Paniponi Dash! poster

Paniponi Dash!

The 11-year-old Miyamoto Rebecca becomes the new teacher of a classroom which is full of weirdos. Despite her cute looks she's a little beast and can be pretty sarcastic and offensive. The school is not safe anymore now that she's in charge of a class and her students, Himeko, Ichijou, Rei and a white rabbit who took a liking to Rebecca help her to rough up the school and the neighbor with its teacher "ojii-chan." (Source: ANN)

Ranking 1957

User Count5312
Favorites Count41
Start Date4th Jul 2005
Next ReleaseInvalid date
Popularity Rank1957
Rating Rank2653
Age RatingPG
Age Rating GuideTeens 13 or older


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*"Rebecca Miyamoto. Born of an American father and a Japanese mother. Graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the youngest graduate in the school's history. She then returned to Japan [to become](#) a highschool teacher. However, she was only ten years old at the time."* The success of a little manga-turned-anime you might have heard of called Azumanga Daioh spawned a long chain of imitators, eventually developing into the slice-of-life sub-genre that many of us know colloquially as the "cute girls doing cute things" genre. Pani Poni Dash is one of those shows, and that, coupled with the quote above, ought to be all I really need to say about the plot for you to know exactly what this show is like... notice I said ought to be. The show's creators decided that putting a new hat on an old face wasn't enough for them, and the end result defies concise classification, so I won't even try. What's really important is that this show is intended as a comedy, which is one of the most subjective genres in existence. As a consequence, it can be extremely difficult to give such shows an honest and fair critique. The approach I'll take for this review will be to look at what the show tries to achieve, how it attempts to make its audience laugh, and whether those moments "work". I hinted that this show was rather unique, and that's partially due to the visuals. Production studio SHAFT and director Akiyuki Shinbo are known for blending standard animation with stop-motion photograpy, numerous art shifts, simpler color choices when they're effective... what I'm trying to say is that the look of the show is memorable, and this especially applies to the opening and ending themes. At its most basic the animation doesn't really impress and the moe character designs are pretty generic, but it always gets the job done, and when the show decides to try out a different animation style they consistently up the ante. The show also makes interesting use of the foreground, which adds an extra degree of expressiveness. If I have one bone to pick, it's that the extras are very, very ugly. Considering the extras in each classroom have different designs and they're all ugly, I can only assume it's intentional for... whatever reason. Overall, though, this show looks mostly fine. I've heard some people say that SHAFT's odd visuals are their way of saving money, and there may be a grain of truth to that, but it still leaves a definite impression. The soundtrack is about what you'd expect from a slice-of-life anime: relaxed or quirky when it needs to be, a bit repetitive but never really jarring. This is in part because there are several episodes during which we're taken out of the typical classroom setting and into several more outlandish scenarios, and in each case the music adapts suitably. It's not particularly memorable music, but it's mostly fine and I guess that's all I have to say about it. "About what you'd expect" and "mostly fine" are also what I'd use to describe the Japanese cast, which is pretty much comprised of typical soft moe-girl voices. Never bad, but they don't impress either. The dub, on the other hand, was handled by the now-infamous ADR director Steven Foster. For those not familiar with his work, Foster has a tendency to take excessive liberties with the material he's given. This includes inserting profanity or mean-spirited comments in odd places, along with an uncomfortable combination of overacting and underacting. All his usual stuff is here, and in particular the voice acting in this show comes off as both high-pitched and wooden. There are several good voice actresses here, so I'm inclined to blame that on Foster. Still, it doesn't really detract from the show, and in a roundabout way it actually sort of matches. So, even though Pani Poni Dash! is technically a highschool comedy, the show's situational humor has remarkably little to do with actual highschool. Its scenarios range from searching for a lost cowlick to fighting off alien mushroom spores to an archaeological dig to a battle against a giant comet in space, the list goes on. That's just the stuff that happens episode by episode; even the supposed "everyday life" at the school is filled to the brim with hidden rooms, weird animals, and some things I can't even identify, and there's almost always something happening in the background. There's a camera crew that seems to be recording the show (they obviously have no idea what they're doing) and a group of aliens who seem to be monitoring Rebecca and her students from orbit. This show makes enough references to stump even the most hardcore of otaku at least once or twice. The writers put so much effort into filling the school with weird and interesting ideas, in fact, that they completely forget to give any of them punchlines. Those are kind of important, guys. The biggest problem with the situational humor here is that the writers make the common