Midway through the spring anime season, I called Henneko: The “Hentai” Prince and the Stony Cat one of the anime you could skip...something which I will now take back. Because while there is much I would normally hate in a show like Henneko, all that is overshadowed by just how damn funny it is.
Bad - Full of Pandering
Let me be clear: As a rule, I quite dislike moé pandering in anime. The overt over-sexualization of young girls for no reason other than blatant fanservice infuriates me as a viewer.
And Henneko definitely has far more than my meager threshold in terms of pandering. Butt shots, swimsuits, accidental gropings, typical “harem anime” clichés, and stereotypical “romantic” situations galore permeate this series. But despite all this, Henneko was able to win me over because it really is that consistently funny.
Good – Liar Liar
The first arc for Henneko is similar to the plot of the Jim Carey classic Liar Liar—only with Yoto, the most perverted kid in high school, suddenly being unable to lie. To get back his ability to lie, he must find the person who now has it and get her to give it up. This is inherently a great setup for a comedy and is made even better as Azusa, the girl who received his ability to lie, is unwilling to do anything but lie. Thus Yoto is forced to push her lies to the breaking point—in the most over-the-top, hilarious ways imaginable—to try to get her to give up his ability to lie.
Good – Tsukiko
Then there is Tsukiko—the perfect foil for Yoto. While Yoto wishes away his ability to lie, she is an overly emotional girl and thus she wishes away her ability to show emotions. This leaves her with nothing but a blank face and flat monotone—making her the ultimate deadpan snarker for any given situation.
Her emotionless voice is the core of many of the show’s best gags, like her singing happily in monotone or reading a children's book. The occasions where she is clearly irate—like when she is reading the titles of Yoto's busty-centric porn DVDs one by one as she destroys them—are particularly funny as well. And as she shows no emotion, it is often as difficult for us, the viewers, to understand her emotional state as it is for Yoto, making her the show's most intriguing character.
Good – Be Careful What You Wish For
Even after the Liar Liar arc of the story is resolved, the series continues to dish out the comedy by exploring the characters through a “be careful what you wish for” motif.
The nominal “Stony Cat” is able to grant seemingly any wish—and often without the wishers even knowing they have done so. At one moment, the entire world has been erased except for a single house. The next, the school is transformed into a masterpiece of roman architecture.
Yet, it's not just a question of “who made the wish?” but also “why?” and “what does that mean for how we understand the characters?”
On top of that, the darker side of wishes is also explored. Like what happens when you wish someone to love you (and thus rob him or her of free will) and how even the most kind-hearted of wishes can have adverse effects down the road. All in all, the wishes make for an entertaining and insightful plot device.
Henneko: The “Hentai” Prince and the Stony Cat is a rare breed of anime, able appeal to the moé-loving fanboys and, once you get past its pervy trappings, the more general anime audience at the same time. Every moment of pandering doubles as the punch line of a joke, making it possible for me (and those like me) to enjoy the show despite a general aversion to the fanservice. If you are a lover of slapstick, situational comedy, or just want to see what Liar Liar would be like as an anime, be sure to give Henneko a try.
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