Punch Line is an ecchi comedy Anime series, made by MAPPA and written by Kotaro Uchikoshi (of Zero Escape and Ever17 fame) for the noitaminA block line-up for Spring 2015 Anime season.
Yuta Iridatsu is not having a good day. It all started when the bus he was on was hijacked. Thankfully, Strange Juice, the ally of justice, appeared and managed to defeat the terrorists! But one member was hiding among the passengers and put the heroine at his mercy. It is then that Yuta catches a glimpse of Strange Juice's panties... which gave him a power-up?!
He uses his new found strength to throw the villain along with himself out of the bus, both of them falling into the river. Strange Juice saves him and once again, he sees her underwear, which makes him pass out. When he comes to, he finds himself at his apartment building, the Koraikan. What's more, he's now a ghost! Another ethereal being, a cat-spirit named Chiranosuke, explains to him that no, he is not dead, but simply suffering an out-of-body experience. The bad news is, some other ghost used this opportunity to posses Yuta's body, locked himself up in his room and placed magic seals so that no spirit can enter.
... wait, what?
The ghost boy has only one hope if he wants to reclaim his life - he must embark on an epic quest to find the Nandala Gandala - the sacred book of ancient India, with houses information on a secret ritual that will help him repossessing his body. The location of this enigmatic grimoire is... somewhere in Koraikan. Yuta goes to look for the Nandala Gandala, which accidentally leads him to see panties of his NEET neighbor, Ito. Once again, power wells up in him, but in panic he goes and witnesses yet another panty shot. This one gives him a massive nosebleed... and causes a giant asteroid to crash into Earth, destroying all life on it.
No worries, though! Since he's a spirit now, silly things like quantum physics don't apply to him anymore. As such, he can go back in time and try again, always keeping in mind to avoid arousal, or he will bring doom on the entire human race... again. Things get even more complicated when he finds out that his sweet idol neighbor, Mikatan Narugino, is actually Strange Juice! And on top of that, Koraikan's manager, Meika Daihatsu, knows this and aids her, with includes a massive underground base beneath the apartment building!
Okay, seriously, WHAT DA FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU-
And so Yuta's odyssey begins, filled with ghosts, Time Travel, super heroes, idols, terrorist organizations, world destruction and panty shots. Lots and LOTS of panty shots. And, somewhere along the way on this comedy of cosmic proportions, maybe he'll figure out what's the punchline supposed to be.
The show, in all its insane glory, is licensed in North America by Sentai Filmworks. It can be watched on Crunchyroll. A Visual Novel version of the series that re-tells the events of and contains several clips from the anime released on the Playstation 4 and Playstation Vita in mid-2018.
This series has examples of:
- Adaptational Alternate Ending: The Visual Novel and the Anime have different endings, although this was less because of adaptational differences and more to encourage fans to watch both. In the anime, Yuta/Pine refuses to allow Guriko to return to Mikatan/Chiyoko's body to die in her place, and does so himself; the rest of the cast mourn him in the ending, and Rabura speaks to his spirit. In the VN, he does allow this, Guriko dies in Mikatan/Chiyoko's place, and Chiyoko and Yuta/Pine end up back in their original body, with Yuta/Pine taking the place of Strange Juice as a secret hero - as he now has the powers of a W, but the face of a wanted terrorist.
- All Cloth Unravels: Mikatan accidentally pulls a string out of Meika's sweater while riding off to fight crime. This leaves her only in her underwear, which an already aroused Yuta sees. BOOM.
- An Offer You Can't Refuse: The Qmay leader makes an offer to Yuta and Mikatan to join his group, where their survival would be ensured, and Mikatan's condition could be cured. Unfortunately this also means the other residents of Koraikan, along with the rest of humanity, would have to be sacrificed in the process.
- Apocalypse Cult: The Qmay Group intends to have an asteroid wipe out humanity except for their own group, as they see ordinary humans as imperfect and therefore not worth saving.
- Barehanded Blade Block: A variation of this occurs in episode 12, when Chiyoko stops Guriko's katana from killing Pine by using her wristband.
- Beehive Barrier: The spirit barrier preventing Yuta entering his own room takes shape as a field of hexagons.
