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Anime / Kujibiki♡Unbalance

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TV anime promotional art.

Kasumi Kisaragi: The kujibiki is fact. The kujibiki is fate.
Ritsuko Kettenkrad: And the kujibiki is final.

Kujibiki♥Unbalance originally started as a Show Within a Show within Genshiken. It is an intentional conglomeration of every anime genre and trope that the producers could cram in. Clips of it were animated for the Genshiken anime adaptation, and three complete episodes — the first episode, a Clip Show, and the second-to-last episode — were produced as an Omake on the Genshiken DVDs. They proved to be so wildly popular that the series was produced as its own standalone anime series, which aired in the Fall 2006 season.

The series follows a slate of four candidates for the Absurdly Powerful Student Council at an Elaborate University High. The school where the action is set has an unusual tradition: both the admissions test and the student council elections are chosen by lottery ("kujibiki" in Japanese). At the beginning of each year, the entire student body is divided into slates of candidates, who compete with each other through an enormous Tournament Arc of wacky Cooking Duel competitions. Naturally, there's a Love Dodecahedron at work, including a Childhood Marriage Promise between the protagonist and the current Student Council President.

The remade series, this time a complete one, is similar, but with a different art style, different group of candidates and a different setup for them to succeed. Rather than many groups competing, the next student council has already been decided, but in order to prove themselves worthy they must complete tasks put to them by the current council. These range from finding the last missing member in the first episode, to things like protecting the president from a bomb threat (and that's just the second episode). The DVDs of the remade series, in a role reversal, contain 3 OVA episodes of Genshiken.

It has now been released as a manga too, with a bonus section... where the remaining Genshiken members discuss the new manga.

Compare with Getsumen to Heiki Mina, another defictionalized Show Within a Show.

Tropes present in both versions:

  • Alpha Bitch: Renko. Less so in the TV series in which she only really has one flunky and is part of the main team rather than a rival.
  • Ancient Tradition: Drawing lots from the Kujibiki determines your fate, and there are no do-overs.
  • But Not Too Foreign: Ritsuko Kubel Kettenkrad: half-German, half-Japanese.
  • Cherry Blossoms: Seen in the first episodes of both the OAV and TV series.
  • Cliché Storm: An intentional, tongue-in-cheek example, as the series is deliberately packed with tropes that were common in anime and manga around the time its parent series Genshiken was first published, particularly those that capitalized on the Moe boom of the early-to-mid 2000s.
  • Cliffhanger: Episode 25 ends just before the final round of the Kujibiki is announced; since it's not a real series, this ends up as a No Ending.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Tokino in both versions is quirky in ways other characters comment on, but she's more grounded in the TV adaptation.
  • Genki Girl: Both Tokinos, but particularly the 2nd one.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Of course, since most of the series takes place at school, the characters spend most of the time wearing school uniforms.
  • Love Triangle: It's primarily a choice for Chihiro between Tokino and Ritsuko.
  • Parental Abandonment: We never see anyone's parents, and it's pretty clear that Chihiro just lives with his older sister.
  • Post-Episode Trailer: In the OVA, they only bothered animating any scenes for the trailer at the end of episode 1 - the other episodes have a generic animation of the characters and a live-action scene of Ritsuko's helmet on the beach. The 2006 series has full trailers, but with the twist that they're narrated by the cast of Genshiken instead of the anime itself.
  • Unwanted Harem: Chihiro is the only boy in the incoming council, and the outgoing council he has to deal with is all girls. Plus there's his sister.

