Zettai Karen Children
Rating: 4 (of 5)
Review: Sugar, spice, and everything nice. These were the ingredients chosen to create the perfect little girl ... until Zettai Karen Children mashed it up into this crazy spoof of the mahou shoujo, tokusatsu, and psychic genres! When there's crime to be fought, the city calls on the "Absolutely Lovely Children"—three grade-school girls with remarkable ESP abilities. Episode 1 sees them battling the flamboyantly homoerotic villain Muscle Okama, who shoots energy beams out of his crotch, thus catapulting the series past the threshold of "Stupid comedy that's just stupid" and over to "Stupid comedy that comes out the other end as awesome." Although it's a kids' action show on the surface, ZKC is clearly up for some nod-nod wink-wink gags: the aforementioned Muscle Okama, the lead heroine's obsession with female body parts, a sentai-style heroic entrance, and plenty of self-parodying jabs in the dialogue. With the energy and pacing so frenetic, if there's one gag that didn't hit your funnybone, there'll probably be another one right around the corner.
What may be even more surprising is that it doesn't rely on comedy alone—the battle between the girls and Okama is a fine action sequence in its own right, with slick moves and dynamic angles that show effort on the animators' part. A hint of big band jazz in the bubblegum soundtrack also adds a retro touch, reminding us that this is all a big joke about those classic action-hero shows. Sure, the whole thing rides on a generic formula, but when you're twisting the formula like this, it becomes a campy delight. And really, is it even possible to say the words "Absolutely Lovely Children" without breaking into a goofy smile?