The Good, the Bad and the (Visually) Ugly (ft. Dimension High School)

People prize visuals so much that sometimes they just don’t remember the other side of the scale exists.

When the winter season started, people dismissed this show as “bad”, but truth be told…I happen to (somewhat?) like this stuff. *points proudly at the 79 I gave to gd men, which was the show I enjoyed the most that season…but then remembers Himote House got dropped*

I think people tend to dismiss shows based on the factors people normally use to rate anime – plot, characters, visuals etc. – that no one makes space for the really quirky. By that, I mean “it’s got a sense of humour you wouldn’t get unless you got all the jokes or were willing to Google to understand”. These tend to be shows which contain a high level of Japanese-language wordplay which is crucial to adding layers of humour to the show.

Dimension High School probably isn’t the worst of these, to be honest. Its self-awareness is something that transcends languages and in Flash-animated series such as the gd series of anime (gd men/gdgd Fairies), Himote House and Dimension High School, the cost cutting is normally part of the joke as well. You can normally tell when the visuals of a show aren’t meant to be a tragedy because they’re often comedy shows and they’re consistently using the same visuals (and maybe they poke fun at their visuals, like you see in the first episode of Dimension High School when the characters play with the clipping of their models).

The downside to this is that there is a high chance of seiyuu ad lib in these shows, meaning you have to be aware of not just other anime, but anything else that comes your way. The most extreme of these, to me, was tackling a joke mentioned in gd men which refers to the type of girl the seiyuu liked, which I don’t think I completely “got” because it’s something specific to the Japanese audience (I believe, off the top of my head, it had something to do with fashion, which may have been part of the problem…). Himote House is quite merciful by including an episode about Bitcoin in this case, which brings me to another problem – the ad libbed sections can go “out of style” over time, meaning you have to either watch shows as they occur as much as possible or you’ll be sent digging through the internet for a length of time you’d much rather not be dealing with…

I’ve only counted shows with 3D characters up to this point because they’re one of the most neglected parts of anime (because of reasons explained previously), but Skullface Bookseller Honda-san, arguably a breakout hit of its season, does match a lot of these attributes. Its visuals are limited because its particular visual style already looks like a manga, but its particular injokes are for a niche anime watchers understand intensely already – manga and their readers, plus bookstores – which gives it that “breakout status”.

Now, truth be told, I came here to defend Dimension High School (hence me using it as an example so much) and it devolved into this post. So, here’s some things I’ve gotten from Dimension High School that you might not have known. These are just from episode 1, just to show you how to think about it to get more humour out of it – of course, feel free to skip past the dotpoint list if you haven’t seen the show yet:

  • The real name of “Junpei Shiroyama” is Takahide Ishii (石井), with the first character meaning “rock”, which is why I find it extra hilarious he plays the main character who picks up Spudio the 22nd.
  • Characters have names that involve colours (Shiroyama, Mizukami = blue, Kikawada = yellow, Momoya and Midorigaoka).
  • When Shiroyama looks out the window, it’s quite obvious he’s not a high schooler. Googling up Ishii reveals his birthday is the 3rd of June 1993, making him 25 as of the show’s airing (or around that age, depending on when it was shot). Dawson Casting (<- warning: TV Tropes) at its finest!
  • As it happens, I suck at nazotoki puzzles (even though I’ve watched some nazotoki shows). Even the easy ones don’t quite work out…so it makes sense I didn’t get any of these the first time around even though I knew the related Japanese words. So for episode 1’s “big puzzle”, you need to know the words in hiragana and a chart like this one. You then break up each word into its hiragana and go one step up in the chart for each character to make the new word, so natsu (summer) becomes na -> to and tsu -> chi, making tochi (city) (etc.).
  • I learnt from Nazotokine and Kaito x Ansa (the aforementioned nazotoki shows) that the character descriptions tend to reveal things that become crucial to solving puzzles, so if that ever happens again…here you go. (They’re in Japanese though, which may or may not be a hurdle to understanding them.)

Sidenote: Well, if that didn’t convince you, then this show is still good for snarking at…


Well…I’ve really been on a roll when it comes to blog posts lately…

Anyways, have I convinced anyone to give these sorts of shows another shot? Is there some argument I’ve missed regarding them? (I am aware Nazotokine and Kaito x Ansa are pretty bad and I wouldn’t recommend them, but I can at least drum up some attention for the other shows I mention in this post.)

 

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