Tropes from the OVA episodes:
Cast of the original shorts.
  • Aspect Montage: The series starts off with one of the day beginning in Chihiro's house.
  • Brown Note: Tokino's singing voice causes pain, vomiting, abject fear, distress in infants, vehicular accidents, agitation in cats, heart failure, plagues of rats, birds falling, plants dying, plane crashes, and glass to explode.
  • Childhood Marriage Promise: Chihiro and Ritsuko, though Ritsuko pretends not to remember.
  • Cooking Duel: An entire series of Cooking Duels, if the Recap Episode is any indication.
  • Cute Witch: One of the rounds pits the team against a group of Cute Witches. They appear, riding on broomsticks, in the opening.
  • Dreadful Musician: When Tokino sings, her voice drops several octaves compared to when she's speaking, it causes cars to crash, birds and planes to fall out of the sky, mass nausea, and underflows the karaoke machine to give her a max score.
  • Grand Finale: Episode 25 at least sets up for one.
  • OVA: What the series is in real life (though it presents itself as three episodes of a 26-episode TV anime).
  • Plot-Mandated Friendship Failure: Episode 25 has the main characters giving up on the Kujibiki and going their separate ways, before reuniting by the end.
  • Recap Episode: Most of the second OVA episode.
  • RPG Mechanics 'Verse: Including explicitly "HP" and "MP".
  • The Rival: In the OVA, Renko is this to the main team.
  • Tournament Arc: The entire point of the OAV episodes.

Tropes from the 2006 series:

