Puni Puni Poemi
This title is going to be rather hard to review. I was sort of hoping for something light, short and direct but instead I got this very strange concoction. This anime is so weird it makes excel saga look normal... which should scare anyone who's seen that title.
Let's start with a young Japanese teenage girl, the daughter of Nabeshin (from excel saga) who she calls "director". Now imagine that the "genki" (cheerfull, energetic) factor typical of certain characters is applied. Finally multiply that factor by about 10,000 orders of magnitude until it reaches an almost surreal, context destroying and borderline painful level. This is the lead character, such a bundle of erratic and random energy the medium of anime itself breaks up around her.
Her dream is to be a voice actress, but the story has other things in mind. The tragic death of her parents release any restraint on her character. Her discovery that she's a magical girl allows her physical humor to reach super-powered levels, with the worlds oddest alien invaders giving her a target. It's at this point any sane individual would be evacuating the city rather than wasting time deciding whether attacking space aliens or a defending puni puni poemi (her name) is the most dangerous. Add in the asu sisters a group of thankfully pointless but fan-service compatible magical girls to fight beside her and the stage is set for a very strange, and extremely hyper, creation to unfold.
Now I have already been called humorless by the MIT anime page (the honor) and I'm happy to agree that I tend to be a bit heavy handed with comedy anime. And it looks like I'm going to continue that trend, because while I found this title an interesting watch I didn't find it massively funny or completely successful. Hopefully I can give a feel for the strengths and weaknesses it does have to offer.
The core of the show is the super-charged comedy of Poemi herself. She's almost like an experiment in how far you can push a character before you lose the audience. Her physical actions are surreal, freely breaking the bounds of even anime logic and anime representation. Anime representation of movement has always been an illusion, we agree to believe that an anime technique actually represents "real" movement, but this title cheerfully breaks this down. The techniques are stressed, warped and broken to explore this crazed sense of energy. It's pretty crazy to watch, and can be pretty good fun.
The same holds true for the dialogue. From the opening song, showing real life footage of Poemi's Seiyuu (voice actor), to Poemi referring to herself as Kobayashi (the voice actors name) the barrier between the real world and the anime is broken down. The rapid fire dialogue is as much a test of the Seiyuu as anything else, real world elements and anime in-jokes intermingle with jokes within the context of the story. Once again it's like a test of how far a narrative structure can be pushed before it breaks. The whole plot, in the end, proves to be a huge, self-referential, in-joke.
It suffers from two limiting weaknesses. The first is that it's very short, merely two episodes, which emphasises the fact that it feels like an experiment rather than a "real" show. This is magnified by change in tone in the second episode, which is much looser, that makes it feel like they decided to wrap it up somewhat earlier than they may have originally intended. The other is that what you gain in self-referential surreal humor you lose in consistency of the story itself. Ultimately Poemi is more of an excuse for certain sequences rather than an actual character. The story is more a collection of fragmented scenes and experiments rather than anything coherent. Some of them are pretty good, the Aso sisters revealing their powers is a total classic, but others are not so successful. Since there is not much in the way of structure once you've finished watching it's easy to have only a confused memory of what it all meant.
I should also mention that one of the elements of humor is the "fan service" element of magic girl anime and anime in general. As a result both nudity and suggestive content exist in sizable amounts, becoming progressively less subtle as the show moves to its conclusion. While they are of course making fun of fan service they are also doing so by showing fan service. As such i'd be wary about showing this to the young and impressionable, or even those you want to introduce to the world of anime.
So in summary I regard this more as an interesting experiment in surreal humor than a totally successful title. It's too short and too chaotic to really build up much in the way of depth, and the individual sequences fail as often as they succeed. But if you can relax and enjoy it as the animators blowing of some steam, playing a competitive game of "how weird can you get", then it's rather entertaining in that context. Theres few belly laughs but quite a few chuckles at how silly it is and how impressively fast some of the dialogue is.
The production is quite decent. The characters are quite attractive, the environments well drawn and the movement smooth. There's even some quite decent effects and design work in there as well. Of course it spends a reasonable amount of time in super deformed mode, or playing visual games, but there's sufficient skill there to carry it off. Theres certainly lots of hidden visual effects in there for the observant (or those with a slow motion control) and a good knowledge of anime history and Japanese culture to enjoy. Like excel saga it uses some quite original symbolic representations within the anime. The music is catchy and fun and the voice acting is of a high standard even when in "verbal deformed" mode.