Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu Love! – 12 (Fin)

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Binan Koukou comes to a fantastic close, totally “More Better” than I ever could have expected. While not a 10, the last episode captures all the wonderfulness that made this my favorite series of winter season.

From its double-down on the Absurd Aliens Vs. Sailor Boys plot, to the boys’ continued embarrassment about following anime tropes, to the anime final episode conventions the episode does follow and the ones it makes fun of not following, everything is here.

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As I suspected, Binan High School’s students are unwitting participants in alien TV programming. It isn’t even a good show by alien standards, which explains all the conventional story telling elements and cheap production values the Battle Lovers have seen along the way.

However, the double wrinkle is that this is a sequel…

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Yumoto’s firewood chopping brother was Earth’s hero in the original series, which actually caused that show to be canceled because, from the Alien’s perspective, he was the villain their invasion force was supposed to defeat. Since he always won, the show lost its focus and then its ratings.

It was great watching the Battle Lovers just gape as the reveal is dumped on them. The student council too, which is horrified to realize how empty their domination plot is, and how embarrassing “being the popular tsundere” is to the president…

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Leading us to the next story convention, Yumoto’s Bro becomes the near final boss and can not be defeated until the Battle Lovers upgrade their abilities to “More Better” levels, which they find eye rolling as usual.

And of course the show’s director is the final boss, complete with a giant purple space mech which requires former-enemies to join forces, all Much Better Better come together and More Battle Love Shower for the victory.

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My only criticism is that Binan Koukou stays so true to the format it’s making fun of, parts of the episode dragged. The jokes were well timed and well played and the action was surprisingly fun too. But lengthy info dumping between action is what it is, even if its bad pacing is the point.

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Binan Koukou earned my respect by taking itself seriously (in that it wasn’t very serious) to the end. The boy’s personalities had a wonderfully believable response to the silliness around them, including the obvious BL nods.

If you missed it, I’m not going to tell you to dig back and find this one. It’s not on the level of Gekkan-shoujo-Nozaki-kun or Sabagebu but it showed how far a simple idea could be taken without wearing out its welcome.

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Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu Love! – 11

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School festival, curry making, cameos of all our previous monsters, and finally we learn the true agenda of the porcupine and the fish alien as well as see the beginning of a two part show down between the Student Council and the Battle lovers.

The jokes were punchy, the dialog it’s usual clever self, and the backstory that pits Green against the President is delightfully absurd. Goodness, even the magic-girl style fighting action was well done! This week had everything except a conclusion and for that it deserves a 9. A very high 9 at that.

Full review coming soon!

Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu Love! – 10

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Binan Koukou kinda phoned it in this week. Rather, it didn’t have many jokes and the central plot, which featured Yumoto getting a cold and putting on glasses that changed her personality, was… yeah. It was strange by any standard.

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So there’s not much to summarize. Yumoto gets a cold and has a 99 degree temperature. His glasses cute-boy first year friend (and manager of the baseball club) tells him to go home and his brother makes a steamed onion remedy.

Yumoto returns to school the following day wearing glasses and acting very sensible for once. This magically makes him more cute, which gets many clubs to ask him to become their manager, which sets off the friend that was introduced at the beginning.

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The friend turns into a baseball… dog… monster… thing and zaps the Battle Lovers with his fire/lazor vision. He’s really powerful and kicks their butts because Yumoto doesn’t transform but hides instead.

Fortunately, Wombat-san knocks off the glasses and Yumoto returns to normal and defeats the monster with ease.

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So that was a thing. I’m really not sure what to make of it. Honestly, it doesn’t follow this show’s rules and I don’t know enough about Magic Girl conventions to know if this is a thing?

For example, while Yumoto’s change is definitely attributed to the glasses it is never explained why. The student council has no involvement with them and neither does the journalist society. So why? Who knows…

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I can’t say I’m happy with this week’s outing. Even if it wasn’t weird, or had more than a few half hearted jokes, none of the characters even seemed that invested.

And don’t get me started on the hidden doors that were discovered in both the Earth Defense Club and Student Council office… they are obvious set ups for a future encounter but, without any explanation (or interest from our characters when they find them) it just added to the ho-humness.

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Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu Love! – 09

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This image sums up why Binan’s characters are so entertaining to watch. When present with a riddle-slinging, overly self conscious melon monster this week, Yumoto Red is astounded and deeply excited by the riddlers, Blue and Orange are aghast at the puniness of it all, Green wonders why he’s here at all, and Pink barely looks up from texting.