  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: Koyuki's brother has one, which he uses to slice off Izumi's goggles in episode 10 with.
  • Action Girl: Izumi Tachibana, and Komaki, Koyuki's sister who's the chef at the restaurant they regularly visit.
  • Adaptation Personality Change: Tokino gets the biggest change to her character as well as her design, being a sweet, grounded girl who's Born Lucky rather than the ditzy, mushroom-obsessed girl she was originally.
  • Adaptation Species Change: In the OVA, Alex is a human character. In the TV series, he's a dog (and also the current student council secretary).
  • Aloof Dark-Haired Girl: Kasumi, the vice-president. While Ritsuko is aloof by duty, she seems to be so by nature.
  • Ascended Extra: Renko was originally a rival to Chihiro's group, and Koyuki was the sister of one of his teammate's. In this series, they both become council members, instead.
  • Big Brother Attraction: Inverted with Chihiro's older sister Shinobu, who makes it all too clear that she wants a less-than-familial relationship with him, often giving him The Glomp, and even sneaking into his bed while he's asleep and attempting to molest him. And although she's supposed to be older, her small size makes her seem like his younger sister.
  • Born Lucky: Tokino's quirk in this version. Chihiro, in contrast, is known for his terrible luck.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Tokino believes this is one of the problems between Chihiro and Ritsuko. Tokino herself finally confesses to Chihiro at the end of episode 8.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Chihiro's sister Shinobu. She hates seeing other girls around him, especially Tokina.
    • Yamada acts this way towards Renko in episode 9 when the latter creates some more robots. Ironically, said robots were intended to help Yamada, but she takes it the wrong way, and feels Renko is trying to replace her.
  • Contrived Coincidence: When Koyuki was trying to get a scoop for the newspaper club, she wanted him to cover her having psychic abilities as the story. And just as she does that, a UFO lands, and a giant robot attacks them, conveniently giving her a chance to show her powers to him, as well as provide an even more awesome story to cover.
  • Cursed with Awesome: Koyuki's ESP, which allows her to teleport, as well as move objects without touching them. She feels alienated because of said power, until Chihiro tells her otherwise.
  • Cyborg: Yamada. It's never made explicit exactly what modifications Renko made to her, and it's treated as something of an Unusually Uninteresting Sight, with nobody finding it especially strange that Yamada can be rebuilt into various vehicles.
  • Demoted to Extra: Komaki Asagiri was the future treasurer on Chihiro's team in the OVA and Genshiken series, but she is instead swapped out for her little sister. She does appear at the restaurant the team frequently eat at as the chef, hidden behind thick glasses.
  • The Determinator: Chihiro manages to make his way through the attack being used on him in episode 10 by a mind controlled Koyuki, who's being manipulated by her brother to attack them.
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: After the love potion fails to have the desired effect for Shinobu, she stomps on back of the other teacher who made the potion. He doesn't seem to mind it.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Chihiro's sister, who manages to avoid an incoming car by going on two wheels while driving alongside the bus he's riding on.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Yamada does this after thinking that Renko's going to replace her.
  • Drunk on Milk: Although Yamada ends up drinking milk instead. She even hiccups after drinking around 17 bottles.
  • Elevator School: Played straight with Koyuki. But the name is played with when Chihiro and Tokino are wandering around and taking an elevator to various floors at the school, such as an aquarium and a bowling alley.
  • Expy: Chihiro in the 2006 series bears an uncanny resemblance to Negi Springfield; considering that the series is said to be created by "Yuu Kuroki" (an obvious dig at Ken Akamatsu), this may not be coincidental.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: For the US releases of the DVDs, each volume's title is a reference to a different anime: "No Need for Chihiro", "Love Rikkyoin", and "The Melancholy of Ritsuko Kettenkrad". Appropriate given the series' origin.
    • Also, in the show itself, each episode's title is a fortune ("Xth Lot/Kuji") , with a number of points at the end.
  • Fanservice: YMMV on Renko in an unexpected Ms. Fanservice role (with gratuitous Panty Shots and all).
  • Foreshadowing: In episode 9, Yamada mentions how Renko can cook, clean, shampoo, and condition all by herself after she's been "replaced" by other robots. Turns out that Renko built said robots to help with shampooing and conditioning.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Renko invents some really weird things, but they usually turn out to be useful for whatever situation they're in at the time.
  • Genre Shift: The show starts off all goofy and silly until episode 5. Where the series then turns into a dramedy with very few funny moments.
  • Heroic BSoD: The main characters suffer through these at various points in the show. They usually snap out of it shortly afterwards, except in episode 11.
  • Hot-Blooded: Renko often seems a bit too overexcited about almost any situation she's in.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Koyuki at first, until Chihiro talks to her about her "abilities".
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Invoked by Tokino in episode 12, when she tearfully tells Ritsuko that Chihiro loves her, and that she's the only one that can snap him out of his current Heroic BSoD. Ritsuko herself does it a few moments later largely by going overseas to study, partly because she wants to learn more, and partly so she's not in Tokino's way.
  • Ki Manipulation: Koyuki, in the TV series.
  • Loophole Abuse: Koyuki's a candidate for the student council despite being an elementary school student, because she grabbed the lot. "The kujibiki is final."
