wrote the book on throwing out the book. But if you aren't convinced that the executives at Gainax are completely nuts, perhaps you haven't seen Ebichu Minds The House.

'Cause this one's just plain wrong, folks. Funny enough to cause you to laugh your Mountain Dew straight through your nose, true, but wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong.

Ebichu Minds The House is a ten-minute segment of a woman's anime anthology series called "The Anime Love Bubble Bubble Hour". It's based on the wildly popular manga by Risa Itou. It's three parts South Park, one part Hamtaro, and twenty parts Sex and the City. And it is wrong. It's not pornographic--if it was, The Anime Review wouldn't be discussing it--but it is wrong. In fact, if you don't like shows with "naughty" or "shocking" humor, hit the back button right now. Just forget you ever came to this page. You'll thank me for it later. I'll probably think more of you if you do. Bye now.

Now, ever onward, you brave, curious, doomed souls.

Ebichu is the world's cutest hamster, due in part to its insistence on talking like a three-year old Japanese girl missing her two front teeth. She cleans up after and attempts to take care of Master, a 25-year-old salarywoman. Master's considered as old as a woman can be and still be marriage material in Japan, so Ebichu is naturally interested in her finding the right man. But that doesn't look promising, as Master is dating Useless Boy. In her own frenzied way, Ebichu tries to get Master hooked up, but what does a hamster know about love?

Now doesn't that sound like a charming little show, potentially? From the shots of Ebichu herself, you'd think it was. Ebichu looks like a poster child for children's television, stuck right inbetween Totoro and Big Bird. But you'd be wrong. So wrong. Did I mention this show is wrong?

Ebichu is, in fact, a sex comedy. Virtually everything within the show comes back to sex. As Gainax's promotional material proudly proclaims, part of the show's outrageous nature is how it combines the ridiculously cute with unparalleled naughtiness. Ebichu constantly finds new ways to embarrass Master, though unintentionally, because she knows all of Master's bedroom peccadilloes. And present them to the audience she does, without pretense or distraction, with the naivety of a clueless three-year old who knows far more and far less than she should. To top that off, there are sex scenes sprinkled throughout the show; although they aren't erotic due to the goofy, comic appearance of the characters, they are disturbing. And if that weren't enough, when Master or anybody else in the show gets mad at Ebichu, they smack her into a bloody pulp on the wall. I think I mentioned this show is wrong before, didn't I?

Nevertheless, one shouldn't assume that just because the show is raunchy that it can't be humorous. It is. I've always avoided films like Porky's, American Pie, and Scary Movie because I just don't like bodily humor much. And yet Ebichu can be achingly hilarious despite its constant focus on sex. Part of the humor is definitely from the shock of this innocent-looking hamster knowing far too much and charging full-speed through taboo after taboo. But there's more to it--the puns, the bad English used to introduce the alter-ego Ebichuman, the mispronunciations so bad a first year language student would catch them--that goes beyond just shocking the audience. It's certainly got something going for it to appeal to young Japanese women (and to appear on Japanese television in a heavily-bleeped version). It's genuinely funny. And still genuinely wrong.

My feelings on Ebichu are mixed. Although I found it often gut-bustingly funny, it's raunch with no real substance. That is, in fact, my biggest problem with the show: no matter my personal take on the program, I would never recommend it to a friend. If you are easily offended by anything--and I do mean ANYTHING--just skip this show over if and when it is released in your part of the world. But if you find Sex and the City mild, South Park tame, and could use some spicy humor in a wacky, offbeat package where nothing is off-limits, this might be your gig.

But it's still just wrong.

Ebichu Minds the House -- nudity, strong (but not pornographic) sexual content many might consider offensive -- B (but subtract up to three full letter grades based on how sensitive you are)