Welcome to Irabu's Office
If I told
you about an anime with a psychiatrist in the form of a giant green
teddy bear who gets his kicks by watching a provocatively-dressed nurse
jab needles into his patients’
arms, you might expect something along the lines of a comedy.
If I went
on to describe a few of said patients: A yakuza boss who is petrified of
sharp objects, or a man suffering from a permanent erection, you might
begin to think of something towards the crude end of the comedy
does have its comedic moments (most notably when Irabu convinces one of
his patients to act out one of his outlandish fantasies, by stealing a
toupe,) Welcome to Irabu’s
office isn't overtly funny.
is, though, is experimental, sometimes clever, always very left of
office (Kuchu Buranko in Japanese) is based on a series of short stories
and books by Hideo Okuda, and has also received treatment as a stage
play and a live-action film for television. It was produced by Toei
animation and published by Siren Visual, and directing credits go to
himself seems possessed of at least three personalities: an overweight
man with the head of a teddy bear, an androgynous blonde with glasses,
and a young female all pop up, with no explanation or clue as to what is
that against characters who, after seeing Irabu frequently turn into
Raccoons and Rhinos, and it all seems perfectly normal.
watching the first episode, you’re
left wondering exactly what you’ve
got yourself in for. The show is cobbled together through a variety of
animation techniques, including paper-thin cut-outs and a kind of
stop-motion live action photography. It follows something of a formula,
as we are introduced to a new patient each show, with a new medical
condition. Fan service is provided by Irabu‘s
nurse Mayumi, as each protagonist inevitably gets a vitamin injection
during the course of the episode.
information is provided by the character Fukuichi, who pauses the show
to pop up with relevant facts related to the various psychological
disorders. Tokyo in Irabu’s
office is displayed in bright colours and patterns. Despite this (or
maybe because of it), it isn't especially appealing in the visual
stakes. The music consists of eccentric techno themes which recur
throughout the series, interspersed with some more recognizable tunes.
None of it
makes sense at first, until you realise that the characters’
stories overlap between episodes. A mob boss wearing ski goggles, and
stabbing at his eyes with a pencil, doesn't’t
have any contextual relevance the first time you meet him, and it’s
only when that character enters Irabu’s
office that things become clear.
subtitles are easy to read most of the time, it becomes very difficult
when background and foreground characters are speaking at the same time,
and are allocated text at the top and bottom of the screen
look at Irabu’s
office if you’re
desperate for some left-of-field anime, or if you’re
a fan of the stories on which it was based. Otherwise, there are better
ways to fill your entertainment schedule.