First Impressions: Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi

Dragons in the night sky

are only the beginning of this strange trip.

So this was yet another random On Demand find, and my, it’s an odd one. But anything with a name like Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi has to be interesting, right? Right?

Arumi, the face of reason. Sasshi, the face of perpetual farts.

In the first episode, like so many first episodes, next to nothing happens. Basically we get the setting and a picture of the lives of the two main characters. This time around those happen to be a couple of kids named Satoshi (nicknamed “Sasshi”) and Arumi. We meet them while they’re sitting in a demolished lot talking about how everything in Abenobashi (a commercial district in Osaka) is being redeveloped and most places are shutting down. Sasshi recently moved to a new place, losing his collection of toys and baseball cards in the process, and Arumi is soon to be moving far away because her chef father got a new job. This means the end of her grandfather’s restaurant, the Pelican Grill, though her grandfather (Grandpa Masa) refuses to admit defeat.

This is a problem on so many levels.

The kids spend the rest of the episode walking around Abenobashi and learning about its history, such as the four spirit animals who guard the place and the fact that Sasshi’s deceased grandmother and Arumi’s grandfather used to have crushes on each other. Grandpa Masa goes out on the roof of the Pelican Grill and tries to shoo a sleeping cat off of the pelican statue sitting up there, but ends up falling and getting hurt. After he goes to the hospital Arumi tells Sasshi that he’s finally agreed to move with the rest of the family and shut down the restaurant. That night Sasshi wakes up and sees a dragon flying across the moon, but when he tells Arumi about it the next day, she tells him that he must have been dreaming. However (and here’s where things get psychedelic) as they talk about Arumi’s family moving, the people doing aerobics nearby are suddenly giant hopping mushrooms. The kids run away, but all of the buildings in their town have become flat, like stage scenery. They pause in front of a giant door with a rainbow leading out from it, and that’s when all the other flat buildings fall over. Suddenly the two kids are stranded on an island cliff with nothing but the rainbow door in front of them. They look across and see that the rainbow leads to a castle with dragons flying all around it. Sasshi makes a crack about, “That’s just what I need,” and the episode comes to a close.

The kids gettin' down with some shrooms. Much like the people who created this anime probably did.

I think that, despite the events at the close of the episode, the oddest thing that threw me off the most was the English dub. For some reason everyone had Southern (as in the American South) accents, which I’d never heard in an anime before. It was weird. (I say this being a Southerner myself.) On top of that, the kids kind of seemed like rednecks, particularly Sasshi, who at one point expressed a desire to “go eat yams and fart until I pass out.” I wasn’t aware that Japan had rednecks, quite frankly. That took some getting used to, though I never got used to the strange banjo music playing in the background throughout. The episode as a whole was kind of slow and depressing. I didn’t care for any of the characters, and their changing surroundings were empty and sad. The art was not my favourite, either: it was too cartoony on some counts, such as with Sasshi, and too grotesquely detailed on others, as with Grandpa Masa. I finally got interested when they discovered the new magical world nearby, which was literally in the last few seconds of the episode. I’m willing to give it one more shot, but if episode two doesn’t give me some magic, then no dice. I have to want to enter an anime world and stay with the characters, learn about them and adventure with them. Just feeling sorry for them doesn’t cut it in my book.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Justin
    Oct 25, 2011 @ 19:12:15

    …The show’s actually supposed to be funny. It’ll be a different kind of adventure than you think^^


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