mistake of assuming that "weird" or "random" automatically equate to "funny", without anything clever or relevant to hold the joke together. This isn't high-class humor, but if it's handled with a good timing it can still work. The problem? Pani Poni Dash! has no restraint. It essentially fails as a comedy for the same reason that Hellsing TV fails as a horror: it can't set up its audience's expectations properly. It's one thing to hit us with something random and out-of-the-blue at the last moment we'd expect it, quite another to shove that kind of thing in our face all the time without ever letting us build up a sense of normalcy. Once the weirdness stops being unexpected, it's not fun anymore. A good portion of the stuff that happens we're expected to laugh at it because it's there and it's weird, and that's pretty much it. When the punchline to a good portion of the jokes is "I don't get it", you know you have a problem. The show will make references simply to make the audience say "wow, that sure is a reference you just made". I mentioned that the show makes frequent art shifts, which are handled competently from a technical standpoint, but the writers never do anything witty with them. If you're going to switch to an RPG-esque visual style, why not make it an episode about videogames? It's not that hard to justify these things. Even if they don't handle their situational comedy well, some shows get by on good character-based humor, but that's not the case here either. Like many other shows of its ilk, Pani Poni Dash! basically revolves around the antics of a group of schoolgirls, with the added "gimmick" of a kid-teacher who tries with varying levels of success to act like an adult but still shows her childish side. Then there are the students, ranging from Himeko, a hyperactive girl with a hair problem and a verbal tic (maho), to Ichijou, the class representative who constantly straddles the line between evil mastermind and... Osaka, if we're making Azumanga Daioh comparisons. But that's just a tiny portion of the cast, especially if you bring in the students and teachers from other classrooms. With such diversity, this show should have the potential for a wealth of character-based comedy. But then the series completely blows the most important element of character-based comedy: making the characters likable and believable. There's not much character to like, seeing as a good portion of them are essentially comprised of one or two jokes, like the clumsy girl and the cosplay girl. Seeing Becky's rabbit Mesousa fail to pick up an object because he doesn't have fingers gets old really fast. There's also big, muscular, masculine-looking girl named Zula, and a cat who claims he's God, haunts vending machines, and happens to be another Azumanga Daioh reference. Once again, the joke is that they exist and that's it. This kind of half-assed, repetitive writing does not good humor make. The show never gets its characters to play off of each other in any clever ways, either, often resulting in a reliance on out-of-character moments just to force out a joke. For example, there was one episode where everyone suddenly decided to take advantage of a girl for being "too nice", even the ones who aren't usually smart or mean enough to do such a thing. Worse still, some of the characters can be terribly jarring. Your mileage may vary, but it's hard to find Rebecca's "cuteness" endearing when she's so bitterly cynical all the time, and an eventual look into her backstory reveals that she was incredibly introverted and distant when she went to college, which make her occasional lapses into an innocent child less plausible, not moreso. As a result, most of the time she just comes off as a precocious brat. That's to say nothing about Himeko and her goddamn Maho, which can become positively unbearable. The reason I said the English dub didn't really detract from the experience is because there's really nothing to detract from--the characters already act so unnatural (and in many cases mean-spirited) that it can be hard to tell where the show ends and Foster begins. Pani Poni Dash! is ultimately a series of missed opportunities. The few (and I mean very few) moments where this show genuinely managed to make me chuckle were when the show took a simple but neat idea and then followed it through to a weird-but-logical conclusion. It's not hard stuff, which makes the show's failure to pull it off all the more frustrating. This series does everything it can to get the audience's attention while failing to do anything to deserve it. It's immature, is what I'm getting at, and loud and obnoxious to boot. Just to clarify, I do not hate this show. At first I hated it, but as I neared the end all my rage had more or less burned out. That's not to say this show is an acquired taste, if anything it's an acquired immunity. By the time I finished, I didn't even care enough to hate this show, it had just become boring, which is the one thing I never thought this attention-seeking brat of a show would become. This isn't anywhere close to the worst I've seen in an anime; I know there are some people out there who will enjoy this, and it should be easy to tell from the first episode or two whether you're one of those people. Despite that, I can't bring myself to recommend this show in any capacity, not even on a "give it a chance if it's put in front of you" level. What it comes down to is this: all of the shtick in Pani Poni Dash! I've seen done better in other anime, some of which can't even be considered good. That more than anything should speak for where I stand with this series.

