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Irabu the Psychiatrist (although it's generally referred to as Trapeze) is a series of short stories about psychology from 2002-2006 by Hideo Okuda and follows the misadventures of the psychiatrist Ichiro Irabu, his nurse Mayumi, and the several patients they treat at Irabu General Hospital. (Before you ask, his father owns the place. Could you imagine this guy running a hospital? ...brr.) Unlike other doctors, though, Irabu's eccentric treatments demand that his patients have to get worse before they get better.

The short stories are compiled into three books: In the Pool, Trapeze, and Mayoral Election. However, only the first of these has been released in English. Ten stories from all three books were adapted into an anime in 2009 (also titled Trapeze) along with an eleventh, original story. Three stories from In the Pool were adapted into a film in 2005, the story "Trapeze" into a live-action made-for-TV movie in 2005, a stage play in 2008 and the first 2 chapters of each book into a (extremely obscure, crappy and supposedly disowned) manga in 2004, too, but you're probably here because of the anime.

And don't you dare go making the assumption that this show was animated anywhere near normally. It makes viewers fear for their own mental health. The show has a surreal visual style with psychedelic colors, trippy imagery, constant art-shifts, and occasional live-action.

Stories:

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    In the Pool 
  • "In the Pool": Kazuo Omori, a man in the magazine business, turns to swimming to reduce stress, but his ritual quickly turns into pathological obsession. Adapted as the first plot thread of the film.
  • "Making a Stand": Tetsuya Taguchi, a salaryman, accidentally drops a book onto his morning wood and finds that his erection is now permanent. Adapted as the second thread of the film and the second episode of the anime.
  • "Trade Show Model": The story of Hiromi Yasukawa, a a trade show "booth babe".
  • "Cell": Yuta Tsuda, a high school student, has a compulsive texting problem. Adapted as the sixth episode of the anime.
  • "Double Check": Yoshio Iwamura, a journalist, obsessively worries about whether he left the stove on, at one point missing a flight to run back home. Adapted as the third thread of the movie (with a female protagonist, Suzumi Iwamura) and the eighth episode of the anime.

    Trapeze 
  • "Trapeze": Kohei Yamashita, an aerialist, has problems accepting the new foreign aerialists who can't speak Japanese and can't seem to hold onto him during the trapeze act either. Adapted as the first episode of the anime.
  • "Hedgehog": Seiji Ino, a yakuza, has a phobia of sharp objects. Adapted as the seventh episode of the anime.
  • "My Father-in-Law's Wig": Tetsuro Ikeyama, a neurologist and colleague of Irabu's, has vibrant intrusive thoughts of himself doing impulsive, dangerous things. Adapted as the fifth episode of the anime ("My Father-in-Law's").
  • "Third Base": Shinichi Bando, a professional baseball player, is intimidated by a new draft and develops the yips. Adapted as the fourth episode of the anime.
  • "Lady Author": Aiko Hoshiyama, a female writer, is so stressed over the possibility of recycling her plots that she experiences intense nausea whenever she brainstorms. Adapted as the third episode of the anime, with the changed title "Romance Novelist" and a male protagonist named Junichi Hoshiyama.

    Mayoral Election 
  • "Owner": The story of Mitsuo Tanabe, owner of a newspaper and a baseball team. Adapted as the tenth episode of the anime.
  • "Anpon Man": The story of Takaaki Anpo, a student at Tokyo University.
  • "The Business of Charisma": Kaoru Shiraki is an actress suffering from narcissism. Adapted as the ninth episode of the anime, with the changed title "Talented Child Actor" and a male protagonist named Hiromi Yasukawa.
  • "Mayoral Election": The story of Ryohei Miyazaki, a worker for the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.

Meanwhile, the anime's eleventh episode is titled "Canary" and is an original scenario about Hideo Tsuda, an emergency room surgeon at Irabu General and the father of Yuta Tsuda from "Cell".


