We've finished watching Trapeze. At eleven episodes, it's a short series, but it certainly packs quite a punch. First episode review is here.
The connecting theme is the treatments that Dr. Irabu, a psychiatrist, administers to his patients. Every episode, there's a person with a certain symptom. They get a vitamin shot from Mayumi (the nurse of your dreams/nightmares) -- and then their heads turn into an animal to signify their neurosis. In the course of a week (December 17th to 24th), Dr. Irabu coaches his patients at work or at home, having them do all sorts of weird things. He is, in fact, quite childish and impulsive -- sometimes even openly laughing about the symptoms of his patients and even triggering some neurotic episodes. But in the end, the patients either are cured or learn to live with their neurosis.
It's an interesting theme for an anime series, and it's quite enhanced by the intermissions from an actual psychiatrist who offers some quick bite-sized insights from the actual field of psychology and psychiatry. The plotting is also pretty interesting: the patients actually run into each other, or witness something that happened to the other -- it's all intertwined, and while that's not the main point of the series, it appealed to me a lot.
The main reasons to watch this series are the colorful characters and the rather unique visual style.
The characters are all quite unique -- Dr. Irabu himself at the front. He comes in three 'version's: as a guy with the head of a mouse, a young man or a small kid -- and depending on the situation or what he is saying, he will appear in one of these forms. Nurse Mayumi starts out as eye-candy (with long shots of her cleavage underneath that pink uniform), but later on starts to have an active part in the therapies. And the patients themselves are very, very interesting. It starts off with a xenophobic trapeze acrobat (hence the name of the series, I guess), but also has an obsessive author of romance novels and a yakuza underboss who's afraid of sharp things. Sometimes things get so bad that they can barely function, and it's interesting to see how Dr. Irabu solves those cases (and luckily, all of them end well). It's refreshingly grown-up.
The visual style is also very distinct. Some scenes have been acted out in live-action -- sometimes drawn over, sometimes barely touched up. The backgrounds are brightly patterned, and innocent bystanders are drawn in 2D. There's lots of movement and color, but it's not as bizarre as Kaiba -- in fact, it's the real world as seen through a slightly psychedelic viewer.
The voice acting is OK, and the music is really catchy too.
- Colorful characters;
- Interesting subject matter and expert opinions;
- Unique visual style;
- Mayumi. ;) Though there was a shot of her smiling and waving, and that was really creepy for some reason.
- Takes some time getting used to.
All in all, a must-see. I'll give it an 8.5.