The responses are varied, though generally annoyed that they have to be here. Especially when faced by such absurd, unchallenging enemies.

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This week is really about puns and jokes that no one is sure are jokes to begin with. Take, for example, the “Press Society” who come to help when the BL are “Pressed for Cash.”

The boys are so perplexed by not being sure if this was an intentional play on words that they don’t even respond to the fact that the Press Society has been snorkeling in the bath to eavesdrop on them.

Or maybe their world is so ridiculous at this point that they just ignore the big stuff anyway?

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As we near the end of the season, it’s reassuring that everything feels so comfortable and in it’s proper place. All the character relationships are punchy and reliably portrayed — as are the characters’ relationships to the story and world at large.

Comforts: Wombat leaves Sensei dead most of the time because that’s how the BL are comfortable to respond to him. Yumoto even hangs his bag on Sensei’s rigor mortice arm like a coat rack.

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Binan Koukou  is comfort food pure and simple and, just like the tasty snails the evil hedgehog is eating, I find it delicious. It won’t win any best of awards to be sure and the humor isn’t as spot on as Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun but it’s a solid effort.

8_ogk

Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu Love! – 08

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I feel like the things I like about Binan Koukou change each week. At least, the particulars do but, if I boil it all down to a core, each particular leads to the same place: a sincere, fun loving, focus on friendship between some really cool hetero guys stuck in what is definitely not a traditionally hetero scenario.

They’re cool, because they are amongst top scoring, wealthiest, most popular at their high school. They’re cool because they enjoy hanging out and BSing through the natural boredom of high school. They are cool because, even though it’s totally not how they want it, they enjoy each other’s company and they’ll fight to keep that company.

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This week’s monster is a shut in and BK goes out of its way to say HAKIMURI: IT’S ALL YOUR OWN DAMN FAULT!

No, seriously. En-chan’s transformation into a friend-chasing-away jerk is all on him. He becomes erratic, unreasonable, and so touchy (due to the monster) that his best friend can’t even give him space without getting an ear full. It’s very ‘no matter what you do, this kind of person will always be upset.’

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Fortunately, En-chan is also pissed off enough as a cool guy by this to turn his wrath onto the monster who caused the transformation in the first place. That, and Green is a cool guy who won’t backs down on love… erg, places a premium on their friendship.

Together, they beat the crap out of the monster and Yumoto even lets them do the two finishing moves. They even get to say ‘love is over’ to the confusion of the rest of the Battle Lovers.

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Best moment? Probably when Yumoto transforms in front of the club room but realizes mid speech that he’s the only one doing it. Nice touch that he says ‘I feel like all my effort was for nothing’ by the end too, because he really wasn’t necessary for 90% of the conflict.

As silly as it was, I also enjoyed watching Blue and Green get to wield the Love Stick and beat the (nicely designed) monster to bits. The cup of noodle on top of the monster was also a nice touch.

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So a super simple episode, lacking the complexity of last week’s but fun and well paced all the same. Really, the pacing had a lot to do with it, as it never felt like it was dragging on, nor did the ‘arguments’ have enough screen time to wear out their welcome.

As always, it’s light and fun. If you can live with that ‘lower art’ treatment than Yurikuma, or its less dramatic setting than Death Parade, and the lack of a richly detailed historic setting as seen in Junketsu No Maria, you may well find this to be the top show of the season.

I know I do, even if my ratings peg it a few notches lower.

8_ogk

Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu Love! – 07

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Equal parts deconstructive, funny, disturbing and ridiculous, this week’s Binan Koukou sure did layer on… the layers. However, for all its academic and philosophical implications, what made episode 7 shine is the same as all the other good Koukous before it: the dialog was funny.

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Yes. It’s a beech episode and a hot springs episode. Due to some unfortunate circumstances, it’s also an all-male location, which has everyone except Wombat and Yumoto on edge.

They swim, they bathe, they take a midnight test of courage to find their way through the woods and desperately try to avoid the other beech goers or ending up in couple-style scenarios. Unfortunately, because of their own awareness of convention, they do end up in some awkward situations that bring on the dreaded BL canopy none of us want nor enjoy.

