Four employees of the Mikuni Detective Agency are supposedly working on various cases, but this is really just a pretext for three-and-a-half-minute collections of outrageous sight gags, locker-room vulgarity, and controlled-to-uncontrolled chaos.
I have a confession to make. I love absurdist humor. I don't confine myself to the higher-end stuff like Monty Python and the Holy Grail, either; ultra-lowbrow things like Kung Pow! Enter The Fist, I'm down with those too. And if the show actually has some pointed jabs at suitable sacred cows, so much the better. For these reasons, I'm inclined to give Strange+ a higher rating than someone with a less warped sense of humor might. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!
To the extent that the actual characters in something like this matter at all, the central one has to be Takumi, a diminutive, blue-haired transvestite. He has a fiery temper, and a penchant for cruel pranks, especially toward his "little brother" Kou. To put it simply, Takumi is a MEAN little fem-dude. He's the star player in a bit reimagining Sailor Moon through the lens of a fetish apparently popular in Japan, and his performance has an effect on an audience that's precisely opposite that intended. He also has a "camp" mode as well, in which he likes to prance about stark naked. (I admit I could have done without any of the jokes featuring his butt.)
"Little brother" Kou is pretty much the opposite of Takumi- tall, quiet, and at least moderately masculine. He's also the show's usual "fall guy". This show doesn't just take a joke and run with it- it takes a joke and STAMPEDES with it, and the episode where Kou ends up with a cursed medallion around his neck (guess how THAT happened?) crams about half a dozen Road Runner's worth of slapstick violence into its 3.5 minutes. There's something impressive about that. The show develops several recurring characters- OK, "develops" might be a bit strong; let's say it brings them onstage for a while, and lets them wander back onstage from time to time. One, Kiyoko, becomes Kou's romantic partner in one segment- thanks to a gimmick stolen from a certain well-known supernatural comedy- but a better match for Kou might have been another character, Phantom Thief Rusty Nail; she seems to have about the same luck that HE does.
The other two members of our Mikuni quartet include Masamune, a hulking, dreadlocked, and not especially intelligent fellow; and Miwa (no relation to anybody from THEM), another hyper-chested anime blonde who really doesn't get to be anything but window dressing. The kicker here is that she KNOWS THIS HERSELF; in one scene, she desperately tries to get some viewer attention by striking various poses in a low-cut outfit while other characters are carrying on a conversation.
The show's 24 episodes are divided into two parts; the second half is called Shin Strange+. The Shin part mostly abandons the "case" setup entirely; the humor in these seems more scattershot as well. Still, the Shin episodes contain one of my favorite dumb sight gags of all time; it involves our cast solving puzzles to get out of a locked room. (Locked rooms sometimes inspire even the creators of the most wretched animes; one of the two scenes in Dokuro-Chan that I actually LIKED was set in a locked room.)
Also to this show's credit, it knows how to kick its own kin where it hurts, sometimes demolishing the pretenses of whole anime genres with a single line. The Sailor Moon takeoff mentioned earlier is one case; to prevent spoilage, I won't mention others, but I DID find myself frequently nodding in agreement (after first rolling on the floor with laughter.)
Yes, there are numerous gags here that either fall flat, or simply didn't make sense to me; as I said in my review of Chronicles of the Going Home Club, some of these might entail culture-specific issues. The show is also often vulgar just for vulgarity's sake. The whole thing comes across like a crasser version of Excel Saga (itself pretty crass at times), even having its own loli-loving mad doctor character.
It's definitely not for everybody, but it was fun (for me) quite often, and at under 90 minutes run time for the entire series, I can't accuse it of boring stretches. — Allen Moody
Recommended Audience: Nudity (male, not explicit) and frequent scatological references. (Butts butt in quite often.) Some violence as well. Mid-teen and up.
Version(s) Viewed: Stream courtesy of Crunchyroll.com (Japanese with subtitles)
Review Status: Full (24/24)
Strange+ © 2014 Verno Mikawa/Ichijinsha/Monthly Comic Zero Sum (manga)/Seven (anime)
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