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Anime Friday: Akikan

I've been doing this project for a few months now and I realized that I needed to establish a more solid metric with which to judge my developing understanding of anime. I'm not really here to make myself like the genre more than I previously did, nor am I here to prove that my original assessments were justified. Rather, I'm trying to improve the depth of my overall appreciation of what is, admittedly, a fairly pervasive art form. I wouldn't be pursuing this endeavor in good faith if I only subjected myself to the best the genre has to offer or the fan favorites. So, when I recently read reports on a forum of what was called by many "the worst anime I've ever seen", I had to check it out. Now, before I get into Yuji Himaki's TV adaptation of Riku Ranjo's manga Akikan, I have to confess something. I have a history of embracing bits of pop culture just because they rub people the wrong way. I'm on record claiming that 12 Oz. Mouse is my favorite animated series ever, and by my junior year in high school I was no longer allowed to select movies among my circle of friends thanks to a few admittedly questionable choices. I have to include this preface to contextualize the following statement: Akikan is indeed the worst anime I have ever seen and I absolutely love it to death in a completely non-ironic way. First, let's talk about the story... the delightfully ridiculous, they-can't-possibly-be-serious story. A boy named Daichi Kakeru who lives by himself in a swinging bachelor pad despite being a sixteen-year-old high school student acquires a magical Lolita who is actually a can of melon-flavored soda given human form. Still with me? Good. Kakeru is a lech and a virgin with a propensity for tearing off his clothes at the drop of a hat. This angers Melon (the magical can girl), causing her to frequently attack him with balls of compressed carbon dioxide. Soon, a government official from The Department of Commerce tracks down Kakeru and Melon, explaining that there are other magical can-girls and that they will be forced to fight each other in order to determine whether Japanese manufacturers will be required to use only steel or only aluminum for their canned products. Did I mention that the g-man is scandalously gay with no scruples about molesting boys while they're unconscious? Now, I'm usually not very tolerant of anime plots. They're often absurd without being fun and they embrace cliche like an otaku embraces his Girlfriend's Lap Pillow. But when one show loads so much ridiculousness into one plot, I don't see hackney, I see reckless abandon. Akikan makes no attempt at dignity whatsoever. It is juvenilia to the extreme. Every other joke is a dirty one, homosexuals are depicted as being perverted and/or scary, and the plot is pure wish fulfillment. On top of all that, Akikan is loaded with some of my favorite insane lines from any anime, ever. Example:
Kakeru: What are you doing? Yurika (with an intense, scary background): An experiment to see if a human is able to live solely on supplements
Make no mistake, Akikan is epically terrible. The animation is cheap and full of recycled sequences, the voices are silly and the premise is downright worthless. Still, when something is this bad, one wonders whether or not the badness was intentional. Imagine going to a restaurant with a date. Your date receives an overcooked, under-seasoned piece of chicken. That's bad, but it's really just the result of incompetence. You, on the other hand, order a steak and the chef decides to serve you a hunk of clay covered in tartar sauce and skewered with lit sparklers. That's bad in an entirely different, much more insane way. That's what Akikan is. Comprehension: 4/10- I don't even think Riku Ranjo knew what was going on when he wrote this story, so I don't feel so bad being at a loss. I'm just going to have to accept that a Japanese upbringing allows for a lot more suspension of disbelief than an American one. Enjoyment: It's a spectrum beginning at 2, jolting up to 10 then settling somewhere around 6. I began absolutely hating Akikan for all the right reasons, then slowly grew to love it for all the wrong ones. Improvement of Understanding: 8/10- I now have a solid foundation for how bad anime can get. I found that metric I referenced at the beginning of this post. No matter what I see in any future anime, I can ask myself, "Is this more or less absurd than a sentient soda can that moans when you put a straw into it?" Next Week: Haruhi