Warning: This review contains mild spoilers and discusses rape and sexual assault. Seriously, you have been warned.

I Dream of Mimi is an OVA that, while not exactly a big hit in the West, has gained a cult status due to it producing a lot of GIFs which have wound up on various corners of the internet. Even if you’ve never seen an episode or read the original manga, you’ve probably seen one of the GIFs if you hang out in anime-friendly online spaces. I found it while listening to Future Funk, similar to how I found Call Me Tonight. And from the GIFs I gathered that Mimi had that goldilocks combination of cuteness and lewdness that I love so much in my adult anime. Given this, I quickly tracked the OVA down and gave it a watch.

So how was it? Awful. The answer is awful, but it wasn’t awful in the sense of making me uncomfortable. While there were certainly some eyebrow-raising moments in Mimi, it’s free of sexual violence and maintains a whimsical, charming tone. No, I Dream of Mimi made me angry. Angry to the point where whatever charm and cuteness the series had only made things more irritating. Angry to the point where I wanted to reach into my phone and strangle the protagonist. Angry to the point where when I was finished, I thought to myself “What was even the point of that?” But, I’m getting ahead of myself.

It’s the 90s! (finally, a change of pace) In Tokyo! (oh god-damn it) And while the age of Reagan-era consumerism has largely fallen away in the wake of the bubble economy bursting, one market that is thriving is that of computers. These new-fangled devices are all the rage, and one young lad by the name of Akira Takaoka is eager to get the latest model. Akira isn’t very bright though, and gets suckered by a scalper into buying a back-alley box, which contains a beautiful girl by the name of Mimi. Mimi is a new, state-of-the-art computer, who needs Akira’s semen every 72 hours to replenish her hard drive’s memory, and she quickly ropes Akira into some zany hijinks. But trouble is afoot, because those dastardly American Macintoshes are trying to corner the computer market and destroy what little remains of the Japanese economy!

When I first saw the English title of Mimi, I thought it was simply the translators having fun, since the name Mimi rhymes with Jeannie. However, Mimi bears more than a passing resemblance to the iconic 60s sitcom I Dream of Jeannie, reruns of which I fondly remember catching on tv as a youth. Both involve a hapless, beleaguered fellow and a sexy, magical lady who calls him master and turns his life upside-down. Both involve these two getting into wacky misadventures while the fellow tries to hide his supernatural encounters from his colleagues. And both are quirky romantic comedies. However, there are several key differences between Mimi and Jeannie, which have devastating consequences for the anime.

Firstly, there’s the issue of ownership. While Jeannie referred to Captain Tony Nelson as “master”, he explicitly freed her from his ownership in the first episode of the show. She stuck around Tony and called him master because she was in love with him and enjoyed teasing him, not because he actually owned her. And Jeannie was free to disobey or leave him, which she did on several occasions.

Mimi does not have this freedom. Upon consuming Akira’s semen and having him put on a protection ring (that looks just like a wedding ring) as proof that she will only ever serve him and no-one else, Mimi belongs to Akira body and soul. This isn’t to say that Akira is fully comfortable with this. One of his first orders is for Mimi to not refer to him as “master” so that he doesn’t feel weird about their arrangement. But Mimi calls him master anyways in later episodes without Akira protesting, so I guess he didn’t really mind? Regardless, Akira never even thinks about freeing Mimi, he just prefers it if Mimi calls him by his name instead of a title. If this were purely porn, and Akira was a rugged, passionate sort of man, I could potentially see the appeal of Mimi. But the OVA is a romantic comedy. We’re supposed to root for Mimi and Akira as a romantic couple, despite the fact that, since Akira owns Mimi, she can’t reasonably consent to this romance.

While I personally am not into this lifestyle, I know that there are plenty of happy, kinky couples who live a 24/7 master/slave relationship. And I know that in these relationships, when you take on the responsibility of being the master, you have an obligation to take care of your slave. You need to feed them, clothe them, provide for them, because being a master is more than just being able to order someone else around. If you do not live up to your end of the bargain as a good master, the slave can disobey or leave you, like Jeannie. Yet, not only does the protection ring prevent Mimi from doing this, but Akira rather falls short of being an ideal master. He has no real ambitions or accomplishments, besides playing computer games all day, and he spends most of his time dithering and bumbling.

