Full Anime Series Review: Shimoneta: A Boring World Where the Concept of Dirty Jokes Doesn't Exist
Set in the near future, Shimoneta takes place in a future where all p*rnography has been destroyed. Not only that, but people wear collars that monitor their speech, so they are not allowed to use obscene language. This censorship has been around for several years, leaving the teenagers of Japan in the dark about even the most basic of information about s*x.
But this causes a problem for the student council, run by a girl named Anna Nishikinomiya, who is so naive and pure she hasn't any idea what is and is not an obscene picture, word, or joke. So it becomes the job of Bland Anime Protagonist Guy #33,378, Tanukichi Okuma, a new student (surprise, surprise), to help the student council recognize such things. This is because Okuma's father was a "dirty joke terrorist", one of the early resistors to the bans, now incarcerated.
Okuma lost his dad to prison when he was a child, and he actually met Anna at that time. Anna's mother was a politician responsible for the new censorship era. Okuma at the time developed a kiddie crush on Anna, because she was kind to him when everyone else shunned him at school. He resolved to not be like his father, and instead to emulate Anna's purity.
Fast forward to the present, however, and Okuma soon finds himself caught up in the schemes of a "dirty joke terrorist", who turns out to be the vice-president of the student council, Ayame Kajou. Ayame and Okuma form "SOX"(Note: This is because the O is like a 'censorship circle' used where we might use an asterisk for censorship in Japanese writing.), an organization aimed at spreading smut throughout the school, doing things like disrupting presentations. Over time, they're joined by a scientist girl who is interested in discovering the biological secrets the textbooks won't tell her, a girl genius who wants to draw erotic art, and a former member of a different "dirty joke terrorism" group who thinks SOX is not radical enough. They're determined to subvert the bans. Ayame thinks that disseminating naughty pictures will awaken their classmate's interest and curiosity, causing them to resist the law as well.
Review and Discussion:
Overall, I enjoyed it. There is an issue of trying to get a good, authentic translation, because I'll just spoil it for you, "O-Chinpo!" Does NOT mean "Dingleberries", either literally or figuratively (it refers to the twig, not the berries). I would recommend subtitled, and it seems like there are two different subs you can find of it online, only one of which is accurate and makes any sense at all. Sometimes, I saw translations and was like, what were they thinking? Anyway, the show has jokes of every type, and some translate better than others into English.
I kind of thought their use of the term "terrorist" was off, because to me, a terrorist is violent, and these people, although called terrorists in-universe, are really just non-violent protestors (well, SOX is, there are some more extreme groups). But, it shows the way that even non-violent resistance causes a lot of panic in the new Japan.
One thing I thought was interesting was their idea that, when Anna goes full psycho yandere for the protagonist, she's not able to understand the right way and wrong way to express her love. Her lust has no outlet, and she doesn't know about sex or consent, and that is a recipe for disaster. Also, it's one of the few cases where female-on-male harassment and near-rape is not taken so lightly. Sure, there is some joking, but it clearly shows that Anna is wrong, and they don't blame Okuma for what happened to him. The show uses Anna as an example to show how a sex education curriculum where feelings, consent, and relational boundaries are discussed, is important.
Did I enjoy the show? Yes. Every episode was fun and clever. I could have used more (it's too small!), but what there was is adequate. It started to escalate the tension towards the end, and seemed to be building toward what could have been an excellent second season if it had happened (but I can still hope, right?).
There were some flaws, however. Many of the characters seemed to be a bit one-dimensional. Once Anna goes yandere, she's just the yandere. Ayame is just the loud-mouthed, potty-mouthed joker. Ever have a friend like that, who makes everything into a dirty joke, where it's fine for a minute or two, and then quickly becomes irritating? She's like that. Okuma is such a stereotypical male anime protagonist. And the other characters pretty much just hit the same notes over and over again, which is something that can become a problem with a lot of comedic anime. Oh we get it science girl still does dirty science and art girl still does dirty art. Yaaaaay. Clap clap. At least they mix it up toward the end, by escalating the drama, but what they're doing there is dampening the comedy of the show rather than creating fresh comedy. This anime is not, I don't think, the whole story. Like many others, I would think more highly of it if it ran long enough to get a more satisfying climax.