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Acchi Kocchi is one of several comedy anime airing this season, and at first glance you’ll likely see a lot of the cliches and character archetypes found in many high school gag series. It indeed isn’t a very original anime, but the first couple episodes hooked me with its surprisingly high levels of cuteness, which is mixed with a sort of oddball humor that for me ends up fairly hit-and-miss… but when it does hit, it really is quite amusing.

I’ll focus first on what I felt is the most amusing skit of the series so far: the epic snowball fight in episode 3.

Mayoi and Sakaki run off to play in the snow, but both slip at the same time (and both oddly chibi-fied). The joke could have simply ended with them falling, but instead a curveball is thrown at us: time slows long enough for Tsumiki to find a nearby wooden board and kick it beneath Mayoi and Sakaki. Instead of banging their large heads against the snow, they collide with the wooden board. A close call! Right? Well, as Io notes afterward, they were probably hurt more by the board than they would have been by the snow. It’s a very bizarre little sequence that blends slapstick with a character’s unexpected reaction. There’s no explanation for the wooden board, or even Tsumiki’s somewhat uncharacteristic rise to action, but in the end the result for Mayoi and Sakaki is unchanged–Tsumiki’s dramatic rescue only got them hurt in a slightly different way than they would have otherwise. Which is okay, since Mayoi and Sakaki are the mischievous characters of the main cast, and they generally bring trouble upon themselves anyways (and are quick to recover).

A series of character-based running gags follow–namely in how Io’s friendliness to Tsumiki (eg breathing on the back of her head to warm her up) leads to intense blushing on Tsumiki’s part, and nosebleeds on Hime’s. In stark contrast, a following scene throws this at us:

Yes, Tsumiki is rolling a snowball at least ten times her size. It’s a visual gag that took me by surprise, since the material beforehand was rather par for the course for this show, and we had never had something *this* impossible happen in the show yet. Hime does remark at how big it is, but otherwise the characters don’t seem to question the possibility of the tiny Tsumiki uncanny snowman skills. Then again, I suppose this is the girl who knocked out Io in her attempt to give him Valentine’s Day chocolates. XP At any rate, the fact that Tsumiki’s rolled the giant snowball over the impish Mayoi at some point is icing on the cake–but the gag still isn’t over yet.

The sensible Io notes the obvious difficulty in making a snowman with such a gigantic base, but Tsumiki incredulously manages to lift the proportionally gigantic snowball intended for the snowman’s head. This we can accept, I suppose. I mean, if she can roll that huge snowball base, it’s not so strange to see her pick up the snowball head.

The fact she doesn’t manage to throw it on top of base successfully is oddly an unexpected twist, and is made extra amusing since it hits Sakaki in the head in the process.

Of course, the snow not only proceeds to crumble into (rather unnatural-looking) pieces and bury him, but Tsumiki doesn’t miss a beat in her deadpan remark, as she states the obvious to a flustered Io. The skit succeeds in using character humor amidst a very silly/unexpected series of events that lend themselves well for visual gags.

The rest of the skit is largely devoted to a melodramatic (or perhaps impossibly cool) snowball fight, where the Rule of Cool gives Mayoi and Sakaki some advanced technology capable of launching hundreds of perfect-looking snowballs all over the place in seconds. Apparently, snowball fights are Serious Business enough to warrant such specialized gadgetry. But at any rate, the skit managed to employ a good variety of jokes, including a few moments of breaking the fourth wall that I found particularly amusing. The epic Engrish of the machinery was also much appreciated (“YES, MASTER!”), as well as Tsumiki’s incredibly random DBZ powers.

Unfortunately, not all the skits in this series have been this good. Episode 4 particularly felt rather bland, especially when the second half devolved into rather long, banal conversations about nothing particularly interesting or funny. (Let’s just say that *that* is what I find reminiscent of Lucky Star… DO NOT WANT.) All the new guest characters that showed up in episode 3 and 4 are also a hindrance to the humor, in my opinion. They lack the chemistry of the main five characters, and quite simply add nothing funny to the table. Perhaps they’ll develop some amusing quirks later on in the series, but for now their appearances just makes me want to see the five main friends goofing around some more. That is what I enjoyed about the first two episodes, after all.

In the meantime, perhaps some of the appeal of Acchi Kocchi is in this tight-knit camaraderie between the main five characters? This setup isn’t too unusual for this sort of anime, but the fun that they have is at least imaginative, and easy to relate to. I mean, snowball fights are fun and all, but who hasn’t imagined how much the premise could be improved with a snowball bazooka of some sort? =P