Ebichu Minds the House
Ebichu is a resilient, dedicated hamster devoted to minding the house for her beloved master, OL (short for "Office Lady"). Through a hamster's-eye-view, we get a glimpse of what a desperate, lonely grown Japanese woman does when she hits bottom. She has a sloppy apartment, terrible drinking, eating, and smoking habits, a worthless leech of a boyfriend, and in the mind of OL, everything always winds up being Ebichu's fault.
Yet through it all, Ebichu remains loyal, optimistic, and hard-working, sticking with her master through thick and thin (and seriously, she puts up with some serious stuff), providing the loving loyalty that OL can never seem to find anywhere else.
Imagine yourself your sophomore year of college. You are living in a dorm, organizing your papers into neat little stacks according to class, and you are about to switch on a bit of Vivaldi to help you study for those looming mid-terms.
Your roommate--not by any means a beauty queen, but fun and a bit of a party girl, is rocking on her bed with her even less-attractive boyfriend, watching some sort of lame late-night television show, when they start their nightly routine of groping, giggling, snogging...you have your headphones on, so you pretend not to notice, though all of you know better, it's all been done before, so no one really cares.
The bed starts to rock, the clothes hit the floor, the TV is still going, but just for good measure, you turn up the Vivaldi to max volume as they do the lateral limbo in the single-room dormitory.
Sound familiar? Then you know exactly how Ebichu feels. Don't let this cute little rodent fool you, this little girl needs to have a serious sit-down with Hamtaro and clue the little fella in on what he needs to expect from his owner once puberty kicks in.
I have subjected myself to several animated works that are created just for the sake of pushing the envelope, so I went into Ebichu with a fair idea of what to expect (especially after seeing the infamous AMV titled "Gratuitous Anime Porn Video" years before.). Even when armed and ready, however, some of the subject material is still enough to slug you upside the head with its unpredictable irreverence--the creepy part being--yes, people like that do exist in Japan.
Keep in mind that the humor in this series is not "typical" Japanese humor. This series was created in order to "shock and amaze" late-night commuters who worked overtime in the offices, and were most likely drunk by the time the Love Awa Awa HOUR was actually on TV.
That being said, take note that this reviewer was completely sober (and in America, no less) during the entire viewing of this series. In fact, she was still living with her parents at the time. Even so, no series to date has succeeded in making me laugh out loud and shake my head, "Good Lord!" like this series has. In a media industry that always glamorizes sexual relations and "female independence," this series is inexplicably fresh and gritty, and serves as--well, and unhealthy reality-check for women everywhere.
This series isn't for everyone. Additionally, timing is essential as far as viewing this series. You have to be in one of those moods to watch something with as much redeeming value as, say, a Farrelly Brothers movie in order to enjoy this anime. As long as you go into this series with realistic expectations, it is a worthwile piece of entertainment, and in my opinion a lot smarter and more mature in execution than similar titles, such as, say, Puni Puni Poemy. The pacing is great--not too rushed and not too spazzy. Ebichu is offensive to your senses, but not in your typical "otaku fanservice gone extreme" or even in a "hentai" sense.
If you are really in no mood to be offended and want slapstick or romantic comedy, look elsewhere. If you are looking for sharp, witty romantic comedy a la Sex In The City, Ebichu (or OL for this matter) is no Carrie. But if you like viewing shock humor at its most extreme (remember, Japanese people tend to take things Americans like to do, and then take it one step further), then Ebichu is definitely a series for you. At a mere five minutes per episode, totaling two-and-a-half hours, it certainly isn't a waste of time as others might have you believe.
A twisted, demented series that you must be prepared for in order to appreciate. Understanding the lifestyles of OLs comes in very handy in order to really — Melissa Sternenberg
Recommended Audience: ADULTS ONLY! And dirty-minded ones, at that. Anyone (especially a Westerner) who is in the least bit squeamish won't last five minutes watching this. As Studio Gainax itself warns, "Viewers are sure to be shocked by the gap between the cuteness of Ebichu and the naughtiness of the program's content." Damn straight!
Version(s) Viewed: digital source
Review Status: Full (24/24)
Ebichu Minds the House © 1999 Gainax / Group TAC
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