For this year’s Secret Santa project, something I’ve never heard of prior. Always fun to dive in to random stuff.
For lack of a better comparison (never saw Blues Brothers, and I’m not totally well versed in the Blues as a whole) Nerima Daikon Brothers is kinda the closest we’ve ever gotten to an anime version of Elite Beat Agents, except less dancing and more singing. It’s got a rather simple premise, as it takes place in little town called Nerima and follows a goofy trio of that live on a stage in the middle of a daikon field that’s owned a by the leader of the group, a square-jawed daikon farmer named Hideaki. Oh and their mascot, Pandaikon . He along with his cohorts, cousin Mako (the bitchy gold digger) and Ichiro (doesn’t seem to care about anything, and oh yeah, he works for a sleazy bar) aim to rake in enough cash to build their own stadium and share their music as the “Nerima Daikon Brothers”, get famous, and become the pride of their city. Most episodes plays out in a rather formulaic path, they normally include get rich quick plots that have the Nerima Daikon Brothers run across rather nasty swindler each episode. The Daikon Bros then take it upon themselves to rid the town of this threat (with the help of a rental object from my favorite afro’d director of course) and get try to get the money they need to fulfill their dreams, the latter failing miserably each time.
The fact that the majority of the humor and story of this show is done through song is what sets this title apart from any other formulaic comedy out there. However, if the term “formulaic” hasn’t been used in this review enough for you to notice, the show’s pretty darn repetitive. One thing worth noting too is that even though this is a musical comedy, the show’s got a rather limited pool of tunes, seriously, it’s got like 5, MAX. They also all play at the same given time each episode. There’s the “I’m the villain and here’s my evil plan” song, the “Mako being a vain bitch” song, the “hey Nabeshin, we’re looking pretty fucked, so give as a random Deus ex Machina to kick some jerk’s ass” song and the “hey we’re theNerima Daikon Brothers and we’re here to wreck your evil plan and get rich at the same time” song. It’s strange, I honestly suspected that a show this repetitive would’ve worn me down to my last nerve by the time it ended, but it never did. I credit that to the fact that it seemed to me that the show knew which parts to keep the same, and what to change each time in order to keep itself from becoming dull. The length of the series also helps since this is probably the only comedy I liked, finished, and was glad their was never anything more made of it. I’m sure that had it taken another cour of my life, the act would’ve gotten old well before the end.
So what is it that the show did right to preserve the routine? The fact that even though the plot structure and tunes played out similarly each and every episode wasn’t enough to take away from the humorous dialogue and occasional pop-culture reference that we’e different each episode (it has it’s running gags, but these don’t feel overplayed at all and I found them rather funny at least). The fact that the song lyrics we’re always different in order to suit the occasion is what really made this a memorable experience. It also helps that not all the episodes essentially boil down to the same rinse-repeat formula. After the first 3rd or so, the show tosses in police babe Widget who adds her own set of unique quirks to the show (including a romance with a Pandaikon of all things) and a new song, which is something I appreciate given the aforementioned lack of tunes.
The last third of the show also puts a stop to the episodic shenanigans in favor of taking a bit more of serious look at what the Daikon Bros are willing to do accomplish their dreams. It’s great to see a comedy take itself a bit seriously without losing sight of what made it fun to begin with, and that’s something Nerima Daikon Brothers got right….for the most part. The actual ending was a bit too random rushed and anticlimatic for my tastes. Weird to comment on a comedy not having a satisfying ending, I know, but given that the show was actually doing a story arc reasonably well beforehand, I think it’s still worth mentioning. That and the fact that the show also shoehorns in some political commentary into it’s humor a bit too. That’s all fine and dandy, but good luck catching that humor if you don’t have a good understanding of the political arena of 2006 Japan.
Last thing I want to bring attention too is the dub/sub comparison. I personally dig the radical script changes (and in Mako’s case, character change since she’s pretty much turned into stereotypical dumb trailer trash in the dub, and it works) Can’t really comment too much on the Japanese version since I never saw much of it, but I’ve seen enough to know that with each versions you get different jokes, which lends the show some rewatchability. I personally preferred watching the dub version since during the end credits, the actors thank you for buying the show (which is really cheap right now if you get it off RightStuf). You can’t beat that.
So yeah, it’s a pretty good comedy I’d say. Just don’t marathon it, something tells me that given the nature of the show, this ain’t something you’d want to watch in large doses. Also best to stay away if you don’t like Nabeshin stuff too, or object to having catchy tunes reverberate in your head. Most importantly, stay away if you just so happen to hate fun things.
PS: I also checked out my other two Secret Santa titles: Tekkonkinkreet and Clannad: The Motion Picture. Really dug the former, and the latter has a lot of problems, but isn’t nearly as bad as VN fans would have me think. Might write about the other two later though.
EDIT: I just found this live-action performance of the opening. Neat.