Kaori IshiharaJunichi SuwabeWooserTia
Wooser's Hand-to-Mouth Life: Phantasmagoric Arc
Episode 1 also reviewed here: Anime 1st episodes 2015: W
Also known as: Wooser no Sono Higurashi Mugen-hen
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2015
Director: Seiji Mizushima
Actor: Haruka Nagamune, Mamoru Miyano, Minori Ozawa, Hiroshi Kamiya, Tia, Yukari Tamura, Yuri Sato, Hibiku Yamamura, Junichi Suwabe, Kaori Ishihara, Katsuyuki Konishi, Mai Fuchigami, Maya Yoshioka, Mel Kishida, Nana Mizuki, Rie Kugimiya, Victoria Holden, Yui Horie, Yui Ogura, Yumi Uchiyama
Keywords: Wooser, anime
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 13 episodes, each running 7 minutes 50 seconds
Url: http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=16680
Website category: Anime 2015
Review date: 3 December 2015
Wooser no Sono Higurashi Mugen Hen
I enjoyed quite a lot of this, which surprised me since I was neutral on seasons 1-2. This year, though, they've doubled the episode length and made it less stream-of-consciousness. It's more coherent. Stuff happens. Jokes and situations get explored more, instead of being immediately thrown away. The show still has surrealist and absurdist tendencies, but this year's episodes give you more of a sense of having actually watched something. They've had a different director every season, I notice, which I'm sure will have made a difference.
Wooser's still Wooser and the show still can't decide whether he's an unemployed and unemployable layabout or whether he's somehow, miraculously, holding down a job. Every so often he has deadlines. The purpose of these is to be blown off. Maybe he's involved in producing the manga and/or anime he's starring in?
The girls are still the girls. They hang out with Wooser for no obvious reason, think he's scum and talk about girl stuff. Fortunately one doesn't need to worry about making sense of their motivations because the show doesn't care about internal realism (as opposed to surrealism) and has an art style that suggests children's illustrations for three-year-olds.
Darth Wooser is effectively a new character, though. (He looks like Wooser, except for being dark grey and a robot.) Darth's always been there, but for the first time he's getting dialogue and a personality. He's the snarker. He has the lowest possible opinion of Wooser, but he'll self-destruct if he criticises his master directly and he doesn't want to lose his position in the show. This is quite funny. Wooser doesn't usually get challenged on the anti-social things he says and does, because the girls are used to him and just roll with it. I liked Darth and I'd have liked to see the show make more use of him, actually. He's only to the fore in a couple of early episodes (mostly ep.2).
We have genre parody. Wooser becomes a pop star in ep.5 and a detective investigating a locked room murder mystery in ep.11, while his friends become magical girls in ep.8. (I think Wooser becomes a giant city-destroying grasshopper.) Ep.13 then does a combination of Blade Runner and John Carpenter's The Thing, which is different. The snow and snowball silliness is a reference to the latter's Antarctic setting, for instance.
We have commentary on the entertainment industry. Wooser in ep.3 has a deadline that he ignores because he has to go drinking with the sponsors, after which he has fantasies of himself as a muscleman and the girls as fanservice objects. Ep.6 gives us Wooser: Movie Director and ep.10 is about going to conventions and buying fetish-oriented doujinshi.
We also have flat-out What The Hell. Ep.9 is a mundane seaside cafe conversation, except that everyone's lying in one of hundreds of coffins beside a sea of blood. Whenever anyone speaks, their coffin lid opens. Ep.4 has a Men in Black time loop about Wooser not getting out of bed. Ep.12 explores the mind-destroying concept of Wooser being God.
We also, as usual, have anime/manga crossovers. Ep.5 is a Miss Monochrome episode, including Manager Maneo and Ru-chan. Ep.6 takes us into Arpeggio of Blue Steel (with Iona, Kirishima and Haruna).
We even have a Werewolf game episode in ep.7. I hadn't known about this game, but it looks great. I want to play it. A bit of googling shows that it's a real game, invented in 1986 as "Mafia" in the USSR and then reinvented as "Werewolf" in the West in 1997. The rules are as follows. Your players are living in a tiny mountain village in Eastern Europe, but some of them are secretly also werewolves. (Wooser's game only has one lycanthrope.) The villagers' goal is to stay alive and the werewolves' goal is to kill all the villagers. Every day, all the players discuss who they think is a werewolf and then vote to decide who they should lynch. After that, every night, every werewolf who's not dead yet will eat a player of his choosing. You continue until you have 100% casualties on either side.
Wooser's version has suggestions on expert tactics and explains why it's a bad idea for you to play Werewolf with your subordinates at work. They'll agree slavishly with everything you say in true Japanese fashion and thus realise you're a moron driving towards self-destruction.
Wooser still isn't a brilliant show. It's made it up to "weird and kind of amusing, but still dispensable". You can do better than that. Ep.1 in particular isn't a great start, being a non-parodic storyline that for some reason is on a mission to retcon the end of season 2. As well as not being very good in its own right, this makes it a poor introduction to the show and I'd suggest starting with any randomly chosen later episode and then watching in any order. It's that kind of series. However I did quite enjoy most of this and it's a more satisfying show than it was in 2012-2014. Episodes have storylines! That's a novelty for Wooser. They might well be absurdist storylines based on cloud cuckoo premises, but at least they'll be vaguely coherent once you've made the necessary allowances for that starting point. Some of them are even quite good, I think.
"Do Mecha-Woosers dream of Electric Mutton?"