You can say one thing with absolute certainty about Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!, and that’s that it was made with passion. That’s not to say that any other show this season is notably lacking, but what comes to mind when watching Eizouken is the sheer amount of gusto it has for its subject matter. Anime about anime often take a celebratory tone. Eizouken, as it nears its halfway point, seems happy to put itself in that group.
Mecha anime tend to be a favorite of sakuga aficionados. It’s not a surprise that Eizouken decided to go here after finishing the “Tank Girl” arc that ended last episode. It is a little surprising to see it tread this ground so early, but it’s not unwelcome.
The generality of episode 5 combines some excellent character writing with a run-down of the appeal of giant robots. Those are two things that seem like they should be hard to make work together. In truth though, they’re familiar bedfellows, and Eizouken makes them work with the best of them.
After their successful showing at the student council, our heroines are commissioned by the school’s Robotics Club to make an anime about the “iron giant”. That’d be a large prop robot that’s been passed down their club’s members for generations. Allegedly.
They scope an environment for the short (a drainage system under the school). It’s no surprise that that sequence contains more of the drawn-up schematics fans of the series have come to love. However, it’s also got quite a bit of comedy in it, too. Take this shot, for example; after the trio fall in a ditch and Tsubame realizes they might have trouble getting out.
The main thrust of this episode though is in our girls’ negotiations about the short with the Robotics Club. Here, the characters’ personalities really shine through. Sayaka tries to evenhandedly control the conversation and is all business.
The problems come from the Robotics Club’s representative, a hardcore mecha otaku. This is a fellow who is clearly either a caricature of someone the original author knew or perhaps a light skewering of themselves. Either way; the biggest highlight here is negotiations breaking down as he rattles off his contradictory demands for the anime. Then his demands for “realism” are met with the counter that giant robots aren’t very realistic. Then Tsubame says this, bringing some real-world subtext into the whole thing.
Here is where things come to a head, because the Robotics Club rep says this.
You might assume the show is making fun of him. It might well be, on some level. However, overriding that is the sudden commiseration he gets from Midori and Tsubame. The former saying she wants to explore the universe.
And the latter saying, well.
Their differences resolved, the Eizouken and the Robotics Club begin planning. This is the robot they eventually come up with.
It’s obviously only vaguely reminiscent of the original “iron giant”. However, it’s got personality, and what Eizouken (the show) and Eizouken (the club) both understand is that personality counts. The little display here really cuts to the heart of the series’ core ethos. You do need a little outside pressure to hammer them into shape sometimes, but dreams are a good thing to have. The Eizouken continue to make theirs a reality. We should all be happy that we get to come along for the ride.
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