I was hoping I could recommend this drama as an edgy, sexually frank high school comedy about a bunch of misfits with super powers. Unfortunately, I can’t do that as I have no idea where Minna! ESPer Dayo! is going even after four episodes. Is it supposed to be A) an absurdist anti-hero fantasy? B) a brutally honest account of how men are pigs in general? Or C) An excuse for Sion Sono (Love Exposure, Cold Fish, Himitsu) to see how far he can go before someone writes in to TV Tokyo to complain? (Well, since this is a midnight drama, the barrel is probably bottomless.)
Given what I’ve seen so far, I’m torn between (B) and (C).
Where you sit in class is important. You’ve got your cute transfer student, horny losers, yankiis, jocks…
Our story so far…
Rising It boy Sometani Shota plays Kamogawa Yoshio, a dweeby virgin with a raging boner for his classmate Asami (Mano Erina).
Turns out everyone with an XY chromosome in his school has the hots for her too. Why this is the case, I have no idea.
You know all those shoujo manga fantasies about perfect, emotionless pretty boys who don’t seem to have any interest in women?
Sion Sono is telling you that they’re all LIES.
At any rate, Asami is no doe-eyed ingenue either…
One day, Yoshio finds out that he, along with a bunch of other people, has ESP. If I had his power, I would have used it to get rich. Because Yoshio and his friends aren’t me, they use their powers to do stupid things, like reading Asami’s thoughts to find out whether she’s a virgin…
…and stuffing her cellphone up their ass. I couldn’t make this shit up even if I tried.
Maybe this is Sono’s way of saying that super powers, like youth, are wasted on the young.
I have no idea what purpose these two serve in the story but apparently they’re intrepid scientists who have come to research this sudden increase in ESP phenomena and save the world. From what, I have no idea (yes, this is going to be a familiar refrain throughout this post.)
Actually, why anyone does anything in this drama is beyond me.
Part of the reason I decided to check out this drama was because I wanted to see what Sono would bring to this live-action manga adaptation. I knew right from the start that it was not going to be a generic high school drama. What I wasn’t expecting was an 11-episode commercial for Tenga.
At first, I thought Minna! ESPer Dayo! was going to be a parody in the vein of the Yuusha Yohihiko series (alas, if only Fukuda Yuuichi had helmed this) but that would assume that this drama has a plot. It doesn’t. Apart from pantsu shots and dick jokes, there isn’t much else going on in this “story” (I am using this word loosely. If there is a point to anything in this drama, Sono is taking an awfully long time to get to it.) Yoshio’s fixation with Asami never goes beyond him saying that he wants to protect her and save the world, and as you can imagine, it gets monotonous after listening to him repeat the same thing for the nth time. You just wish he’d grow a pair and ask her out properly already.
I am assuming that Mano Erina’s involvement in this drama is an attempt on her (or her agency’s) part to shed her innocent idol image but apart from thinking some rather bitchy thoughts and being shown to be more than aware of the fact that she’s the object of lust for many of her schoolmates, this isn’t all that subversive a role. I keep waiting for this drama to reveal something about her character but apart from flashes of her underwear, Asami is no different from Mano’s former role as an idol — she’s just someone onto whom the boys can project their fantasies.
As for Kaho, I’m curious to know whether she would would have signed on for this project if Sono had not been involved in it. It’s great that she isn’t letting her image dictate the kind of role she plays but I seriously doubt the first thing that went through her mind when she read the script was, “Wow. This is brilliant stuff!!!” (Then again, given the type of roles available to actresses her age, maybe she did think that. Who knows?)
At this point whether you decide to continue with this drama depends on how much you like pantsu shots and your threshold of tolerance for what passes off as humour in this drama. I don’t have an issue with ecchi and I’ve watched my fair share of low brow comedies but Minna! ESPer Dayo! takes things to a whole different level with characters whose knowledge of women is derived mostly from porn. In the four episodes that I watched, I don’t think I came across a male character who didn’t view either Asami or Mizuki as a sex object. And when you have an entire episode that’s centred around finding out the colour of a girl’s nipples, that’s a sign that it’s time for me to check out of this drama.
tl:dr: Stick to Sono Sion’s movies. Controversial as many of them may be, at least he has ideas to convey. This is dreck.