Welcome to Irabu’s Office

Welcome to Irabu’s Office

Welcome to Irabu's Office anime series volume 4 cover art
Welcome to Irabu’s Office

Overview

Welcome to Irabu’s Office (Kuuchuu Buranko / 空中ブランコ) is a pretty strange anime series based on a novel series. And I think even the fact that this series was based on novels is weird in itself. While the plot and characters of the series are novel-like, the visuals make me think the source material should have been a manga.

The Japanese title of the series is also strange Kuuchuu Buranko translates to Trapeze in English, which is just the title of the first arc. It’s kind of like the opposite of Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai, in which the English title is just the title of the first arc. I think Welcome to Irabu’s Office is a much better title.

As for the plot of the series itself, it’s an episodic anime in which a therapist, Irabu, helps his clients overcome their various psychoses. It’s structured very similarly to other series I enjoy such as the Monogatari series and Mononoke.

However, while I’d like to suggest this anime to anyone who also enjoys those kinds of series, I’m a bit hesitant to. It’s not that Welcome to Irabu’s Office is a bad anime — in fact, it’s very good. But even compared to those series with their unique visual styles, this one stands out.

I’d argue that it’s more unique than the styles of either of those anime, and it also has a less polished look to it. And, I know that a lot of people are very sensitive when it comes to art styles in anime, so I feel that this is a warranted warning.

Welcome to Irabu’s Office is also one of the stranger series I’ve seen. There are a lot of things that are never explained, and the whole thing feels like a bad trip.

Characters

While this series is episodic, the rotating cast of characters who come through Irabu’s office do show up at various points of the series. I’m not going to cover each of these characters, but every episode takes place around the same time, so they can usually be found somewhere in the background even when they aren’t center stage.

The main two characters, however, are Dr. Ichirou Irabu and his assistant Mayumi.

Ichirou Irabu from the anime series Welcome to Irabu's Office
Ichirou Irabu

Despite being the main character of the series, Irabu is the character who’s explained the least. We know he’s a therapist who works in a hospital, he’s extremely childlike, and he has some sort of fetish regarding watching other people receive injections.

Irabu also has a unique way of treating his victims. After having Mayumi give them a vitamin shot which he admits does absolutely nothing, he generally just shows a fleeting interest in whatever is triggering his patient’s disorder. Then, the patient figures out how to help themselves, and Irabu moves on to the next one.

He also has this strange quirk by which he has three different forms. There’s the “bear” Irabu pictured above, a child Irabu who usually appears after the patient is given their injection, and an adult Irabu who’s typically around when the patient solves the mystery of their disorder.

These three forms are never formally explained in the anime though.

Then we have Mayumi, the best character of the entire anime. Mayumi is also mostly depicted in live action, not as an animated character — which is something I’ll get to shortly. She’s like a punk-ish take on the stereotypical “sexy nurse” trope. Also her only real purpose is to give Irabu’s patients their vitamin shots.

Art Style

I don’t think any review of Welcome to Irabu’s Office would be complete without taking a look at the way it blends 2D animation with live action. At first I thought it was a bit strange, but after just a few episodes it seemed almost natural.

With the exception of Irabu himself, the majority of the characters are depicted in partial live action. That’s to say that their faces are live action — or mostly live action — when they get close ups. This also helps the characters be a lot more expressive without the animation going “too far.”

Animation can be much more expressive than live action — just look at basically any anime from the studio Trigger. However, that expressiveness doesn’t work with every art style, so this series found a way to circumvent that issue.

Mayumi from the anime series Welcome to Irabu's Office
Mayumi

Interestingly, the least expressive character in the series, Mayumi, is also the one who’s mostly portrayed in live action. This is probably connected to the fact that Irabu, the most expressive character, is entirely animated.

Or, it could simply be that there’s no reason to animate Mayumi when you have Yumi Sugimoto playing her.

Either way, while some people might think that including live actors within an anime is weird or somehow bad, I’d argue the opposite is true. The mixture of these two mediums is actually one thing that makes this series unique, and is potentially the strongest part.

Conclusion

In the end I gave Welcome to Irabu’s Office a 8/10, but it’s also pretty close to a 7 for me. I don’t think it was quite as good as the similar anime I mentioned earlier in this review. However, if you want to watch something that’s different from any other anime you’ve seen before, this would be a good pick.

And if you need a bonus reason to watch this anime, it also has both a great OP and great ED. I’m actually not sure which of them I like more. If I really have to pick one, then I guess the ED has a better song, but barely.

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