- Bifauxnen: Despite looking like a boy, Yuta is actually physically a girl. More specifically, Yuta is the soul of a boy who ended up in the body of girl following a "Freaky Friday" Flip a decade ago.
- Big Damn Heroes: Done a few times in episode 11.
- Bittersweet Ending: The Qmay Group and its leader are defeated and the meteor heading toward Earth is destroyed, but Chiyoko sacrifices herself to stop Yuta and Guriko from fighting and Guriko switches bodies with her and returns Mikatan to Chiyoko's body just before Chiyoko succumbs to her side effects and Guriko passes away in hers. The series ends 49 days later when the Spirit Yuta heads back in time to accomplish a bright future...that may just be the one he came from.
- Broken Bird: Ito tells Mikatan about why she became a shut-in during episode 5. She tells her that a teacher took her home once because it was getting late. Unfortunately a popular girl at school who liked the teacher saw that, and immediately went about ruining Ito's reputation at school. The other girls would trash her schoolbooks, steal her clothing, and at one point threw gum in her hair, and cut it short. She refused to tell anyone about the bullying, thinking it either wouldn't matter, or would make things even worse.
- Building of Adventure: The Koraikan apartment building.
- The Cameo: Iori Minase from The Idolmaster appears with the group of idols in the video that Yuta is watching in the epilogue.
- Cast From Hitpoints: The super-mode that various characters can do, such as Mikatan turning into Strange Juice, has a cost. It releases natural limiters the body produces, allowing a person to become incredibly strong and fast. Unfortunately if they use it too much, this also takes its toll on the body since it can't withstand repeated usage of said power. In episode 11, Meika warns Mikatan that if she uses this power even one more time, it may end up killing her. Episode 12 confirms it, when she uses it to stop Chiyoko from killing Pine.
- Cliffhanger: Episode 11 ends on one, with the US military firing a large salvo of rockets at the Koraikan house before the credits roll.
- Which becomes a Cliffhanger Copout in the next: Meika had an energy shield ready for that possibility all along.
- Colony Drop: An asteroid is predicted to hit Earth, and pretty much kills everyone. Played for Laughs initially after Yuta suffers a Nose Bleed, but episode 6 reveals this has happened repeatedly in the past, and Kenji Miyazawa, aka a future Yuta, has been trying to prevent this from happening.
- Conservation of Ninjutsu: Pretty much any time the heroes face off against a lone opponent, they have a tough time. But when they're faced with a large group, this trope comes into play and they take them out quite easily, such as in episodes 11 and 12.
- Cool Bike: Strange Juice has a huge assortment of badass motorcycles.
- Credits Running Sequence: Yuta in the opening, and Mikatan in the ending.
- Cruel Mercy: What Pine does to Guriko in episode 12. The latter offered to transfer his body back to him, and die in her original body being occupied by Chiyoko/Mikatan. But Yuta refuses, saying he's going to make her live and repent for her sins in his body, and switches his soul with Chiyoko, thus allowing her to live at the cost of dying in her body.
- Despair Event Horizon: Yuta nearly loses all hope after failing to stop the Qmay from launching missiles at the asteroid in episode 10 and begins to write U-turn in the book to pass to a later Yuta, much like he saw in episode 6. He then decides Screw Destiny, and attempts to change it anyway.
- Diabolus ex Machina: If Yuta gets aroused too much, a meteor appears out of nowhere and annihilates all life on Earth.
- Downer Ending: The end of episode 6, right before Yuta goes back in time again. Dialogue in episode 7 reveals this has happened several billion times now.
- Drop the Hammer: Kenji Miyazawa uses one in episode 11 to fight some police officers with.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: The residents of Koraikan really have to work to prevent the destruction of Earth thanks to the Qmay group. Subverted in that Yuta ends up dying in the process, though it's implied his future version may survive yet another time leap.
- 11th-Hour Superpower: Rabura performs an exorcism on the possessed colonel in episode 12 to free him from the Qmay's influence, and stop him from killing Ito, Meika, and kidnapping Muhi. Up until this point she never seemed to have any actual powers except when Yuta possessed her.
- The End of the World as We Know It: What happens if the asteroid hits Earth:
- Played for Laughs when Yuta gets aroused twice in a row.
