This OVA is a mystery. How did it come to exist? How did I come to watch it? I really don’t know. I can find very little information on the show at all to be honest. It seems to be based on a 4-koma of the same name.
Spelunker Sensei (or Spelunker is a Teacher) is a 30 minute comedy OVA following the misadventures of a teacher who is a Spelunker and those around him.
The idea is based on the video game Spelunker which is a rogue-like game about exploring caves and obtaining treasure. A more modern game based on the same idea is Spelunky, which my husband has played a lot of and really enjoyed (it definitely looks fun, but I am terrible at platforming games so I don’t have any personal experience). The minimal reviews which I have found for this show often seemed confused by the concept so I thought perhaps Spelunker was not general knowledge. I have a really bad idea of what is and is not general knowledge though so my apologies if this was unnecessary!
The OVA is made up of numerous short gags, mostly focused on the fact that Spelunker Sensei can die from seemingly minor events. Sometimes the same set up is used multiple times with a different outcome, which I found amusing because it was hard to predict exactly how the situation would play out each time. It seems really similar to a lot of shows with 3-minute episode length, except that all the material is in one episode. The concept perhaps could have dragged if it was longer, but 30 minutes seemed to be just right to explore some different ideas and still keep an amusing freshness.
The animation is done in Flash and very basic, but I don’t think that this is a detriment to the show. The characters aren’t especially mobile, and the backgrounds are simple, but the comedy mostly revolves around dialogue so the visuals are of secondary importance. Most of the show is in a simple traditional anime style, although there are also some 8-bit style visuals and one scene shot in a real life setting.
I found the music very enjoyable. The opening song ‘Risk My Life’ is lyrics set to the tune of Spelunker BGM and it was exciting and to me evoked the feeling of the adventure and difficulty of Spelunker Sensei’s life. The ending theme 恋は探検 (Love is an Expedition) was very cheerful and perhaps didn’t suit the very dry humour of the show as well, but it was catchy and fun to listen to. The background music during the show featured mainly some simple synthesiser sounds which I think complemented the comedy in an unobtrusive way.
As the comedy of the show is mostly based around dialogue, the voice acting is important and I think that the cast performs very well. Sugita Tomokazu, known for his roles playing cynical characters, is definitely worth a special mention as I think he does a great job showing Spelunker Sensei’s resigned attitude to life.
I really, really liked this show! I would definitely recommend it for fans of dry humour or if you like seeing a nod to retro games.