You know, I’ve watched a lot of anime—this one just so happens to be the 110th. But never in all my years watching show after show have I seen something as utterly batshit insane as Akikan until today. Let me explain; “Akikan!” is a Romcom/Slice-of-Life/Shonen anime about anthropomorphic soda cans who can transform into anime girls when somebody else drinks from them. Just the fact alone that this whole show is about anime girl soda cans was enough to make me watch it, and holy shit I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard before in my entire life as I did during the last couple of episodes. The whole thing is extremely and unashamedly tropey, ridiculous and filled with absurdist slapstick comedy. There’s fanservice abound with characters built upon easily recognizable stereotypes, and yet the show leans so hard into all of this it comes off as less of a shitty copycat and more of a genius-level self-aware parody, all helped along by its unbelievably ridiculous premise. I think one of the best parts of Akikan is the direction—during serious or tearjerking scenes, the direction, sound design, voice acting and animation is actually so well done that you are caught between the two extremes of “well done drama” and “I am currently watching a man mourn the death of his melon juice”. It was actually so consistently good and so often surprisingly dark that I commented several times about how the original author and director could make a really powerful duo with their creative energy focused toward a psychological horror show! You are constantly struck by overwhelming levels of sensory overload, yet here I think it actually works to the show’s favor—they are very clearly banking on you being dumbstruck, confused and generally feeling as though you’ve stepped into a fever dream and none of what you’re witnessing on screen is actually real. There are so many bad and heavily overused comedic and romantic tropes here I would normally rip apart, but this show takes all of them and makes them work. Instead of being struck by the dark undertones of specific moments and dialogue lines or overly critical of particular characters and their traits, you are taken on an LSD trip so self-aware regarding its absurd nature that any criticism of the tropes it’s using as a tool becomes moot. It endears you to its cast, making you care about what’s happening onscreen and letting important parts of the narrative land with a powerful sense of both seriousness and humor—there is something deeply satisfying and god-damn hilarious about watching the psychological breakdown of a man realizing that the anime girl in front of him is actually a fucking soda can. And you know, you can actually read somewhat deeply into everything that’s going on here if you’re so inclined—there is dialogue here bringing up such interesting philosophical questions as “what is the nature of a soda can’s existence”, “can a soda can ever truly know happiness” and “is it right to discard empty soda cans which have served their purpose”. This whole show lives or dies riding the thin line separating suspension of disbelief from utter stupidity, creating something far greater than the mere sum of its parts. At first I think I might have pegged it as easily the best “so bad it’s good” comedy that I’d ever seen, but eventually it grew on me to such an extent—particularly when I consider the glowing positivity of my own personal experience with the show, objectivity be damned—that I legitimately think Akikan is fantastic without hyperbole. And you know, for the sake of that aforementioned objectivity, let me list off some of the show’s weak points. While there are a lot of interesting philosophical questions raised about the nature of soda cans, their relationship with humanity and how the protagonist having his world forever changed by the realization of their sentience sends him down a spiral of psychological strain, forcing him into radical acceptance, none of those questions are ever fully explored, their potential never fully utilized—if anything, that has less to do with a lack of writing ability and more to do with the breakneck speed at which the show constantly keeps moving from scene to scene, joke to joke and moment to moment (not to mention its overall comedic focus). Despite this, it still works because it’s not trying to tell an amazing story predicated upon the nature of its philosophical soda can pondering—instead of trying to send a pointless message, the whole show intentionally betrays the moments where its tone turns serious in order to drive home how fucking stupid those very same situations are given context, which resulted in me dying laughing on multiple occasions! I think if anything the biggest flaw here worth actually pointing out is some of the really cringey dialogue or humor present during certain scenes (such as the main character joking about grooming a kid or the gay character being an unapologetic comedic rapist). But while these jokes might be in arguably bad taste, in the end I don’t think it’s enough to ruin the show or take away from it in a significant enough way to hamper your enjoyment of it—given that the whole thing leans so heavily on the stupid nature of its premise by abusing well-known narrative tropes and stereotypes, the aforementioned “problematic” jokes made within it are almost impossible to take seriously at all, registering on your ears as nothing more than stupid jokes. The male protagonist himself shouldn’t be a likeable character when you examine his dialogue and general behavior, but it ends up being a situation similar to that of Galo from Promare where his over-the-top nature complements the actual subject matter of the show so well that you can’t help but enjoy it. All-in-all, I think that if you go in judging Akikan on a purely impartial and ruthlessly critical level, you would probably write it off as being bad, but there’s something truly special about the experience of actually watching it which makes the whole thing incredibly enjoyable and absolutely fucking hilarious—I laughed so hard I cried, my throat hurt and I felt like I was gonna have a fucking heart attack. If you want something incredibly funny and incredibly stupid, this is the show for you—I highly recommend anybody and everybody experience this show at least once because the experience of watching a romantic comedy shonen anime about anthropomorphic soda can girls is something truly unique and unforgettable.

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