Pani Poni Dash can be best described as Azumanga Daoih as done by Shaft. A comedy about a bunch of cute teenage girls doing dumb stuff. This was one of the first anime made by Akiyuki Shinbo's start up studio, only their second after Moonphase, and his style is as prevalent as ever. Quick cuts, otaku references, bizarre imagery, dynamic camera angles, shifting art styles and the usual unsettling fascination with the pre-pubescent female form. I've always rather liked his style (well, apart from the pedophilia, but whatever) because it makes scenes far more interesting to watch than bland talking heads. If anything, Shinbo has probably toned down his weirdness in recent years. Pani Poni Dash is probably the most visually eccentric of any of his works (bar possibly Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei). There's never not something happening on screen. Most of it is sheer non-sequitur strangeness and I was struggling to find some sort of connecting thread between what Shinbo was trying to do with this. It did eventually click though.You see, there is no plot or driving force to Pani Poni Dash. It is ostensibly about Rebecca Miyamoto, child genius, becoming a teacher and trying to gain the respect of her students. But rarely were the on-screen events of any real interest. What the real 'story' was about was the Shaftyness of the directing breaking the fourth wall, laughing at its existence as an anime. Frequently the camera would zoom out to reveal the characters were all on a set. Big fluffy microphones would occasionally drop down into view. Stage hands would walk across the camera. Visual metaphors would be drawn attention to by the characters. A giant hand descended from nowhere to turn the world around to indicate the passing of time, only for some aliens to notice this giant hand and desperately trying to convince his captain of what he had just seen. Those aliens were reoccurring characters and I liked them a lot. Their mission was supposed to be monitoring Rebecca, but what they acted as was viewers of this television production, commenting on their inability to follow the plot or choosing their favourite characters.There are loads of other little tricks like this pulled to poke fun as its existence as an anime, and I'm not going to go through them all, but I would like to mention this final one. Sometimes when the girls were talking, they would pose in some sort of sexy position, their curves amplified, even though it had nothing to do with whatever nonsense they happened to be saying at the time. It was a perfect example of "what these characters are saying is of no importance, they're only here to give you eyecandy". With the boom of 'cute girls doing cute things' anime that occurred just after Pani Poni Dash, it was rather funny to see Shaft mocking the pointlessness of them before they even existed.The problem with Pani Poni Dash is it really only has this one trick, and it doesn't develop. It's a problem I have with a lot of early Shaft anime, from SZS to Maria Holic. There's no development of the jokes. They're just one-trick ponies. It may be a brilliant trick, but it still gets old when you keep repeating it. The other problem I had with early Shaft stuff is the visual fuckery has nothing to do with the actual story. I get that the visuals being disconnected in Pani Poni Dash is kind of the point, but the story the visuals tell don't develop either. This is the main reason why I love new-age Shaft with Arakawa and Madoka Magica. Their crazy visuals actually serve to enhance the story itself and develop along with the story.There's no development of anything in Pani Poni Dash. Going back to the Azumanga comparisons again, what made Azumanga click so well is because the characters and the jokes built up over time. Azumanga's big thing is reoccurring jokes, but these jokes develop as the series goes on, playing on your perceptions of how the joke is supposed to go. I consider Azumanga's final episode to be one of the best endings of all time, because you really feel like you've lived their high school lives with each of the characters and watched them develop. Pani Poni has none of that whatsoever. The characters are either shouty irritants or people whose actions have no bearing on sentient thought. They aren't the focus of the anime, the fourth wall destruction through the visuals is, but that doesn't develop over time either. It stagnates incredibly quickly.Pani Poni is genuinely funny and entertaining, but it has absolutely no right being 26 episodes long. I don't think it has any right being even 13 episodes long. By extending the length of the series far beyond its jokes sell-by date, it cheapens and damages the things it actually did well. The more I watched, the more my enthusiasm for the series was sapped out of me. In fact, I dropped it after 14 episodes. Call me an unproffesional reviewer with no patience who can't review of anything if they don't consume every single part of it, but fuck you. I had gotten everything I wanted from Pani Poni Dash after 6 episodes. I saw no indication that it was going to improve. Watching anymore would have only damaged my opinion of it. I'm not going to continue doing something I don't like simply because it's not considered a 'proper review'. I'm not getting paid for this. So, for what it's worth, my review of the first 14 episodes. Funny stuff, but gets stale very quickly.

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