Ebichu the Housekeeping Hamster
By Danielle D'Ornellas
At this moment, I can be sure I know what your first impression of Ebichu was, or will probably be. It will be something similar to what mine was, something along the lines of "Awww! What a cute little hamster!" But deep, way deep down inside, you know there's something you're missing, something that will explain what else comes along with Gainax creating an anime about a hamster as cute as Ebichu. But you have no idea how right you are until you finally see it.
Ebichu the Housekeeping Hamster is, in a nutshell, a 'crazy hamster and shameless sex' show.
The basic story after the first two episodes shows you that the anime follows a cute little hamster named Ebichu (purchased for 1050 Yen, tax included) who spends her days cleaning up after and trying to look after her owner, whom is referred to as "OL" (Office Lady). Her owner is a 25 year old woman who is teetering over the 'cutoff' age for marriage. OL's current boyfriend, who has been dubbed "Kaishonachi" (useless, hopeless) by Ebichu, is a cheating, insensitive gambler that's not exactly a sought-after prospect for marriage. Ebichu obviously isn't fond of the guy, based on the nickname she gave him, but she does notice that he makes her owner happy on occasion. In every episode she tries, in her well-intentioned but meddlesome way, to give Kaishonachi pointers on how to make her owner as happy as possible. Whether its reprimanding him for not knowing her owner's blood type or giving him sex tips, Ebichu tries it all.
The real conflict fans have about this show, based upon the opinions of other fans that I've talked to or other reviews I've read, is the fact that it is just so blatently ecchi (sexual). Ebichu's owner and her boyfriend are seen having sex in every episode, but unlike a hentai feature, its not heavily concentrated on or even seen as substantial. The show also makes plenty of crude sexual jokes and plays with Japanese stereotypes such as males lusting after women in school girl uniforms or prank phone callers asking about women's panties. Then there is little Ebichu, taking us into the first episode by reading an erotic story while OL and Kaishonachi are having sex, to 'spice' up their activities. And if that wasn't enough, there is even violence in this show. Thanks to all her well-intentioned antics, poor Ebichu gets bloodied and beaten almost every 2 minutes. This show was so very borderline that it was almost not shown on Japanese television. They had to censor some parts, which I cannot delve into. I only know this because I saw a sub of the uncensored DVD.
The animation in this show isn't the type you'd expect from the production company that brought us Neon Genesis Evangelion, or more recently, Furi Kuri/FLCL. In fact, it's downright simplistic. The characters are flat and two dimensional, as are the backgrounds. But the exception here is the continuity and consistency of this animation. It's not poor quality or rushed, it is just not a highly detailed animation type. The animation fits in with the kind of anime that it is, and helps poke fun at the situations that Ebichu gets her owner into. If the animation of this series was up to par with FLCL or Neon Genesis Evangelion, it wouldn't be as funny or as crude.
Ebichu only has three main characters in the first two episodes. All are veteren seiyuu with more experience than you can shake a stick at. Ebichu herself is voiced by the marvelous Mitsuishi Kotono who's voice acting resume includes Misato Katsuragi from NGE, Tsukino Usagi from Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon, and recently, the title character Excel from Excel Saga. Ebichu's owner is voiced by Tomizawa Michie, who is best known as Hino Rei from Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon and Doris from Vampire Hunter D. And last but not least, the loathable Kaishonachi is voiced by another familiar, Seki Tomokazu, who is well known for a lot of roles, including but not limited to his role as Suzuhara Touji from NGE, Hidaka Ken from Weiß Kreuz, Van Fanel in The Vision of Escaflowne, and Kinomoto Touya from Card Captor Sakura.
So far, no North American production companies have shown any kind of interest in this show... and with good reason , too. First off, it's a short feature, each episode being the unorthodox 7-10 minutes long, making a run on DVD or VHS pretty short. Secondly, it is not your usual hentai/adult fare. Ebichu is so very odd that finding the right group of people in North America to target it to would be downright impossible. Currently, the only way to get your hands on this show is to find digital fansubs through online distributors.