Katte ni Kaizou : A Modern Masterpiece

Anime of the year? Anime of the year.

It’s not very often you come across a masterpiece like Katte ni Kaizou. It is perfection. Utter brilliance. It’s one of the most original and daring anime this year.

Katte ni Kaizou tells the story of a boy named Kaizo Katsu who was once a child prodigy, until his classmate Umi kicks him down the jungle gym. Kaizo becomes a ‘weirdo’ believing that he is a cyborg. He also mixes two chemicals that start a fire in the genius cram school that left his fellow geniuses ‘half-baked’ and unable to utilize their talents in the real world.

A Powerpuff Girls parody.

Along with his childhood friend Umi, the ‘professor’ Suzu and the bumbling Chitan, Kaizo meets up with his old genius classmates who have become even stranger than he is.

Katte ni Kaizo’s structure is basically taking a popular shounen trope and blending it with outrageous and often, perverted topics. Everything appears random and designed to make you uncomfortable. Obviously, the censoring is just added in for artistic purposes because a number of scenes go on showing the male characters fully naked anyway. Katte ni Kaizo is a wild ride, a culmination of SHAFT-isms and Kumeta-isms. But one asks…what is the point of this series?

We sit and watch saying: ‘LOL WHAT THE HELL’. But if you pay attention enough, Katte ni Kaizo addresses a very serious problem. Behind the gross out, overtly sexual humor lies an immensely intellectual piece that dissects many problems lying in modern Japan. Among all these, the most obvious ones are directed at the 2D obsessed otakus who become socially inept. There seems to be layers of meaning piled up on top of this wacky series but that seems to stand out the best.

Kaizo himself perhaps the very personification of the escapist otaku. He becomes hurt by a female in his younger days (kicked down a jungle gym), the effect is that he later fancies himself as a cyborg (a half-artificial being who has a ‘greater’ purpose) and imagines that along with his highschool classmates they investigate ‘crimes’. He goes to a school named Torauma High, and I’m assuming this is actually referring to emotional trauma. Oh Kumeta.

It is important to take note that Umi, the girl who kicked him down the jungle gym is constantly being made fun of and ‘inferior’ to Suzu, the professor. She fantasizes of an ideal romance with Kaizo while Suzu fantasizes of becoming an object of worship. Who’s the joke now, Umi?

3D Pig Disgusting.

The sidekick Chitan is an obvious ‘Whoa,whoa– you think I’m pathetic? Look at this guy!’ character. He exists to be made fun of because Kaizo believes that somewhere out there, there’s a guy more pathetic than he is. Of course, sometimes Chitan takes us by surprise, he apparently has a natural talent for soccer but refuses to play it because he loves trains. Again, Chitan could’ve been a somebody if he chose to but because of his preferences, he ends up tied down to the role of the underling.

The children of the genius cram school are obviously a by-product of something going wrong, along with Kaizo– they are simply victims of a traumatic event. What’s off here is that the whole school was supposedly obliterated, so maybe everyone is actually dead? What a mystery– even the Kaizo’s old teachers turn up. This may prove significant in the later parts, but I don’t know how long this OAV is supposed to be.

Don’t even get me started on Suzu, there’s something very, very wrong with her. She is the girl Kaizo believes to have saved him and turned him to a cyborg. This girl’s fantasy centers on becoming the leader of a cult. This is just a theory but if Umi is a representation of 3D pig disgusting, Suzu is the representation of the graceful and untouchable 2D.

Suzu has the world spinning in her hand. An allusion to her being a ‘god’ of this world?

This show is so full of meaning that it’s so easy to get lost. Even the OP and EDs have their respective satirical meanings. The OP is sung by a male,  he is willing to lay his life for his damsel in distress. The ED is sung by a girl whose only purpose is make herself pretty for the male so they can do the horizontal tango at the school gym. Really now, if I had to dissect every episode, I’ll still end up missing out on a lot! Heck, there’s a lot of emphasis on a clear blue sky, which I can’t figure out.  Hell, what do the anal peneration jokes mean?!

Katte ni Kaizou is a one of a kind experience, even the visuals are probably the best I’ve seen ALL YEAR. Kumeta and SHAFT seem to be made for each other. SHAFT just seems to know what works and what doesn’t for Kumeta’s manga. This is your typical Akiyuki Shinbo and Naoyuki Tatsuwa at work. Both have worked on Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei and their approach their is definitely more refined and grandiose in SZS, but one can’t deny the simplistic charm of Katte ni Kaizo. You have to be crazy not to appreciate Shinbo’s artistic genius. This man is a legend. After Madoka, I don’t think anyone can disagree with that.

But I think this time, I’ll give most of the credit to one man: Katsuhiko Takayama. He’s written for a number of series and but only one of them as achieved true commercial success and mainstream popularity, Boku no Pico. Is Katte ni Kaizou as good as Boku no Pico? It’s hard to say, it’s only been three episodes so far. But it does have the potential to outdo the show, I find that while Katte ni Kaizou is mainly episodic in nature there’s a lot more substance to the story and is actually very serious. Every episode seems spent on silly shenanigans but once you look deeper into it, it’s actually a very dark and rather sad story of a social misfit and his delusional world, a world is that seems to be more honest than ours. Katte ni Kaizo is an anime not just worth watching but dissecting as well. I find that this has been the most rewarding experience watching this gem. I encourage everyone to watch THE anime of the year.

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2 Comments

  1. Yes! I agree with everything. Kaizou is so underappreciated.

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