Ebichu the Housekeeping Hamster

Havoc's Rating: 3½ Rampages

Episodes seen: 6 of 6 Schoolgirl outfits are such a turn-on...

Meet Ebichu, the world’s furriest domestic. A cute and loveable hamster totally devoted to her mistress/owner (known throughout the series as OL, or “Office Lady”), Ebichu does all the menial tasks around the apartment that we humans find so dreary. She is cheery, helpful, funny… and wholly irritating beyond mere words to describe.

OL is an unhappy woman. She’s 25, usually considered the oldest a Tokyo girl can get and still have any prospect of getting married, and is therefore getting desperate to land a man. Her boyfriend, whom Ebichu despises and calls the “worthless bum”, is constantly cheating on her and making her feel cheap. Her lack of self-respect is obvious since she keeps taking him back and also beats mercilessly on the ever-faithful if naďve Ebichu.

Ebichu‘s determination to make her mistress happy leads to many misadventures and ecchi gaffes, which in turn lead to severe thrashings for the rodent. Ebichu not only cooks and cleans for OL but reads ecchi novels to her and whispers loving words in her ear at night to make her feel better in the morning.

Ebichu can even shop for herself, picking up new friends along the way, like the kawaii freak Maa-kun. He’s the only person in the show who treats her well. But Ebichu is still a hamster beneath her anthropomorphic behaviour, as her willingness to get into severe trouble for a wedge of camembert cheese or ice cream demonstrates.

OL punishes Ebichu once again

Havoc sez: “Gainax and Hideaki Anno take on the SPCA” would have been an apt alternate title for this show. Make no mistake; this endeavour has their little paw marks all over it. Ebichu is a seriously screwed-up show. Now admittedly, you cannot watch anime without watching talking animals, but this show is different. Ebichu is wonderfully loveable 95% of the time… it’s that other 5% that makes you want to join OL in turning her into a bloody smear on the wall. And that’s exactly what happens constantly. OL, her useless bum of a boyfriend and other people regularly beat Ebichu to a pulp. If you’re squeamish about animals and comical, abusive violence, and were mad at Princess Alielle for the way she treated Ura in El Hazard then you’ll hate this show.

I think you’ll alternately like/feel sorry for/be mad at Office Lady throughout these 8 minute episodes. She’s obviously having a rough time, but she also vents on her hamster, whose mindless devotion would give a Stepford wife pause. Mostly you’ll just think she’s a selfish bitch, I imagine, because that’s mostly what she is. You’ll despise Mr. Boyfriend, to be sure. He’s a stereotype of everything women who date hate about men. He plays OL’s emotions like a cheap accordion and then lures her back into bed to have sex while Ebichu glowers at him.

There is sex in this show. Nudity is rather commonplace for OL and sex scenes, quick and silly, are part of the strangeness. Trust me though, you won’t be watching this one to get turned on by the coitus. The sex, like everything else, is seen from Ebichu's point of view, so it's more like 'that weird thing humans do naked' than anything even remotely titillating, especially since it isn't drawn at all realistically, and also since everyone in the show has rather depressing and/or disturbing relationships.

Ebichu is a delightful character, with her little girl voice and mispronunciations (she cannot pronounce ‘s’, substituting ‘ch’ for it. “Desu”, therefore, becomes “dechu” in her lexicon). She is mostly cheerful, but prone to psychotic rages where the boyfriend is concerned. There is a wonderful nightime scene of Ebichu getting caught as she readies to bite his shmoo off as he sleeps.

Maa-kun is the strangest aspect of this show in many ways. Excruciatingly nice, he is a fanatic of all things kawaii and seems to be aroused by the hamster (he fantasizes about Ebichu while rogering his girlfriend in one episode) and you may find yourself hoping you don’t know anyone like him.

Another point about this show is the art. It is very simplistic, reminiscent of Crayon Shin-chan. One would get the impression that Gainax had a limited budget for the animation because they were too busy buying acid for Hideaki and the animators. Think “Evangelion ep. 26” and you’ll understand what I mean about the art.

It might be baffling to some that a show involving sex, philandering, animal abuse and implied bestiality could make it onto television, even in Japan; but that’s exactly what Ebichu did, as part of an hour-long late-night show of cartoons for grown ups and other defectives.

Ebichu was great. I personally loved it because it was so bent. Even amongst the Fanboys, my tolerance for bent is renowned. I recommend this show to those of you who have a very warped sense of humour. But NEVER show it to a newbie you want to get into anime. I did this and the first words out of my friend’s mouth were “What, exactly, did we do to the Japanese psyche when we beat them way back in ’45?” Basically, you’ll love “Ebichu, the housekeeping hamster” or you’ll hate it. There will be no in-between, I can assure you.

Herself the Elf sez: I agree wholeheartedly. I thought Ebichu was hilarious, but really messed up (what is it with all the wacked-out anime these days?). If you liked Ultimate Teacher, you'll probably love Ebichu. If you hated Ultimate Teacher, on the other hand, stay VERY far away.

Available only fansubbed (and likely to remain that way). Can be found on various FTPs, IRC channels and Morpheus/Kazaa.