  • Love Epiphany: Tokino realizes this in episode 8, by Ritsuko's fiance who points out that that's what the funny feeling in her chest is when she sees Chihiro dancing with Ritsuko.
  • Love Hurts: Tokino doesn't seem very happy when she sees Chihiro walking Ritsuko with an umbrella to her car in episode 4 in the rain. She later has the same feeling when Ritsuko takes him as her dance partner in episode 8.
  • Love Is in the Air: Chihiro's sister Shinobu creates a Love Potion to win the affections of her brother; an accident has the potion cause this effect centering on either Shinobu herself (in the anime) or Chihiro (in the manga).
  • Mobile-Suit Human: A large alien that lands near campus is revealed to be two tiny aliens.
  • The Mole: This version's Izumi. She doesn't have the goggles, but is still a tough tomboy. And still on the side of the good guys.
  • Mythology Gag: Several elements from the original series reappear in different forms, such as the aliens (who become friendly in their second appearance), Alex (now the Student Council secretary and a dog) and Renko's dumb muscle (now a pair of robots she creates).
  • The Napoleon: Renko (in both versions, but this one even has a gag about it).
  • Nice Guy: Chihiro, and Ritsuko's fiance, surprisingly enough. Unlike other shows of this type where said fiance's are usually JerkAsses, he's the one who allows Chihiro and Tokino into Ritsuko's private birthday party, he doesn't get jealous or angry when Ritsuko dances with Chihiro, and he kindly points out that Tokino's unease at seeing her two friends so close is her own feelings towards Chihiro surfacing.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: While Shinobu isn't a bad guy per se, in episode 3 Chihiro and the others are having no luck whatsoever trying to find the missing panda, despite their traps. Meanwhile, Shinobu had one of the other teachers create a Love Potion for her to use on Chihiro. It turns out the potion worked a little too well. Soon Tokino and several dozen students, along with the missing panda and some zoo animals, begin chasing after Shinobu while she tries to escape. She later loses the potion, and unintentionally causes the two pandas to fall in love, thus solving Chihiro's initial dilemma, along with Tokino, still under the effects of the potion, giving Chihiro a kiss.
  • Ninja: In this version, Komaki.
  • Oh, Crap!: The aliens have this look when they run into Koyuki.
  • On the Next: Even the new KujiUn is still a Show Within a Show, as the characters from Genshiken are discussing the show's progress over the previews.
  • Power Glows: Koyuki's hair glows whenever she uses her powers.
  • Rank Scales with Asskicking: The current vice president is able to stop Renko's out of control mouse trap robot with one flick of her finger.
  • Ridiculously Human Robot: Yamada, to the point where many people didn't even know she was a cyborg.
  • Scary Shiny Glasses: Chihiro does this briefly in episode 10, but then reveals he's still the same guy to Koyuki.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: When Koyuki is kidnapped in episode 10, Chihiro and the others are told not to do anything about it, as the current student council was trying to resolve the situation. However, their first plan didn't exactly go very well either, so Chihiro, Tokino, and Renko all decide to rescue Koyuki themselves. They finish the job just as the student council's Plan B kicked in, and a lot of guards arrive at the building.
  • Secret-Keeper: When Chihiro finds out about Koyuki's powers, he promises not to reveal it to anyone, as he feels doing so would cause more trouble than its worth, and doesn't want to ruin their friendship.
  • Serious Business: The school has such a reputation that there are spies all over, as well as assassins and even an army of guards.
  • Shrinking Violet: Koyuki, who's often hiding behind Chihiro.
  • The Power of Friendship: Used a few times, once on Renko in episode 5, later on Izumi in episode 7, and then on Koyuki in episode 10.
  • The Reveal: When everyone finds out Komaki is really Koyuki's Cool Big Sis rather than her mother, and that she's also a guard for the current student council.
  • Ten Minutes in the Closet: When there's tension between Tokino and Chihiro, Renko invents some sort of washing machine funhouse and traps the two in there. It doesn't really work, but it was a good attempt.
  • 10-Minute Retirement: Chihiro at the end of #11.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: Deliberately invoked, as lampshaded by one of the next episode previews.
  • Tough Leader Fašade: Ritsuko. She does not allow herself to show kindness or indecisiveness as a requirement of the office. In the end she is glad to leave the position for her successors.
  • True Companions: Chihiro, Tokino, and Renko all rush to save a kidnapped and mind controlled Koyuki from her brother who turned to evil in episode 10. Chihiro also uses The Power of Friendship to snap Koyuki out of her mind control.
  • Unlucky Childhood Friend: Ritsuko towards Chihiro, and Tokino feels like one at times.
  • Umbrella of Togetherness: In episode 4, Chihiro offers to take Ritsuko towards her car with the umbrella she loaned to him and Tokino, as she still has to walk a bit in the rain to get to the car picking her up. Tokino seems uneasy when she sees him doing this with Ritsuko.
  • Unrequited Love: After Tokino confesses her feelings to him, Chihiro seems a little uneasy around her when they're alone. Both Chihiro and Ritsuko seem to feel this way towards each other as well, although Ritsuko being in an Arranged Marriage doesn't help matters.
  • Wham Line: Tokino gives one to Chihiro at the end of episode 8 when she gives a Love Confession to him.
    • Chihiro gives one to his friends at the end of episode 11 when he says he's thinking about giving up the student council president candidate position.
  • Yakuza: One of the foes in the TV series.
  • You Don't Look Like You: While most characters' designs are slightly different from how they first appeared in the OV As, Tokino has the most radical redesign, going from short blonde hair to longer brown hair worn in pigtails.