Thursday, 19 November 2009

Kūchū Buranko - Episode 5

It's time for Doctor Irabu to turn his attentions to another new patient for Kūchū Buranko's fifth episode, and this time the subject of his case is surprisingly close to home, in the form of another psychiatrist.

The doctor in question is one Tatsuro Ikeyama, a seemingly uptight and straight-laced guy who is married to the only daughter of the head of the institution at which he works. Being in such an enviable position sounds pretty great to most people, so what is Tatsuro's problem?

Essentially, his elevated and enviable position is the problem - As Tatsuro explains his Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, which manifests itself as destructive delusions in which he gets to play pranks and generally do crazy stuff, so we learn about his past as a pretty fun guy who was always quick to pull pranks and be the centre of attention when it comes to joking around. Of course, responsibility has changed him, but it appears that this process of maturing has drained the life out of him completely. Irabu's answer to this is to encourage Tatsuro to embrace his delusions and fun-loving nature, from getting him to fart in a lift through to changing the channel while the family (his boss included) are watching the opera to catch some baseball.

Of course, the subject of delusion is a near-perfect one for any visual medium (but perhaps animation in particular), and so this episode of Kūchū Buranko delights in occasionally playing fast and loose with what is real and what simply occurs in Tatsuro's head. Ultimately, this all blends together rather nicely to the episode's conclusion, where Tatsuro comes to terms with what is and isn't acceptable - Watching baseball instead of opera every night is fine, and laughing at his bosses hairpiece in private is fine too, but setting off emergency alarms and generally being a moron isn't.

As always, Kūchū Buranko seems to really have the knack of taking an extreme situation yet somehow making it feel like it's providing some useful pointers for the public at large - I'm sure we've all struggled to find the right line between being a fun person and acting serious at work, with in-laws and so on, and Tatsuro's story is really just that constant internal struggle writ large. This ability to capture the Zeitgeist of the average person while remaining entertaining is quite a knack, and one that this series seems to have genuinely gotten the hang of pulling off week after week - Add to that the interesting way the various episodes so far are cross-referencing one another with no hint as to whether it's even relevant or not, and you have yourself a fascinating little series.

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