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Fortunately, Binan Koukou is not BL. In fact, I’m pretty sure the point is that we could look at the five Battle Lovers as if they were female and still appreciate the message: the genre forces homo-coupeling onto it’s characters, even if they have no interest in it and/or it’s not their orientation.

Think of it this way: these guys are bros, and they get along as bros, but there’s a line that’s socially hard to define. That line vague as it is, doesn’t have a cultural short hand in the same way for the female gender. At least, not in how the Sailor genre is essentially already a gender swap of male-action heroes.

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These are just guys who’ve known each other a long time and get along really well and are forced to fight absurd monsters while wearing skimpy, feminine clothing and striking unmanly poses. Of course the audience is invited to ask the “are they?” question.

Between grit teeth and migraines, the cast is asking themselves too and, because the scenario is so weird, and because the cultural line is extra hazy because of the details, they don’t have a good answer for us either.

“Man I wish I was with a cute girl right now, then someone could hang on me…”

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If anyone is guilty of making all this awkwardness happen, it’s Yumoto but, again, he has another purpose. On one hand, he represents the absurdity of adults being so sensitized to sexuality (through his total blindness to it) and, on the other, he points out how creepy it is for the young, bubbly, airhead of the sailor-genre group to bear so much of the sexuality and responsibility for creating situations to show case it.

In this episode, he causes everyone grief because he uses Orange’s tooth brush by mistake, doesn’t realize it, but also doesn’t see why it would be wrong in the first place. “Its like kissing,” which is apparently an idea each guy has had in regards to sharing a girl’s toothbrush, never crosses his mind.

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As for humor? The Inn the Lovers stay at looks so much like Yumoto’s family bath house that the wonder “Are we cutting corners?” aloud.

Sensei is constantly snapping flash photography, often to wonderful comedic timing, and Sensei’s tragic return to life (and probably re-death, this time at the students’ hands) was delightful.

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So solid, thought provoking stuff here OR just stupid silly fun OR ugh BL OR all of the above, depending on how you want to take it. That’s a complex little anime you got there and that, especially because it was a relaxing laugh to watch, lands it with a high 8.

Good job!

8_ogk

Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu Love! – 06

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Binan Koukou rolled into my cue a week late this week, so it’s back-to-back review time! Sadly, that’s about as enthusiastic I’m going to get this time…

I’m not saying it was a bad, per say, but lacked the spark of dialog and genre distillation of it’s predecessors.

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This week’s villain is the number one student of Binan Academy. Except he isn’t because Battle Lover Orange bumps up from number two and is also more popular and doesn’t mumble to himself or have an absurd name. Yes! The villains name is Number One!

Also, he turns into a Tank with a screw loose and tickle-monster arms. Hrm…

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Highlights: Sensei’s body is starting to stink, the student council is starting to have quirky ramble-banter similar to the defense club, the council tries to recruit Orange away from the defense club, everyone is worried about grades, and everything works out in the end.

Not much to say, really. The defense club muses that it’s weird that enemies all seem to appear around the school, close to them, and usually right after the club talks about enemies showing up… which is a knowing, sure, but not a cover observation and the club gets very little screen time to ‘joke around’ in general.

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If it had an emotional center, or a genre-judging comedy moment, it would be Orange’s sudden betrayal followed by Pink’s counter. I mean:

“Money never betrays”

“But you do?!”

It’s a decent exchange, and sort of makes sense with the characters had any real build up gone into it. The sudden power cords jamming in the background was a nice touch too but, it was so brief (they resolve to be friends again in battle moments later) and undeveloped leading up to it that there was no impact.

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It all lacks weight or comedy or charm or plot development or meaningful character growth. In two words: stuff happened.

At least The good guys and bad guys have met each other now, which may edge the plot forward in the next episode but… a low note for the series so far.

7_ogk

Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu Love! – 05

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In a surprise move, Binan Koukou introduced a third faction this week. Since they are annoying by design — both in personality and in how they look — and that they lack the backstory-hook that connects the Battle Lovers and the Student Council, I’m not sure the Journalist Club warrants a recurring slot.

However, Binan has done a wonderful job entertaining me so far and I’m more than willing to see how the new guys’ plot pans out

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So, yes, the Journalist Club is annoying. They follow the BL members around in a constant attempt to make them reveal their status as super heroes and generally irritate everyone’s non-BL lives in the process.

Their catch phrase “Excuse my rudeness,” which they repeat over and over without expression, pretty much describes them.