Tropes:

  • Afraid of Needles: Ino the yakuza. note  The needle phobia goes into pure Hilarity Ensues combined with Dr. Irabu's obvious needle fetish...
  • Ambiguously Gay: Dr. Irabu.
  • An Aesop: If you have problems, see a mental health professional.
    • Also, from the last episode: Pay attention to your relationships, those act as "canaries" for your sanity.
  • Animal Motifs: Although they may already be present, Mayumi's "vitamin shots" will always induce them with the exception of Tanabe and Hideo Tsuda who have different transformation problems. Yamashita the trapeze artist is a penguin; Taguchi the erect is a rhino (he's horny); Hoshiyama the romance novelist is a chicken laying empty eggs; Bando the baseball player is a (racing) horse; Irabu's colleague Ikeyama is a chameleon; Yuta Tsuda the texting addict is a woodpeckernote ; Ino and his rival are both neurotic toy dogs (they come to have similar problems, namely Linus syndrome); Iwamura the reporter is a raccoon; Yasukawa is a performing sea lion.
  • Art Major Biology: Occasionally the details of a case break from reality for the sake of the story, although it's instantly noted whenever this occurs.
  • At the Opera Tonight: A major plot-point in episode 5, and the major occurence is quite literally an example of Truth in Television (specifically a rotoscoped excerpt from the Real Life opera The First Emperor about Qin Shi Huangdi).
  • Cast Full of Pretty Boys: The anime. They even turned two female patients male to keep it going.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Irabu. The least of his eccentricities is probably his fetish of the backflow of blood into a syringe.
  • Couch Gag: Every episode has end-credits artwork pointing to the subject of the next episode, ending with the patient ending up at Dr. Irabu's office and a promo for the next ep. Done in particularly hilarious fashion for the end credits of Episode 5/preview for Episode 6, featuring a patient with a texting addiction; and the preview for the episode after that, which is full of fish and doggy pawprints (the subject is...a yakuza).
  • Deranged Animation: Yes.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: In the anime, every patient has a cameo before their proper debut. Helps that they're all being treated concurrently.
  • Eleven Episode Anime
  • Epiphany Therapy: An odd example, but it's definitely there. Rather, there are no loud, spectacular epiphanies, but the psychological problems seem to just quietly stop existing. Keep in mind each patient sees Irabu for, at most, a week, and we've been dealing with deep-seated stuff like obsessive-compulsive disorder and dissociative identity disorder. The series finale has an interesting example of epiphany therapy in that Irabu seems to just manually extract Hideo Tsuda's neurosis.
    • Though mostly averted in episode 8... As the patient's epiphany was more about learning how to deal with his OCD in the long run, and it's noted that instant cures do not always happen.
  • Evil Laugh: While Irabu is not evil per se, he definitely laughs like this.
  • Expressive Mask: Irabu's mascot bear head, occasionally.
  • Expy: Mayumi is a lampshaded one of Ringo Shiina in the novels.
  • Eye Scream: Ino wears a pair of goggles on the off-chance this trope might occur, since he's terrified of sharp objects.
  • Faceless Masses: More precisely, if you don't have a speaking part, you're a moving cardboard cutout. Played With in episode 5, where a couple people on a train and a lecture hall full of college students suddenly become human with comical "pop" sounds just to gasp.
  • Former Child Star: Shiraki/anime!Yasukawa.
  • Gag Penis: Taguchi.
  • Gender-Blender Name: There are two Hiromi Yasukawas in this series: a woman in the books ("Trade Show Model") and a man in the anime ("Talented Child Actor"). Apparently Mr. Yasukawa is a Mythology Gag.
  • The Hecate Sisters: Inverted completely by anime!Irabu; he's male, his oldest form is an immature adult, and his youngest form is a Deadpan Snarker.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Iwamura in the film; Iwamura in the anime goes from writing sports articles to a teen mag and back again, but makes his big break with an expose.
  • Jukebox Musical: by Denki Groove.
