[-:Pre-Word:- This was originally a review slated to be posted in August 2006. However, I never got around to finishing it, as I wasn't pleased with it initially (and writing about Eiken isn't one of the more joyous of tasks). Later I managed to fix it up, but after watching the-second-show-to-be-covered, I decided that this big breast/fanservice matter deserved a bit more than a simple post.
And here we are. --HD]
Around the end of August last year, I finally had the privileged chance to watch a particular title that has gained a certain amount of infamy ever since it debuted. Eiken is a two-part OVA that is almost universally reviled, but knowing me, it was something I had to see for myself. Normally I do not go for such titles, but when it's a creature of this nature (and it has the sort of cover and character designs it does), then my interests perk up. Either way you look at it, Eiken was something I knew was not going to be pretty, but with all of the negativity swirling around it, I had personally see whether it was as bad as it looked or purported to be. I believe that it the right thing to do is to watch something that you want to watch, positive or negative, and to watch it with a clear, open mind. This more than applied to Eiken, so I went into it with no preconceptions.
The story starts off with a boy who is transferred to an academy populated with pretty girls, sitting atop a peculiarly-shaped hill. It's not smooth sailing right off the bat, as he happens to have an unfortunate "bump-in" with a very heavily-chested student. He eventually winds up joining the Eiken club, a group full of overly-breasty girls which so happens to have the busty student from earlier (whom he also likes now) as one of its members. The club, later, participates at the big school festival, which consists of events like riding down dessert-laden slides and intricate obstacle courses consisting of eels and bananas. However, to complicate matters, another boy appears midway who also has his sights on the girl.
In terms of characters, you have the male lead, who is perpetually assaulted by female anatomy/genitalia; and to go through every instance would take up half of this post, so I'll just leave it at that. Of course, there's the club leader, who arguably has the largest bust size in the entire OVA and is always seen with some kind of treat-on-a-stick in her mouth; The busty student's sister, who has a disturbingly deep and profound desire to get with the male lead (often involving forced fondling and what not); a middle schooler with too much up front; among others. The character designs of the females may consist of thin frames, exaggerated sizes and oversized hairdos (and in some cases, eyebrows), but they, including their faces, remain unremarkable as a whole. This is moreso the case with the males, who are unsurprisingly less distinctive.
What really defines Eiken is not the foppy, quadruple Z-cups of a majority of its female cast, but the antics of that take place in it. Any sort of fanservice-y content you have ever seen in any non-hentai anime more than likely occurs three or more times across the two, thirty-minute halves. In addition to those, the tomfoolery stretches and straddles the line between regular anime and actual hentai with a bevy of suggestive elements and visuals, some way too dicey to go into detail over (not to mention the uncomforting aspect of merely recalling them). The limit to all of this, however, is that there is no nudity, outside some backside shots, or sexual intercourse whatsoever. The staff essentially crammed as much ecchi material as possible into it without it actually crossing said line.
In all of the wrong that is Eiken, this apparent objective is perhaps the only credit worth giving them. There is a sense of morbid humor that develops when the thought of "I can't believe they actually showed that..." cycles through your mind as you slowly begin to cover your eyes for their own sake, all without it going to that "next level" (shudders). This isn't implying that the show is "so bad, it's good." On the contrary, Eiken is simply too "bad" to find any sort of "good" in it. It is even difficult to pin this as a parody, since it at times it follows more like a compilation of risque acts strung together by a run-of-the-mill high school story. Heck, you might feel more guilt than pleasure just watching, which creates a mind-boggling dilemma since the OVA actually features a good dub (even featuring a few well-known names) and was done by the same studio, J.C.STAFF, that produced such greats as Revolutionary Girl Utena, Rune Solider, Alien Nine, His and Her Circumstances, and Honey and Clover (and they also did Plastic Little, Ikki Tousen, and Maze, so it's not really *that* far of a stretch...). Equally odd was Encore Action's timeslot of 4:00 p.m.--on a weekday in the summertime. I'd surmise that the programmers must have either fast-forwarded through bits of it, assumed that "anime-equals-action" either way (maybe the wrong kind of action), or they thought that Eiken was just another silly, innocuous cartoon that kids love to watch, like that "Pokeymans" or "Yugi-O".
In the end, I don't regret watching Eiken, as it was something that I had wanted see for a while, without having to spend the money on a very potential train wreck. Of course, it was pretty bad, anyway, just not the kind of awful that many have made it to be. Nonetheless, nothing is truly funny in this comedy, from the character designs to the not-quite-so hilarious hijinks that ensue, and it's not even laughable in the secondary sense of being "laughable." I chuckled at just how terrible the thing was as a whole and just how, really, anyone in their right mind could actually make this stuff up. The facts that it had a good English dub and an afternoon time slot were crazy enough to begin with. Let's just say that I'll probably pass on it should it show up in the listings again.
And for the record, the manga this was adapted from is far worse...
[Update: Since this writing, it returned to the airwaves nearly a year later, this time at 11AM on a Saturday morning...as unadulterated as it last aired]