Friday, January 05, 2007

Wandaba Style

Wandaba Style is a 12-episode anime series that aired back in 2002, and the best way I can think of to describe it is kind of a cross between Lemon Angel Project and Excel Saga. It's a unique concept, a group of wannabe-idol singers who get hired by a boy genius scientist to be his test astronauts for a mission to the moon. Unfortunately, while usually I like the insane comedy genre, Wandaba winds up being just insane more often than it's funny, but there were a few parts that were entertaining enough to make it worth a rental for me.
The story starts with four down on their luck wannabe-stars, who've been pulled together into a band called Mix Juice by self-proclaimed "genius manager" Michael Hanagata, who has an afro bigger than Keroro's. The members of Mix Juice are all completely different--there's rock singer Yuri, folk singer Ayame (who can see green flying fairies no one else can), enka singer Himawari (who does construction work part-time), and former child star Sakura (who sells off her old underwear on eBay to make ends meet). Enter genius boy scientist Tsukumo, who's convinced the moon landing is a fake and that mankind hasn't really been there--and that to get to the moon it's important to use "natural" methods like dumping ramune candy by the thousands into a huge tank full of water, shaking it, and then using the carbonation to launch it into space like a giant bottle rocket. Hanagata's glad to sign Mix Juice up for the job, since Tsukumo is rich, and a number of attempts to reach the moon that would make physics majors cringe follow from there.
That's pretty much all of the cast, except Ichirin, a robot assistant of Tsukumo's that looks like a unicycle, and Kiku #8, a loli-looking robot Tsukumo built to help him. The other comedy elements come from Tsukumo's experiment ideas, the girls fighting each other, and Hanagata being over-the-top crazy. It works sometimes, but for me at least there just weren't that many points that were genuinely funny. If you do a vodka shot every time someone says "Wandaba" you'd probably laugh a lot more--at least up until becoming violently ill.

Towards the end is where the series kind of falls apart--Tsukumo's mom shows up and acts more or less completely irrational, there's a race to the moon, a flyby to the sun en route to the stars (or not), and while the ending's not BAD necessarily, it felt like it really should have ended two or three episodes earlier. Then there's Mix Juice's main song that gets sung in the background something like 37 times in the last four episodes (I didn't count, but it felt like it). Not that it's a bad song, but even Lovely Idol has a few different songs to rotate...

Wandaba Style has a lot of fanservice, so it probably wouldn't pass what I call the Starbucks test (can you watch it on your laptop at Starbucks without people looking at you like you're a hentai fan). The character designs are by GotoP, although of course they don't look as good animated as the still drawings he's renowed for. Chiwa Saitou and Kana Ueda fans will be happy since they're the seiyuu for Ayame and Yuri, respectively. Overall, it's not the funniest series ever, but it's worth a rental if the thought of a aspiring idol group crossed with Excel Saga-like wackiness appeals to you. It didn't get much love from fansubbers, I think it was only subbed to ep 3 when it first came out, but ADV released the whole series on 3 DVDs on region 1 DVD.


Jeff said...

Props for someone who finished watching this show. I own it, and I have to say even I had a hard time finishing it :3

But it has its own redeeming value.

suguru said...

Yeah, I rented the three discs over a period of about a year so it took me a while to finish it too ;)