(Neo, Uncooked Media)

You may have heard of Shimoneta’s reputation as a smutfest, and we’re here to tell you that… the reputation is deserved. The title means “dirty joke” and the show tries furiously to find enough jokes about sex, sex organs, sex toys, sexual secretions and sexual residues to fill four hours of anime. Watching Shimoneta is an activity that can be enjoyable for a short spurt of time, though it gets a bit wearying in longer sessions. But it won’t make you go blind.

The setting is a future Japan that’s banned all lewd media and words, and forced everyone to be pure in their behaviour. Hero Takuma starts life at an upstanding (fnar) school, where decency is protected by a student council. Unfortunately, one of its girl members, Ayame, is a secret freedom fighter for filth. She quickly co-opts Takuma into her stunts to expose Japan’s young to “corrupting” thoughts and images.

In the first few episodes, the biggest shocks seem to be from Ayame’s dirty mouth. She’s obsessively determined to turn any thought or phrase (like, for example, “dirty mouth”) into one more crude joke about sex. Her dialogue alone makes Shimoneta feel different from any other anime, but it’s wearing a bit thin when the sexual content suddenly revs up. Spoiler: that happens when the hero’s pure-hearted crush, Anna, turns out to be an absolute sex maniac who makes Ayame look tame.

If nothing else, it’s… interesting to see a girl in the kind of sticky physical situations that would seem relatively innocuous if they happened to, say, any of the boys in the American Pie films. Maybe that’s equality? Code Geass fans may remember a notorious scene with a girl and a desk – there’s lots of that sort of thing here. There’s also a lot about the aromas of intimate female clothing, which many characters (male and female) wear on their faces in unacknowledged tribute to Hentai Kamen. Anna, meanwhile, just wants Takuma’s boxers.

But Shimoneta’s shock value is limited. You’ll feel déjà vu if you’ve ever seen the old South Park movie or read Viz comic, both of which tell sex jokes more snappily. So did the anime which Shimoneta recalls perhaps most, the shortlived Kekko Kamen from a quarter-century ago.

The show ends up being funniest for two characters – Ayame, certainly, but also Fuwa, a deadpan girl scientist whose clinical analysing of sexual madness livens up many scenes. Together, they sustain the show when the dirty jokes can’t.

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