Rinshi!! Ekoda-chan is more than happy to take on the mantle of being the most creative and unique short-form anime this season. The story remains the same in exploring Ekoda-chan’s experiences with the Tokyo nightlife as she tries to balance her work and relationships with her personal life. However, each episode has a different director, character designer, voice actors and anime studio behind it, meaning that each entity will have their own interpretation of Ekoda-chan’s exploits. To reflect this, the three minute short is followed by a 23-minute interview with that episode’s director and voice actress for Ekoda-chan, diving into the creative process they took behind making the short come to life and how Ekoda-chan particularly resonates with our modern life as an embodiment of trying to find a meaningful connection in the big city.
Don’t let the anime’s “gimmick” distract you from the short itself because Ekoda-chan’s life story is amusing, funny, and salacious enough to draw viewers into her world. Because the series is a 4-koma manga, the anime is comprised of select chapters, creating a cohesive stream-of-consciousness into the experiences that Ekoda-chan has with her job as a hostess, her interactions with men, and her home life. Because she’s 24 years old, much of her activity away from clubs is easy to relate to as she exerts herself trying to capture a lizard, deliberately wears as little close at home as she can to avoid the need for doing so much laundry, finding herself magnetically attached to stranger’s dogs, and facing awkward interactions with old friends and colleagues who have since changed into entirely different people with spouses and/or children. As a hostess, she runs down the trials and tribulations with her night job such as trying to remember the faces and names of clients and finding herself at odds with her older looks as people in her day job also question if she isn’t three years older than her actual age. A common theme with her contact with men is having her ideas or messages get lost in communication. Her hostess clients lack any distinct characteristics, causing them to not only get lumped up in the miasma of old men in suits but also share an inability to be socially aware of their distasteful personalities because they assume they’ll just get buttered up when they’re at a hostess club. The men that she shares a bed with lack any desire to understand what Ekoda-chan is talking about so they’ll come up with a non-sequitur or a misunderstanding of one of Ekoda-chan’s stories that she can see coming from a mile away. It’s an interesting take on the party-girl lifestyle and it’ll be neat to see how her stories develop over time.
The interview at the end may seem lengthy, especially since its over seven times longer than the regular skit, but it is fascinating in the sense of explaining the creative process that the director and voice actress take in their approach towards the character. With this episode, we have director Akitaro Daichi, who helmed Now and Then, Here and There, Kamisama Hajimemashita, Fruits Basket, Kodocha, and Tonkatsu DJ Agetarou discussing how his experience with short-form anime and his knowledge of the cosmopolitan life inspired his interpretation of Ekoda-chan’s life. Meanwhile, voice actress and former AKB48 idol Ishida Haruka, best known for her performance as Miu in Danganronpa V3 and Aoyama in Action Heroine Cheer Fruits lent her understanding of popular culture and her experience as a young woman in Tokyo to contribute to what she was able to see in Ekoda-chan. I found Ishida’s commentary to be interesting because she also discussed her aspirations as she recently became a voice actress aiming to play energetic characters and use her talents built since she got her head-start in the entertainment industry in AKB48 to bring the same energy to who she plays.
Your mileage may vary on whether a short with an episode-long interview attached is your bag, but so far, Rinshi!! Ekoda-chan has left a positive impression as a short anime that examines the effort it takes to create a series. In addition, Ekoda-chan’s exploits have some fun to them as well with how much it captures of her experiences as a young adult trying to get it all together and carry a night job as a hostess. Because it’s an anime constructed based on the input of 12 other directors and studios, there is a sense of vastness in the potential it has to get very creative, strange, and inventive with the different interpretations of Ekoda-chan. Whether it’s something to check up on week-by-week may depend on if it held the same kind of stranglehold on you, but it’ll definitely be fun to come back to this one to evaluate which interpretations knocked it out of the park.
ED: 「Ukiyo ni Hana」 by Shoose