Mr. Tanaka is the only regular customer of the ramen shop Neko Rahmen, and for good reason. Not only is the shop is run by a bossy cat called Taishou, but the food is usually bad and occasionally the shop is visited by psychics, kittens, farm animals, French chefs working part-time in the kitchen, hobos, and Taishou's odd relatives. So why does he keep coming? Maybe it's for the laughs...
I wasn't sure what to expect of a series that only consists of four minute episodes and two main characters. Really, what can a show do in less than five minutes? Kakurenbo is a chilling story told in less than forty minutes, Voices of Distant Star took only thirty minutes to steal my heart, and The Adventures of Mini-Goddess and Dokuro-chan could get a few laughs out of me in ten. But four minutes? I can barely shave in five minutes.
What I got was something similair to the Sunday comics in my newspaper: very condensed humor that hits at times and misses at others. And that's not bad; since this anime was completely free, I got my money's worth. Some of the jokes are worthy of a snicker, some of a groan, and one or two got a good guffaw from me.
What is most impressive about this series is its off-the-wall creativity. Having a bossy, ambitious cat run a ramen stand is odd enough, but it gets weirder with an entire episode in cat speak ("So your cat can enjoy the show with you" the anime explains), one episode with events shuffled out of order a la Haruhi Suzumiya, and one episode that blurs out items or words, and makes the audience guess what they are, answers to be revealed at the end of the episode.
The series is flash animated, and looks great for using a program most middle schoolers have in their computer labs. The subtitles were okay, with occasional words missing from sentences or misspelled. The characters are the other thing this series has in common with newspaper comics: they are simple and distinct, which is all this format will allow.
"Restrictions breed creativity" is the mantra of a famous game designer, and it seems that is just as true in a very short anime. I thought of giving this show an extra star just because of how well it works with the restrictions it has, but because of the hit/miss/"what the hell?" nature of its jokes, I decided against it. That said, if you are a fan of weird Japanese comedy, you should check this series out. You literally have nothing to lose except a very short amount of time.
A creative and usually funny series of very short shorts. Subtract a star if you don't like Flash animation or comedy, or don't like weird humor, Japanese style. — Bradley Meek
Recommended Audience: Mild language is the only thing to worry about here.
Version(s) Viewed: Official free download.
Review Status: Full (13/13)
Neko Rahmen © 2007 Vuze, Inc.
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