Eiken Anime Review
US Release By
Breast Fetish Harem Comedy
2 30-minute episodes
2003-06-25 - 2004-06-23
Densuke is a genrally average high school student who has just managed to get into a prestigious school so immense it is literally a city of its own. Unsurprisingly, on the way there on his first day he (literally) runs into Chiharu--the prettiest, smartest, and close-to-bustiest girl in the school. That inopportune collision leads to him getting conscripted, along with Chiharu, into the Eiken club--an all-female collection of wackos who the rest of the school either fears or just tries to avoid. When the school's annual multi-crazy-sport competition rolls around, Densuke jumps in with the rest of his club to try and get things moving with Chiharu by winning.
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Even accepting that it's plotless, pointless, utterly unoriginal borderline-porn, Eiken is awful. Annoying, entirely unsexy, and once it starts belaboring the generic romantic tension, boring on top of it. The art is deceptively decent at the beginning before the budget runs out, and the plot is a paint-by-numbers "contest" episode of a harem comedy stretched out into an hour of pain. There's only one worthwhile thing in the whole production, and it's ironically the male lead; skilled veteran Akeno Watanabe does absolutely everything she can with the pathetic script to make something amusing of the role. Don't get your hopes up, though--the rest of the cast are no-name placeholders, and sound like it. The English dub, in contrast, has no redeeming qualities at all.
Eiken is just about the worst kind of anime there is--softcore hentai half-heartedly pretending it's a comedy, and failing at that as well as pretty much everything else other than embarrassing itself and its viewers. Unless you're a massive fan of massive breasts, even the fanservice is more grotesque than sexy, leaving nothing at all worth watching.
Full ReviewSwitch to Quick Review
Even accepting that it's plotless, pointless, utterly unoriginal borderline-porn, Eiken is awful. Annoying, entirely unsexy, and once it starts belaboring the placeholder romantic tension, boring on top of it. Unless you're squarely in the target fetish camp--freakishly huge, nearly-liquid breasts and awkward physical entanglements--it'll just plain hurt to watch.
Come to think of it, maybe the target audience is actually masochists. That would explain a lot, although it'd be easier to just look at the box art while banging your head on a table.
The lengthy manga Eiken is based on is pretty much a completely generic school club harem comedy with a focus on large-breast fanservice--there's a cookie-cutter list of standard harem types, a boyish protagonist with no redeeming qualities, a crazy club, and by-the-book furtive romance.
This anime, in contrast, is apparently the result of a dare: Without breaking from that formulaic framework (meaning no detailed nudity, no sex, and nothing more than incidental physical contact), just how close can you get this thing to hardcore porn? Pretty darn close.
The merely gigantic breasts of the manga version have been cranked up to grotesque proportions; only the most extreme fetishist could possibly find this kind of thing appealing, but it's obviously the point of the entire show. Even if you ignore the stupefying breasts, the level of symbolic shenanigans is... well, pornographic. From post-collision accidental entanglements that are more like something out of the Kama Sutra, to a character who's fellating some food object every time she's onscreen, to a yogurt water slide (yeah...), it's pretty impressive just how far it goes without, in the strictest sense, actually showing or doing anything explicit. That's before you even get started on the forward "little sister" character's come-ons, which throw even that shred of restraint out the window.
It's supposed to be a comedy, and it does try to play pretty much everything (including every fetish) for laughs and as far over-the-top as possible, but it's so lame and derivative, and the fanservice so explicit, that only a couple of gags are at all funny. There is no story--it takes the "plot" of a generic "school competition" episode, tacks on about three minutes of introduction, then tries (and fails) to stretch it out to cover the remainder of the two episodes.
Visually, the mammoth breasts sort of dominate and overwhelm everything else. The art isn't otherwise bad--a fair amount of detail and some creative angles--and the animation is lively and relatively fluid. The comparatively expensive start is deceptive, though--it starts cheaping out near the end, re-using animation and dragging out should-be-short scenes endlessly.
There's one--and only one--remotely amusing thing in the whole show, and that's ironically the spineless male protagonist, Densuke. His character animation is pretty colorful, but mostly the credit goes to veteran (and talented, not to mention versatile) actress Akeno Watanabe, who gives him way more personality than he deserves, and certainly more than any of the girls. The combination of lively complaining and assorted grope-induced freak-outs is actually worth a couple of laughs. I have no idea how she ended up in this garbage, but I'll give her credit for doing absolutely everything she could with the pathetic script to try and make something of the role.
The rest of the cast, with few exceptions, are no-name placeholders, and sound like it--even hardcore hentai usually has better acting than this. The central love interest, Chiharu, is particularly awful--the character has all the personality of a meek brick, and Miwa Oshiro (in her first and thankfully only anime role) voices her like one. The fact that Oshiro is a pin-up model probably explains how she somehow landed the part. A quick glance at the English dub--a couple minutes was about all I could stomach--revealed equally cringeworthy acting.
In all, Eiken is just about the worst kind of anime there is--softcore hentai half-heartedly pretending it's a comedy, and failing at that, as well as pretty much everything else other than embarrassing itself and its viewers. Unless you're a massive fan of massive breasts, even the fanservice is more grotesque than sexy, leaving nothing at all worth watching.
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Kanokon is very similar in that it's an extremely dirty take on a generic schoolyard comedy concept and features a very boyish protagonist, and it's both marginally more coherent and drastically more interesting (though that isn't saying much). On the less-dirty end, Kujibiki Unbalance is exactly the same general category of schoolyard competition done with about as straight a face as you can, and far less fanservice.
Notes and Trivia
Based on a fairly lengthy, fanservice-focused manga series by Seiji Matsuyama. The manga is available in English from Media Blasters.
Miwa Oshiro, who voices Chiharu, is mostly known as a "gravure idol" (basically a pin-up model), though she also has a handful of acting credits to her name (of which Eiken is the only voice one).
Somewhat ironically, the dub is the opposite; Chiharu's English voice is (according to Wikipedia) supplied by prolific dubbing veteran Stephanie Sheh, although you won't see her name in the credits. While Sheh has used a number of stage names, this is the only anime in which you'll see her credited as "Becky Chiang" (I can see why--I wouldn't want my name associated with this performance, either).
The Japanese copyright line includes "Eikenv Team" ("エイケンヴ一同"), including the "v" at the end for some reason. The English release translates that into the more straightforward "Eiken Production Committee."
US DVD Review
The DVD has the feature with both Japanese and English dubbed stereo audio and a soft subtitle track. The video is crisp and the audio sounds fine, but special features consist of absolutely nothing, unless you count trailers for other shows as a special feature.
While there's technically nothing more than groping, and not much detailed nudity, the blatant symbolism and art push it almost unquestionably into the adults-only zone.
Violence: 0 - Basic cartoony slapstick.
Nudity: 3 - Little detail, but leering close-ups of clothed body parts and awkward angles galore in addition to some more direct skin.
Sex/Mature Themes: 4 - Hard call; technically there's just some inappropriate grabbing and extremely blunt come-ons, but the level of graphic symbolic action is without peer.
Language: 1 - Nothing of particular note in the subtitles.