Puni Puni Poemy
Before we go any further, readers should be warned that this is no ordinary anime and is likely to offend everyone. So please feel free to browse through some our reviews for nice, non-offensive anime series like Ai Yori Aoshi.
The screen zooms in and we see Sailor Moon standing, defiant, against the on-coming tide of bad guys, behind her are formless figures of other magical girls who have joined together to fight a common foe. So, we can only watch as the world's most well known magical girl prepares to face her most terrifying enemy yet!
Hang on just a second, this isn't Sailor Moon. This is Puni Puni Poemy, a tale of nobility, bravery and determination against all odds. Wait, no that's not right either, that should read 'pornography, fan service, libelous parodies, serious weirdness and one girl's valiant - if pointless - stuggle to become a voice actress'.
Poemy is a hyperactive girl with personality issues (she constantly refers to herself as 'Kobayashi', after the actor who plays her) and a burning desire to follow her dreams and become a seiyuu or anime voice actress. She lives a simple life with her parents, Nabeshin and Kumi Kumi (both reprising their roles from the equally weird Excel Saga) and has a crush on K-kun, a handsome boy in her class. Poemy also has a best friend named Futaba Aasu. Futaba - an obvious clone of Tomoyo Daidouji from Cardcaptor Sakura - worships the ground Poemy walks on and then takes their friendship to the most xxx-rated places possible involving drills and magically fuelled lesbian fantasies.
After her beloved parents are murdered by an alien in a tuxedo and a swinging ball for genitalia, Poemy goes to live with Futaba's family and things just get weirder. One of Futaba's sisters is a dominatrix with an obsession with her sister's periods, another has the largest breasts you ever saw and the youngest, Hitomi, possesses an uncanny psychic ability to predict events. The family discuss matters at high-speed before retiring for a group bath (apparently, at the behest of 'horny animators') which Poemy is more than happy to join. Yet when the world is theatened, the Aasu sisters spring into action as the defenders of the planet although it's a job they're not particularly suited to as their powers are purely defensive.
It is during one such event that Poemy uncovers her destiny as the magical girl Puni Puni Poemy! Using a fish and a cleaver, given to her by an overweight man playing a shamisen, she creates a wand and - in true magical girl style - undergoes a tongue-in-cheek transformation sequence which turns her into the pink-haired voice-acress wannabe and all of this in just half an hour!
It is the second episode which not only provides what can laughingly be described as the plot but also takes the wackiness to new heights. After defeating the mecha that was rampaging through Tokyo with one almighty punch, Poemy goes on a rampage against terrorists, much to the irritation of the Aasu sisters. The episode also shows what happens when a magical girl gets ahead of herself and becomes drunk on power, a nice twist as most anime fans are familiar with responsible heroines like Sakura and Sailor Moon.
But when the Aasu sisters are kidnapped by Poemy's beloved K, she heads into space to rescue them. K, who is actually a octopus-like alien with a God complex, a love of fan service and a deep hatrid for Poemy, is working with Aliens One and Two (of the swinging genitalia) and is determined to change the very fabric of the anime, even if it means killing the scriptwriter!
Puni Puni Poemy is presented on a single disc with a nice collection of extras.
The video and audio quality are both excellent, the transfer is essentially identical to ADV's R1 disc with vibrant, clear colours and - even though much of the anime involves characters moving at super-speed - there's not blurring or jumping frames. The audio tracks are crisp with genuine care put into the English dub and commentary tracks - the actors are actually acting rather than just reading a script.
As well as the usual character designs and production sketches, the disc features a fascinating commentary by the English language voice cast in glorious 5.1 (a first for an anime according to the companion featurette). The commentary is witty and almost as wacky as the show itself but also proffers interesting facts about the translation, in-jokes and random screaming.
Aside from this, there is also an equally humourous subtitle track involving pig-Latin but that is really only entertaining for a couple of minutes.
I was a little disappointed however that ADV didn't include their famous Vid-Notes from Excel Saga as Puni Puni Poemy has many jokes and parodies that a note here and there would make the experience of watching the DVD so much more enjoyable.
There is also a short featurette entitled 'Behind the Scenes' which follows the recording of the commentary track. This is a refreshing change as it's a rare thing to see the American voice cast, only hear them. The short documentary is interesting but is filmed with a grain of salt, it does however shed some light on the process behind a commentary recording and so is worth watching, if only once.
The staple of most anime releases - cleaning opening and ending sequences - also appear on the disc. The opening, a mix of images from the anime, live action film of Yumiko Kobayashi (the voice actress who plays Poemy) running along a beach, dancing, jumping and generally being an idiot while she belts out the opening theme. The closing theme is equally sureal and involves fish moving over a stripped green, black and pink background which looks much better - in my opinion - with the credits running over it.
As I purist I watched the Japanese dub first which always seems to feel natural. This dub reunites many of the original cast from Excel Saga including Yumiko Kobayashi, Shinichi Watanabe, Aya Hisakawa, Kotono Mitsuishi and Omi Minami. However, the English language track is excellent and almost as witty as the Japanese original. Many of the jokes are hard to translate into English but ADV have done an amazing job. This is one of the few DVDs I would recommend as being good in either language.
One of the nice things about Puni Puni Poemy is that there's something in it to appeal to everyone; from fan service to deranged magical girls to lesbian trysts. Yet it should not, under any circumstances be taken seriously. Puni Puni Poemy exists purely to poke fun at the stereotypes attached to anime.
Puni Puni Poemy is really not that offensive, regardless of the blurb on the back of the DVD case. Fans of hentai will be a little disappointed as, aside from fan service and partial nudity, any scenes of sexual torture in episode 2 are obscured by nice video images of flowers, cute animals and - bizarely the Tokyo Tower - and instrumental music with only the breathless faces of the Aasu sisters showing in one corner.
People expecting a plot will be disappointed but the strangeness of the episodes more than makes up for the fact that mecha, oversexed girls, aliens, war, mage queens and romance are crammed into two half hour episodes. The ending itself is trite but in such a wacky anime you need the requisite happy ending. Even the characters acknowledge the impossibility of the plot which only adds to the fun.