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The Winter 2024 Anime Preview Guide

How would you rate episode 1 of
Bucchigiri?! ?
Community score: 3.7

What is this?


Arajin Tomoshibi's reunion with his old pal Matakara Asamine takes an unexpected turn when they stumble into a brawl with the toughest guys in town. And just when you thought things couldn't get weirder, a colossal genie decides to drop in.

Bucchigiri?! is an original anime project from director Hiroko Utsumi and series writer Taku Kishimoto at MAPPA. The anime series is streaming on Crunchyroll on Saturdays.

How was the first episode?

Richard Eisenbeis

Ever had an anime that just didn't click? Like, there's nothing wrong with it but for some reason, you just never felt into it? That's what this first episode of Bucchigiri?! is for me.

Visually, this show is a lot of fun. The character designs are crazy, the backgrounds colorful and vibrant, and the overall visual aesthetic is both familiar and surreal. Likewise, the animation is fluid and dynamic. But just as visuals can make or break an anime, so can the story.

Inspired by the legend of Aladdin (both the original tale and the Disney adaptation), Bucchigiri?! sets the story in modern Japan in a school overrun by fighting-obsessed delinquents. However, when it comes down to it, it feels more like an 80s horndog rom-com anime than anything from Arabian Nights. Honestly, it's hard to root for a loser protagonist whose sole goal in life is to get laid. (And I mean, yeah, sex is great and all but have you ever played Elden Ring coop with the one you love? That's something truly special.)

It doesn't help that Jasmine—the object of our hero's affection—is more than a little unlikable. She gets off on being the prettiest girl in school—setting things up so that those who like her will fight each other. In this episode, she seduces the new kid so that her brother will beat him to death in front of her.

All this together is why I think this anime didn't work for me. I don't care about any of the characters—not Arajin, Senya, or Jasmine—nor do I particularly enjoy delinquent-based stories in general. And while Bucchigiri?! has a pretty outer layer, that alone is not enough for me to come back for another episode.

Rebecca Silverman

I was curious about this show for one particular reason: it purports to be (loosely) based on the Medieval collection of Persian folktales, The Arabian Nights. It kind of is – our ostensible protagonist is named Arajin, which sounds awfully like "Aladdin," and there's a djinn, albeit one that comes out of an antique gun rather than a lamp or a ring. And since Arajin's mother runs a Chinese restaurant and the original Aladdin tale takes place in China (and his mother is alive), I can forgive the fact that Aladdin isn't part of any of the oldest manuscripts; it was added to the book by a French translator in the 18th century. I'm also fine with the name change for the character I thought was supposed to be the princess, because the original name, Badr-al-Badur, is a mouthful. Plus, they name-dropped "Jasmine" from the current best-known retelling, although if Jasmine turns out to be Mahoro, I will change my mind.

Anyway, my inevitable literary aside, this isn't the show to watch because you're into Persian folklore. It is, however, likely to scratch any delinquent itches you have, because Arajin's school is a hotbed of delinquent activity. As far as I can tell, there are two warring factions and Arajin's old buddy Matakara is in one, and Mahoro's brother leads the other, setting him up to be smack in the middle because Matakara is very, very keen on being besties despite Arajin's disinterest. There are some fight scenes and a lot of absurdity, which seems to be the focus here. Between Arajin being chased through town in his gyoza-print boxers and Marito showing up on a children's riding toy that looks like a camel, this desperately wants us to laugh. I can't say that I did, unfortunately, except for the inadvertent humor of the djinn looking for something called "Honki People," because, as you no doubt know, "honky” means something somewhat different in English than Japanese.

This is bright, splashy, and loud. I feel like that's all that it is here, but since one of those tends to be a dealbreaker for me (loud), I think that it probably deserves a second episode to see what happens now that Arajin's wish has activated his djinn's powers to see what the hell it means for them to "combine." In a best-case scenario, this is all a setup, and a second episode will help determine what direction this will go in.

