Series Review: Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE! (Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu Love!)

A “more better” finale pushes Cute High out of a mid-series slump and easily justifies the journey—but is it a trip for everyone?

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Mild spoilers below the jump.

I could never quite get a handle on what Boueibu (that’s the Twitter shorthand) wanted to be, which made it tough to discuss and even harder to properly appreciate. Was it a dumb show pretending to be smart, or a smart show pretending to be dumb? Was it a parody (or a satire?) of magical girls, or of fanservice-laden “bromance” series, or maybe even of fanservice-laden “cute girl” shows? Was there a point to all the goofiness, or was it just a show I was supposed to sit back and laugh about?

Ultimately I think the answer to each and every one of these questions is: Yes. Boueibu was all of those things at different times, which led to some brilliant moments, some hilarious moments, but also to an inconsistency in both the humor and the critiques (Episode 3 and that wild, stupid, perfect finale stand out as personal favorites, though pretty much every episode evoked a solid round of giggles at least once). Sometimes it just wanted to be a silly parody, and other times it wanted to make a statement, and because it fluctuated between the two, it was that much harder to tell what was meant to be taken seriously and what wasn’t.

Take the beach episode, for instance, which is either an uncomfortable display of homophobia, or a satire on homophobic attitudes. In brief (spoilers, I guess?), one of the guys discovers that someone else has used his toothbrush. Everyone (except Yumoto, arguably the moral center of the group) takes this as a “perverse” or sexual act, and they all spend the rest of the episode freaking out about which one of them might be gay.

Which sounds pretty lazy and tasteless on paper, but works a lot better in execution because Boueibu has distinct whiffs of Colbert-esque satire to it, in that we’re supposed to know the characters are idiots and their behavior is stupid. It’s sometimes clumsily done and not as obvious as it could be, but in the end I do think the show is mocking their behavior rather than upholding it. We’re meant to disagree with the main characters and laugh at them. So, no, we are not supposed to take this seriously, not any of it, at all, ever.

But, as I mentioned during my Rule of Three Review, satire always runs the risk of not making itself clear, so that the audience is either (a) offended, or (b) thinks the satire is supporting their belief rather than critiquing it. And because Boueibu was so frequently irreverent, it wasn’t always able to make its more pointed moments explicit, leading to issues like the beach episode or the constant fanservice, which was either a wink at the audience or good ol’ crass marketing (or, really, probably both). Sometimes I think the director-writer team for this one just wanted to make something silly and dumb, but were too smart to do it, and kept making clever points in spite of themselves.

The series also suffered from some two-dimensional (albeit likable) characters and a nearly nonexistent plot. Given the magical girl genre’s tendency towards “filler” episodes, I know the lack of a story was kind of the point, but it did mean Boueibu had to rely on gags rather than character development or plot to carry most of the episodes. When the humor was lackluster, so was the series, particularly during the middle section. The fairly static and sometimes downright nonexistent animation didn’t help things, either.

I know I’ve spent a lot of time discussing its flaws, but despite all that, I actually quite liked Boueibu. The cast was flat but frequently amusing, it had its occasional moments of brilliance, and even when it wasn’t sharp it was consistently funny. So overall I’m inclined to give it a good grade.

That said, would I recommend it to others? Now, there I’m not so sure. The humor is heavily reliant on the audience’s understanding of magical girl and all-male “bromance” fanservice series (it’s basically an absurd marriage between Sailor Moon and Free!), so if you’re not familiar with the genres, I’m not sure how well the jokes will land. It’s also important that you go into it understanding everything I said about the satirical elements, and if you find yourself disagreeing with my interpretation, then the series isn’t going to work for you nearly as well as it did for me. And that’s totally fine, but it does make me hesitant to recommend it to anyone. So I guess the real answer is: You’ll have to decide for yourself.

But hey, if you do end up watching it, you’ll get to experience the talking green hedgehog and that wild, stupid, perfect finale. Those two things alone might make the entire series worth your time.

Series Review: B

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