Pan De Peace was released in spring of 2016, a cgdct show in a season already blanketed with several other takes on the genre, namely Anne Happy and Sansha Sanyou. Week by week, the latter two shows fought neck and neck for the favour of the elusive CGDCT audience, trading blows in the form of extravagantly well-animated sequences and the occasional emotionally vulnerable moment. Meanwhile, Pan De Peace….
Pan De Pea….
Pan De Peace tr…..
Pan De Peace was a show about bread.
For four minutes every week, over 13 weeks, viewers would have the pleasure of watching four girls solve various bread-related dilemmas, such as, “what bread makes for the best self-defence weapon?” and “what bread should you feed a sick person?”. As Minami, Yuu, Fuyumi, and the fourth one spoke of interesting bread facts that people definitely care about, their hijinks would enrich the lives of many an anime viewer, such as:
Guy Who’s Very Good At Sex Jokes
Person Who Watches This Show Because It Sucks
Guy Who’s Very Good At Sex Jokes (MKII)
And then it ended and the 40-ish people watching it immediately forgot about it.
A year later, an internet user going by the name of Last-Subs released a fansub of Pan De Peace in a batch torrent to little fanfare. Before this release, Last-Subs had already gained a minor reputation for joke subs of ongoing series, which mostly relied on tweaked versions of existing sub releases to build a base of irreverent jokes riffing off 2010s anime fandom memes.
But what makes this particular fansub so unique is that it is very, very leftist. Almost all the jokes are refitted to be about being really gay or communist (which generally makes for better humour than bread jokes). Every episode, a feminist/communist topic is discussed briefly using anime girl tropes, up to the last four episodes which are taken up by an arc on abusers making their way into feminist spaces (more on this later).
The combination of pseudo-youtube-poop-esque humour and communism works insanely well for some reason. Like, there’s something gut-wrenchingly funny about watching an anime girl eat red bean bread and yelling ようこそ! while the subtitle reads, “Welcome to the Arts and Intersectional Feminism Club!” Episode three in particular stands out, in which a visit to Fuyumi’s house transforms into a scathing takedown of Ayn Rand’s politics, delivered within the cheerful veneer of low-rent anime girl voice acting. (Notably, it’s also the only episode in which the characters spend more than 30 seconds actually eating bread)
Look, I can’t bullshit you. It’s 2018, we’ve all had The Dada Conversation. We know what vaporwave is. Sometimes shit gets transformed into other shit and recontextualised, blah blah blah. You know the drill. Sometimes a Diana Ross song finds new life by getting pitched down, and sometimes an incredibly unfunny 3 minute anime becomes Actually Kinda Good by changing basically everything about it. Nothing is spared in the process of getting a good, extremely specific joke out. Bread becomes a metaphor for lesbian sex, opening sequences are distorted, and the sound levels sometimes become really loud out of nowhere because this was still funny in 2017. And as the episodes progress, Last Subs assert themselves on the show more and more. Jokes that were previously kept to a subtitle track begin to infect the opening sequence, and before long, entire scenes are edited and spliced beyond recognition. This stylistic takeover culminates in episode 11, where an abuser(who is only an abuser because of changes to the script by the Lastsubs) successfully infiltrates the Arts and Intersectional Feminism Club, prompting a detailed writeup within the batch release. Because when the text fails, you transform it. And when that fails, you release a two-paragraph statement on the sexual politics of a joke character of your own creation.
Basically it’s kind of a mess? In the same enjoyable way that youtube poop is, of course. But at the same time there’s a genuine attempt to wrestle the narrative and use it to build something new. Not to say that youtube poop doesn’t do that, but it feels a lot more deliberate over the course of a 12-episode series than it typically does over a single 10-minute video. Last-Subs themselves have commented on an reddit thread that the project was a way for them to work through their internal dialogues at a time of political reawakening, and it shows. Though they reach the “right” conclusions, a lot of the takes on feminist topics like pornography and fat-shaming feel less nuanced than they should be, though that could be chalked up to the 3-minute runtime. Hell, there’s a fucking Zizek pdf in the release, though that seems to have been included as a joke.
(EDIT: Last Subs has reached out to me in the comments, and has said that the briefness of the fat-shaming episode was a result of the short runtime, and that episodes 7 and 8 were completed and released way before everything else, causing their underdeveloped critiques since they were meant to be one-off jokes rather than part of a bigger project.)
So there we have it, I guess. A lifeless three-minute anime was turned into an exploration of leftism-feminism through the power of Internet Bullshit. It’s messy, it’s personal and most importantly, it was funny as hell. Pan De Peace has become one of my favourite shows because of this, but only because someone threw away everything in it and created something new from the wreckage.
Pan De Peace was a show about bread.