Comical Psychosomatic Medicine
Dr. Ryou Shinnai runs a psychiatric clinic and attempts to explain various mental health subjects to the audience. His airheaded nurse Asuna instead manages to district the audience with her malapropisms and misunderstandings, and his explanations are further derailed by bad puns and antics on the part of the rest of the cast.
My, what an odd little show.
Comical Psychosomatic Medicine might be the only attempt at rendering mental health and mental illness into a light-hearted comedy that I’ve ever come across. This is Japan we’re talking about, however, where no subject is too dull or too sensitive to be made into an educational manga: we live in a world where there now exists a manga edition of Mein Kampf, after all.
Thus, perhaps it’s no surprise that we now have a series where a ditzy nurse and a doctor ever-flustered by her scatterbrained responses talk mental health and psychology. Comical Psychosomatic Medicine is made in the tradition of educational manga, in which a ponderous, serious subject is explained semi-humorously and with the aid of visuals; these series are rarely animated and even more rarely are translated into English, making this show something of a rarity. It’s thus difficult for me to “review” the show in the traditional sense, given that it's more accurately described as a Public Service Announcement in anime form than "entertainment" in it's own right.
The structure of the series is fairly simple: Dr. Shinnai attempts to explain a mental health issue to the audience, only to be interrupted by the humorous misunderstandings and misinterpretations of his rather spacey nurse, Asuna Kangoshi. A comparison that comes to mind is Mihoshi Karamitsu and Kiyone Makibi from the Tenchi Universe TV series, where a straight-laced character becomes basically completely unable to do their job because of their partner's cluelessness. Within the first thirty seconds, for example, Nurse Kangoshi tells the viewer that the show's very fanservicey opening crawl is done "only as a service to our viewers" and that no "doctors in miniskirts" will appear in this show, prompting a flustered Dr. Shinnai to declare "that's fraud!" Most of the jokes are structured along these lines, and probably for the sake of greater recognizability in what's essentially meant to be an instruction video, they rely on well-established character tropes: the airheaded nurse, her attractive but lovelorn older sister, their perverted and senile grandpa, and an "exhibitionist," one who strongly manages to resemble modern-day American images of Jesus Christ while also being unbelievably creepy. I suppose that's an "achievement" of sorts...
As for the mileage of this show's jokes, it's a mixed bag. The gags rely heavily on puns and are usually rather lewd, with medical acronyms being mistaken for S&M-related terms and the like, and I came away feeling that I had missed a fair bit of the humor due to not understanding the language, since pun-based Japanese jokes are so easily lost in translation. Still, Comical Psychosomatic Medicine makes for an amusing if somewhat predictable comedy routine; I chuckled a number of times but rarely felt full-fledged laughter. As for the show's discussion of mental health, it's likely to raise some eyebrows for its flippancy and silliness; Comical Psychosomatic Medicine makes light of pedophilia and voyeurism, for one thing. If one is looking for a deep or nuanced discussion of psychology in anime, then Kuuchuu Buranko and the rest of the Psychiatrist Irabu franchise are probably better options; this show, in contrast, tends to simply state the basics of a condition before making jokes related to it. I suppose it's hard to expect more from what's basically a five-minute PSA, and the show itself has a disclaimer stating that its content does not constitute full-on medical advice.
In the end, Comical Psychosomatic Medicine isn't much more than a novelty, but one that's enjoyable enough. Supposedly, the mangaka behind the original series is a psychiatrist himself, but the explanations in this show don't necessarily make me believe that, given that they amount to layman's definitions with a fair amount of lewd humor mixed in. It was an amusing piece to watch in between longer shows, but it doesn't amount to much more besides that.
One might have better luck with this if they understand Japanese and have less difficulty with the puns. Some people (understandably) object strongly to having mental health issues made light of, and this show is very, very much not for them. — Nicoletta Christina Browne
Recommended Audience: Older teenagers and up. It's a rather lewd series overall, with jokes related to fetishes and sexual practices being near-constant, and with some of the episodes discussing pedophilia and some other disturbing subjects in a humorous light. There's also a fair bit of fanservice.
Version(s) Viewed: Stream courtesy of crunchyroll.com (Japanese with English Subtitles)
Review Status: Full (20/20)
Comical Psychosomatic Medicine © 2015 YS/SF
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