Novelty can be such a wonderful thing — if every anime were a musical, we wouldn’t care quite as much about this goofy show. Nerima Daikon Brothers is the crazy and at (most) times inappropriate tale of a family daikon farming operation with aspirations to build a concert dome on their property and become a famous band. Of course, there are many anime about aspiring bands — BECK: Mongolian Chop Squad, Gravitation, and K-ON! come to mind immediately — but I’ve never seen one that funnels that theme into a true musical experience quite like this.
The show runs, probably for the best, a brief 12 episodes and follows a general formula: each episode is more-or-less stand-alone and features Ichiro (laid back host — yes that late-night kind — boy), Hideki (seriously ambitious), and their cousin Mako (former idol, in love with Ichiro despite the fact that Hideki wants to marry her) trying to get money so they can build their band’s venue. Their general tactic is sort of a selfish Robin Hood plot — steal money from bad guys. Unfortunately, the bad guys usually stole from someone else, so there are always other people who have a claim. Eventually Yukika, an Inspector Gadget-esque lady with a panda fetish, catches on to their scheme and begins making regular appearances as well. This formula really works, and it was only near the end when episodes began to be connected to introduce and resolve some inter-band struggles that I began losing interest.
Formula also plays a big role in how the music for the show was composed. Each episode features many of the same base themes, just with different lyrics. You might think that is cheap, but I prefer to think of it as efficient, since the hilarious subject matter generally makes up for the repetitiveness.
Yes, I’m sorry. I laughed extremely hard during the first episode while the scene of Ichiro getting molested was interspersed with shots of the perspiring sausage on a plate. I love that they get to steal money from a sketchy hospital, of all places (“Sir don’t you want to admit yourself to the hospital? We’ll do THESE things and THOSE things for you!”) It cracked me up that in pretty much every episode someone ends up borrowing money with much fanfare and many dancing girls.
Besides sex jokes (Oh, Mako, you masochist, you) and random bizarreness (Yukika falls in love with fish cakes next?) the comedy relies quite a bit on parody. Although an American viewer will get all the Michael Jackson jokes (fans may be a bit upset at the portrayal now, given recent events; for my part I was just annoyed that Yuukei Hakushon was a recurring character), there are some episodes, particularly the last, with tons of political references relating to former Prime Minister Koizumi, that may not cross over quite as well.
The animation is not super detailed, but for a comedy, that isn’t necessarily the most important thing, and especially for a musical comedy, where the singing is your main concern. Thankfully, the Japanese and English vocalists were both pretty terrific. It’s really easy to imagine the English version of this being a complete train wreck, what with all the translation difficulties lyrics produce, and the task of finding the right voice actors.
I can recommend Nerima Daikon Brothers pretty highly if you are interested in some off-color musical humor. That said, it’s probably also the only show I can recommend if you are interested in some off-color musical humor, but maybe that is yet another reason to check it out.