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Eventually, they even follow the BL to the bath house, which is probably less culturally rude than I would think but… probably still not cool since they are taking photos constantly.

In a delightful move, BL drops dead-sensei on them and claims they’re going for help. It’s a cute ploy and the horrific corpse tossing counter plays the Journal boys’ rudeness nicely.

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This week’s battle fits perfectly into the flow of the episode. Specifically, the monster (a remote-control shaped… squid) is barely introduced and a total side note that is very quickly dealt with. The Boys are flustered, haven’t had any time to think about BL, and have no patience to deal with introduction speeches and the pleasantries of monster fighting.

Kick, Shout, Magic Heart Bomb, Love Shower, and it’s all over.

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Because the Journal Boys interrupt our heroes’ regular banter and flow, and don’t offer anything funny as a replacement, this episode isn’t quite as punchy as previous ones.

I’d actually go as far as saying it was a forgettable episode… if I hadn’t realized the Journal Boys also have an alien pet that is guiding them for… uh… some reason. It was a clever little twist and, even though I don’t like them yet, it shows Binan has plenty of tricks up its sleeve.

If you aren’t watching Binan already, my opinion certainly isn’t going to sway you. I still think you should — if nothing else for its wonderful banter — but it is ultimately a niche show with aesthetics that make it difficult for a broad audience to take seriously.

8_ogk

Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu Love! – 04 (Can’t Give You Up)

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Oy! Oigakkosan! What’re you doing? You dropped this show, son! Leave it alone and move on!

“Bwahahaha,” I say! Like any addiction, Binan Koukou starts off innocuous enough. I laughed, I rolled my eyes, I generally felt wonderful while watching it but I never knew I’d be ants-itchy for more?

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Wait? you’re giving it a 9?: Binan Koukou has wonderfully tight dialog that feels exactly like bored guys shooting the breeze to pass the time. It may not have the accompanying throb of music to sell its emotions like Yurikuma, nor the high-art juxtaposition of highs and lows of Yatterman Nights, because it doesn’t need to.

In all seriousness, if you strip away the genre-reversal hook of Battle Lovers, it’s just about five guys who’ve become friends in high school, who are both distinct in personality and going with the same flow. The joke around, make fun of each other, make fun of culture, make fun of the world around them, but always just to have fun.

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In fact, because we know how the genre works, and they know how the genre works, there’s no tension to the conflict at all. Normally, this would drive me nuts because it defies the logic of how-we-tell-compelling-stories.

However, because BL’s boys are so engrossed in their own amusement, it basically doesn’t function as a narrative in the first place. Sure, narrative happens, but BL is about guys amusing themselves first and, because the boys are so pleasant to be around, we get to feel included in their little group.

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It’s hard to express clearly, if you haven’t had the experience. Essentially, watching BL is what it’s like to be in a high school clique.

I’d even argue the Student council shows us what a bad, false clique is like too. These guys only get along on the surface because they have some random goal they are pursuing and, even then, they don’t actually have much fun doing it. This reminds me of my days playing D&D or Halo in some random SOB’s basement that none of us really enjoyed…

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Okay okay so what actually happened this week?: The boys are talking about perceived age and Blue gets the blues because he looks ‘oldest.’ Pink and Red are dubbed “youngest,” but Pink contends that he uses it for cute and Red is just a child.

Red continually proves this point but all of this teasing banter upsets the monster of the week, who is another student that everyone thinks is an old man.

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And there was some backstory that establishes the Student Council president was a childhood friend of Green’s and they both wished upon shooting stars together. Green’s was to become a super hero and the President’s was… probably world domination.

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This week’s battle pitted elementary-school versions of the Battle Lovers against a pink haired anime villain dude. To say it was adorable as they fell all over themselves in their baggy clothes would be an understatement. That is to say nothing of their nude-battle as kindergartners that followed.

At the end of the day, as always, the villain is defeated by a love shower and comes to terms with his own inner weakness. Unlike previous villains, the boys see him again later, in the bath, and his life really has turned around. He’s got a girlfriend who likes older, more reliable men…

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My verdict is to be frustrated. This is such a fun show to watch, and it toes the line with BL now and again in a way that I think is equal measure clever and palatable. It’s just not all that pretty and lacks the ‘must see’ of a high art show like Yatterman so I really do think I should drop it…

But man– man! It’s a fun little show to watch!

