Review for Shimoneta Collection
It’s a truism that sex sells. It always has. We are at heart sexual creatures, we need to procreate to survive as a species, so the pursuit of sex, gender differences, attracting a mate, it all feeds into our everyday lives. And when we’re not pursuing it, we talk about it, we think about it, and those so minded, can find ways to watch other people do it for entertainment purposes. Some might think that it is taking over too much of our lives. Most people might have a moralistic twinge at just how easy it is for those inclined to access pornographic material, and may even think nostalgically to those days when all that young teens could do in this regard was unhygienically pass an over-used magazine around school. The most reactionary and puritan might even think fondly of so-called Victorian values, when sex was not a subject for polite society, when bearded-chaps in white coats, smoking pipes used science to advertise goods and services on ancient black and white TV, when storks delivered babies, and beds were just for sleeping in. Maybe a world without sex, sexuality, and all that icky stuff would be better. Think of all the extra time animators could spend on actual storytelling if they got rid of fan service in anime!
For ten years, Japan has pursued a policy of strict moral perfection and absolute public decency. No sexual expression of any form is permitted outside that necessary for procreation. No talking about it, and if possible no thinking about it either. All citizens wear personal monitors, PMs that make sure that they don’t say or do anything remotely offensive. Tanukichi Okuma is one teenage boy who has no problem with the law. His father may have been a disreputable comedian who fought in vain for the right to tell dirty jokes, and he may have been tainted by that blood relationship, but when in elementary school, a young girl named Anna Nishikinomiya chose to befriend him despite all that, he was taken with her purity.
Now that he’s about to start high school, he’s managed once again to overcome the taint of his junior high school being the most amoral in the country, and has made it into the epitome of morality, Tokioka Academy, where Anna Nishikinomiya is head of the student council. His perfect life is about to begin, except for a terrorist attack on his train ride to school. The activist Blue Snow appears, with a loud obscenity, scattering pornographic material on the station platform (incidentally preventing Okuma being falsely accused of being a train molester). That mixed luck continues at school, where Okuma is actually invited to join the student council where he can be close to his pure and innocent crush Anna. But her right hand man Raiki Goriki doesn’t trust him at all given his heritage, while Anna’s deputy, Ayame Kajo has a more immediate interest in Okuma, for she is in secret Blue Snow, and she’s just blackmailed Okuma into joining her SOX terrorist group, devoted to restoring obscenity and perversion to Japanese society.
12 episodes of Shimoneta are presented across two Blu-rays as follows.
1. Whom Does Public Order and Morality Serve?
2. The Mysteries of Pregnancy
3. How to Love Someone
4. The Saying Goes... Love is Justice
5. Dirty Terrorism Benefits Whom?
6. Handmade Warmth!
7. What SOX Created.
8. The Devil Blows His Own Trumpet
9. Do Androids Dream of Electric Masseurs?
10. Masturbation Quest
11. Techno Break
12. Dirty Jokes Forever
Shimoneta gets a 1.78:1 widescreen 1080p transfer on the Blu-ray discs. The image is clear and sharp throughout, clarity is excellent, and there are no visible signs of compression, or any significant digital banding. Shimoneta’s production is typical of a comedy anime, pleasing character designs and bold and bright colours. The animation is sufficient in getting the saucy humour across, while any censorship is of the self-censorship kind, with comedy stickers placed over body parts potentially too offensive for Japanese youth. But there’s no blurring, no sunbeams and no onsen steam to worry about. It’s a very watchable and visually satisfying show.
You have the choice between Dolby True HD 5.1 Surround English, and 2.0 Stereo Japanese with subtitles and signs locked to the appropriate track. I went with the Japanese audio and found the characters to be delightfully cast, some conforming to the expected stereotypes, some such as Saotome bucking expectations. It’s an action-packed comedy and the audio represents that well in terms of music and indeed action. I sampled the English dub, and given how the commentaries played out, it’s surprisingly and pleasantly understated, not overdoing the crudity to the point that it’s the only joke. The subtitles are timed accurately and are free of typographical errors.
The discs present their content with animated menus.
Disc 1 autoplays a trailer for Prison School.
You’ll find an audio commentary here for episode 1, from Monica Rial (Anna), Josh Grelle (Tanukichi), Michaela Krantz (Kioka), and Jamie Marchi (Ayame).
Disc 2 autoplays a trailer for Death Parade.
There is an audio commentary here for episode 12 from ADR Director Jerry Jewell, Josh Grelle, Brittney Karbowski (Otome), and Lara Woodhull (Kosuri).
Moms Watch Shimoneta lasts 10:56 and proceeds to offend the sensibilities of the older generation.
There are 8:35 of Promotional Videos, 6:03 of Web Previews, 10 credit-less openings, and incongruously 14 credit-less closings (there are only 12 episodes), all of them marred by locked subtitles.
