Miscellanea and Ephemeron
09/23/2005 Archived Entry: "Anime review: Jubei-Chan 2: The Counter Attack of Siberia Yagyu - (V.2) Vendetta"
Review by Tom Good
Yes, this DVD has a long, awkward title, but it is all part of the joke: Jubei-Chan is a brilliant, hilarious parody of the typical action/adventure anime. The heroine Jiyu (nicknamed Jubei-chan) is a junior high school girl who happens to be the reincarnation of the 17th century samurai Yagyu Jubei Mitsuyoshi. The historical Yagyu Jubei is traditionally depicted wearing an eye patch. When Jiyu puts on her magical artifact, the Lovely Eye Patch, it transforms her into a tall, beautiful, super-powerful female samurai. Despite its power, the Lovely Eye Patch is shaped like an absurdly cute glowing pink heart.
Jiyu's rival Freesia is cleverly named, since she was frozen in a block of ice for 300 years. As the daughter of Yagyu Jubei, she considers herself the true "Yagyu Jubei II" and has an eye patch of her own in the form of a glowing blue spade. In a great flashback sequence, Freesia thaws out from her hibernation and arrives on the island of Hokkaido, where she encounters a forest full of talking, singing animals. The first three animals she meets are a bear, a tiger, and a snake, just like Baloo, Shere Khan, and Kaa in The Jungle Book. Freesia asks a squirrel to go and find out what happened to her father. The squirrel says, "sure thing." Cut to a scene of the little guy returning on Freesia's birthday, looking weary. The other animals ask, "Mr. Squirrel! Where were you the last five years? We were worried."
As a parody that outshines much of the genre being parodied, Jubei-Chan reminds me of Kung Fu Hustle. The art, generally strong and varied, has a few intentionally jarring contrasts of artistic style for comic effect, such as scenes where only one minor character is rendered with 3D computer graphics. The music and sound effects stand out as some of the best in anime, from the percussive rhythms that had me swaying in my chair to the funny sound effects that mark especially dramatic glances. There is plenty of silly humor, but once you catch on to their real intent, the deadpan overly-serious scenes become some of the funniest parts of all. The voice actors probably cracked up laughing immediately after saying some of the most overwrought lines.
The show has masterful pacing, with silence and visual pauses used to great effect. Sometimes a pause intentionally stretches out too long, producing a very interesting effect. At first, one cannot resist interpreting the pause as a serious, compelling dramatic pause that heightens tension in the scene. But as the seconds keep ticking by, there comes a kind of "breaking point" where the mood of the moment abruptly shifts from suspenseful to completely ridiculous. This may be the first show to ever make me laugh through the simple trick of having nothing happen.
Jubei-Chan is an outstanding comedy that remains funny after repeated viewings. I highly recommend it for all anime fans.
The Wapshott Press
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