Anime Review | Punch Line Complete Season 1 Collection (Lights, Camera, Action!)

By Drew Hurley 04.09.2016

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Punch Line Complete Season 1 Collection (UK Rating: 15)

The title isn't in reference to the Punch Line of a gag but rather a play on words for the pronunciation in Japanese, which sounds like "Panty Line" and also "Peak at Panties." This is not a regular ecchi series, though - far from it. This is an ecchi series on acid. The hero, Yuta, has an amazing power, but that power may end up destroying the planet. Can he keep his libido in check to solve the mysteries of the world ending asteroid? The evil organisation? Not to mention his psychotic neighbours… This new release from Manga Entertainment and Animatsu contains all 12 episodes from the series and is available now across the UK.

Right from the fantastic stylish start where a superheroine busts out the Akira trademark motorcycle slide, it is evident that this is going to be a cool and crazy show. Moments later, as the camera lingers on the superheroine's panties, it is evident that this is also going to be a big part of the show. For protagonist Yuta, a simple bus trip gets awfully strange when the bus is suddenly hijacked and then "Strange Juice" - a scantily clad hero with a giant straw - dives into the fray to stop the bus jacking. Miss Juice gets herself caught and Yuta catches a glimpse of her panties. The sight fills him with super strength, enough to save the day! The only problem is that the second glimpse overflows his powers, causing a meteor to hit the planet and wipe out everyone.

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Yuta has a chance to save them, though, as he's ejected from his body by another who takes over and he finds himself in something of a Groundhog Day situation as his ghost must not only find a way to recover his body and the mystery of who is currently inhabiting it, but also somehow save the planet from the impending apocalypse. Groundhog Day because every time he gets excited twice in a row, the planet is destroyed and he has to travel back in time to try again. This results in some truly unique stories as he travels around his house, trying to control his libido around his four hot female housemates, developing his spirit powers and finding out some amazing revelations about the world, his housemates, and the truth behind the extinction level event awaiting on New Year's Day. He's not alone in his quest, though, as he has a guide in the form of a ghost… cat… named Chiranosuke that teaches Yuta the truth of his situation and helps him in many ways, from explaining how to develop poltergeist abilities using cinnamon to showing him cat porn online...

Chiranosuke is but one of the unique and fantastic cast members. Yuta lives in something of a boarding house called Korai House and his housemates are an eclectic mix of highly likeable weirdos. Mikatan may be the cute girl-next-door type, but she's also in an idol girl group with a dark past, is the secret identity of heroine Strange Juice… and battles evil with her… giant straw… that she seems to have borrowed from a certain Kaneda. Next up is Strange Juice's partner, Pumpkin Chair, the robot inventor Mikatan. Then there is the NEET / Hikkikomori of the group, Ito, who is barely able to deal with the madness of the house and, finally, there is Rabura, an apparent man-eater who is actually a virgin. She's also an often drunk, powerless exorcist from a long line of spiritualists. Yuta uses his newfound incorporeal-ness to find out some surprising secrets and history about each of the girls, in a series of stories that all converge on the central story.

Up until about halfway through the show, that story feels like a light-hearted funny ecchi comedy, which embraces its insane premise and is content to be exactly that. Until half way through the season, that is, since with episode seven the tone of the series completely shifts. Sure, there's still the silly risqué comedy and crazy moments, but the story suddenly develops into something entirely different. It becomes a time-travelling, sci-fi story that is wholly original and utterly engaging. It's good enough to deserve not being ruined here. Suffice it to say, all is not how it seems and every silly plot contrivance and baffling moment is not only fully explained but done in a surprisingly smart way that makes for an utterly satisfying conclusion.

Produced by MAPAA, anyone who has seen some of the fantastic animation work it has put out lately knows what to expect. From the epic sword fights of GARO to the superbly dynamic direction in Rage of Bahamut Genesis, this is a studio that has shown some real talent and vision with its cinematography and it really continues to impress here. The superb colours and style of the series, combined with the direction throughout the show, really shines, whether during simple moments or during dramatic scenes - the series always looks amazing. Even the ecchi moments, like the panty shots, use exquisite coloured lingerie to deliver scenes that look gorgeous.

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Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10
Punch Line is fantastic; a story that grows and evolves from surrealist madness it seems to be, managing to take all of the insane plot twists and craft them into a superbly original and compelling tale. That story alone is good enough to carry the show, but Punch Line doesn't stop there. Filled with funny moments, impressive art direction, beautiful art and animation, plus much more, it is an absolutely insane trip that proves to be so much more than the sum of its parts. It's like the second coming of FLCL.

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