Review of Pani Poni Dash (2005)

Moving picture, 10 hours

Blond genius Rebecca “Becky” Miyamoto graduates from MIT at age ten and immediately takes a high school teaching position at Japan’s Momotsuki Gakuen (Peach Moon Academy), where she spends a lot of time hanging out in her research lab. She demands respect but is universally adored and patronized for her intense cuteness by classes composed of a minority of odd girls and a formally nameless majority of completely identical, expressionless CG models representing the other people.

Meaningless adventures ensue, with such recurring jokes as Becky’s pet rabbit Mesousa—clinically bereft of self-esteem—being quietly harassed by a god living inside a soft-drink vending machine, which regularly culminates in the god declaring a drink to be “Taion desu nya” (“It’s body temperature, meow”).

Extremely intertextual and otherwise reflective bishōjo/moe comedy, which is to say that a very thin plot with cute feminine stereotypes is totally overloaded with references to science fiction and popular TV, as well as up-to-the-minute Internet slang, classic manga styles etc. Establishing shots frequently reveal that each scene is just a cheap sitcom stage.

The production does not look expensive despite its breakneck pacing, but the fact that this was funded at all says a lot about the Japanese industry’s financial respect for geeks. Several good songs, often coinciding with interesting worship of incredibly unrealistic idealized girls.

References here: My Ordinary Life (2011), Asobi Asobase: Workshop of Fun (2018).

moving picture Japanese production animation fiction series