Out in the countryside, a school exists that educate human beings and "bakemono", politically correctly termed "Specified Races", together.
It is at this school that a new student, a young girl named Fujimura Hatoko, enrolls. She's of a specified race herself, namely the "petopeto" race, which is known for sticking to living beings. Luckily, all they need to be able to separate is to go to sleep.
So, in her first day, she is attached to a young boy named Ohashi Shingo. They quickly become friends, and Shingo takes to calling her Petoko.
PetoPeto-san pretty much starts with a scene where our two main protagonists (who will be introduced later in the episode) are lying on a futon holding hands. Petoko is clad in nothing but a towel, and Shingo -- the young boy -- is wearing nothing but his pants. Did my warning bells start ringing? Actually ... uh, no. Read on.
Reverse to earlier in the day, as the school is attending swimming classes. Due to an accident, caused by Petoko's panicky reaction to the presence of a dragonfly, she falls into the pool, but not before Shingo makes an unsuccessful attempt at rescuing her by grabbing her hand. Naturally, his hand sticks to hers as if they were glued together. Reverse to even earlier in the day, and we are placed straight into Petoko's introduction to the class, including her specific race and (involuntary) ability.
When I think about it, there would have been many, many things that could have steered PetoPeto-san in the wrong direction -- with emphasis on "wrong". Instead, I was surprised to notice that the show itself was quite lighthearted and funny. I'll even go so far as to say the show has a lot of charm going for it. Maybe not quite to the levels of Azumanga Daioh, but the two shows does have a few common elements. For one thing, the show itself is heavily character driven. Granted, I've seen just four episodes yet, but PetoPeto-san is mainly about the characters. The show has no clear storyline as of yet, as episodes go by on a daily basis, having little to do with each other outside of the characters getting to know each other and interacting with each other.
Having chosen to go for a semi-mythological / fantasy-based setting, PetoPeto-san introduces the concept of having various mythological beings attend school in shape of ordinary schoolchildren. How many of these are accurate, I can't really say, as they range from the rather obvious -- the kappa girl, Sahara (who looks just like a plain girl, but supposedly has a "real" form) -- to the rather oddball -- the zombie samurai whose name escapes me at the moment. Some of the races seems rather made up, like the girl who's a specified race that is mainly human, but with a serious case of cleanliness mania, or the girl who can adopt and meld into any solid surface and emulate them.
Still, it's all in good fun, and PetoPeto-san doesn't really go far off kilter unlike some other shows I could mention. (*coughBOBOBOcough*) Most of the comedy seems to be based on the abilities of the various races in Petoko's school, or occasionally the characters that get stuck to Petoko. (As of the fourth episode, that is a grand total of two, though I'm certain we haven't seen the end of THOSE problems.) As an addition to that, Petoko makes sounds as she walks, sounds that change depending on her overall mood, which makes her a pretty easy character to read, much to her consternation.
PetoPeto-san also brings up some more serious issues at times. The topic of racism aside, naturally between the humans and the specified races, is present, though not really overplayed. At least not as of yet. The topic of poverty is also handled through Petoko and her mother's home, and their inability to keep bills paid or food on the table, as indicated by the sudden blackout and the fact that the PetoPeto-san turns transparent if they haven't had their fill. Things never really get out of hand, though, as the class (including the teachers) gladly lends any assistance they can.
I find it curious, though, that despite seemingly being a show better suited for the younger generation, PetoPeto-san occasionally features some aspects that aren't quite as appropriate for said generation. The show does actually feature a scene with nudity at the first episode. Sahara, the resident kappa girl, seems to be taken with swimming buck nekkid, which the show certainly isn't too timid to show. Maybe it's not really that big of a deal, as it is more than tastefully handled; in a night scene, partially as a silhouette. I'm a little bit more concerned about the violence in it, though. It doesn't appear until episode 4, where Sahara has to face a group of other kappa, which earns her a few nasty scratches over her back. Again, this isn't a big deal, but strangely serious for a show of this caliber.
Well, those are all nitpicks anyway, and I don't really want to be too nitpicky with a show that might very well end up being the surprise show of the year. Sadly, I don't really have any particular high hopes of this show ever gaining a license for, at least, an US release. It's a fairly obscure show, and very Japanese (I'm sure I'm missing quite a few references here.) But what the hell ... this show is just what I've been needing for a long, long time, as a welcome break from an endless deluge of crappy, generic dating shows. As much as I love our synchro sessions, they've been subjecting me to quite a lot of pain over the last year, and PetoPeto-san was like a breath of fresh air from when I was pretty much blue in the face from oxygen starvation.
A surprisingly good show which I seriously hope will get the license and release it certainly deserves. — Stig Høgset
Recommended Audience: The violence and partial nudity are pretty much so tastefully handled as not to alienate younger viewers, and are pretty much a rare occasion anyway. The show also strays faintly into the topic of prejudice, mainly towards the specified races.
Version(s) Viewed: digital source
Review Status: Partial (4/13)
PetoPeto-san © 2005 Kimura Kou / Enterbrain / Nyomi Project
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