9_ogk

Oigakkosan’s Winter 2015 Bracket (Third Round)

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The current crop is pretty good and, despite rough patches, actually turning into something memorable. That may not sound like much but, as my fellow reviewers will testify, memorable is a high bar to reach in my book.

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Binan Koukou (8+7+8/10) vs Yatterman Nights (8+6+8/10)

By far the hardest pair to resolve, Yatterman’s stronger third episode and greater potential for an interesting story ultimately won out. I know! I know! This isn’t super surprising in the grand scheme of things. Binan is just a gender-swap twist on the Sailor Scouts genre but it delivers really really really good dialog each week.

Add Yatterman’s difficult-to-understand-without-significant-background second episode, drab color pallete, and slow pace and I truly considered siding with the simpler of the two shows.

If you enjoyed Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun and other tightly written school comedies, you owe it to yourself to give Binan at least three episodes. So far it’s shown no intention of becoming a BL show, nor has it stuck strictly to the safety of it’s formula.

Still, there’s a formula at its core and there’s not much at stake. Certainly, not much that I can see writing about each week?

Oigakkosan’s Winter 2015 Bracket (Second Round)

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Winter’s second week was obviously less busy than the first. However, due to World Break – 02’s late arrival in my stream, the decision took longer to make than anticipated.

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Seiken World Break (6+6/10) vs Junketsu no Maria (7+8/10)

Junketsu no Maria is a deeply sincere show, with rich characters and setting, and a quality art style. So it’s hardly a surprise that World Break won a lot less of my interest with it’s typical super protagonist enters magic school and wins all the harems formula.

That said, you may still enjoy World Break because it takes its deeply flawed scenario to heart. The magic system, which sometimes involves lengthy poetry narration and in-air finger writing is so dumb and impractical you just have to laugh at it all.

If nothing else, it’s well meaning but dumb characters are likable and, even though it’s only used to justify “protagonist wins” and the ecchi love triangle, the concept that students have multiple lives with multiple family and romantic partners around and knowing each other even though they’ve never met has tons of potential.

Sadly, just not enough for me to write about each week.

Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu Love! – 03

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The world turned completely upside-down this week as Binan Koukou was hysterically fun time and Yatterman was a dull sad slog.

While I truly believe Yatterman has more potential in the long run, it’s lucky that it’s getting another week to show off against Binan because if I called it here, I’d call it for Binan in a heartbeat.

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I don’t even know how to sum up Binan this week. Certainly, there’s no way I’ll be able to capture how funny it was by explaining the jokes to you.

In a nutshell, the boys are bored again this week but, instead of following Binan’s formula of waiting around for a monster to show up and then defeating it, they are much more active with a school wide plot before the monster appears.

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That plot is the 1579th Binan High School Pretty Boy Contest, which they only participate in because Pink is deeply frustrated by his popularity stalemate with the pretty boy on the student council.

It’s more complicated than that and involves choosing club activities based on the paper quality of other club’s flyers (for use as paper airplanes) and the other guys get into the contest because they are so very bored and it annoys their wombat to no end.

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Remember that Binan is an all guys school and that all of the characters are straight? Well, so do our heroes… at least, in theory. They get pretty carried away in their struggle to win the pageant.

In fact, Binan delivers the most over the top penis joke in the form of Orenge’s bank statement, which is glowing for some reason and the implication that he’s showing it to another man at crotch level while standing at a urinal. It’s epic and I don’t want to spoil the others but each participant accidentally wins the loyal heart of the guy or guys who’s proving a point to.

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Then the ballet club advisor turns into the black swan and actually seduces the Battle Lovers before Red defeats him with a bit of therapy!

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What sold it: the serious effort the Battle Lovers put into winning the votes of their classmates would be at home in any slice of life romcom or BL but the work better than that here because the Battle Lovers are only doing it for boredom and spite.

That aside, the timing of the human was spot on and, at the end of the day, I have to wonder how much of the rest of the series will call back on this episode where half of the cast has accidentally made it look like they were BL players.

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My only criticism of this episode was that the boss fight followed the normal formula and, while the black swan was a good image, it just wasn’t as funny as the first half of the episode.

Verdict: I am sorely tempted to give Binan a 9. By far, this provided the most laughs of any show this season and, while Binan won’t make anyone’s best of the best list, its solidly built and smart.

8_ogk