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[Sumomomo Momomo]
AKA: Sumomomo Momomo: The Strongest Bride on Earth (Full Title), すもももももも〜地上最強のヨメ〜 (Japanese)
Genre: Comedy, Ecchi, Martial Arts
Length: Television series, 24 episodes, 23 minutes each
Distributor: Currently unlicensed in North America
Content Rating: 17+ (Sexual Content and Fan Service, Violence)
Related Series: None
Also Recommended: Something else.
Notes: Based on the seinen manga by Shinobu Ohtaka. The title is based on the tongue-twister sumomo mo momo momo mo momo, sumomo mo momo mo momo no uchi, a rhyme about plums and peaches that has virtually nothing to do with anything in the series.

The first twenty-two episodes were aired on television, while the final two were first released on DVD. Since there is virtually no difference in content, production, or continuity between the TV and OAV, this review accounts for both of them.
Rating: One Star
 

Sumomomo Momomo

Synopsis

Momoko Kuzuryuu is a martial-arts crazed teenager who has grown up in the mountains with her father, a legendary fighter. One day, however, her father tells her that because she is a girl, she will never be able to master the family's ultimate technique. The only thing for her to do is to marry the world's strongest warrior and subsequently produce the strongest offspring. Her unlikely fiance is the handsome but weak Koushi Inuzuka, the son of her father's best friend and rival. Koushi has no interest in martial arts and instead wants to become a prosecutor, but despite his adamant refusal to marry her and frequent displays of cowardice, Momoko falls in love with him and swears to remain in his house and train with his father in order to become the strongest fiancee ever. (Adapted from ANN)


Review

If nothing else, Sumomomo Momomo proves that there is nary an experience more depressing than that of watching someone who has neither talent nor charm desperately attempt to convince you otherwise. Over and over again, this infuriating series tries to make the viewer laugh at its heroine's stupidity and attract one's attention with an endless stream of uncomfortable sex jokes, and while I can give it a little bit of credit for the sheer amount of manic energy it uses in trying to make this nonsense seem funny, the resulting product is not the slightest bit enjoyable. Unless you can stomach its unlikeable cast, sexist premise, and ugly character design and still somehow manage to laugh at its perverted brand of humor, the best one can do is steer clear of it. Other shows present a much better brand of dirty comedy, and if one desires an ecchi, there is no shortage of titles with a more alluring appearance than this.

Although what plot there is focuses on an underground society of martial artists, their warring factions, and the necessity of marrying Momoko and Koushi in order to pacify two rival coalitions, I'll be frank and say that there is no resolution whatsoever to this absurd backstory, nor is there ever any satisfactory development within the unappealing "romance" this show attempts to sell to the audience. It'd hardly be fair to say that this show is entirely comic, as it does include a fair number of martial arts battles and eventually introduces a villain-of-the-week-style plot in which various assassins try to put an end to Momoko's engagement, but like many manga adaptations, this anime completely fails to either reach a satisfactory conclusion, meaning that what plot we do get feels like a tease. Perhaps the resulting product would be less frustrating if the characters were any good, but hardly any of them are, as Momoko (whose voice actress painfully overacts her lack of intelligence) is pesky, clingy, and, to drive the nail in, hopelessly infatuated with a man who treats her as well as he would treat mud scraped off his shoe. Koushi, for his part, is as bad a spineless wimp as one can find and an absolute prick to boot, and while it's occasionally possible to feel a bit sorry of Momoko's naivety, her "lover" has nary a charitable moment throughout the entire series. While I hardly think that Momoko and Koushi would make a good pair, I really do have to say that this show takes one-sided affection too far: the experience of watching an unintelligent girl defend and speak the praises of a weak-willed boy who's stated goal in life is to bring capital punishment upon all criminals is a painful one, and the show's insistence that Momoko is of no worth unless she bears babies for Koushi makes for sexism at its most unbearable. The other characters aren't quite as bad as this distinctly unromantic pair of romantic leads, but the majority of the martial artists in the supporting cast do little besides expedite Momoko's schemes or (depending on their affiliation) attempt to assassinate Koushi, with the only remotely likable character being Koushi's somewhat level-headed and long-suffering classmate Sanae, a girl who hardly deserves the humiliation she receives at the other characters' hands and would likely be the only cast member to fare well in a better series.

The most frustrating part about Sumomomo Momomo, however, is that not an ounce of its illogical nonsense is at all entertaining. I hardly laughed once while watching it in spite of its ridiculous attempts at slapstick humor, and the vast majority of the "jokes" left me cringing. In one disturbing scene, for example, Momoko attempts to serve herself to Koushi as part of a plate of sashimi, vociferously and passionately begging him to "eat her", and in another she hypnotizes him as he sleeps, tricking him into admitting love for her by re-appropriating the tape he uses to play legal textbooks for "learning while sleeping". The humor in Sumomomo Momomo is neither clever nor at all effective, and the vast majority of it simply results in either tired exasperation or some extremely uncomfortable sexual situations. Indeed, the amount of sexualization on display in this series is disconcerting; as an example, the vast majority of the uniforms ostensibly designed for the "martial artists" in fact resemble either bondage gear or skimpy cosplay. Those who enjoy anime for the fanservice need not bother with this series, as hardly an ounce of it is at all alluring and the character design is in fact quite ugly. The series employs some of the clunkiest computer graphics I've ever seen in any anime, and while the rest of the animation isn't nearly as atrocious, there's really nothing to see outside of the pedestrian and tedious martial arts battles in the latter parts. The score, meanwhile, is nondescript, and the fact that the first opening theme begins with the lyric "let's make babies" was enough to tell me that this was not going to be a fun show to watch (the other theme songs aren't nearly as bad, though they still constitute forgettable J-Pop). After having struggled with Sumomomo Momomo's unfunny jokes, painful drama, and ridiculous sexualization, the final straw was that it was no easier on the eyes and ears than it was on the brain, and while eye candy wouldn't have been enough to save this series, it would have brought at least one point of fascination to a show that is, in truth, not the slightest bit interesting.

In short, Sumomomo Momomo is dull as dirt. Perhaps, somewhere in this world, there's someone who would find this show to be somewhat appealing, but I'm really at a loss to say what their reasoning would be. I'd lean on the safe side and stay away from this show if I were you. Sumomomo Momomo is junk, and if you're tempted to watch it just to make fun of it, I'll warn you that it isn't even entertaining as junk. I honestly think that's about as bad a recommendation as I could ever give.

I'll be blunt: Sumomomo Momomo sucks. I'm no lover of ecchi and thus would usually recommend that fans of such anime add a star, but in this case I'll warn them to look elsewhere. Nick Browne

Recommended Audience: The best indication of this show's "appropriateness"? The scene in which one martial artist's power grows in proportion to the amount of clothing she removes. You get the point. Aside from the virtually endless ecchi content, meanwhile, there's also a lot of violence, though with a few exceptions it leans towards the slapstick.



Version(s) Viewed: Digital Source (Japanese with English Subtitles)
Review Status: Full (24/24)
Sumomomo Momomo © 2006 Studio Hibari
 
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