Toshiyuki ToyonagaMika DoiChiemi ChibaAkitaro Daichi
Rinshi!! Ekoda-chan
Episode 1 also reviewed here: Anime 1st episodes 2019: R
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2019
Director: Akira Shigino, Akitaro Daichi, Gisaburo Sugii, Hiroshi Nagahama, Koji Morimoto, Masayuki Kojima, Osamu Kobayashi, Ryousuke Takahashi, Shin Misawa, Takeo Takahashi, Tomomi Mochizuki, Yoshitomo Yonetani
Writer: Ryousuke Takahashi, Mari Okada, Osamu Kobayashi, Tomomi Mochizuki, Yoshitomo Yonetani, Yui Takeda
Original creator: Yukari Takinami
Actor: Ai Kobayashi, Ami Koshimizu, Chiemi Chiba, Haruka Ishida, Mariya Ise, Megumi Koshoji, Megumi Sakurada, Mika Doi, Romi Park, Rumi Shishido, Suzuko Mimori, Tamurapan, Toshiyuki Toyonaga, Yamato Kinjo, Yuiko Tatsumi
Keywords: anime
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 12 episodes
Website category: Anime 2019
Review date: 17 May 2022
Rinshi Ekoda chan
I've never seen anything like this before. A producer called Yoshiro Kataoka went around all his contacts in the anime industry, with the aim of getting twelve veteran directors each to do their own personal takes on a manga called Ekoda-chan. No creative restrictions, with the directors being encouraged to do whatever they wanted to do. (Well, subject to basic TV restrictions like "no cigarettes or nipples".)
Each episode contains:
(a) a three-minute animated episode, which to be honest doesn't usually amount to very much. It's three minutes long. There's a lot of craft and sometimes experimentation, but the segments hardly ever have a plot and tend to be just quirky glimpses into Ekoda-chan's life. Sometimes it's funny. Sometimes it looks amazing. I probably wouldn't have given the series much thought had it just been these three-minute snippets.
(b) twenty minutes of live-action discussion, usually between the director and the voice actress playing Ekoda. (There are occasional exceptions, though, e.g. Takeo Takahashi being represented by an actor because he's so timid that he'd have turned to stone in front of a camera. Apparently, he's almost inaudible even under normal circumstances.) These can be really interesting and would always make me see the three-minute episode in a new light. You see these creative powerhouses discussing their artistic goals and what they were trying to achieve in the limited running time. You listen to them and go "wow", a bit.
(c) four minutes of behind-the-scenes footage, usually drawing a picture that became a particular moment of animation. I usually skipped these bits.
I was most excited about Akitarou Daichi (ep.1) and wasn't disappointed. He seems adorable. Everyone was cool to watch, though. So many different directors I hadn't heard of, but then afterwards wanted to know more about. The voice actresses would be making interesting, intelligent points too. It's odd that none of the directors are female, given the nature of the original manga, but at least the discussions always have the voice actress.
Anyway, that manga. As far as I can tell, it's a semi-autobiographical manga about a 24-year-old girl called Ekoda-chan. She's both admirable and a bit worrying. She does all kinds of part-time jobs (some late night in bars), wears no clothes at home (to save on laundry bills), is relaxed about romance and is a cool-headed observer of the world. It's just a four-panel manga, but apparently it's so honest and direct about Ekoda's life and worldview that pretty much all women (and many men) would read it and strongly identify with at least some of the things she does or thinks. She'll be spontaneous and do whatever she wants, with no discernable interest in what society expects of her. She'll goof up, but not fret about it and just get on with things.
I haven't read it myself, but it sounds like the ideal source material for a project like this. Lots of striking moments (albeit usually in an understated, day-to-day way), that work on various different levels.
This is a fascinating series, but almost entirely because of the live-action discussions. The animated segments are of some interest, though, especially if you go back and rewatch them after seeing the discussions. Ep.10 is completely mental, though, with singing puppet heads with little heads sticking out of their necks. There are lots of cool art styles, e.g. ep.11. (And, amazingly, that episode's discussion afterwards doesn't discuss the art style at all! It's a drinking session with the director and the four band members he'd recruited to make the episode together.) Ep.2 is written by Mari Okada. Ep.4 is fairly deep and slightly uncomfortable. Those animated segments can be daft, surprising, funny or flat-out crazy... or, also, admittedly, a bit so-so It's definitely worth a look, though.