More than that, Mimi’s life is dependent on Akira. She needs his baby batter at least once every 72 hours or her memory will fail, and when she fights, she needs Akira to insert battle program floppy disks into her vagina in order to use certain moves (she can’t insert them herself). And yet, despite being a horny teenage boy who ogles every attractive lady he meets, Akira would rather play video games than give Mimi the sex she needs to avoid dementia. You read that right. Akira has a beautiful, sexy robot girlfriend who has no life outside of him, lives to serve his every command, and wants to ride him like a stolen bike. And. He. Ignores. Her. So that he can play video games.

Now, you have to understand. Akira doesn’t have some childhood trauma. He doesn’t have intimacy issues. He doesn’t already have another girl that he’s sweet on (though he does have a beautiful childhood friend who is also utterly enamored with him).The only reasons the show presents for Akira declining Mimi’s advances is that he finds games more interesting and that sex tires him out. Like a gorilla, Akira seems only able to nut once a day before being spent.

This is a terrible trait for a hentai protagonist to have. Can you imagine a porn movie where after 5 minutes of grunting, the man cums and can’t perform for the rest of the film? But that’s the biggest issue with I Dream of Mimi. It can’t decide whether it’s a hentai, with the guy and girl getting together early on and having lots of sex, or a harem anime, with one guy choosing to have ambiguous relationships with multiple women at the same time instead of just fucking them. “Would you just fuck already!” is a sentiment you hear often directed at harem protagonists, but harem by definition does not allow its characters to have sex until the very end. I Dream of Mimi, by contrast, starts with Mimi giving Akira a blowjob (despite his protests). Sex is now on the table. It is something the plot will allow to happen.

And yet, Mimi still insists on sticking to the standard tropes of harem, despite them making no sense now that Akira and Mimi have already had sex. Also, if the boy and girl do have sex when the boy is protesting, that’s suddenly rape. If the boy and girl are actually in a relationship and having sex, then the boy’s constant ogling and leering of other girls is even less sympathetic. And if the boy actually does get with the girl (the end goal of most harem anime) but clearly doesn’t want her (if his actions are any indication), then what’s the point of all this? Why should we be invested in this boy when he doesn’t appreciate what he has? I don’t identify with him, I just want to strangle him!

There’s only one interesting and unique idea in I Dream of Mimi, and it involves the American Macintosh robots. Unlike Japanese models, Macs don’t need masters to operate, being strong, independent women who don’t need no men. And while Mimi’s hard drive has a whopping 64 megabytes of memory, the weakest Mac we see has 1000 terabytes of memory, and that’s just in her mammaries (no, really). You might think that they’re pretty cool, but Mimi insists that they’re dirty girls and eeevil, because they want to take over the Japanese computer market (reasonable enough) and because they don’t have masters and thus have wild and dangerous opinions of their own (less so).

The interesting idea with the Macs is that, because the three Macs we meet are all different models of the same line, they regard each other as sisters. But unlike most villainous sibling trios, the youngest Mac is the leader of the group, because as the latest model she has the strongest hardware (and is younger and prettier and thus more desirable). A smarter story could probably use this to point out how society’s expectations for computers to all be the latest, newest models and for women to be the youngest, hottest bodies are unfair and unrealistic. But I Dream of Mimi never does this. If anything, it fully buys into the idea that the younger and hotter a woman is, the better she is, given how the best and most desirable girl in the series is the perpetually 17-year-old Mimi.
I Dream of Mimi may be cute and lewd, but this cuteness actually makes things kind of sinister. Akira may not be turning into a tentacle monster to rape women, but whoever runs the world he lives in has a serious madonna-whore complex. Despite every character saying that Akira is so kind and compassionate, we rarely see any of that kindness on display. And if I Dream of Mimi is supposed to appeal to horny teenage boys who want a perfect girlfriend without having to do any emotional labor, I cannot see the appeal of a self-insert character who refuses to simply lie back and enjoy life with his sexy robot girlfriend. Combining the worst aspects of hentai and harem anime, I Dream of Mimi will probably please no-one. Believe me, if you’ve seen the GIFs, whatever anime you’ve constructed in your head from those GIFs is better than the OVA you’ll actually get here.