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Girls

Annotated Anime: Keijo!!!!!!!! episodes 2-5

Nov 08 // Nick Valdez
Before I begin, I'd like to discuss a bit of the discourse I've seen surrounding that first episode. While some (rightfully) declared Keijo was an offensive work, others (also rightfully) defended its parodical content. Neither perspective is incorrect since the women (18 and over, as poignantly noted) do have agency, as they have yet to make a decision for someone other than themselves, but the fan service nature of its production rejects that agency. But as I've noticed throughout the last four episodes, the balance between the two perspectives is thrown out of whack when the girls aren't competing.  For example, episode two and three are a training episodes. As Nozomi and her friends practice to take an elite class entry exam, they train in various techniques. Like most sports anime, Keijo adheres to the training episode narrative (girls struggle before eventually succeeding when they exploit a new technique). But try as it might to take this part of the story seriously, the episode's fan service point of view negates a lot of its attempted narrative work. You see when the girls are competing, there's a sense of seriousness in the work regardless of how ridiculous its imagery gets. The girls may fight each other with their butts and boobs, but they're treated like tools or fists. There's a respect for these girls in the animation when they compete. Shots are composed at wide angles, and they usually don't linger in compromising positions. Yet, in the training episodes, there are several shots dedicated to zooming in on these same body parts with less respect. These "butt figure eights" or Nozomi's constriction suit are shown in lower POVs, emphasizing the girls' assets, instead of reflecting hard work (as you would see in sports anime). Then its a matter of breaking down Keijo's parodical take on sports anime. When does the fan service perspective outweigh the exaggerated comedy? As mentioned, the girls' Keijo battles are definite highlights. Leading to things like "Titty Hypnosis," "Shoryucans," "W-Acceleration," "Vacuum Butt Cannon," and "Cerberus," the flame dog automatic butt attack that literally bites into the other girls. With these moments, we're laughing with the series. And so far, the ratio has been on the more positive end. While the second episode (and one match in episode 4), made the imagery more titilating, the rest of the episodes have yet to do that so far. But the visuals wouldn't be as big of a deal as I'm making them if the rest of the show had anything to work with.  Since Keijo's  personality is entirely derived from its imagery, its characterization falls flat. The girls themselves are, forgive me, two dimensional. The only development each girl received so far is a new technique. and only two of those reveals are relevant to the girl's personality type (i.e. the shy girl talks when her skill is revealed to be dope, the klutz has a butt cushion which helps her accidentally steal victory). The worst part about all of this is I'm forgetting all of their names. That's the trouble with exploitation media in general. You can argue stuff like story and characterization away by simply stating "it's meant to be a joke!" But sexual exploitation is always icky when not subverted by the rest of the production. You need something to say its alright to enjoy its explicit fan service. Whether its humor or some kind of satire, it just needs to be something of importance to elevate its schlock. Otherwise, it won't last long.  The difference between Keijo!!!!!!!! and intentionally exploitative productions (such as Grindhouse or Black Dynamite) is there is still not enough done to elevate its exaggeration. It's slowly making its way toward more fun, but right now it's hollow fan service. I'll even go as far to say that if it were not my job, I most likely would not continue on with this series.  But since I've already invested the time, I will keep hoping something more concrete eventually hits the series. While I still believe Keijo!!!!!!!! indeed succeeds as a fan service delivery system, it has lost that unique sense of fun and confusion I felt after watching the premiere.  [Keijo!!!!!!!! is now streaming on Crunchyroll and Funimation Now]
Annotated Keijo photo
Get it right, get it right, get it tight
The series premiere of Keijo!!!!!!!! was probably the most confusing anime I've seen this season, and most likely the year. Introducing a world in which busty girls attack each other with their butts for money, I expected the...

First Impressions: Keijo!!!!!!!!

Oct 11 // Nick Valdez
Keijo!!!!!!!! (from here on out, I'm going to refer to it without eight exclamation points) follows Nozomi, an eighteen year old girl (which the episode hilariously points out before the fan service begins in full) who dreams of being a pro Keijo player because they make a lot of money. Keijo is a sport where girls try to knock each other off of floating platforms without using their hands and feet. Which means, of course, each girl's butt is the weapon of choice in this sport. When Nozomi is accepted into an academy for budding Keijo athletes, she meets several rivals who are out of her skill level. Including her best friend, Sayaka, who has a habit of giving herself a swimsuit wedgie before she competes.  At first glance, Keijo doesn't have much to offer beyond your standard "look at these girls bounce around." Once it gets passed its abrasive opening theme and credits (as it feeds almost too much audiovisual information at once), you'll find that it's basically that. The story and characters don't really have any interesting or new characteristics that'll separate them from other offerings. That'll most likely come out the longer the show runs, but at least there are interesting quirks in the dialogue. For one, Nozomi and another main character speak with an accent and Nozomi pointing it out is a cute moment. When Nozomi says something like "Her butt muscles are incredible!" or one girl declaring "Is that a butt that looks like giant boobs?" the story's serious tone wonderfully clashes with the inanity of its visuals as the animation works with the funky dialogue. But thankfully for everyone involved, the dialogue is not the focal point of the series.  The first episode runs us through a typical Keijo match as it flashes back to the mock trial in the academy's entrance exam. And boy does it pop off. Impressively, Keijo shocks with how competently it animates its movements. If you're unaware of its production company, Xebec, just know they're pretty good when it comes to stuff like this. As seen in shows like Shaman King, Tokyo ESP, or its more fan service fare like To Love-Ru, Love Hina, and Maken-Ki!, Xebec is very good at highlighting a character's movements with stuff like squalls (basically when a character moves really fast and wind is shown flowing around them to accent it) and action lines. So as weird as it is to see these techniques utilized on peaches, it's never truly disorienting. In fact, the surprise of seeing it all in such smooth animation put a giant smile on my face. It's a matter of wondering how far the show will go or how intense these girls' techniques are.  For example, when one girl spins her hip around so fast she knocks others unconscious it's sort of the best idea ever. Then Keijo goes and tops itself when Nozomi counters that move with faceplanting right into her bottom because she realized that girl attacks jaws with her butt power. And then it tops itself once more with the booty guillotine! It's one surprise after another as the "sports" part of this anime begins to reveal itself and becomes as entertaining as say, a good match in Prince of Tennis. But the harsh matter is whether or not Keijo will be entertaining beyond these moments. Because when the dust finally settles and we go back into the story proper, it falls back into the same types of archetypes we've seen before.  In the end, I'm not sure if my ironic love has gotten quite to un-ironic level quite yet. This is one of the better first impressions I've gotten from a series this season, however. On concept alone, Keijo!!!!!!!! earns all eight of its exclamation points. But like all surprises, it's impossible to capture that feeling again once you're aware of what's going on. Whether or not Keijo!!!!!!!!! is a fleeting joy will reveal itself over the next few weeks. But at least there is a joy.  [Keijo!!!!!!!! gives new meaning to "headbutt" on Crunchyroll.]
Keijo First Impressions photo
I found you, Ms. New Booty
Keijo!!!!!!!! has both the best and worst first episode I have ever seen in anime. It's most likely one of the biggest surprises of the Fall season merely for its audacity to exist. In a wonderful maelstrom of fan service, sl...

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