Looking at a blurb for Punch Line you’d be forgiven for laughing it off and moving on. But, Punch Line is much, much better than it really feels like it has any right to be. It’s no stretch to say it’s one of the best original anime in recent years, and without a doubt of 2015. For all its panty peeking premise it’s genuine, warm, and even quite progressive.
The key thing most people will tell you about Punch Line is that part of the premise involves the world being destroyed if main character Yuta Iridatsu sees a pair of panties. What? How does that make sense? Well, the planet is hit by a meteor if this happens. But still, how does that make any sense at all?
Well, it’s just something you’ll have to go with, but that’s far from being the only thing Punch Line is based around — although rest assured it can and will be explained. Yuta’s body is also stolen by someone, turning him into a ghost, and forcing him to meet up with a ghost cat. He needs to get his body back, and also stop the impending threat of that meteor.
It all sounds kind of complex and strange. That’s why if I tell you that the writer of both the Punch Line anime and its concurrently developed video game is Kotaro Uchikoshi and things begin to make sense. Uchikoshi is the writer and creator of the Zero Escape series, well known for its brilliant storytelling and no small amount of mindfuckery with its twists and turns.
Punch Line is very much built from the same mold, though at the same time is almost the antithesis in terms of tone. Somehow his rich style of storytelling fits perfectly with this wonderfully bright and bubbly panty-peeking (or rather the avoidance of panty peeking!) adventure. And that’s all because of the characters.
While the plot is twisty, packed with surprise, and a little bit hard to follow, you don’t necessarily have to try too hard. The plot is there, and is of course releavent to the anime, but the true appeal of the series lies in its main cast. Yuta has been living in an all girl (of course) building, and via his interactions with them as a ghost has to push them to explore their own problems and grow a bit closer to one another.
The terrorist organisation trying to destroy the world with a meteor kind of takes a bit of a backseat most of the time in favour of seeing how this tight cast of characters interacts with one another. Also two of Yuta’s housemates are both Strange Juice, a superhero, and Pumpkin Chair, her assistant. Just go with it.
This can lead to some of the twists and the climax feeling a little rushed. It’s fair to say that despite being generally pretty light and jovial shit does get very real more than once. This is an anime that definitely seems like it could be a novelty to skim over at first, but definitely ends up being much better than anyone would really expect.
The involvement of Uchikoshi was more than enough of a pedigree to get me interested, and it certainly delivered. There is genuine warmth and charm throughout every inch of Punch Line, and its quirky lewd humour is always self-aware enough to not come across badly, packaged with a story that is much stronger and more involving than you’d expect. Not to mention the art style and animation is mega colourful and just all around gorgeous.
Also, there’s the pigeon dance, which is probably all you really need to know.