Anime can be extremely formulaic and riddled with grotesquely overused tropes – and indeed, in pretty much every season we can find shows so devoid of any original idea or genuine charm that their existence seems like a sad joke (I’m looking at you, In Another World With My Smartphone). At the same time, it’s a medium that can take even most outlandish and creative ideas and turn them into something thoroughly enjoyable. For me, comedy shorts are the part of anime market that delivers some of the most interesting and original content out there – and out of those, Earth Star Entertainment’s Teekyuu is probably the most notable one currently being aired.
But what makes the story of the four girls of the Kameido High School’s tennis club, who pretty much never play tennis, that notable? I think that short comedy is actually one of the hardest genres to do properly – it doesn’t tolerate any filler content and rarely tells a coherent story, but relies on the right pacing, good writing, and delivery to make the viewer laugh. Teekyuu has all those elements and takes them to the absolute extreme. The action in every 2-minute episode delivers the jokes at an insane speed, with absurd and unpredictable humor that never gets stale and never fails to surprise you with its creativity. The voice acting is phenomenal, giving tons of charm to every character and making all of them both funny and memorable despite the minimalistic plot and short runtime. Kana Hanazawa’s performance as Marimo Bandou is definitely a highlight here, but the less-renown members of the cast don’t fall far behind.
While Teekyuu’s animation is rather simplistic, other production qualities are surprisingly good, especially the music. Although every season of the show has the length of just one typical anime episode (24 minutes), all of them have separate and usually extremely catchy theme songs, with insane lyrics and full, 4-minute versions available online. The most memorable and bizarre of those is probably Kana Hanazawa’s Qunka! from season 5 – a bombastic, Bollywood-inspired song about sniffing and eating panties (did I mention that Marimo, Hanazawa’s character is a pervert?). All other songs are also performed by the VA cast in-character and don’t fall that much behind with their craziness. Even the structure of the episodes is a gag in itself – of every 2-minute installment, ¼ is taken by the OP and the latest, 9th season added a grotesque, 30 sec outro, full of purposely creepy artwork and fan service. It’s these uncompromising elements and the self-aware nature of Teekyuu that makes it really stand out from the crowd.