Miss Monochrome the Animation
Aspiring idol Miss Monochrome wants to be the top star in Japan. Unfortunately, as she is an android, she's hopelessly out of touch with normal human society, so her awkward struggle leads to strange and questionably comedic results.
For every great short-episode anime series, there seems to be about five or six per season that she just have stayed on the drawing board, and this is yet another piece of chaff in the latest barrage of four-minute shorts we seem to be getting in the 2010s.
Strangely enough, this is not originally based on a four-panel gag manga: rather, it's a new story based on a character designed and acted by veteran voice actress Yui Horie. However, given that her voice in this series is autotuned to nigh-unrecognizability (Miss Monochrome's an android, remember?), and given that her design involves being a twin-tailed hologram, you'd be forgiven for thinking this might be a Miku Hatsune knockoff. While perhaps not the fairest assessment, there's very little here apart from some very, very random sight gags, to actually recommend this show to any but the most faithful Yui Horie fans.
Part of the problem is that Miss Monochrome herself is a thorough space cadet of a character, and while this could be the setup for some clever humor (like treating her Roomba like a pet dog), more often the result is more awkward than laugh-out-loud funny. Often, the punchline is delivered by the narrator as an afterthought - a trait of Japanese comedy shows that I've never found particularly funny.
Another issue is that amongst the awkward comedic bits, there are clear attempts to establish a narrative - we are shown Miss Monochrome's "eternal rival", the super idol Kikuko (a very obvious moe version of the seemingly ageless Kikuko Inoue, right down to her catchphrase of being "Forever Seventeen") ... and then Miss Monochrome's bungling ensures that we never ever actually see them perform on the same stage. There's also some sideplots involving space aliens on a Predator-like hunt, and cameo appearances by (anime body doubles of) Sylvester Stallone and Hulk Hogan thrown in for reasons no one can really explain.
There's also a particularly annoying side-character named Mana who never, ever gets an ounce of comeuppance, and Miss Monochrome's hapless manager (actually the manager of a convenience store, who's been pressed into service largely by accident). Come on, creators, throw us a bone here?
What's really strange is that, for a short-episode series, this actually has a decent budget, but the ending sequence features a 3D rendition of Miss Monochrome that leaps headlong into the uncanny valley, looking more like kigurumi cosplay than animation. AUGGGH.
I don't really want to blame Yui Horie for all this -- sure it was her idea, but director Yoshiaki Iwasaki (Love Hina) clearly has little material to work with, and writer Kazuyuki Fudeyasu (Ben-To, Milky Holmes) phones in a script aimed at the lowest common denominator. One only hopes the manga (started in 2014) turns out better ... but that's a story for another time and another review website. The best thing about this besides the animation is the music, and that really only counts if you like bubblegum J-pop. I do, and this is still largely unremarkable material.
There are certainly worse series you could be watching, but Miss Monochrome in the end, simply doesn't stand out, and with as little payoff as you get from this show, the real question is why anyone should bother.
If you can't get enough of Hocchan, I advise you to watch Golden Time or, really, just about anything else on her extensive resume instead. — Carlos/Giancarla Ross
Recommended Audience: There's no nudity and essentially no fan service; there's some implied violence (including the destruction of some alien ships and an entire ancient civilization) that all seem to be part of a very strange running gag. Probably okay for kids and up.
Version(s) Viewed: Digital stream from Crunchyroll, Japanese with English subs only.
Review Status: Full (13/13)
Miss Monochrome the Animation © 2013 King Record Co Ltd
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