  • Kuudere: Although Mayumi's only deredere moments so far are to tell Hoshiyama that Tomorrow made her cry and ask him to write another book like it and to invite Yuta to a Christmas party.
  • Male Gaze: Anytime Mayumi shows up, but turned Up to Eleven during episode 2—all of episode 2—to visualize the permanent hornyness of the patient.
  • Market-Based Title: According to the English noitaminA website, the official English title is Welcome to Irabu's Office :).
  • Medium Blending: Or "hybrid animation", as the show calls it.
  • Mind Screw: Honestly, Irabu is just confusing. This gets even worse in episode 11 where all three Irabus appear contemporaneously in The Stinger.
  • Minor Injury Overreaction: Every time somebody gets a shot. A bit justified; thicker needles hurt, man!
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Removing Ike's father-in-law's toupee. Accompanied by a golden light and an operatic bellow.
  • Naughty Nurse Outfit: Mayumi.
  • Older Than They Look: Tanabe, who looks maybe 30 but was a young man during the post-war reconstruction. Subverted; his post-traumatic stress flashbacks muddled how he perceived his own age. He's actually an old man like you'd expect.
  • Pen Name: Hoshiyama's real name is Toriyama.
  • Raging Stiffie: A week-long one as a psychosomatic ailment, even!
  • Security Blanket: A yakuza has one in episode 7. The Predictable Yasu (rival ganglord to Ino) is shown to use a wakizashi as a security object.
    • Also Ino's skier's goggles in the same ep as prescribed by Dr. Irabu as a Magic Feather to treat Ino's sharp-objects phobia.
  • Shown Their Work: The narration is interrupted from time to time to Info Dump psychology facts relevant to the plot. In one case it's also used to point out something that wouldn't work in real life, but was used in-show for the sake of the storyline. These sessions are in part designed to remove stigma regarding mental health treatment. It's also interesting how there are slightly different diagnosis criteria between Japan and the US.note 
  • Spirit Advisor: Irabu, in the anime. After Mayumi's shots, Irabu's patients see and talk to him everywhere. What is actually happening is unclear, given the wacky nature of the show. Irabu is probably not actually present—he's treating all 11 patients during the same week, so presumably he can't be in 11 places at once, and sometimes he's shown on screen when it's obviously impossible for him to actually be there, such as when he speaks to Bando, on the field, during a televised pro baseball game. It's up to the viewer to determine whether he actually is there "in spirit" or if this is simply a creative way to depict the patients recounting the events of their day to him in a counseling session after the fact.
  • Split Personality: Yamashita.
  • Super OCD: There is one obvious example in Iwamura, who didn't start off so extreme and worsens over time. The term OCD is applied differently in Japan, so two other characters stated to have OCD are neither examples of the trope nor would they receive the same diagnosis in the west.
  • Theme Tune Cameo: The anime uses instrumental mixes of various famous Denki Groove tunes, including the anime's opening, "Upside Down", as its soundtrack.
  • Trickster/Stealth Doctor: The closest one can come to describing Irabu. Half the time he drives his patients up the wall with his childish antics and hair-brained folk cures. The other half of the time he gives advice to the patients to take self-centered actions. All of this usually is intended for the patients to eventually reach an epiphany and help them help themselves.
    • Dr. Irabu's therapy consists of a combination of placebos (the infamous Vitamin Shots) and essentially encouraging his patients to embrace their inner child or at least their true feelings to the point of being a blatant enabler for this in the fourth and fifth episodes.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Apparently Irabu does not stand out at all compared to all the normal-looking people around him.
  • Visual Pun: In "My Father-in-Law's": Swing and a miss!
  • Widget Series
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Yamashita's purple, Taguchi's green, Hoshiyama's red and yellow (possibly an aversion, since his actor has his hair colored the same way), and Bando is a sort of auburnish, but Irabu takes the prize—just look at him.


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