So, if you readers have HBO and have watched it recently, you might have come up across ads for a new comedy, Flight of the Conchords. I’ve seen the three episodes that have come out so far, and each has been hilarious in their own way (which is kind of hard to do in entertainment nowadays). For those who are lazy to click the link, the show revolves around a duo of New Zealanders known as Bret and Jemaine who try to become a popular band in New York City. The chemistry between the two with themselves and others as well as the band’s penchant for randomly breaking into song depending on the situation makes it fun for me. After a couple of minutes watching though, I found myself reminded of that crazy Nabeshin work, Nerima Daikon Brothers, and how there are similarities (and sorta-similarities) between the two musical comedies. Given that I’ve only seen three episodes of NDB, this shouldn’t be too in-depth. 😛
We can start off with the goals of the two groups. As stated earlier, Bret and Jemaine aim to make it big with their band. Based on how they sound when actually performing in a gig (which is apparently rare for them), that sorta seems viable. In their random tunes however, that goal becomes questionable and pretty amusing. The majority of the show also doesn’t focus on the duo being a band, but on the semi-ordinary lives they’re living, which is the point. The Nerima Daikon Brothers (2 guys, a girl and a panda so far) also wish to make it big in order to create a stadium on their daikon farm to perform. This is the active point of the series (it seems), as the trio attempt a variety of money-making schemes to make that dream closer.
It’s also important to consider how the music used in both series works. In Flight, the music adds a dimension of humor and originality to the show. As stated earlier, the show would be just fine showcasing the situations that Bret and Jemaine have to deal with on their way to wherever. Yet the random bursts into song make the duo seem more likeable: with styles of music from soft rock to reggae to Marvin Gaye-esque commentaries on the world based on whatever situation the two are in (from just talking about seeing a nice-looking girl at a party to trying to scare away muggers with song and dance), everything becomes funnier and the duo become much more goofier than initially suspected. In NDB, we have main melodies that repeat every episode as the band goes through variations on the same theme, with the only difference in the lyrics used based on the situation. While initially fun, that sort of thing can get boring pretty fast, especially when it accompanies wacky antics that don’t change too much. I was starting to get tired of the shtick when episode three ended, and considering how NDB relies on the musical aspect, this worried me.
Both musical groups have facilitators that try to help them reach their goals. Bret and Jemaine have Murray, a fellow New Zealander, as their manager. He’s constantly trying to find the two gigs, with limited success, while balancing them with his job at the New Zealand Consulate; his attempts to be bossy yet at the same time “one of the guys” is done well, making him an integral minor character in the show. For the Nerima Daikon Brothers, they have an ally in the form of the Rental Shop Owner, who suspiciously has the silhouette (I didn’t see the face in the three episodes) of one Nabeshin. After pleading for some help done in song and dance, the owner bestows upon them items that rectify whatever situation is present, but usually results in some hijinks when used. It’s not a strectch to say that he’s my favorite character in the show, which might say something if director self-insertion is one of the better things I can get from NDB. 😛
After that, I can’t think of any strong comparisons between the two series. The type of comedy presented by both is different (situational vs. wacky, real life vs. anime), and though I like the two shows in different ways, humor is always hit or miss with people. That being said, it’s always nice to find parallels of some shape and form between anime and other media. And a plug for either show is fine too~