Akahori Gedou Hour Rabuge Anime Review
Akahori Gedou Awaa Rabuge
Akahori Heretical Hour Rabuge
US Release By
13 24-minute episodes
2005-07-04 - 2005-08-29
What's In It
- Heroes Who Are Villains
- Villains Who Are Heroes
- Artificially Busty Battlesuits
- Salaryman Villains
- Violence: 2 (moderate)
- Nudity: 2 (moderate)
- Sex: 3 (significant)
- Language: 2 (moderate)
Meet Aimi and Kaoruko: A stand-up comic duo by the name of Love Pheromone who've never gotten a laugh onstage. Undaunted, they live together and take any demeaning job their unflappable manager can find for them in hopes of breaking through into the big time.
Now meet Love Pheromone: A busty superhero duo who seek nothing but justice, they've never encountered a foe that they couldn't vanquish with a sufficient dose of missiles. They do have a small problem with collateral damage, though, resulting in them being feared far and wide by innocent citizen and villain alike.
What no one suspects is that these two identically-named teams are one and the same!
Elsewhere in Tokyo the five Hokke sisters eke out a meager existence in a tiny house on the part-time jobs the eldest can find. But while they trudge through school and home life, they hope one day to fulfill their late parents' dream for them: To become true, successful villains. Their parents were, you see, faceless minions in an evil organization who dreamed of more for their children.
It looks as if their dreams may be realized when a tiny, sexy devil named Akumako appears and grants them elemental powers as witches. With this, they begin a hidden life as Gedou Otometai--the Heretical Maiden Squad. Now only one thing stands between them and proper villain-hood: Overcoming their innate tendency to be really, really nice.
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Akahori Gedou Hour Rabuge, though not an hour long, is the unadulterated product of the somewhat warped mind of Satoru Akahori. Comprised of two nearly unrelated series with nearly opposite moods--one about villains so nice they're almost heroes and the other about heroes so awful they're functionally villains--it's a superhero parody somewhere between mind-melting stupidity and multi-layered self-referential meta-humor so completely insane it's brilliant.
The series hits extremely low-key "when you think about it" concept humor dead on, and does a decent job with hyperactive slapstick loaded with borderline-horrifying personality issues and general gleeful malice, all while sending up classic superhero shows. It's frequently stupid enough to hurt, and the not-quite-right drama drags occasionally, but I found myself laughing long and loud often enough to call the result a success. I think.
Full ReviewSwitch to Quick Review
Akahori Gedou Hour Rabuge is, as the title implies, the product of the somewhat warped mind of Satoru Akahori. It is not, however, an hour long. In fact, the half-hour episodes are split into the unrelated stories of Gedou Otometai, a family of kindhearted would-be-villains, and Love Pheromone, a pair of despicable would-be-superheroes. These add up to a superhero parody somewhere between mind-melting stupidity and multi-layered self-referential meta-humor so completely insane it's hilarious. Come prepared.
A look at Akahori's resume reveals a variety of material: Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi, K.O. Beast, Maze, Saber Marionette J, and Nadesco, to name a few. The one consistent theme seems to be treading the fine line between hilarious madness and just plain madness; Rabuge is pretty much standing with one foot on either side of the line laughing maniacally. How much is hilarious and how much will just make your head hurt is going to depend a lot on taste, but one thing this series doesn't do is halfway.
The moods of the two stories are as opposite as the morals of their characters, which is to say extremely so.
On one hand is Gedou Otometai: Their stories are low-key tales of sisterly bonding and familial kindness sweet enough to cause cavities... except for the fact that every soft-focus flashback to happy days with their parents reminds us that mom and dad were faceless masked minions with numbers instead of names. The evil organizations they join forces with are basically pencil pushers and their heartwarming moments usually stem from failed attempts to terrorize the public at large.
