Nerima Daikon Brothers (review)

Everyone has a dream. Something they wish they were doing instead of the menial task at hand. And the Nerima Daikon Brothers are no different as they dream of building a stage on their Daikon farm and singing to roaring crowds. Unfortunately, like most in life, they just don’t have enough money to be able to achieve their dream however it doesn’t stop them trying.

Nerima Daikon Brothers is one of those anime that in this day and age will be ultimately passed up by the majority. Initially released in Winter 2006 the series looks like an American cartoon of the 80s but Daikon manages to be different in being a musical, the main heroes, allies and even the villains will frequently burst into song over the course of an episode.

The plot of the series is thin, however, manages to identify with most adults, with all of its jokes and escapades it grounds itself with a veil of reality in that nothing in this world is free and the series constantly reaffirms this. In order to make any kind of money the heroes usually go into debt, and even if they manage to steal the money they usually do end up giving it back to the rightful owners.

Each of the main characters is brilliant. Hideki, Ichiro, and Mako are all characters that at least someone can identify with on a base level. Each has their unique quirks that mean that throughout the 12 episode series each of them manages to one-up the other in terms of comedic value, most of which presses issues that don’t appear very frequently in anime, from poking fun at Zoophillia to losing everything just to pay the hospital bill. It’s very South Park about things in that a lot of the overall jokes can be grounded in some truth.

Music is a very important part of Nerima Daikon Brothers and the characters, be they heroes or villains, will regularly break out into song either to sing about Fluffy Pandas or to gain a unique item rental from the ‘Rental Man’ (which is actually Director Shinichi Watanabe’s Excel Saga character Nabeshin) a lot of the songs will reoccur and you’ll be singing them for weeks after watching.

Animation wise Nerima manages to stand out in how simple a lot of it is, coming from Studio Hibari it feels much like classic series such as Captain Tsubasa, You’re Under Arrest and Duel Masters in presentation, while series such as Kenichi, Gurren Lagann, and Code Geass were boasting visuals that would set the standard for series going forward it really allows Daikon to stand aside from them, however, because of its dated visuals it sadly comes up short which brings us to the main problem with the series.

The series ultimately is rather repetitive, a lot of the visuals and songs are often re-used and even the story rarely moves away from the initial episode, much like a marvel film, the series quickly knows how to structure itself but ultimately as the series goes on it doesn’t stray from this path. With repetition, familiarity is bred and if you enjoyed the first episode you know you’ll enjoy the rest of the series. Another issue is how dated some of it feels, much like other series some of the themes and cameo characters are very 2006. We have to remember that we will soon be at a time when people are just too young to know who Michael Jackson was in his earlier years, nor will they appreciate the references to Japanese Prime Minster Koizumi.

Normally in reviews, I won’t bother to discuss Dubs and Subs, as usually, it’s the choice of the viewer to decide what to watch, however with Daikon being musically focused a lot of rewriting had to go ahead for lyrics in order for things to make sense. Watching the Dub and the Sub are both different enough to feel like a whole new series. With Japanese singer Shigeru Matsuki (he did a lot of work on the Katamari Damacy soundtrack) voicing Hideki while working on the soundtrack in the sub adding a lot to the musical aspect.

The dub. however. is also gold in its own right, with Chris Patten, Luci Christian and Greg Ayres voicing the main characters almost perfectly, even singing their respective parts with a passion and don’t even sound bad doing it (it’s still very rare to see an English VA sing) the end credits song itself breaks the fourth wall with the three leads simply thanking the viewer for buying the DVD, ‘we can pay for our beers thanks to you.’ makes a nice addition.

The importance of Nerima Daikon Brothers stands the test of time, while it’s not a series that many will know of and will be passed upon on the shelves it’s important to know that a lot of the topics and themes it portrays were things that were almost unheard of in Anime at the time and it’s worth at least acknowledging that a weird little series such as this managed to do such things and get away with it.

Personally, I would recommend Nerima Daikon Brothers to anyone who wants to sit down and laugh at a fun, witty series. If you enjoy musicals (or even just the Blues Brothers) or over the top comedy in your anime then Nerima Daikon Brothers is for you. It’s perfect for those who wish to unwind after a long day with something silly, yet relevant.


 Nerima Daikon Brothers is out now from Anime Limited Limited

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