- Played straight in episode 6, when Kenji/Future Yuta reveals to Yuta that this has happened many times in the past before, and was warning him to try and alter the future to prevent the asteroid from hitting.
- Fanservice: Plenty of it, mostly in the form of, you guessed it, panty shots. To be fair, the show is pretty casual about it.
- Flashback: Most of Yuta's interactions with the other residents is shown this way, since as a ghost, he can't really talk to them.
- Foreshadowing: During the opening, the male and female symbols on a bathroom sign start attacking Yuta for no seemingly discernible reason before other sign characters join in. Later on in the series, we find out that Yuta is physically female, but spiritually male as a result of being placed in another body during a "Freaky Friday" Flip.
- "Freaky Friday" Flip: 9 years before the story started, Pine, Guriko and Chiyoko accidentally did a 3-way body swap. Chiyoko's spirit entered Guriko's body, which resulted in Mikatan. Pine's spirit entered Chiyoko's body, which resulted in Yuta. Guriko's spirit presumably entered Pine's body, the whereabouts of whom is currently unknown... Until episode 9, when it's revealed Guriko became the leader of the Qmay group, and thus the Big Bad...
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: In the ending credits of episode 12, there is a scene of Mikatan performing on a stage, followed by Meika cheering from the audience. Logically, it might be Chiyoko using Face Maker to impersonate herself, but still... It's an unexpected appearance of a Posthumous Character.
- Freudian Excuse: In episode 12, Guriko tells Pine about why he was so hellbent on destroying humanity via the asteroid impact due to the cruel experiments they performed on him throughout the years, and the loneliness he suffered due to being separated from him and Chiyoko.
- Gender Bender Angst: Yuta switched bodies with a girl ten years ago. He hates it and still lives as a boy.
- Gilligan Cut: In episode 8, Yuta is asked to sing karaoke. He refuses to initially, but the next scene shows him doing just that.
- Grand Theft Me: Someone, or something, stole Yuta's body, kickstarting the plot.
- Gratuitous English:
- The "Cheermancy" song in episode 2.
- The Qmay cult leader in episode 3 speaks in broken English as well.
- Ground Hog Day Loop: Implied from dialogue in episode 6, when Yuta is told about the incoming asteroid impact, and going back in time to prevent it. In the next episode, some Wham Line dialogue reveals that he has failed over six billion times.
- Hacker Cave: Meika's secret base. Her Hollywood Hacking appears to consist of assembling 3D objects from oddly-shaped parts.
- Healing Factor: Muhi is capable of this, as he gets cut by Turtle Man, only to then recover moments later.
- Helping Would Be Killstealing: Yuta attempts to alter events that occurred after returning to his body, but he's stopped by Chiranosuke, stating that said events have to occur so the women can form a strong bond with each other. Otherwise they won't cooperate with each other, and thus ensure that the Qmay's plans to destroy humanity succeeds.
- High-Pressure Emotion: Mikatan in episode 6 after Rabura suggests she hook up with Yuta. Meika then reveals Yuta is actually a girl.
- Hikikomori: Ito is one, implied to be the result of bullying.
- Instant Awesome: Just Add Mecha!: Ito ends up piloting Meika's mecha to fight against the US Army in episode 11.
- Jigsaw Puzzle Plot: Despite all the random elements in the plot, one can't escape the feeling that they're the part of a bigger, if wacky, picture. As it's by the same writer of the Zero Escape and Infinity series, we cannot expect anything less.
- Kill 'Em All: The Qmay's ultimate goal is to have the asteroid impact Earth, which would gradually kill off all non-Qmay people. Yuta intends to stop this although according to Chiranosuke, he's failed this several billion times already.
- Killed Off for Real: Zigzagged. Ito is dead at the beginning of episode 5, but Yuta travels back in time to prevent her from going to the place where she was going to die. He manages to prevent that death from playing out, but the killer is still out there.
- Limited Animation: Not the anime, but the VN adaptation of all things is very, very cheaply made. Plenty of the animation is pretty low quality, and the game significantly suffers Going Through the Motions due to the very short animation loops. It's all the more jarring compared to the scenes taken from the anime, which are 2D as opposed to 3D and look fantastic compared to the rest of it.
- Magic Brakes: When Rabura tries to stop the bus during the opening scene of episode 1.
