Case Number 04148: Small Claims Court

HAPPY LESSON: MAMA-PALOOZA (VOLUME 2)

ADV Films // 2002 // 125 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Mike Pinsky (Retired) // March 26th, 2004

The Charge

"We'll be able to look down on everybody when we grow up." -- Kisaragi

The Case

In the course of my work for DVD Verdict, I often must watch discs in fairly rapid succession, creating some strange double (or sometimes triple) features. Last night, I watched both the finale of Neon Genesis Evangelion and the latest volume of Happy Lesson. It is difficult to say which of the two offers a more disturbing vision of the apocalypse. In my review of Volume 1 of Happy Lesson, you may recall that I likened this show to pornography without the money shots. Volume 2, which comprises episodes 5 through 10, is still pretty insidious in its way. Just read the character descriptions on the insert. Of hapless Chitose's sister Minazuki, the creators of the show write, "It seems like she's made up her mind to be Chitose's bride when she gets older." Only if they move to Arkansas, buddy.

Anyway, to remind you where we were: Chitose is an orphaned high schooler forced to live with his five sexy teachers. He is pursued by his sexy class president, and, well, don't get started on the two sisters. This latest batch of episodes still shovels on the sexual innuendo, but now we begin to focus on each of the female characters around Chitose.

In episode 6, sadistic science teacher Kisaragi is spotlighted, as the gang gets shipwrecked on an island run by mad inventor and childhood pal of Kisaragi, Kanna -- who of course immediately gets the hots for Chitose. Okay, one guy stranded on a deserted island with a bunch of women. I rented this movie once for a friend's bachelor party.

And so it goes. Sister Minazuki tries to help Chitose win at the school sports festival. Cosplay fetishist Uzuki runs around under the delusion that she is an angel. Fumitsuki tries to seduce Chitose into joining her literary club -- but not before having erotic dreams for the drooling otaku in the audience. And older sister Hazuki quits show business to lounge around the house.

At this stage, the show is now beginning to steer a little away from its earlier porn plots and toward character development. Unfortunately, these characters are not terribly interesting, and each epiphany is more sentimental than the last. The formula now begins to resemble some sort of heartwarming sermon: each girl (I hesitate to call them women in spite of some of their ages, because the general mental state of each is that of a middle-school child) has a crisis of faith, learns a valuable lesson, and then has a tearful realization complete with soft focus and gauzy flowers.

I wonder if we all would have been better off with the pornography.

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Scales of Justice
Judgment: 40

Perp Profile
Studio: ADV Films
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Japanese)

Subtitles:
* English

Running Time: 125 Minutes
Release Year: 2002
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* Clean Opening and Closing
* Character Sketches

Accomplices
* None