If you were to take a look at the anime I own or have rented, there’s a good chance you’d notice a couple of patterns. Welcome To Irabu’s Office falls under two: Psychology and noitaminA. Those two reasons made me pick me up from the library. Now, before I go in to reviewing it, let me explain the two patterns it fits into:
Psychology – Irabu is all about Psychology, specifically people with mental illnesses. I’m no psychologist, but I do like anime that has to deal with the brain (watch Perfect Blue or Paprika for good examples).
noitaminA – Yes, that is a pain in the ass to type right even though it is just Animation backwards. Anyway, it’s a programming block in Japan that is home it generally excellent anime, such as Steins;Gate. Knowing the block for its good track record, that was what first grabbed my eye when looking at the box.
Now, on to the anime itself. The main character of the series is Dr. Ichirō Irabu… well, actually characters as Irabu has three different appearances and personalities, ranging all the way from kid to adult in a bear costume. Odd main character? Check. However, before we’re even introduced to Irabu, we’re introduced to the series rather unique art style instead. Calling it funky would be an understatement. It’s kinda like something you’d expect to see in MoMA. That said, Irabu is an extremely colorful series, has all non-important characters drawn as flat cardboard, remaining characters are your standard 2D anime styling, but the eleven patients (and Irabu’s assistant nurse) are occasionally a mix of drawn and overlaid live-action. It’s an odd combination of art styles, but it works and fits in very well. Experimental art style? Check.
The construction of an episode of Irabu is simple: we meet patient, patient goes to Irabu for help, patient gets a vitamin shot and turns into an animal (with funky colors of course), and begins working through their issue at the help of Irabu and his sometimes unconventional methods. Most of the patients also have the same condition: a form of OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder). However, not all of them have OCD as one has Yips and another has Cellphone Addiction. While for the most part their treatment from Irabu isn’t entirely conventional, the show does make an impressive attempt to stay as factual as possible. This attempt is largely facilitated by the character Dr. Fukuitchi, an actual(?) psychologist who humorously pops in the middle of a scene via a door to explain the facts behind a disorder and/or the treatment being undertaken. Each episode takes place over the same course of days: 17 December to Christmas. As the series progresses, we begin to see the patients bumping into each other without noticing it, tying everything together nicely.
While the progression of each episode is predictable, Irabu is an enjoyable series to watch with its experimental art style and various bits of humor. Sadly, it hasn’t been licensed in the US, so you’ll have to resort to a trip to Japan, Australia, New Zealand, or “other” methods. It is easily a series you should watch if you’re lucky enough to come across a copy of it. I may have to bring a copy back home to the US with me.