Hen Zemi (Abnormal Physiology Seminar)
Number of Episodes: TBA (there is a 2nd OAD in the works)
Production Company: Xebec
Brief Overview: Matsutaka Nanako is an average university student who unexpectedly finds herself enrolled in the Abnormal Physiology Seminar. Soon the other students in the seminar begin to influence her.
Episode Summary: Matsutaka-san, an almost unwilling participant in the strangest and most perverse research club on her college's campus, consistently seems confounded by her perverted professor's assignments. His instructions often involve some elements of Matsutaka's sexual awakening, but she, a very innocent student still shy about the very idea of having sexual intercourse, can't quite bring herself to open up and fulfill her professor's expectations. Making matters worse is the fact that the other members of the Abnormal Physiology Seminar entertain some of the sauciest fetishes that she's ever heard of in her life, and seem particularly nonchalant about them.
At the forefront is Komugi, who Matsutaka catches in the act of panty-thieving (and who manages to talk her out of her own, right there on the street). His knowledge of fetishes seem to run the gamut from purely perverse to truly disgusting, and he seems to have quite a bit of experience as well. There are also classmates with interests in filming amateur pornography and posting videos to the internet, amongst other things. No matter what happens, Matsutaka can't seem to understand her classmates' perverseness, and holds fast to her own innocence.
Thoughts: Some readers may be wondering why I didn't go into more specific detail regarding the various fetishes covered in this OAD. The reason is that I wanted to be able to provide a fair amount of warning, because the content of the episode really, truly skirts and/or crosses all the limits of good taste. So stop reading if you have no interest in hearing discussion of sexual fetishes, sexual harassment or other perversity.
I'll begin this by mentioning that I'm generally pretty easygoing when it comes to sexuality. I may not want a bunch of bouncing naked boobs clogging up my field of vision, and I'm really against humor that uses sexual harassment or embarrassment as its basis, but I think in comparison to most Americans I'm not particularly anti-sex. This episode of anime, however, has made me feel more uncomfortable than any other episode I can think of in recent memory. Part of that is because the subject matter is almost startlingly grotesque - there's not just the suggestion of multiple fetishes hanging around to excite the viewers' imaginations, but visual aids and frequent talk of various bodily excretions. The other reason why I spent almost the entire half hour squirming is because the main character is doing the same; the entire show seems to be set up to make her uncomfortable, and indeed much of the "humor" (if it can be called that, I didn't laugh once) is based around her sexual innocence/naivet�, as well as her classmates' inability to understand what might be causing her to blush and run away crying. The way in which the rest of the cast seems to pick on the obviously-uncomfortable main character feels completely abusive, and sucks whatever fun there could possibly be.
Komugi, the male character who takes up the majority of the screen time aside from Matsutaka, is the source of many of the more disgusting mental images that pop up throughout the half-hour, made all the worse by the fact that Matsutaka seems to be harboring a crush on him . Matsutaka catches him atop a light post trying to steal panties from an apartment building. He claims that it's for an assignment, and even talks her into giving hers up (all while taking a video of it with a cell phone), but it's clear by the time he leaves that there was never an assignment in the first place, he just wanted yet another pair of underwear for his own. When Matsutaka approaches him later for help in finding a part-time job (for her assignment on sexual fetishes in the workplace, natch) he first suggests that she be a, er, "provider" for someone who gets off on eating human feces, and then relays a story about masturbating on a pizza before delivering it. The two are in the school lunchroom at the time, and the other people in the vicinity are so disgusted that they begin to get up from their seats and leave, and this perhaps is the most realistic part of the episode; I felt myself harboring a very strong urge to just stop the episode halfway through and never open it again.
Komugi's behavior might be gross, but it's their professor's actions towards Matsutaka that turns this from merely icky to exceedingly deplorable. Much of the things that Professor Meshiya says and does to Matsutaka could truly be construed as harassment and abuse by someone in a position of power, a situation that's not only disgusting in and of itself, but may, to some people, act as a trigger. In the opening scene, he offers to ignore a bad grade on her assignment if she'll wear nothing but a men's' dress shirt and let him spray her with water. He then orders her to go have sex as part of her next assignment. The entire setup is just so completely thoughtless in regards to the basics of how people should interact within a teacher/student relationship that I find myself almost overcome by irrational rage; it's no wonder I spent a half an hour almost speechless, sitting in front of my computer monitor wondering just how I could put into words the utter, complete wrongness that I had just witnessed.
The visuals themselves only help to put a face on the raunchy ideas presented by the characters. It's clear that this episode was released directly to DVD, because it's very nearly what I would consider to be hentai at some points. One character shows various parts of an amateur porn that he filmed, and it's just about as graphic as many full-on hentai that I may-or-may-not have seen in my lifetime. Likewise, when Komugi's describes his experience providing himself release on his delivery pizza, not a whole lot is left to the imagination (though thankfully, the actual product of his activity is left unseen). Part of what makes these visuals extra disturbing is how they contrast with the cutesy, simplified and very young-looking character designs. It's not that any of the characters would be mistaken for being underage - the visual style is incredibly consistent and most of the characters simply look to be some indefinable "anime" age - but the juxtaposition of the incredibly sexual activities of some of the characters with character designs that would be at home in something like Azumanga Daioh compounds how grotesque and uncomfortable it feels to watch the episode unfold.
I am at my limit of rational things to say about this episode. It's very rare that I'm left feeling so utterly disgusted by a show, but even though this show lacks many elements that I would call traditionally pandering, it makes up for it with a completely unenlightened view of sexual harassment and a penchant for focusing some of the raunchiest sexual fetishes, all with the goal of pointing and laughing at a relatively innocent main character. Ick.
- It's not a full series, just a couple of straight-to-DVD episodes.
- Attempts to make sexual harassment and abuse of power into comedy.
- Visuals are often so literal as to turn the viewer's stomach.
Recommended? No, and I can't even imagine who would get a kick out of this. I can see the humor in most raunchy series even if I don't laugh at it myself, but this just flabbergasts me.