Akihabara is in flames as giant police dog mechas bear down on panicking people. Suddenly, a metal fist pummels a mecha dog just as it’s about to crush a man, and the narrator kicks in. Flash back to a few hours earlier, as Hosomichi is heading to work around the time most citizens are being forced home by the curfew. What is his job? Hosomichi is a host in the last remaining Host Club in the so-called pleasure district, where people deal in otome and eroge games down shady back alleys. It’s the only remaining place in the world where one can be an otaku, but even then, one must constantly dodge the police and scathing looks of passersby. This is Fantasy Country Japan, and it’s under occupation by True Country Japan, a military dictatorship intent, it seems, on purging all forms of entertainment from the face of the earth.
Back to our host. He’s not a very good host. If he’s playing a type, it’s “annoying” and “inane”. And also “blind”, because he takes his glasses off when he starts working, which leads to the kinds of mishaps that one client finds amusing and the next, really really insulting, to the point where she hoists him up by his collar and threatens to pluck out his eyes if he’s not going to use them. Turns out she’s a General for True Country and came to check out the area before unleashing hell. Mecha destruction ensues and Hosomichi ends up piloting that “knock-off” mecha from the opening sequence. It runs on passion, and the one thing that the mecha’s cutesy avatar Battery Girl is passionate about is, you guessed it, anime! A few false starts and a close encounter with an enemy super-mecha later, they escape the battlefield, riding an ally’s flatbed truck like a skateboard out of Akihabara and into the sunrise. But wait…who’s that climbing out of the mecha?
This series is going to be infinitely screencapable! So many otaku in-jokes and fourth wall-busting. (For example, Hosomichi points out the illogical nature of Battery Girl’s catchphrase. Finally!) The world-building is pretty fun, and the combination of a melodramatically serious military dictatorship and the criminalization of otakudom alongside an mc who is reluctant to admit he likes anime is sure to keep the humor flowing. Don’t get me wrong—the hilarity isn’t on the level of, say, Wasteful Days of High School Girl, which also has fun with otaku culture, but it’s still pretty decent. Plus, Battery Girl is the least annoying mecha avatar I’ve yet encountered, and is also probably the most relatable character in the show so far. The twist at the end will have me tuning in for another week at least to see if this series can continue to bring the laughs and whether shared passion for anime can save the world…
Rumble Garanndoll can be streamed on Funimation.