Ah, Abunai Sisters. It’s been nearly ten years since this strange anime short appeared and was thought lost merely by virtue of nobody buying it. As it’s been recently “unearthed” to the wider internet, I can now say with authority that the story of Abunai Sisters is much more interesting than the product.
The Kano sisters are (were, it seems like) Japanese celebrities who built a media presence on their curvaceous figures. In 2008 the Kanos (it is disputed whether they’re related, and they sure don’t look like it) took the step where so many Japanese celebs and entertainers flop: that first tentative push into international stardom. They did so in perhaps the weirdest possible way.
At Baltimore’s Otakon that year, the Kano sisters showed up peddling an unusual product to an audience with no idea who they were. (This honestly isn’t too uncommon at anime conventions, and sometimes it goes well.) That product: anime!
Abunai Sisters was to be a CG anime with character designs by the famous illustrator Susumu Matsushita (best known for Famitsu cover art) and produced by the famous Production I.G. of Ghost in the Shell fame. Any publicity that existed for this show pointed towards this point, and why not? IG is well-known for high-quality productions. In the right hands, even a tie-in product might be interesting to the kind of animation devotees who sit in on panels at Otakon.
EDIT 2/16/17: Luckily for you and me, Anime World Order’s Gerald Rathkolb went to see the Kano sisters that year and told the story of the panel in some tweets.
Anyway, click that. This is what they eventually put out. A complete disaster, a bad Tom and Jerry cartoon with boobs. Let’s pause for a minute to consider who this is for. Maybe the producers were under the misconception that American fans of Japanese cartoons would go for a Hanna-Barbera-type piece? That they would pay big for it, for some reason? Maybe they were just trying to save a product that shows every indication of no confidence whatsoever in itself.
Believe it or not, this the best episode of Abunai Sisters. There are nine more of these shorts, and they get worse as they go along. But those might not have existed yet.
In an early stab at crowdfunding, this 30-minute DVD would be paid for by fans in a format where the price goes down the more people buy.
Unfortunately, the product is Abunai Sisters. The start price for the US version is a shocking 34,000y (in the neighborhood of $300) and scales down to $60 if the series sells hit numbers. Note that for reasons unknown (if we were very generous, international shipping), US buyers pay 4000y more than their Japanese counterparts.
Typical perks were planned for the campaign, like figures, backer credits, and even a release party. However, I haven’t found proof that any of that ever happened… and the credits on the released DVD (the version that got ripped, anyhow) don’t mention backers at all.
It gets worse! Two episodes of Abunai Sisters aired in Japan on otaku cable channel AT-X. (Wikipedia says it was cancelled, but there’s no info in English to back the claim.) From this point, Abunai Sisters disappears from the view of everybody who didn’t pay up for the DVD, which is to say everybody, because they didn’t break 300 units sold.
Fast-forward a few years and it’s all up on Youtube, and again, it gets worse. The release version of Abunai Sisters inexplicably filters all of the dialogue to an unlistenable, chipmunk-high pitch. The original version uses lower-pitched and stereotypically American-style “sexy” English voices; to be quite frank, I suspect that the call to make the Abunai Sisters squeak was made by someone who didn’t speak English. As someone who does, it is quite literally painful to listen to this show.
I felt bad for the English voice actors; as bad as this series was, they didn’t deserve to have their performances butchered on top of it all.
The “lost” remaining eight episodes of Abunai Sisters just repeat themselves endlessly, from gags to story outlines to, occassionally, entire shots. The good guys are the sisters and their boobs and their boobs’ special powers (it’s no Keijo). The villains are ugly people after the source of their beauty, which is some rock, and ineptly try to steal it every episode.
Despite the classical Hanna-Barbera-style setup Abunai Sisters runs out of ideas almost immediately: half of the episodes follow the pattern that the sisters call a delivery service and the service turns out to be the bad guys.
The series sputters along, showing increasing signs of exhaustion by episode five or six. By the end the show just abandons any pretense of having any ideas at all, and the heroes and the villains just shoot guns at each other for a few minutes.
Once again, I must ponder who exactly Abunai Sisters was intended for. Was this just a celebrity’s tossed-off idea completed by IG as a particularly passionless quick gig? Did somebody just know somebody?
That’s my guess: the whole series has a kidding-but-not-kidding narcissistic angle as the sisters have to protect their beauty from an ugly old lady and her gross otaku henchman. (Did I mention this show casts the same guy it wants to pay $300 for the DVD as a villain?)
Aside from the terrible quality of the work itself, I feel like the people who came up with this idea didn’t understand their audience, either. They clearly knew that otaku shelled out huge sums for idol and anime stuff, but they had no idea what that audience wanted or why. If I could crack that code I’d be loaded, but I can tell you one thing they don’t want: a half-assed CG Hanna-Barbera ripoff with no jokes that stars Japanese MILF celebrities as secret agents.
Now if they had just gone with the second part of that description, they could have had a minor hit.
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