James Beckett

Bucchigiri?! is one of the shows I've been looking forward to the most since previewing all of the season's shows during the ANN Trailer Watch Party, and I am very happy to say that it doesn't disappoint. Any anime that includes an interrobang ("?!") in its title needs to damn well earn those punctuation marks, and Bucchigiri?! has the moxie to do just that. From frame one, the show's weird, technicolor, arcade-beat-'em-up version of reality is brought to life thanks to the work of director Hiroko Utsumi and the hard-working folks at MAPPA. This isn't at all surprising, since Utsumi also helmed the equally vivacious Sk8 the Infinity, so I'm glad to see that her sense of style has carried over to this new project (and I can only hope that the MAPPA staff get to rest at some point this year, for goodness' sake).

Of course, all of the visual flair in the world isn't going to amount to much if there isn't a story to keep the audience invested, and Bucchigiri?! takes its general "Aladdin retelling" concept and mixes in just the right amount of ridiculous stupidity. Our boy Arajin just wants to survive transferring to a new (and very sketchy) school, find the girl of his dreams, and maybe even confess his love to her without either crapping his pants in public or getting beaten to death by her terrifying delinquent brother. Is that so much to ask? The universe has decided that Arajin cannot have nice things, so the only solution to his problem is some magical intervention on behalf of his brand-new djinn friend, Senya. It's goofy, dumb, and very self-aware, which is just what I like to see in my action anime these days. Unless you're allergic to the show's specific brand of "Grown-ass men laughing at all of the jokes they have probably been wanting to make since they were 12 years old" humor, I can't imagine not having at least some fun with Bucchigiri?!

Throw in some hilarious sight gags and the promise of even more kickass action now that Arajin has just leveled up something fierce in his quest to get laid, and you have yourself an awesome first episode, indeed. I was worried that we'd get through this whole slew of new episodes without anything to appease the rabid and degenerate preteen who still has a timeshare in my heart that he rents out on occasion, but thankfully, Arajin and Senya are here to ensure that Young, Dumb, and Full of Compulsive-Anime-Watching Habits James will have a show to keep up with this winter.

Nicholas Dupree

It's nice when a premiere comes out swinging for the fences. Not everything about this raucous opener works but after a preview guide full of lukewarm intros that have only occasionally equaled the sum of their parts, having a show that goes this hard out of the gate is just refreshing. Everything about Bucchigiri?! is loud, including the title, and while that might wear out its welcome sooner or later, for right now, it's a blast.

For one, it's great to see Hiroko Utsumi back at it again, even if I wish she'd return to Sk8 the Infinity one of these days. As a director, she has a finely tuned sense of intentional camp and absurdity, and that's on full display here. Every unhinged, violent weirdo in this show is rendered in loving detail, each displaying their unique brand of dirtbag insanity in a way that brings this Cromartie-esque setting to life. The dudes are also ridiculously hot in various ways – another Utsumi staple. Combined with color work that is loud and bold without being garish, it coalesces into a vibrant and ridiculous aesthetic that enhances all the hooliganry to perfection.

That energy is also liable to be divisive. Even I, mostly enjoying this premiere, felt like it got to be just a bit much by the end, especially with how busy this show is establishing its large cast and wacky setting. If you don't have patience for a bunch of hot guys getting into stupid, pointless bouts of violence or tripping over their dicks, then this will bore you to tears at best, and actively irritate you at worst. Arajin is funny as a fish-out-of-water protagonist for now. Still, he's also a hapless dork who walks into every rake on his path without ever learning his lesson, which could get tiresome if he doesn't swiftly develop rapport with the other characters. The rest of the cast range from precious and kind puppy dogs like Matakara, to ludicrous psychopaths who only speak in exaggerated growls and brutal violence. If utilized well, that could wind up as a charming, rambunctious core of weirdos akin to Sk8 the Infinity's cast. If fumbled, it'll quickly turn into a parade of loud jackasses beating each other's faces into strawberry jam.

All that's to say that while I liked this premiere, it didn't suffuse me with certainty that this would remain a good time through its whole run – but that's Future Nick's problem, and in the here and now, Bucchigiri?! is worth a try. If for no other reason then we'll probably get more lovingly illustrated shots of Mataraka's back muscles, and that's fun for the whole family.

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