What Is It?
Arcade Gamer Fubuki is a four-episode OVA from SHAFT. Yes, that SHAFT. The same SHAFT that breathed life into titles like Puella Magi Madoka Magica and Pani Poni Dash. The series was directed by Yuji Mutoh (Haunted Junction, Tonari no Seki-kun) and features character designs by Hideyuki Morioka (D.Gray-man, Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei). To top things off, Fubuki is based on a manga by of the same name Sgt. Frog creator Mine Yoshizaki.
Such a fantastic pedigree, isn’t it, folks? Surely this can’t be bad! It can’t!
Except it is.
Arcade Gamer Fubuki is set in an alternate version of our world, where video games are enjoyed by literally everybody. There’s no league of Trilby wearing neck-beards talking down about people’s’ choices. There are no message boards filled with man-children that cry for the death of one company while praising their own favorites for doing the same damn thing. There’s no brigade of people trying to call every little pixel-game “art” for no good reason. Instead, gamers young and old, male or female, are instead brought together by their love of gaming.
Damn… I wish this part were real. Wait. What were we talking about again? Oh! Right!
Anyway! In this world, every country in the world presents its best and brightest players for the Best of Arcade Gamer (BAG) tournament. Much like the Olympics, the BAG tournament is a fierce competition to name the planet’s best cyber-athletes. The challenges are beyond intense, as players endure absurd conditions like a game of Crazy Climber projected onto the side of an actual building. Even the initial coin deposit’s a twisted game of accuracy! It’s part pro-wrestling, part arcade action, and pure entertainment.
It should be, anyway. But I digress.
Among the latest batch of gifted gamers is Fubuki: a middle schooler whose skills are said to be legendary. At a glance, she’s a klutzy, fairly unremarkable girl. She’s shy, she sucks at sports, and her only real talent is gaming. She’s a fierce contender that’s able to make the average arcade rat cry “uncle!” For the real challenges, though, Fubuki has a secret weapon. When her panties are exposed to the world, her passionate Gamer Spirit is unleashed and she becomes a master of whatever’s put before her.
Yes, it is that stupid. Yes, the general message is “show your panties, win video games.” No, I don’t condone this.
That said, the BAG tournament is put into jeopardy when a mysterious organization known as the Gulasic Group aims to use the tournament to conquer the planet. To put a stop to this dark menace, Fubuki must join forces with fellow gifted gamer Mr. Mystery to take on the Four Gods of Gaming and return peace to arcades across the globe.
No, really. What the hell is it?
There’s no real hiding it: Arcade Gamer Fubuki is about the goddamn panties. Yes, the magical gamer panties that Fubuki received from a grown man after she cried over her dead virtual pet.
Tell me that doesn’t strike you as the least bit creepy. Seriously. We’re two steps away from “windowless van” territory, here, and I haven’t even touched on the stalker-ish Sanpeita, or the blatant incest undertones seen through the show. And then there’s Hana, Fubuki’s best friend who goes as far as to blow Fubuki’s dress up with a fan to expose the almighty goddamn panties to the world, and will outright berate Fubuki for now showing off her goods.
To make the situation worse, the character designs are based on Mine Yoshizaki’s original manga. Anyone who’s watched Sgt. Frog for five seconds will know that Yoshizaki’s character designs typically cute, and skew to the younger side. He’s not a person that can really do sex appeal. So, when we have a show where the central concept is a magical pair of panties that only work when exposed, the experience suddenly gets creepy.
Possibly the most disturbing part of the series, though, is the fact that it tries to sweep these issues under the rug. Every time one of these many segments arise, it’s punctuated by a bad joke, or a poorly timed sight gag that just seems to amplify the general unsettling feeling. It’s like that creepy uncle saying “I was just kidding” after he says something he knows he shouldn’t, in hopes that the rest of the family would just ignore what just came out of his mouth moments beforehand.
The paper-thin plot rarely rise above something that would be better off in the circular file. They’re predictable and brainless to a fault. Seriously, the episodes can be summed up in the “Oh no!” format. By that, I mean “Oh no, Fubuki has a rival with black passion panties!” or “Oh no! Fubuki’s panties were stolen while she was taking a bath!”
Yeah. It’s that mindless.
And you want me to watch this WHY?
If there’s any humor that can be gleaned, it will be through pure schadenfreude. The show’s sheer creepiness will inspire a few truly interesting reactions, that range from revulsion to a general loss of what to think. The bad jokes and stilted writing will help to inspire jokes and jeers that will help keep the crowd’s mood light.
If there is one thing Arcade Gamer Fubuki does right, it’s the gaming references. Through some agreement with Sega, the show is packed with footage from games that range from Crazy Climber and Fantasy Zone, to Virtua Fighter 4. Groups in the over-21 crowd can make a drinking games from a combination of the gaming refs and the creeperific content.
When and how long should I screen this for?
Arcade Gamer Fubuki is a show that should be screened in the middle of the night, just before a palette cleanser. The repulsive content would be too strong for an early showing, but the show itself seems to lack the ability to get groups running for the door for some reason.
When screening, gauge the crowd carefully. While I would recommend presenting the full episode, there are a number of audiences that will check out by the middle. Because of this, you should keep a back-up handy for a quick swap.