Let’s Talk About Oishi High School Battle
Running on the Smosh MNC (multi-channel network) on YouTube, this live-action/animation hybrid has returned for a second season after a successful initial one (2 million+ views). So why does Oishi High School Battle seem like the kind of animation that could actually be a hindrance to the broader commercial success of online animation?
Although it isn’t strictly animation but rather a live-action show with animated characters, Oishi High School Battle also plays right into numerous tropes (about anime, magical girls, etc.) that are aimed primarily at a highly-defined audience. Not to draw too many conclusions, but if Oishi using her ‘battle breasts engage’ command to open a jammed locker door doesn’t do anything for you,l then you’re probably not who the show is looking for.
Which is part of the reason why a show like this should be of concern. Low-brow entertainment is nothing new and goodness knows the internet is rife with it already. However, the difference is that in trying to forge some kind of commercial success from the platform, shows like Oishi High School Battle make it clear to many people that content of the lowest common denominator is what is needed to make money.
Consequently, there is a rash of shows like Oishi High School Battle (such as Cartoon Hangover’s Super F*ckers) that play to the more basic instincts of the male members of the audience and make money because of it. That would be all fine and dandy except that as pioneering shows, they will set the stage for what will come later when commercial success is more readily assured. If rock-bottom content is considered what it takes to make it in the online space, then that is more than likely what we have to look forward to for the foreseeable future.
As far as animation goes, that’s a shame. For a technique that is capable of so much, it’s nearly criminal to permit it to reside in the confines of raunchy comedies aimed at pimply teenage boys. It’s easy to forgive the quality of the animation itself, or even the fact that it’s a live-action hybrid (budgets do make a real impact after all.)
Shows like Oishi don’t advance the technique in the online space in any positive way. In contrast, look at what creator-driven shows did to televised cartoons. They blew the door open for superb animated shows and did much to inspire the next wave of creators such as Pen Ward and Alex Hirsch that are currently making waves.
Online animation is in dire need of someone who can create a successful, yet critically acclaimed and high-brow animated series that will do much to further the technique online and improve its stature among audiences.