Being a Brief Discussion of Anime Dubs: Nerima Daikon Brothers, Volume Two (Mania.com)
Date: Wednesday, March 07, 2007
It's time once again for a brief discussion of Nerima Daikon Brothers. This show made a considerable impression in dub circles as a rare example of an anime musical, and it boasted an impressive dub to boot. The second volume carries on in the same tradition of the first. It's a lot of fun to listen to and offers viewers a fun way to spend an easy afternoon.
Nerima Daikon Brothers is a very straightforward comedy. The characters don't grow or change appreciably. There aren't any life-altering moments or sobering realizations, and as a result the dub's development doesn't follow the usual progress pattern one might expect from a series with more complicated character interactions. The good news is that the personalities in the show are fairly simple. None of the characters have a need to be fully-realized, three-dimensional entities. They're on screen to get a few laughs, and they fulfill that role well. From a viewer's standpoint, that means that an actor's initial take on a character is crucial. That's good news for fans. Luci Christian, Greg Ayres, and Chris Patton all do excellent work just as they did in the first volume.
Carli Mosier's character, Yukika, shows up regularly in the second volume, and she effectively joins the main cast. The performance in this disc shows significant improvement compared to the show's first installment. Ms. Mosier displays great talent during her character's angry dialog. It's sharp and utterly believable. Part of the improvement is also due to the songs, which have considerably fewer awkward bits than the first volume even though they've become more ridiculous than ever before or even previously imaginable. It's quite impressive to hear Ms. Mosier sing in these scenes. She brings a rock-solid air of conviction to the character that makes the entire affair all the more entertaining and wrong.
If the great main cast isn't enough for fans, Nerima Daikon Brothers also has an excellent supporting cast. Each episode features a new villain with different songs, performed by a new cast member. These short performances offer a fantastic opportunity to see new actors join the show and add variety. The roles are large within each episode, but it's still fresh because the villain is different each time. The supporting cast sounds excellent without exception. Long-time dub fans will probably recognize a few names, but in many cases the actors use fresh voices that will surprise even long-time listeners. This volume features Illich Guardiola, Marcy Rae, Monica Rial, David Borne, and Vic Mignogna among others.
The biggest question viewers have to ask themselves when thinking about a show like Nerima Daikon Brothers is whether or not the next batch of episodes are engaging and funny enough to warrant a purchase, rental, or even a half-hour's time on broadcast television. For most anime that's a slightly different question. One of the biggest differences between Japanese animation and domestic productions is anime's general trend toward long storylines. The average storyline in a domestic animation might take place over one episode, though occasionally span over two or three for season finales and premiers. Anime often has stories that span thirteen or twenty-six episodes. There's certainly some give in that rule of thumb, and small episodic content blurs the lines considerably, but in anime viewers decided if the story is engaging enough that they want to know how it ends. The cast and production values are powerful but secondary concerns next to that core question.
Nerima Daikon Brothers doesn't offer the same choice. It's more about whether the characters are still funny, and if the songs are still entertaining. Barring the end of the series, it's a safe bet that the Nerima Daikon Brothers aren't going to open their concert dome any time soon. The big payoff is always going to slip between their fingers, and at the end of the day they're going to be no better or worse off than they started. That's the way classic sitcoms work. Viewers have to ask themselves how well the show is executing on its formula. The second volume has a few deviations from its core formula, such as a few jokes and plot points that carry on for a few episodes, but for the most part it's the same basic stuff that the first volume had. The main difference is that this episode features more sexual humor and focuses on the relationships between the main characters more than getting the money to create the Nerima Dome.
Watching all four of a volume's episodes in a single sitting isn't the best way to watch Nerima Daikon Brothers. Going through them at once draws attention to the show's formulaic nature and makes it a more tedious experience than it should be. The fourth episode on the disc shows that point especially clearly. It ostensibly follows the same formula as the rest of the series, but the episode isn't as coherent as the others so far. The villain and mandatory songs (i.e., borrowing money and getting a rental) feel forced for the sake of custom rather than flowing from the plot organically. There's no sense of flow to the scenes late in the episode, particularly when the villain and the Nerima Daikon Brothers stumble upon the obligatory chance to score big cash. It's especially unfortunate in this case because the last episode on a disc is arguably the most important in any volume past the first. It's the first one viewers think about when it's time to buy the next volume.
Yukika's addition to the main cast should add some more spice to the show, but it doesn't quite work out that way. The character doesn't have a clear niche in the cast. She's not one of the Nerima Daikon Brothers, she doesn't bring any unique or prized characteristics to the table, and she's not a fully-fledged antagonist. Most of the time she doesn't even provide the Nerima Daikon Brothers more than token annoyance. Neither does she provide crucial informational or material support for the Nerima Daikon Brothers. Yukika is an entertaining character, and her songs are worth a laugh as often as not, but she doesn't quite fit in the show.
Fans who enjoyed the first volume of Nerima Daikon Brothers should definitely pick up the latest disc, as should any fan who wants to hear the cast featured in the episodes. Those who didn't enjoy the first volume or are waiting for the second disc to change in a substantial way should take a pass and wait for another show.
Copyright 2007 by Way Jeng