What do a lion, a jellyfish, a homosexual, a cat-eared goddess, a biological weapon and a regular schoolgirl all have in common? At first glance, nothing, but the answer lies in their DNA- all of them are ‘children of Enka’, beings containing the DNA of a powerful being that once tried to destroy the world. Afraid that the will of Enka will manifest in one of his descendants, Japan’s Department of Paranormal Phenomena sends agent Ouka Midarezaki to gather them together into a fully functioning family- but can the ties that bind counter the destructive urges of whichever of them inherited Enka’s power?
Even though crazy comedy rarely turns out to be anything more than tiresome, when Kyouran Kazoku Nikki burst onto the scene with its unlikely collection of protagonists, hopes were high that this would achieve what the likes of Disgaea could not. Yes, we had been burned before, but this time everything would be different- unashamedly outrageous characters and high energy situations would come together to provide a thoroughly entertaining experience.
Unfortunately, despite a promising start, Kyouran Kazoku Nikki soon goes the way of its predecessors, degenerating from amusing insanity into forced and pointless antics. Standard anime storylines are only made more tiresome when family matriarch Kyouka (the aforementioned cat-eared goddess) decides to use her self-proclaimed omniscience and omnipotence to stir things up at every opportunity- presumably the writers intended for her interference to spice things up, but instead you couldn’t help wishing that she would just go away and let events play out in the usual predictable way. Yes, it would have been bland, but it would have been easier to stomach than the endless craziness inflicted upon us in practically every episode.
There is, however, one exception, a shining jewel that proves how much more the series could have been- an episode cryptically entitled “The Forest of Vitamin C” that delves into the past of one of the characters and reveals dark secrets, complete with a chilling twist. Coupled with a lack of Kyouka’s usual antics, this is the one instalment where the series really shone, making the missed opportunities of the other twenty-five episodes all the more painful to bear.
Given their rather unusual and eclectic nature, it should come as no surprise that the characters have a large part to play in making the show what it is. Unfortunately, whilst everyone from the stoic lion Teika to the mysterious jellyfish Gekka has the potential to be an interesting and likeable character, the general insanity of the show tends to detract from their personalities, turning them into vehicles for tiresome jokes. Of course, it is Kyouka who suffers the most here- much as I really wanted to like her, I couldn’t help but be put off by her tendency to unnecessarily stir things up.
Despite boasting such varied main characters, the series is also packed with minor recurring personalities, usually of a one-joke nature. From mad scientists to monkeys and even cute pirate girls, Kyouran Kazoku Nikki seems determined to find every stereotype it can and transform it into something even more grating and annoying than it was before. As with everything else about the series, even the one shot characters who seem promising at first prove to be damp squibs, falling tiresomely into the same old patterns of craziness.
Visually, Kyouran Kazoku Nikki may not have a great deal of budget to play with, but nonetheless it does the best it can with a selection of bright and colourful character designs that will surely stick in the mind long after the storylines themselves have been consigned to oblivion. Background music is fittingly forgettable, although considerable effort has been made in creating a different ending theme for each of the main characters.
The latest in a long line of failed ‘crazy comedy’ series, Kyouran Kazoku Nikki erased any early signs of potential by descending into episode upon episode of mindless randomness and insanity. Although the one standout episode is something of a reward for those who persevere through the drivel, the best thing to do is avoid the series entirely.