Image source: ヤオヨロズ株式会社 on YouTube

Following the trend in anime of anthropomorphizing…well, everything, Love Rice is a short form anime series about anthropomorphized rice. Feel free to reread that sentence.

From producer Yoshitada Fukuhara comes Love Rice, the story of a group of pretty boy anthropomorphized rice brands forming an idol group to save their school. If the concept of “saving the doomed school through the power of popularity” seems like a well-tread path, that’s intentional. Love Rice is a very self-aware satire that utilizes a mountain of rice puns and inside jokes to fuel its humor.

The anime is a short form series, which works great, as an endless parade of gags and puns is sustainable for only so long before the viewer’s brain blows a fuse. From the start, this series is pretty much pun city. Rice puns, bread puns—the rice characters’ rivals are anthropomorphized bread—inside jokes about rice, jokes, and puns upon jokes and puns… Unfortunately, pretty much all of the jokes require knowledge of Japanese and Japanese culture—pretty extensive knowledge in some cases—to understand. But, if you’re like me and have been steeped in Japanese culture for years, the whole thing is a treasure trove of hilarity and balls-to-the-wall madness that is being played off completely straight in a Gakuen Handsome way.

Each character is a specific brand of rice with character traits tied into their brand name or brand history. For example, the character, Hitomebore, whose name literally means “love at first sight” in Japanese, is a casual flirt who can’t avoid talking to any cute girls he meets.

Speaking of characters, one character is named “Chinko Bouzu.” Directly translated, his name means “penis bald man”—this is a legitimate rice brand name in Japan. It’s like if there was a show about anthropomorphized cheese and there was a character named “Dick.” My inner five-year-old is laughing every time the character shows up. And they can get away with the joke because, again, it’s a real rice brand name.

In addition to all the rice humor, each episode ends with a creative recipe for cooking with rice that runs behind the credits. The recipes seem really good and, personally, I want to give some of them a try.

I mentioned above that the producer of the series is Yoshitada Fukuhara. For those who don’t recognize the name, he is the producer of Kemono Friends, last season’s unmistakable smash hit in Japan. After seeing what Kemono Friends has done—to both the industry and to Richard‘s brain—I’m willing to give Fukuhara a pass to see if lighting can strike again with Love Rice.

Sadly, with all the inside jokes and caveat-laden puns, that will probably make this series a thing of nightmares for any subtitler who is unfortunate enough to take it on, I get the feeling that Love Kome won’t be enjoying a very wide Western audience. Still, I’m looking forward to sitting back and enjoying the humorous creativity of the creators in this show. From what I’ve heard, the production meetings are pretty much an endless string of rice puns, much like the show itself.

Love Kome –We Love Rice– can be viewed with English subtitles on Crunchyroll.

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