- Magic Enhancement: Cinnamon, of all things, enhances ghost powers.
- Meaningful Name: All of the cast.
- Iridatsu Yuta - Yuutai ridatsu. "Yuutai" means "ethereal body", "ridatsu" means "withdrawal", so his name refers to how his spirit and body are separated.
- Daihatsu Meika - dai hatsumeika. "Dai" can mean "great" and "hatsumeika" means "inventor", put them together, you get "great inventor".
- Hikiotani Ito - hiki ota NEET. This one is pretty self-explanatory, as she's an hikikomori, a otaku and a NEET.
- Chichibu Rabura - chichi burabura. "Chichi" is one way to say "boobs", and "burabura" is an Japanese onomatopoeia "walking aimlessly". This reflects how she has the largest breasts out of the cast and doesn't really know what to do with her life.
- Chiranosuke - chira no suke. "chira" means "glimpse/peek", and "sukebe" translates to "lecher", so basically he is a lecher who peeks.
- Narugino Mikatan is a bit more elaborate. It's a play on "seigi no mikata", with translates to "ally of justice", based on the alternative reading of the character 成 (read as "Naru" in the name, while also having the reading "Sei").
- It also sounds similar to "Mikan", meaning mandarin orange.
- Even Muhi. Muhi in Japanese would be spelled "ムヒ". A strange name indeed, but not so strange for a bear; the Japanese word for bear, kuma, is written as 熊. Even if you can't understand or read kanji, you can see that the letters ム and ヒ are in there!
- Meganekko: Both shut-in geek Ito and genius girl Meika always have cute glasses on. Having two main characters being meganekko in such a small cast is actually pretty rare!
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown:
- Strange Juice tends to do this when fighting.
- Several characters are subjected to this by Turtle Man.
- Kenji Miyazawa does this to Turtle Man in episode 6.
- Nobody Can Die: turned Up to Eleven in the final episode. In spite of Ito having machine-gunned soldiers, guided military missiles to hit their firers, smashed helicopters into each other and blown up tanks, it's later stated that no-one in the army was killed in the battle!
- Nosebleed: Yuta will splurt a massive blood fountain if he's aroused two times in a row. May count as a Deadly Nosebleed, since it's quickly followed by the asteroid colliding with Earth. It doesn't actually cause the asteroid to hit Earth so much as it causes his ghost form to break down and thus he fails to stop it happening, resulting in another failed timeline.
- Not-So-Phony Psychic: Rabura Chichibu is a phony psychic that doesn't believe in spirits and whatnot... but she's the only one that can be so easily possessed by his Yuta. She also performs a epic exorcism to exorcise Tsubouchi's spirit from the US Army colonel's body in episode 12.
- Panty Shot: Shown from time to time. Yuta also catches a glimpse of them, which for some reason spells trouble if he gets aroused twice in a row.
- Parody: Yuta's situation involving panties is pulled straight out of a Visual Novel with Dating Sim elements. The twist is that any form of Fanservice quickly leads to a Bad Ending...but Yuta can hit the Reset Button much like how a player can reload from their last save.
- Phlebotinum Analogy: Chiranosuke explanation on to why Yuta can't travel back in time to before the bus hijack using breasts as analogies. Yuta is not amused.
- Pocket Protector: Kenji Miyazawa gets shot accidentally by Turtle Man in episode 5. But after gaining a Heroic Second Wind due to seeing Mikatan's panties, he shows back up on the roof of the apartment. Turns out he was wearing a large metal plate in his suit, which stopped the bullets from penetrating his body.
- Poor Communication Kills: Rabura was drowning her sadness away, because her client called her a fraud exorcist. Meika was trying to cheer her up using a motivational program called "Cheermancy"... which consists of a weird song and dance in a pigeon mask. The problem is that, in Japanese, "Cheermancy" sounds exactly like "Necromancy". So rather than feeling cheered up, Rabura thinks that Meika is making fun of her, and Meika thinks Rabura is bitchy for no good reason.
- Power Perversion Potential: Yuta's ghostly status allows him to easily pass through walls and peek on the female residents of the Koraikan...but see Can't Have Sex, Ever.
- Pun-Based Title: Punchline's Japanese title is "Panchirain". In Japanese, "panchira" means panty flash, while the word as a whole is pretty close to "pantyline".
