Sunday, 1 November 2009

Kūchū Buranko - Episode 3

As we enter Kūchū Buranko's third episode, so this rather unique little series continues on its madcap way with yet another new patient for Dr. Irabu to treat. This time around his subject is one Junichi Hoshiyama (or Toriyama to use his pen name), a novelist who appears to be a victim of his own success.

Hoshiyama's problem is a take on Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, as our writer has an abject (an almost always unfounded) fear of writing about the same type of character twice - A fear which causes him to vomit whenever concern about such a situation arises. However, in truth this compulsion on the surface actually serves as little more than a front for his real concern, which is that he's stuck in a rut writing the same old romance novels with the same theme time after time. These novels never fail to be a commercial success, and his one attempt to escape the confines of that genre sold relatively few copies, leaving Junichi feeling obliged to carry on writing in a style which, it seems, he's tired of.

In any other anime series, such a conundrum would probably have been ended with a good old fashioned "follow your dreams and do what you want to do" finale, but not here - Instead, Kūchū Buranko takes a rather more real-world view of the situation, leaving us with a climax to this episode where Hoshiyama looks set to continue writing the romance novels which made his career, but seemingly with a new-found drive to also traverse new paths in his writing purely for the thrill of it, just like the good old days when simply being a published author was enough, success be damned.

While this episode in itself perhaps wasn't quite as fascinating overall as the last, its subject matter did grab my attention on a personal note - I'm sure we've all been at points in our lives where we've felt stuck in a rut in terms of a career or even a hobby, and it's never a pleasant sensation... do you quit, go away and do something different, try to renew your interest in what you're doing, or find some kind of other compromise? Again, Kūchū Buranko doesn't really give you any answers on a plate, and you could probably argue that the conclusions I've drawn are incorrect with little effort, but again that's the simple beauty of this show - Beneath all of its weirdness and the bizarre nature of the afflictions as presented, there are some very personal and common life issues to which there is no simple catch-all answer, and the way the series handles them while also living the viewer to think things through for themselves is actually really quite satisfying. If you can get beyond the aesthetics and madness, there's a lot to like here.

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