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Amber Lee Connors,
Daniel J. Edwards
On the surface, it's an excuse to see cute girls almost naked. And that's fine for some people I imagine, if that's all they're looking for. You get to pick a girl, buy the body pillow and read the doujinshi.
But it's so much better than that. It's a legitimate sports/shounen anime with legitimate characters, legitimate arcs, and legitimate style. Yes, the eponymous fantasy sport is extremely contrived, no doubt, but each match is handled with such flare and glitz that the laws of physics and reality become a moot point.
The spectacle of the bouts is the show's centerpiece and its most unique strength, and this is accomplished primarily through its design. Everything is exaggerated, from the character's proportions to their specialized fighting styles. Everything is loud, vibrant and colorful, complimenting the over-the-top shounen story line beautifully. It's a show about girls hitting their butts together but it hits the same levels of creativity and intensity in its action as Slam Dunk, One-Piece, and Dragon Ball.
Not even just visually, but sonically it strikes this mark as well. Hits and special moves have such resounding impact because the sound designers matched the crazy animation with even crazier effects. I really have to give this department my admiration because they played this pseudo-comedy so straight, giving it just what it needed.
And that brings me to the other half of the equation, the comedy. I don't think I've ever laughed so hard during fight scenes. The absurdity (or as the show would put it "absurd titty") of it all only heightens as the show progresses. The best decision they ever made was keeping the characters totally unaware of the premise's strangeness, because, as mentioned previously, playing the situation straight is what makes it funny.
I think this is something that needs to be explained, because I could see cause for concern. While the girls themselves aren't aware of their goofiness, they aren't the butt of the joke (pun intended), rather the situation is. You aren't meant to sadistically laugh at these busty broads as they fight each other for your amusement, but instead become invested in their struggles and cheer them on.
What's funny is the show's total absurdity. When a girl's butt is visually represented as a hungry wolf, with barking and all, you aren't laughing at her but the idea of a butt wolf spirit. In fact, though the characters are fairly flat, their earnestness and idiosyncrasies are extremely endearing.
is it "fan service?" Well, duh. Butt isn't the point, it's just the means to entertain and subvert expectations. Similar to a John Waters film, so many people get stuck on the most eye-catching aspects that they never look at what it really is.
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