What’s it about? The titular gal, Kaede, wakes up in her apartment after a night of drinking to discover that she agreed to let a dinosaur crash at her place! On the bright side, it turns out a dino makes for a pretty chill roomie.
Did you like Pop Team Epic? I hope so. Otherwise you’re gonna have a bad time with Aoki Jun’s latest multimedia mashup.
Gal & Dino is somewhat hard to get a read on, because it spends so much of its first episode throwing things at the wall to see what will stick. The lengthy 22 minutes are split between 2D animation, stopmotion/3D animation, and live-action segments.
And it’s. Just.
Y’know, lemme process this as I go, and y’all can come along with me. I like to think it’s what Aoki would want.
The 2D segments—short interludes in the style of a four-panel gag strip—start the show with the weakest foot forward in order to lull the audience. They’re extremely gentle punchlines that mostly involve long shots ending with a character underreacting to something, a style that’s worked wonders for many a low-key comedy but underwhelms when the opening theme has just assaulted us with live-action shots of the most unsettling mascot costume I’ve ever seen.
The titular dino has the same energy as your memories of being overwhelmed at a theme park, age six, as a summer employee in a felt-covered sweatbox lumbers over and unintentionally looms at you. Its eyes are dead things. Its mouth never closes, but only because it’s already exactly the right size to fit your head inside. This is not the mascot that ruins your childhood by taking its head off to have a smoke out back. It never takes its head off. It can’t.
The 3D animated shorts, styled as YouTube videos, end up forming a bridge between styles. The dino tried to keep the lid on his ramen from popping up. The dino is menaced by cats at a bus stop, because cats can sense the absence of a soul. The animators seem to be having a lot of fun mixing computer animation with physical media, like paper cutouts.
And then the ending, which plays a game so long I can’t help but admire it, is a live-action short. They’ve replaced Kaede with an older gentleman named Mieharu, who as near as I can tell was a TV drama actor who transitioned to a television personality, mostly playing himself during the 2010s.
That’s more-or-less the joke for a solid eight minutes as they reenact the first animated sketch and then go on to celebrate Christmas, at which point it all goes terribly, terribly wrong in a way that I can’t explain to you because I’m still not sure I understand what just happened. Is it an absurd non sequitur? Is this going to be a recurring segment? How dare you ask me to review the intentions of an absurdist writer with money to burn?
All that can be said for certain is that this is worth checking out if you want to see a lot of creative energy on display and are willing to take the mixed bag that comes standard with sketch-based comedy.
For the record, I think the dino did it.