The humor in these segments is almost entirely conceptual--the unrelentingly sappy drama is played completely straight. This sounds boring, but the constant reminders of how screwed-up the fundamental goings on are (not to mention "evil" as a desk job) makes the whole thing hilarious in that "when you think about it" way. Almost as funny is their utter failure to be bad people. (Example: In an attempt to wreak havoc on typhoon refugees, they accidentally create nice, hot soup.) Worked for my sense of humor, anyway.
Contrasting with this is Love Pheromone. They're an overpowered heroic duo with huge breasts, a huge robot, and a passion for justice. Their issue is that "justice" is very loosely defined, the method of dispensing it almost uniformly involves blowing up everything in the vicinity, and things like collateral damage and human decency are of no concern whatsoever. As a result, they are functionally villains outside their own delusional minds. This is summed up early on when they appear at a hostage crisis: The police flee, the criminals cower, and the hostages are just as scared--these "heroes" could care less about actually saving them.
Of the two teammates, the hyperactive and generally depraved Aimi cares about large-breasted women first, cute little girls second, money third, and that's more or less it (ego might factor in somewhere). Kaoruko is rather more competent and significantly less delusional; she half-heartedly tries to keep her teammate from causing too much unnecessary havoc, except when overcome by her drooling weakness for cute little boys. Yes, the pedophile is the sympathetic one.
There's plenty of meta-humor in this half of the series as well, but the basic mode is extreme hyperactivity, wanton violence, breast jokes galore, and more stupid gags than you can shake an Excel at. Unsurprisingly, it's devoid of drama, though one episode does show us through delusion-tinged flashbacks why these two are together.
When you put these two mini-shows back to back (the order changes depending on the episode, and even the intro theme is different depending on who's first) the contrast of mellow concept humor and crazed slapstick works better than you'd think. A half hour straight of either would get wearing, so the switch-up is surprisingly welcome either way. And if only one half appeals to you, you're really not missing much by skipping the other--crossovers are few and far between.
The one thematic overlap between the two halves is entertainment industry in-jokes. These range from Akahori himself making repeated appearances as a sleazy pander-to-the-drooling-fanboy producer (in case there was any doubt about who to blame for the constant fanservice) to a brief run-in between the quietest of the witches and her actual voice actor. (Character with almost no lines: "You're pretty." Actress: "You should talk more.")
Neither half, incidentally, has any ongoing plot at all, although the last couple episodes do bring the teams together against an invading force of aliens. It's a hair more dramatic than the rest of the series, but makes for a satisfying, apocalyptic, all-in climax.1
The art style of the series leans toward rougher linework, making it look a little older than it actually is, but the animation is relatively high budget and certainly smooth enough to keep up with the wacky action. Don't expect much in the way of superpowered brawls, though--Love Pheromone are so overpowered nobody lasts more than a few seconds against them and Gedou Otometai is better at making flowers than fighting. The character designs are pleasant but not memorable. The giant monsters and most of the villains look like foam-rubber suits or goofy sentai show masks, but that's part of the humor. Same goes for the transformation sequences; of course they're repetitive--it's required.
The Japanese acting is certainly lively. The most noteworthy performances are probably Kahoru Sasajima's distinctive, lower-pitched, perpetually-exasperated voice as Kaoruko and the eldest Hokke sister's maternal pleasantness, supplied by Atsuko Enomoto. Ai Shimizu as Aimi is also memorable, in that she's fiercely annoying. The comic timing is a bit sloppy, but most of the gags are so blunt it doesn't matter.
The background music is stock stuff, but not annoying. The two intro themes are catchy, and the cast does a decent enough job singing them that they don't hurt to listen to. The end theme is also amusing, but the visuals that go with it are the real treat, once you watch a few times and pick out everything that's going on in there.
