Number of Episodes: 13
Production Company: Bridge
Brief Overview: The three Marui triplets all end up in the same classroom, that of the unfortunate Yabe Satoshi, a new teacher. Though the girls might be abusive to him, what they would really like to do is set him up romantically with the school nurse, Kuriyama Aiko.
Episode Summary: Yabe Satoshi begins his first day as an elementary school teacher with a feeling of boundless optimism, an attitude which is short-lived once a simple classroom game goes completely awry. The problems, including but not limited to a battle involving the entire class, seem to be instigated by a trio of girls, the Marui triplets. Mitsuba, the oldest, is a complete sadist. Futaba is a sports-loving girl who uses karate and loves both the feel and the idea of breasts. Hitoha is the youngest, a quiet girl with some horrific tendencies. Their three personalities combine to make their teacher's life a living hell, especially after they realize that he has a crush on the young, pretty (and buxom) school nurse. Their first order of business is to get the two of them together with a plan that involves injuring Yabe between the legs so that Kuriyama will have to examine him. Unfortunately, she's useless without her glasses and things don't turn out as well as they would like.
Later, Yabe purchases a hamster for the class to look after, and Hitoha immediately takes to him. Futaba decides to name him Nipples because the hamster's stub of a tail resembles that particular part of the anatomy. When Nipples appears to get ill, Hitoha becomes even more protective of him, until the class bands together to help share in the responsibilities of taking care of him. Unfortunately, a misunderstanding helps to drive Kuriyama farther away from Yabe.
Thoughts: Mitsudomoe provides yet another entry into the increasingly-common, sometimes uncomfortable genre of comedy centering around precocious or poorly-behaved school children. Crayon Shin-Chan (especially the Funimation reimagining) featured plenty of potty humor. Hanamaru Kindergarten focused on cuteness. Kodomo no Jikan, well, we don't really talk about that here. In any case, my initial question when viewing this episode was in regards to how it might distinguish itself from its predecessors. The answer to that is fairly simple: it revels in its characters perverseness and takes complete joy in having the young protagonists talk about very adult concepts and jokes, while somehow managing to make the entire production seem very ill-natured and joyless. There are some funny bits in this episode and I'm not going to lie, I laughed at some of the potty humor (my sense of humor must have stopped developing sometime in third or fourth grade), but there's something very mean-spirited about the way the characters act that left a bad taste in my mouth and I don't think that any of the feeble positive aspects are enough to counteract that.
One of the more well-executed scenes is the opening scene in the classroom, an epic battle (complete with swelling orchestral score) that takes place in response to the teacher's intentions of having the kids play an innocent classroom "get to know you" game. The kids, including Futaba whose fervor for battle is truly unmatched, seem wholly engaged in beating the living daylights out of each other, while Yabe shudders in helpless horror. The animation in this scene is well-executed, and there are some moments that use 3D effects to portray visual depth in a way that's unexpectedly competent for a show like this. Less successful is the lengthy explanation of the game, "Nandemo Basuketto," (essentially a variation on musical chairs) that goes on for much too long and trips up the pacing of the episode.
The rest of the episode is a veritable gauntlet of risqu� jokes, potty humor and mean-spirited physical gags that make watching it quite a task (especially if you happen to live with anyone whose tolerance level for that sort of thing is very low). All three of the sisters, as per the show's central gimmick, are all "blessed" with some anti-social personality traits that seem counter-intuitive based on their relatively young ages. I'm not trying to say that young children can't be complete terrors and I know from personal experience that sometimes they know quite a bit more about the world that you might think (or hope). But this series takes that tendency and turns it into a series of jokes that can only really be called rude and tasteless. Futaba's preoccupation with breasts brings to mind that character from Zettai Karen Children who behaved like a perverted old man; the joke felt forced then and it seems even more so now, considering the level to which the creators have already taken the joke. Mitsuba's sadistic behavior is entirely too sexualized for her age and gives her scenes the faintest stench of lolicon pandering that makes the gags based around this too uncomfortable to be funny. Even Hitoha, who at first seems to arise relatively unscathed from the "tasteless personality trait" grab bag, turns into a frightening monster whenever she's crossed, and the book she carries with her at all times seems to be, judging from the reaction shots of the people who see it, filled to the brim with adult wonders so sexual that even a glimpse will send readers into a nose bleeding fit. None of the girls are particularly likeable and seem more like delivery services for jokes that would seem more at home in a trashy harem show than a comedy with such young characters. Never underestimate the power of shock value, I suppose.
In comparison, the adult characters are like personality-less sheets of cardboard, supported only by a few tired tropes. Yabe is literally just like every other victimized teacher I've seen in shows of a similar nature, his major flaws being that he's unable to stand up to the onslaught of misbehavior his students provide and that he doesn't have the guts to actually tell a woman that he likes her. I realize that if he was a bit more able to stand up to these girls, the show wouldn't exist, but I think it's very telling that the entire time he's on the screen I have to contain a deep, pressing urge to take him by the shoulders and smack him into disciplining the troublemakers in his class. There's something very distasteful about authority figures who end up needlessly playing the victim that ends up killing that kind of humor for me. The love interest character is defined more by her helplessness and air-headedness than by any positive character trait. This might be a cheap shot, but judging from many anime it seems as if the school nurse position isn't very highly respected, because it seems like so many of them that have shown up in anime lately are either sort of brainless, don't really care about their job, or are used purely as fetish objects (check out High School of the Dead for an example that fits traits 1 and 3). Kuriyama isn't quite so fetishized, but her portrayal feels shallow nonetheless.
Again, one thing the show gets right is how it utilizes its visual properties. In spite of the relatively slice-of-life-type goings-on, some of the scene construction and camera use is actually pretty dynamic. When the entire class is chanting in favor of Nipples the hamster, there's a nice zoom towards the characters at the front of the classroom that adds a nice epic flavor to the scene. Unfortunately, the nice visual flavor doesn't carry over to the character designs, which are an unsettling blend of toddler-style bodies with boobs, adding a lolicon element to them that doesn't sit well with me. There's also a really tastelessly-framed shot where Futaba bows to her teacher on the floor and we're given a close-up view of her lower body in some very tight bicycle shorts. While there's not a sexualization overload here like you might find in Chu-Bra or Kodomo no Jikan, it's just enough to send the needle on the old squick-o-meter flying.
Perhaps if this series were a bit more like Shin-Chan in how its jokes were conveyed (meaning through dialog rather than visuals) it might be a bit more tolerable. At least with Shin-Chan I never got the feeling that Shin was anywhere near a sex object (*shudder*). As it stands, there are a few gags that are humorous enough without being too raunchy, but the majority of the episode is just tasteless and, from what I've heard, that part of it only gets worse.
- There's some nice scene framing and good use of CG.
- There are a few good gags scattered amongst the sex and scatological humor.
- There are a few times where the show skirts the lolicon line.
- The characterization of the adult characters is poor.
Recommended? No, ick. Hanamaru Kindergarten did a few of the same things, only much more cutely and without the overload of sex talk.