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|Title (English)||Abenobashi Magic Shopping Street|
|Title (Japanese)||Abenobashi Maho Shotengai||Advertising|
|Notes||16:9 aspect ratio.|
|Synopsis||Two ordinary Osaka 12 year olds get caught up in a series of alternate worlds while trying to "make things right" at home.|
|Review||I've just watched the first episode of the new anime that I'm predicting will be one of the hottest, if not the hottest new show of the new anime season in Japan - Gainax's "Abenobashi Maho Shotengai"/"Abenobashi Magic Shopping Street". This 16:9 aspect ratio, 13-part series is being broadcast on the Japanese satellite channel "Kids Station".
The story is set essentially "here and now", in Osaka, during a hot summer in which two 6th grade friends, Arumi and Satoshi, who is called Sasshi, are killing time. Arumi lives with her father and grandfather above the little restaurant known as the Pelican that they run in the Abenobashi covered shopping street in a working class part of Osaka. Satoshi lives with his family in a small apartment in a cookie-cutter high rise apartment building near by.
Arumi and Satoshi hear stories about the ceramic pelican that sits as a mascot of sorts on top of the roof of Arumi's restaurant - supposedly it has some magic powers that are related to the neighborhood temple. So the two kids go to the temple and see a poster that tells about the animals of the four cardinal directions, and the kids figure out that Arumi's restaurant, along with 3 other local shops, make up those 4 cardinal points. They rush back to Arumi's restaurant in time to see Arumi's grandfather accidentally fall from the roof, taking the pelican with him. The pelican breaks and a sudden breeze blows through the gate of the temple.
A couple of days later, Satoshi is awakened in the middle of the night by some loud, strange sounds coming from outside his window. He looks out and sees a gigantic dragon fly by. The next morning, Satoshi and Arumi are back at the temple where a number of old folks are doing aerobic exercises to music. Arumi doesn't believe Satoshi's story and insists that he was dreaming. At that moment, Satoshi gets a totally horrified look on his face and he can barely squeak out any sounds as he stares towards the old folks. Arumi turns to look and sees that the old folks have become giant mushrooms, which are still bouncing to the aerobics music. After commenting that all of the giant mushrooms are different, Satoshi and Arumi run out of the temple in terror.
But as they go through the nearby street, things become more surrealistic and eventually all of the buildings become facades that fall away. The kids see that they are on a high plateau, with only a building-sized mirror left on it. Out from the back of the mirror a rainbow extends to a huge fairytale-style castle which sits on an inverted mountain some distance away. Over the castle hover dozens of giant dragons. Satoshi can only ask, "Koko wa doko?"
Everything about the show is top notch, from the highly detailed and realistic movie-quality animation, to the witty and believable dialog, to the use of Megumi Hayashibara as the vocalist on the opening and ending theme songs. This is Gainax at their best and brings back memories of "FLCL", without being the least bit derivative. I already know that I will be ordering the DVD's for this series and I can't wait to see the next episode.
Incredibly funny, touching and imaginative - the comedy of the year and possible the series of the year. The story intelligently lampoons an incredible number of anime, TV and movie stereotypes while integrating some compelling human stories too. - Rating A+ (Dave Baranyi)
I've seen the first episode and it looks really good. I want to see the rest. (GC).
|Credits||Series dir: Hiroyuki Yamaga|
|TV Showing||See the whole series for free? This series may be syndicated to regional cable, satellite or terrestial TV stations. For Europe click here.|
|References & Help||Look up the latest data on this title at:
Richard Llewellyn's Animated Divots, or
Anime News Network (see Encyclopedia section) ,
or in "The Anime Encyclopedia" (Clements & McCarthy, Stone Bridge Press, 2001).
Help & further information.