Bite Me! Chameleon
A specialist and complex pleasure this anime is...and probably one that i'm not ever going to `get'. Then again, why shouldn't anime venture into the murky depths of lowbrow teen culture.
Setting the scene is going to be difficult. I could mention that the cast is dominated by incredibly violent thugs in training. They're members of motorcycle gangs while in high school and the next stop is either joining the Yakuza or going to jail. They're people with few checks on their behaviour but lots of pride. And surrounding them are the lesser bullies, `bad' girls and other people who can never fit into the system. It's a weird little microcosm all of it's own.
But forget that as well, because this is actually a comedy. Into the middle of this serious environment comes a short man with a huge head and an impossibly large slicked back hairdo. Full of pride he boasts that he'll be the lord of all the gangmembers in the whole school. Little did he know that his simple-minded, and solitary, follower would start the ball rolling that would put him right in the middle of a gang war. While he's got a quick mouth, and a bit of luck in that he can win while screwing up, his delusional tendency to act cool regardless of the cost has him wondering how long his life is going to last. And it's largely wasted, because no one else is buying his act.
It's hard to describe clearly. The main thread is that the lead character will pretend to be tough, and play along with any situation, while it's obvious to everyone it's pure bluff. This gives rise to a certain humor as he is placed into situations beyond his control, or involved in a conflict way beyond any abilities he has. And then he'll get carried away and act cool, causing another disaster or making the situation even worse. Although through blind luck, and being between opposed forces, he manages to escape for the duration of this OAV.
Thus theres two sides...the serious conflict between quite deadly people, with some really vicious fighting, and the leads visual comedy. While the gangsters are drawn as realistic mature males the lead is a comic charicature. He's always putting on airs, panicing or doing some weird visual comedy. This uneasy balance requires some fairly improbable story events to keep it going, but that's fine because it intends to be a comedy. And to add some spice there's lots of risque stuff, and generous amounts of lowbrow humor (including piss and fart jokes as well as some pretty extreme language) included free of charge.
Does it have a deep meaning? Perhaps exploring the relationship between normal students and the endemic existence of bullying. Or perhaps it is a comment on how unwise it is to try to live to a false image. Or perhaps it's just some base humor and a couple of yucks? Beats me. Personally it's a bit too simple for me to think it actually has much meaning. And the humor, while sort of amusing in a painful way, isn't really enough to keep me interested. It's sort of interesting that such an anime was made, but that's not really reason enough to own or re-watch the material either. It's sort of like "Beavis & Butthead" in some ways, but all the humor is focused on the lead character, there's precious little parody of the environment or other people to extend the focus. The writing is also not particularly clever, which limits it as well.
The animation itself is fairly simple and not particularly attractive. It's clean, fairly detailed and moves well but little extra effort has been put into flash. Then again, this material doesn't really need it. The character animation on the weird looking lead is quite decent, and some of the serious characters look quite deadly. There's also some amount of action, which is pretty well animated and quite explicit. The voices are reasonably well fitted to what is required. The music, complete with in show music video, is forgettable pop stuff.
None of my regular sources have a review for this title. However while looking around it seems that ADV is marketing it as a "shock" title, which is not really supported by the material. It also seems that few people are fooled, with some saying its got curiosity value, but few championing it.