The verdict on Akahori Gedou Hour Rabuge, as with most comedies this extreme, will depend largely on your sense of humor. It hits extremely low-key "when you think about it" concept humor dead on, and does a decent job with hyperactive slapstick loaded with borderline-horrifying personality issues and gleeful malice, all while sending up classic superhero shows. It's frequently stupid enough to hurt, and the not-quite-right drama drags occasionally, but I found myself laughing long and loud often enough to call the result a success. I think.
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For superhero parodies, Dokkoida?! and The Daichis top the list; the former in particular has a relatively similar mood. Of Akahori's own credits, the most similar are probably K.O. Beast and the Maze OAV. For the Love Pheromone segments, particularly wacky and hyperactive slapstick is the mode--Excel Saga is the most obvious choice, and Gokudo and Elf Princess Rane also come to mind. Gedou Otometai is harder to parallel; some of the more subtle humor in Jubei-chan is close, though that series relied as much on precise, awkward timing as things that are straightforward but terribly wrong when you think about them.
Notes and Trivia
Rabuge is an original TV concept by Satoru Akahori.
The teams are loosely based off of two internet radio shows; the personalities of each worked with Akahori to develop this series. The longer running one featured Ai Shimizu and Kaoru Sasajima as "Love Phero." (The characters' names, Aimi and Kaoruko, are a reference to their voice actors.) The shorter-running one was a show by a unit of five voice actors who had dubbed themselves Gedou Otometai; it was created in concert with the anime.
The show aired in the "Anime Spirits" slot, a series of unrelated anime TV shows covering a variety of genres that's been running since 2003; the series has included two To Heart series, Comic Party Revolution, and Strike Witches, to name a few.
The full titles of the two component series are "Absolute Justice Love Pheromone" (絶対正義ラブフェロモン; "Zettai Seigi Rabu Feromon") and "Let's Go! Heretical Maiden Squad" (それゆけ! 外道乙女隊; "Soreyuke! Gedou Otometai"). The "Rabuge" in the series' overall title comes from the first part of each team's name. The copyright line ("Rabuge Integration Council") is also something of a joke referencing this group effort.
Love Pheromone (the stage act) are a classic "manzai" duo. A particular style of Japanese stand-up comedy, manzai consists of a straight man (Kaoruko here) who makes jabs at the dumb one's (Aimi) malaprops and pun-style misunderstandings. These well-timed pointed jabs ("tsukkomi") are brought up several times as the key to the success (or complete lack thereof) of their act. Also note that the classic manzai duo has a Kansai accent, which of course their stage personas do, though they both have standard Japanese accents (Tokyo, that is) otherwise. Akumako (meaning "child of evil"), the diminutive demon, also has a Kansai accent, probably to enhance her in-your-face character.
Speaking of Akumako, she's actually borrowed from a much older series, K.O. Beast. Akahori, of course, scripted that series, so it's not a coincidence that her name, costume, hair color, and horns are identical.
The show is full of specific references to all manner of classic transforming superhero, giant robot, and sentai (color-coded hero team) shows scattered through the series; if you're a fan of that sort of thing keep your eyes open.
Footnote 1: This is a bit of a spoiler, but despite what the intro implies, there's never a showdown between the teams. After all, the "heroes" are so much better at being bad that the "villains" admire them.
US DVD Review
No US DVD exists as of this writing.
It's a tough call; most of the humor isn't particularly dirty and there isn't anything notably graphic, but between the constant fanservice, "show-business is sleazy" sequences, and the functional pedophilia of both of the "heroes," I'd call it 16-up. Whether this is strict or lenient will depend mostly on how offended you are by mild nudity and said disturbing predilections.
Violence: 2 - A lot of stuff gets destroyed, but it's very cartoony.
Nudity: 2 - There's little if any detailed nudity, but a lot of exposed skin in the transformation sequences and plenty of fanservice throughout.
Sex/Mature Themes: 3 - A lot of mild breast jokes, a few other bits, and a "heroic" predilection for the too-young that nothing much, thankfully, ever comes of.
Language: 2 - No official English version exists, but it would probably be mild-to-moderate.