Barely teenaged Rizel has been bioengineered by the Japanese government to be the perfect wife - demure, subservient, and more than a little eager to get in bed with her chosen husband. Unfortunately, the Japanese government (as it is wont to do) has chosen for her the most improbable mate: Iwaki Tomonori, a fifteen-year-old jerk with a mean streak a mile wide, a penchant for abuse, and a preference for older women (which Rizel is most definitely not). And while he beats her and verbally derides her, she doesn't mind so much as long as he pays attention to her. Of course, ignoring your perfect wife means the wrath of her nitroglycerin tears ... but as long as you even deign to pay attention, you should be okay, "Danna-sama" ("honorable husband").
Where do we begin?
Shall we start with the opening song, a rip-off of "Lum's Love Song" that proclaim's Rizel's enjoyment of scolding and her desire to "do it" with a guy who makes Moroboshi Ataru look like an Adonis? Or shall we discuss the very premise of the series, in which an unfunny, abusive jerk beats up his barely pubescent, desperately stupid wife? Some may say this series is a derivative example of an already derivative genre, but this series is kinda like a cross between Don't Leave Me Alone Daisy and Urusei Yatsura. It's simply creepy.
As far as "moe" (Master of Entertainment, pronounced "MO-ay") is concerned, this is an actual company whose name has become synonymous with cutesy (almost infantile) young anime girls who tend to have squeaky, high-pitched helium voices. While this is supposed to be considered attractive to Japanese male audiences, "moe" girls drive me absolutely batty. And Kugimiya Rie's turn as Iwaki Rizel is no exception ... she makes Ellis from Toshinden sound like Belldandy.
While, yes, there is a place for girlfriend/boyfriend slapstick (see Ranma 1/2 and, more recently, Love Hina), Rizelmine actually presents its violence as cutesified domestic abuse, which is just about as offensive to a Western audience as you can imagine. At least in shows like Sister Princess, the girls are merely braindead. Rizel is masochistic, on top of being terminally stupid. And her "Danna-sama" (I don't even care to repeat his name, which shows you how much I care about this show), who looks like he belongs in an Akira flashback ("Shima Tetsuo, the Early Years"), is even less likable than any of the characters in that movie. He's a brutish little roughneck who looks more at home on Jerry Springer than in a romance comedy. He's like a biker punk without a gang. (They're probably scared of him, to tell you the truth.) Someone sic Great Teacher Onizuka on this guy...or better yet, a tac nuke.
It's very startling when someone presented as "the ultimate wife" turns out to actually enjoy being physically and mentally abused. If this is supposed to be parody, it isn't funny. I don't even want to think it *isn't* supposed to be parody, or I'd have to come away from this show with a far lower opinion of Japanese culture (or at least anime fandom) than I'd care to admit. Domestic abuse is a very real problem in any society. To laugh it off as simply "something couples do" is mind-numbingly awful, even in something that is obviously not real. "Yay, my loving, dear husband hit me for the first time! Yay, my husband scolded me for the first time! Yay, my husband threw me out of the house for the first time!" It's worse than a Britney Spears song, and I'm not sure that the fact that I'm not supposed to be taking any of this seriously is consolation at all.
Also disturbing is the fan service. The boy even refers to Rizel as "looking like she's in elementary school" (which is why he isn't sexually attracted to her), but apparently, this is a desirable trait in the "ultimate wife", as evidenced by the bathing scene that takes up at least a minute of the first episode's twelve-minute runtime. I guess the Japanese government must've found the one Japanese teenager without a Lolita complex - because the audience this is so obviously aimed at would have to have that sort of paraphilia to enjoy this thing.
Equally bothersome is the glossy production. This show is pretty and well-animated, which definitely makes it the single largest waste of production I've ever seen. The effect comes off like a sugar-coated bird dropping. With a truly horrible plot and characters, I doubt even the best of soundtracks would salvage this from the depths it has managed to find.
Even the bravest among us was too horrified to heckle this show as it flashed across our eyes.
Whereas most romance comedies warm the heart and give you bellyaches from laughter, "Rizelwhine" may very well offend your intestinal bacteria. The only thing I am grateful for is that I downloaded this thing, because I'd hate to think what I'd feel like if I'd actually spent money on it. I'd call it a piece of excrement ... but I'd be insulting the excrement.
Somewhere out there, theoretically, there actually are worse anime that can be made. But that possibility is something I truly dread because it would take immense effort to make a show worse than Rizelmine.
This series doesn't even deserve the single star I am obligated to give. — Carlos Ross
Recommended Audience: Some nudity, and lots of violence, albeit mostly slapstick. This should be considered at least a teen's show, and the misogynistic tack this show oozes will definitely tick off most parents screening this for their kids.
Version(s) Viewed: Prerelease fansub
Review Status: Partial (2/24)
Rizelmine © 2002 Madhouse / moe / IMAGIN / Kadokawa Shoten
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