Punchline will, at first, seem like FLCL meets Bleach: and then you realize it's really just FLCL but with its own take on an absolutely ridiculous pubescent allegory. A bus gets hijacked. A random and very goofy juice-themed hero shows up to save the day. Some dork on the bus sees some panties and goes pervy Super Saiyan. And here's the punch line of Punchline: while in his powered up mode, if the main character Yuta sees another pair of panties, a massive asteroid will collide with Earth, ending life as we know it.
To make matters worse, Punchline kicks off with Yuta having his body possessed, but with all of the rules of panty-viewing being transferred to his newly disembodied soul. Thus the plot of the first episode largely revolves around the fact that it is really easy for an incorporeal being living in a house with four women to accidentally see some panties.
In contrast to other helpings of fan service which I have decried this week, the excessive panty-viewings in this episode are to forward the plot. You might be thinking, "well isn't that convenient?" but let's be serious: acting like sexuality--especially budding, immature sexuality--cannot be the topic of a show is the wrong way to go about understanding, appreciating, or even criticizing particular shows for awkward sexual situations.
With that said, it's not as if you'll be able to get past the fan service in this show if gratuitous ecchi just isn't your thing. In that respect, this show has a limited demographic. I myself have mixed feelings about it, even though it's integral to this plot in a way that only felt gratuitous insofar as it was really central to the show: the show is about a guy who's superpowers revolve around seeing panties. It’s sort of hard not to get carried away with an idea with that much potential for humorous situations. And, ultimately, because this show is about someone who will destroy the world if they peep too much, this show is not about a young perv, but a young man who has to learn to keep it in his pants, lest he end human society.
The production values are fantastic, and the animations style lends itself to the humor of situations really well. My particular favorite character was the shinigami cat, half because it was animated to really humorous effect, and half because the cat is just a straight-up asshole and incredibly unhelpful to Yuta.
The shinigami dimension of this series, mixed with the weird superhero team situation that's going on in the house, made for an episode that makes the viewer ask a lot of questions without answers. Once the bomb gets dropped about Yuta's pervy superpower, the rest of the elements of the show sort of take a back seat; for instance, I actually forgot that Yuta was a ghost halfway through the episode. It's not something that lacks execution, but it's something that will warrant attention as the series progresses: either multiple strands of this show will be executed effectively, or it will just become a show about panties, and thus no longer worth anyone's time.
It's likely that Punchline is worth your time. But we will find out in very short order whether or not this series can explore the meaningful themes that I've given it credit for, or if it just turns out to be another ecchi-filled panty raid.
Punchline 1.1 Official Site