Gifu Dodo!! Kanetsugu and Keiji
Meeting again after many years, old war buddies and Samurai Naoe Kanetsugu and Maeda Keiji reminiscence of the time they went to war together during the most volatile and eccentric era of Japanese history.
I'm not a historian by trade or interest, but there has been times where I wished I knew more about Japanese history so that I could make sense of what was happening during the many shows or parodies I've watched. That courtesy also extends to Gifu Dodo; but only so that I could better understand how many gallons of piss it's taking.
In short, Gifu Dodo!! (I guess I should include the two exclamation marks -- it's the right thing to do) is the show about Maeda Keiji and Naoe Kanetsugu, two huge eccentrics on a quest to live lives of righteousness and inspire the same in others. The show is so adamant about it that it reaches a plateau of parody, which is most likely the show's intent. It's a goofy collection of stories about conquest and weird behavior that's almost impossibly to take seriously. Which is probably intended.
Part of why I believe this is the fact that, much like a certain other "manly" show, human beings come in many sizes, some more ridiculous than others. Both Kanetsugu and Keiji are very large men, so it stands to believe that their righteousness would be equally big, but it's not quite as simple as that. It is a bit more insidious than that, though, since any characters righteousness can probably be judged by how handsome they are. The more evil and... well, not righteous... someone is, the more comically unattractive they are. Meaning most of the villains and two-bit bandits are all homely bastards who are in this show to fall under the heel of righteousness.
At its core, Gifu Dodo!! is really a show about power. The power to do what you set out to do. The power to rule a region, or even a nation. The power to do what's right, even in dire circumstances or certain death. That is the power of righteousness the show is trying to sell us on. I could spend so much time poking holes at its idealism and its deep roots into samurai culture, but I would also be lying if I said I wasn't getting into this show's camaderie at all. It's a shallow lesson to take, sure; the show never has it in itself to give anyone any hard moral choices, as proven by the personalities in question. An early example constitutes a remarriage, where a wimp of a man has to endure his wife and ex-wife taking part in a legitimate thug brawl.
Curiously enough, I can't even remember a single woman being portrayed in a bad light in this show. It's probably safe to say that the show is fairly accurate in portraying the role of women in samurai society, yet all the women -- be they bar maids, wives, ex-wives, prostitutes or nuns -- are brave and straightforward, as proven by their nearly identical stone-faced beauty. Which takes us back to the whole "beauty = righteousness" ideal the show seems to hold dear, and only the manliest of men have what it takes to mirror that curiously identical sense of beauty with their manliness that can only be portrayed when one's neck is wider than one's head, and not because of that unsightly flab only seen on men of... lesser stature.
Is it parody, then, that gives this show its poor animation? Cromartie High School had some fun with that, but I'm not entirely sure Gifu Dodo!! extends quite that far. Still, the show seems to be a mixture of poor animation and really obvious CG that does allow the characters to remain as they do in the manga, so maybe it's a stylistic choice. I'm sure this show looks great in stills, but you have to see this thing in motion to see how clumsy it is. Utawarerumono had less awkward war scenes than this, and even that show is getting on in its years now.
As goofy as it is, even this show has its serious moments. For instance, you will eventually learn how Mosuke became Kanetsugu's spear bearer, and it's not a happy story at all. Gifu Dodo!! even had one character death that legitimately made me very upset, and isn't that just the oddest thing to say about a show this unhinged? The characters in this show just seem to approach death in righteousness on a "for me, it was Tuesday" basis, which makes it a bit hard to care about anyone before they go out in a red mist of glory.
Interestingly enough, the show is at its worst in the first half. After that, it heads into a subplot about a secret regarding Kanetsugu and runs with that for most of the remainder of the show... alongside another castle that needs to be conquered. It's the kind of secret plotting and eccentric planning that is this show at its best, and it really whips out the huge guest roster of historical characters here; samurai and ninja alike, and even some others. This is where the show goes a little further than just throwing out ugly dudes for our heroes to out-righteous.
All the talks about righteousness aside -- to the point of self-parody -- the show is at its most fun when our two heroes get to lay out their eccentric behavior to the fullest. I'm not going to call Gifu Dodo!! Kanetsugu and Keiji a great show -- maybe not even a good one -- but it could be hella entertaining at times.
Weird and wonderful at best, clue-by-four-ishly moralistic at worst. If you think you can take the good with the bad, then you may surely walk the path of righteousness through its 25 episodes. — Stig Høgset
Recommended Audience: There are so many redshirt deaths in this show, it'd take an obsessive-compulsive viewer to count them all. It goes without saying, of course; this is the warring states, after all, but still... yeesh.
Version(s) Viewed: Digital stream on Crunchyroll, Japanese with English subs.
Review Status: Full (25/25)
Gifu Dodo!! Kanetsugu and Keiji © 2013 Studio DEEN.
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