Finally there are trailers for Ninja Slayer, High School DxD Season 3, Aquarion Logos, Mirai Nikki: Future Diary, Attack on Titan Live Action, Blood Blockade Battlefront, and Bikini Warriors.
For once I got to take a look at the DVD version of Shimoneta (sold separately from the Blu-ray), which offers progressively encoded NTSC video, DD 5.1 and 2.0 sound, and optional subtitles, with a 7-5 episode distribution. The only extras on disc 2 are the same trailers again, nothing else, which is disappointing if you really did want to see truly textless credits, and even more of a pain if you’re yet to upgrade to Blu-ray.
Shimoneta is offensive, crass, politically incorrect, a touch misogynistic, a touch misandric, and deliberately goes out of its way to accentuate its shock value. And I laughed uproariously through most of it. I don’t often go for the more obvious fan service comedies, but there’s something about the gusto with which Shimoneta approaches its material, refusing to do anything by halves, that endears it to me. It’s also hard to talk about its most endearing points without lapsing into crudity myself, while using the same loose euphemisms as the show misses the point. If you watch the show, you’ll understand what Love Nectar is, and will probably never look at a rainbow in quite the same way again.
It’s not quite the future dystopia that we usually get presented with, but the end result is the same, authoritarian power gained by cracking down on freedoms. Here it’s sexual freedom, and freedom of speech which is curtailed all in the name of Puritanism. Sex is outlawed, talking about it, doing it, showing it, seeing it, even and especially making jokes about it. Where the next generation comes from is something that the show glosses over, but the close monitoring and lack of any kind of sex education has resulted in a generation that knows nothing about sex, but are afflicted with all the hormonal changes that puberty had brought, and that’s especially true in the elite of elite schools that epitomise moral probity.
The show’s protagonist Okuma Tanukichi has a head start on his new school mates, in that he’s a graduate of one of the worst junior highs in terms of morality, and that his father was convicted of telling dirty jokes (the chonmage gag made tea spurt out of my nose). Despite his past and his upbringing, his sole ambition in his new school is to be close to the girl he idolised and desires the most (in a non-sexual, pure and innocent way), the student council president Anna Nishikinomiya. The only trouble is that he comes to the attention of vice president Ayame Kajo first, who in secret is the terrorist Blue Snow. Ayame believes the same as Okuma’s father, that a Puritan and sexless society is damaging, that sexual thoughts, perversions, and dirty jokes are essential to make life worth living, and she’ll don a pair of panties on her head, and wear nothing but a sheet, all to shock society back into normality, and she blackmails Okuma into helping.
The inhibitions that this society has imposed come out in the other characters in the show. A science student named Hyoka whose clinical appearances, accompanied by Indian style music, reveal a fascination with the mating habits of insects, and she has a total absence of tact when it comes to asking Okuma how insect behaviour equates to human behaviour. Then there is the art student Saotome, who is tired of drawing pure and uplifting imagery; she wants more but doesn’t know what until Ayame introduces her to the concept of pornography. The personal monitors record what the hands do (for obvious reasons), but also have the effect of recording what a person may be writing or sketching. Saotome soon becomes a master of drawing porn with a pencil held in her teeth. Of course there is Anna herself, a symbol of purity at the start of the show, but after Okuma happens to save Anna from some stalkers, in the typically anime way of falling into her cleavage, Anna is awoken to the opposite sex. The thing is that as the epitome of virginity, she knows nothing about sex. She’s suddenly enraptured with Okuma, filled with feelings that she can’t handle, and tries her best to sort them out. Long story short, Okuma spends the rest of the series fleeing in panic from the sex crazed beast who was the pure white girl he once adored.
The show proceeds with the comparatively innocent Okuma continuing to be roped into more acts of ‘terror’ by Ayame, who can’t get a word out without lapsing into innuendo (she’s hacked her personal monitor to allow 3 minutes of crudity a day). It begins with merely turning on the students in school to the idea of sexuality by showing them a video of amorous insects. With this much repression, even something as alien as insect sex is enough to get the juices flowing. Most episodes involve distributing printed porn around school, trying to find stashes of vintage porn that the decency squads have missed, creating aids to masturbation, dealing with panty thieves, preventing the national advent of chastity belts, and so on and so forth. It’s all crude and offensive fun, the anime equivalent of Porkys.
I was loving this show, it hit all the right funny notes for me, and I was startled into outright guffaws more than once an episode. It’s been a long while since I’ve seen an anime so unabashedly politically incorrect, and it was like a breath of fresh air. But, Shimoneta does come off the boil a bit for episodes 10 and 11, where matters get just a little more serious, as another terrorist group (the afore-mentioned panty thieves) move to centre stage, as does the Kosuri character, and it loses some of its sense of fun as a result. But for the most part, Shimoneta is delightfully crude.