Can’t say I was ever expecting Andy Warhol - - or his coyly renamed Edo-era analog - - to show up in this show. Oh, I figured we’d eventually get around to addressing graffiti and “tagging” in some fashion or another here… but seeing the Maestro of Pop Art’s 15 minutes of Fame get a retroactive extension wasn’t something I could’ve seen coming. Bravo, once more, to Watanabe San for having possibility the most eclectic pool of inspirations and influences ever canvassed upon a long form anime.
I’ve yet to see GTO for myself but, between this hysterical sub-plot about Mugen’s reading tutor and the fervent recommendation Alexei offered for the series on that one Vice Pit session, I’m starting to realize that I’d get a bigger kick out of seeing some two-fisted teaching in anime than I thought I could. The show has rhythm that oscillates pretty consistently between more grounded dramatic episodes and episodes like this that play it faster and looser with certain suspensions of disbelief. The anachronism of Edo-era graffitti’s an obvious instance, sure, but Mugen’s day-long turnover from total illiterate into semi-literate seems maybe even more fanciful.
Fanciful… and f-ing hilarious. I love how the tutor basically claws Mugen out of illiteracy through a swelling sense of fiery moral obligation.
Getting back to the graffiti sub-plot, I hate to put the serious hat on, but it’s the more believable of the two here because I’m pretty sure there was graffiti back in this time because, well... there’s been graffiti since the dawn of civilization. I very strongly doubt it looked indistinguishable from street art done by a couple of track-suit-wearing B-Boys, or that it was appropriate the highly ironic taste-makers of the contemporary art world… but it was certainly still around.
Even if you put aside the hoppin’ music, sleek animation and wonderfully-grotesque character art, this show would still be supremely distinctive for its tight writing. Seriously, this is probably the tightest I've seen on any show I've ever covered here.
Watch this episode, "War of the Words” below and decide for yourself, then read my comments on the previous episode here.