Sunday, October 21, 2012

Recorder and Randsell (anime TV series), via Crunchyroll

Recorder and Randsell is a comedy composed of two seasons, 26 episodes total. Each episode runs approximately 3 minutes long.

This series is based on a 4-koma manga (comic strips with four panels), so there isn't much of a plot. The basic setup is this: Atsumi is a high school-aged girl who looks like a grade schooler. Her younger brother, Atsushi, is a grade school-aged boy who looks like a handsome young man. No attempt is made to explain why they are the way they are. Most of the series' gags rely on Atsumi or Atsushi (usually Atsushi) being mistaken for the age they appear to be. In Atsushi's case, this usually means being arrested by the police, as people mistake him for a potential pedophile whenever he's around his friends and classmates.

Other recurring characters include: Atsushi's teacher, a shy woman with ludicrously bouncy boobs and a tendency to blush whenever Atsushi does things that makes it difficult to remember he's actually a little kid; Take, Atsumi and Atsushi's neighbor, an unemployed guy in his early thirties who's a bit of a bad influence on Atsushi; and Sayo, Atsumi's friend.

There isn't much in this series that changes. The police never manage to remember who Atsushi is and keep arresting him, and Take never finds a real job. The second season is the start of a new school year for Atsumi and Atsushi, so there's a slight change in the jokes, as the newest students have to adjust to Atsumi and Atsushi's strange situation - students at Atsumi's school mistake her for a child genius, while students at Atsushi's school mistake him for a teacher. There's really only one thing that could be considered an ongoing, gradually changing storyline, and that's Sayo's crush on Atsushi. For a while, Sayo has no idea that Atsushi is Atsumi's grade school-aged brother, so she develops a huge crush on him. To my surprise, she did eventually learn the truth.


I was a little surprised that this series ran for as long as it did – I didn't expect it to last more than one season, considering how repetitive some of the jokes got. Atsushi was constantly being arrested, Sayo was googly-eyed over Atsushi, Atsumi's small size made her maturity overly adorable, and Take had a habit of giving Atsushi too-adult advice and clothing. It wasn't exactly a bad show, but I was glad each episode was only 3 minutes long, because there wasn't enough material being played with to support longer episodes.

I feel I should warn potential viewers that the show does like making jokes that sexualize Atsushi. On the one hand, I found some of the jokes to be worth a chuckle, and, on the other hand, laughing about those jokes sometimes made me feel a little icky. I do think viewers were supposed to feel a little icky about seeing Atsushi, even for a moment, as an adult – Atsushi's teacher hated it whenever she had trouble adjusting to thinking of him as a little boy, and Sayo had some issues herself when she finally found out the truth. Before she learned Atsushi's true age, the show never missed an opportunity to remind viewers that the guy she had a crush on was actually a grade schooler.

I also think it helped that Atsushi was very much a little boy, despite his looks. He never acted out of character, it was just that others sometimes mistook his words and behavior because of how he looked. When he wore Take's black mesh shirt to school (causing his teacher to have a blush-filled meltdown at the sight of his muscles), all Atsushi and his friends talked about was how cool the shirt was, and how it maybe made him look like a ninja. Their reactions seemed very kid-like, as compared to their teacher's reaction. Actually, you could argue that Atsushi was more kid-like and naive than his friends – there were a lot of things he didn't “get” as quickly as they did, he seemed to have almost no ability to adjust to the physical differences between himself and his classmates (okay, so I laughed when he participated in a three-legged race), and his friends even had to teach him how to ride a bike without training wheels.

Thankfully, no similar attempt, as far as I could tell, was made to sexualize Atsumi. Actually, far fewer jokes focused on Atsumi as opposed to Atsushi. She was basically Atsushi's mother figure, taking care of things around the house, getting Atsushi properly dressed in the morning, and making him his lunches. The joke, I guess, was that her small size made these grown-up activities “cute.” Also, on the rare occasion she went to Atsushi's school, she was usually mistaken for a grade schooler.

All in all, this is a so-so show that still manages to be funny, despite a slight “ick” factor. It's not something I'd ever buy, but it made a nice palate cleanser after a few hours of watching Another (a bloody psychological horror anime). Just don't expect too much from it.

Watch-alikes and Read-alikes:
  • Chi's Sweet Home - Chi's New Address (anime TV series) - Another comedy featuring short episodes. This series has cuteness and humor, without Recorder and Randsell's slight "ick" factor. There's also more of an ongoing storyline. I have written about this series.
  • Poyopoyo (anime TV series) - I haven't seen this yet, but it's another comedy with super-short episodes.
  • Azumanga Daioh (manga) by Kiyohiko Azuma; Azumanga Daioh (anime TV series) - Another strange school comedy. Although each student is the source of a limited number of jokes, there are quite a few students, so it works out pretty well. Those who liked the age/size-related jokes in Recorder and Randsell might particularly like Chiyo-chan, an adorable grade school-aged genius who's probably the smartest person in her high school class.
  • 13 Going on 30 (live action movie) - I think I may have seen this one, but I don't remember much about it, other than that Jennifer Garner's character is a 13-year-old girl who somehow ends up in her future 30-year-old body.

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