- Punched Across the Room: Happens to various characters throughout the show.
- Running Gag: Whenever Chiranosuke looks up something online, his first site is usually something irrelevant to the plot, such as two cats having sex. After a while Yuta lampshades this and asks if the cat doing that on purpose.
- Sequel Hook: The anime ends with the Spirit Yuta saying farewell to the others before he goes back in time to receive a brighter future. Or alternatively he ends the Stable Time Loop by going to the first timeline and possessing his body there.
- Shipper on Deck: Rabura for Mikatan and Yuta in episode 6.
- Spirit Advisor: Chiranosuke, bordering on Exposition Fairy territory.
- Stable Time Loop: One interpretation of the ending. The "surviving" ghost Yuta, the one native to the last timeline, goes back in time to possess his past body. It's suggested he goes back to the first timeline, thereby completing the loop.
- The story lampshades one particular Bootstrap Paradox: Who actually designed Meika?
- The Stinger: One happens at the end of episode 6. Yuta travels back to the past again, after being told by his future self that he's done this many times already, and failed each and every time. He re-enters his body which is being looked over by Strange Juice.
- Switching P.O.V.: The first 6 episodes are seen from Yuta's point of view as a spirit. From that point on, he returns to his body, and things are shown again, this time from his POV while in his body. His spirit form can also be seen attempting to reclaim the body as he did in the earlier episodes.
- Super Mode:
- Both Yuta and Strange Juice have one that enhances their physical abilities.
- Turtle Man shows he can also do it as seen in episode 6.
- There Is No Kill Like Overkill: The US military launches a barrage of artillery, bullets, and rockets at the Koraikan apartment at the end of episode 11 in order to stop Meika from destroying the asteroid. They fail due to Meika activating some Deflector Shields.
- Why do they want to stop her? Well, apart from Qmay's machinations, it's because her method of destroying it is to hack multiple military systems to fire every nuclear missile in the world at it in the hope of breaking it apart.
- Throwing Your Sword Always Works: Technically it's a hammer and a rifle, but both Kenji and Strange Juice do this in episode 11. In the latter's case, she did it because she ran out of ammo.
- Tonight, Someone Dies: Judging from what happens in The Stinger for Episode 4, it appears that Ito will die, complete with a shot of her dying wide open. Episode 5 is titled "Ito Dies".
- Transformation Sequence: Mikatan changes into Strange Juice in a flashy, Magical Girl-style... then we are shown how it actually looks like. Its not half as glorious as it seems like. It doesn't even transform her - it just drops down her super hero costume from a hidden compartment. Which she still has to put on herself.
- Widget Series: Very much so, and it won't let you forget it!
- Wham Episode: Episode 6. The guy in the gas mask is Ito's teacher, and he's a total Yandere. But he was also possessed by the Big Bad, who wanted the bear's Healing Factor body. The asteroid is coming down to Earth and nothing can stop it. Masked superhero Kenji Miyazawa is the guy possessing Yuta's body and his true identity is Yuta's future self. He claims that this timeline is doomed and that this has happened many times before. He tasks Yuta to possess his past self and fix everything. Oh, and Yuta's biologically female.
- Episode 9. Gliese is Guriko who is the leader of the Q-May group.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Mikatan is terrified by turtles.
- Xanatos Gambit: The Qmay group attempts to stay one step ahead of Yuta and his friends to ensure the asteroid hits Earth and wipes out ordinary humans. Even when the Koraikan residents seemingly defeat one plan, the Qmay group simply uses another tactic, such as calling in the US Army after Yuta and the others defeat a local police force to buy time for Meika to hack enough military servers to launch missiles at the asteroid.
- You Can't Fight Fate:
- Yuta attempts to prevent Ito's death in episode 5, and at first successfully manages to get Mikatan to stop Ito from going to the shrine. Unfortunately the killer then kidnaps Muhi and still attempts to kill her after she doesn't show up. Yuta's attempt to warn Rabura and Meika about it ends up with Meika getting shot, along with Kenji Miyazawa.
- Yuta is faced with this again after attempting to prevent the asteroid from hitting. Unfortunately the Qmay group attempts to stay one step ahead to ensure everyone aside from their group is wiped out.