Judge Sandra Dozier must go lie down in a dark room with a cool rag over her eyes and listen to soothing nature sounds after the complete and total oh-my-goodness-we-are-freaking-out bullet train that is Nurse Witch Komugi.
Let's hope Komugi wins the fight to make the Earth safe again—stat!
Nurse Witch Komugi is a character from Soul Taker, a dark and relatively serious anime. The concept of Komugi, an über-cute girly who flies around on a giant syringe (instead of a broomstick) and dispenses medical cure-alls for those in need, is about all that comes over into her series. She is essentially completely recast in Nurse Witch Komugi as a cosplay actress who is given magical girl powers (magic powers that are activated by a precisely spoken phrase) and a spiffy floppy-eared costume to ramble around in. Her madcap adventures lead her through a series of anime parodies, sight gags, and confrontations with her foe, a magical maid who wants to do Komugi in.
The series opened with an evil overlord about to unleash a battalion of viruses upon the earth. A goddess from the Vaccine World, Maya (who always makes a hilarious entrance by announcing herself, then immediately asking, "Oh, you think I'm that beautiful?" before anyone can say a word), sends her helper, Mugimaru, to find a champion who can heal the damage wrought by the virus. You guessed it—the champion is Komugi, and, in a weird twist of fate, her best friend Koyori is made the unwitting perpetrator of the infection when she is turned into Magical Maid Koyori. Komugi and Koyori go head to head often in the series, although not without first going through a magical transformation into their respective magical uniforms.
I get exhausted just watching this show—the action is fast, and the colors are so bright and strobing that the eye is constantly darting to catch all the goings-on. Couple this with in-your-face tomfoolery and homages to other anime thrown in until they are thicker than the chunks in a chocolate chunk cookie, and you have one crazy series.
I still don't know if I like it or not.
Generally, I'm up for any sort of anime parody. I like to see anime conventions turned on their ear and even outright made fun of. It's fun, and if I can pick out the references, it brings the thrill of sharing an inside joke. Still, Nurse Witch Komugi didn't really entertain me the way I thought it would. I think the problem was that it just does too much, if that makes any sense. It's not just a magical girl anime, it's also a parody anime, and a cosplay anime, on top of rolling in a lot of other mini-genres as it parodies various aspects of anime. It's like watching a slide show on high speed.
What worked: I could listen (in the English dub) to Mugimaru, the perverted rabbit sidekick to Komugi, all day long—that rabbit was hilarious (and I have a soft spot for characters who repeat words or add words to the end of their sentences, like the little sister in Super GALs who always says, "You bet, You Bet!" as if she's talking to someone named You Bet). I also loved the magical maid and her little sidekick Posokichi, and about died from laughter over a throwaway joke where she announces with a flourish that she has this big revelation and has been training like a maniac to confront Komugi, and after this dramatic pan-up and close shot the new skill is…is…she taught Posokichi to speak. "It was certainly worth the three months of training!" she says, deadpan, before Komugi delivers a crushing blow.
I also enjoyed the bookend episodes on this DVD, which started with Komugi dying and tormenting her coworkers at Kiri-Pro as a ghost. A scene with her sitting on Mibu's chest while he's napping flashes by in a second, but her look of satisfied glee at his troubled sleep is priceless. The third episode involves a child who wants to know what it's like to be an adult, so she turns herself into a teacher and puts everyone she comes in contact with under her thrall. Not gut-bustingly funny, but her enormous…um…frontal area is goofily amusing—the sort of thing a chestless young girl would do if she were creating an adult-sized body to inhabit.
What didn't work: basically, the second episode. The self-referential humor left me cold. Komugi starts the episode as the voice for Muscle Cutie Komugi, even though a much better-endowed athlete actually gets into the ring as Muscle Cutie. This gives her the bright idea to create a Muscle Cutie anime where she can do the voice. The rest of the episode is a standard "let's watch the poor, poor animators slave away and come in just under deadline while the anime they create gets marketed to bejeebers and back." Characters visiting an anime studio, talking to an arrogant (and deliberately gross) script writer who is drunk on his fame and riches, a stuttering animator who is prone to accidents due to a lack of sleep, and so on. Not funny. Meant to be funny, but not funny. Makes me talk in incomplete sentences due to the unfunniness. I kind of smiled a little when the staff is revealed and they all look like popular anime characters, but this is parody on a level too high to really hold my interest or attention.
Apparently, the voice actors were none too interested, either—even though Episode Four is the episode that features the voice commentary, it is scene-specific only in the opening and closing few minutes. Otherwise, Kira Vincent Davis (Koyori) and Lucy Christian (Mugimaru) join ADR voice director Scott McClennan for an interesting recap of voice acting prep and recording, and vocal performance motivations. I consider ADV's actors to be some of the best for English dubs, and I never miss a chance to hear their talent talk about the business. This is another excellent commentary in what is becoming a tradition of quality commentary for ADV. (This is much improved over the "early days" of anime voice commentaries, which was usually just the voice actors getting together to laugh and comment on how outrageous the action was in whatever they were watching.)
Speaking of voice acting, the English dub is excellent—I laughed just listening to the voices, and the actors obviously gave 110%, as usual. The 5.1 surround track is robust and does a good job of using all channels for dialogue and ambient sound. The Japanese 2.0 track is also quite good, but I found that I actually preferred the English track here—voices in too high a register grate on my nerves just a little, and I like the bubbly, high-energy voices from the English dub (which didn't get into those super-high registers as often) much better. Other than the commentary, extras include clean opening and closing animation, production sketches, and a seemingly endless reel of Japanese TV spots. This latter feature is interesting to view if only to see a typical marketing campaign, but these spots tend to flash by even quicker than the anime, so I had to beg off after three or so segments.
In a nutshell, I think Nurse Witch Komugi is an acquired taste. If you love fast-paced action and parody anime that throws gags and references at you faster than you can process on the first viewing, Nurse Witch is a title you will want to check out. The entire series runs for only five episodes (there are three on this DVD, Episodes Three through Six), so there isn't a huge investment if you want to watch it, either. However, if the go-go-go, strobing color and light show effect of whiplash-frantic pacing isn't your cup of tea, this probably won't be as delightful to you as other cosplay/parody animes such as Cosplay Complex.
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