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AKA: 貧乏神が!, God of Poverty
Genre: Comedy
Length: Television series, 13 episodes, 24 minutes each
Distributor: Licensed by FUNimation
Content Rating: 13+ (slapstick violence, censored nudity, perverted humour)
Related Series: None
Also Recommended: Gintama, SKET Dance, MariaHolic
Notes: Based on the manga by Yoshiaki Sukeno, currently running in Jump Square.
Rating: Four StarsFour StarsFour StarsFour Stars

Binbougami ga!

Synopsis

Ichiko Sakura is a 16-year old high schooler who has always been pretty lucky throughout her life. This is due to her body possessing an extraordinary amount of Fortune energy, which draws from its surroundings, causing the world to fall out of balance. To rectify this, a God of Misfortune named Momiji is sent to the human world to target Ichiko and steal her Fortune energy in order to rebalance the world.


Review

I honestly thought that this show would be easier to review. The problem is that when I dismantle this show in my head none of its component parts really seem to work; Ichiko is painfully selfish to the point where she should be brutally unsympathetic, Momiji's real personality is inscrutable too often for her to be empathetic, too much of the humour gravitates around Ichiko's massive bust and most of the side characters are insufferable (Bobby the perverted priest and Momo the masochist dog god being the two worst). I would just file it away in the big binder of anime comedy failures if the show was just the sum of those parts but the problem lies in that, as a whole, I really liked this show - even with so much wrong with it I still found it to be a funny and occasionally heartwarming series.

Part of what makes Binbougami ga! work for me is that at its heart it is a morality tale. Ichiko is a lonely and selfish girl who wants for no material thing in her life because of her great fortune but whose only friend is her butler Suwano and the show goes about showing how it is better to be poor but happy with your family and friends than to be rich and alone. It's not original and it's not subtle but the trials Ichiko goes through (often thanks to Momiji's attempts to take Ichiko's fortune though sometimes caused by her own selfishness) actually make Ichiko a surprisingly rich and dynamic character to watch, attributes that are unusual for a comedy lead and made only more surprising by how unsympathetic spoiled rich girls normally are. It led to an interesting duality where I as a viewer could agree that Ichiko really should give up her fortune but yet still feel sorry for her when things went badly.

I might be giving the show too much credit though and all that is ultimately secondary to the one thing that always matters for a comedy show: is it funny? For me the answer has to be yes. It's true that too much of the humour is ecchi stupidity, S&M jokes, jokes about perverts, jokes about breast size and the inevitable slapstick violence that surrounds these kinds of things; the show's other jokes quite often hit the mark. Momiji is often firing out jokes and being flagrantly irresponsible at her job (much to her boss' ire) and I particularly enjoy the wide variety of voices, especially the cutesy one that she uses to explain all of her gadgets of poverty. The jokes that centre on the better side characters are also quite enjoyable. The jokes about Keita's single-minded desire to raise money for his family (often making misleading statements to the people around him) and Ranmaru, a masculine karate girl who turns up a few episodes into the show, just being her simple-minded, boisterous self are a particularly good laugh. Also in terms of comedy, Ichiko makes a good 'straight man' for the cast and while it is not the funniest show around, the show works well as a comedy.

In terms of aesthetics, the show is more than adequate. The character designs work well with the show and it does a particularly good job with Momiji whose design balances the twin requirements of being messy but still cute. I will also give the show recognition for not making Ichiko's chest too huge. It is big without a doubt but not as ridiculously as a lot of other shows with large busted characters. I also found the music to be quite enjoyable, particularly the OP and the ED - they are decent sounding and work very well with the tone of the show and the accompanying animation.

Overall, this is a well made and enjoyable show only held back by some poor characters and misguided attempts at humour. It is not the funniest comedy you will ever watch and it is not the most heartwarming but it has enough of both to be worth a reserved recommendation. It might have got more if it had stopped talking about breasts for five minutes!

This is a very tentative four stars from me; I enjoyed those things it does just well enough to be better than average. It tells a solid and enjoyable story but if you are put off by perverted humour then take a star or two away depending how much it puts you off. Aiden Foote

Recommended Audience: There is the slapstick violence you might expect from a high energy comedy but that is pretty tame compared to the high volume of breast jokes that make up the show. Episode eleven is also the designated fanservice episode so expect a good deal of censored nudity too.



Version(s) Viewed: Digital source
Review Status: Full (13/13)
Binbougami ga! © 2012 Shuiesha / Yoshiaki Sukeno / Binbougami ga! Production Committee
 
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