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"Abenobashi" Vol. 1: Worth its Weight in Weirdness

Arumi and Sasshi are two regular 12-year old kids from Osaka, Japan’s “deep south.” For some reason, they’ve been knocked out of their own world into parallel worlds. A cross-dresser is now a superhero, Arumi’s dad is a champion fighter, and a well-endowed girl named Mune-Mune [“chest-chest” in Japanese -Ed.] is chasing them down for no apparent reason. Coming from Gainax, the guys who made Neon Genesis Evangelion and FLCL, this parody series starts off with a four-episode volume, sold with or without a series box.

Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi Volume 1 with series box
A “Real Review” by Knux Five

A friend of mine sent me some images from the series and it seemed interesting enough to blow some Valentine’s Day cash on.

“Bein’ human, havin’ your health – that’s what’s most important!”

The Show
Episode 01: “Mystery! Abenobashi Shopping Arcade”
Episode 02: “Adventure! Abenobashi Sword and Sorcery Shopping Arcade”
Episode 03: “Hook Up! Abenobashi Great Milky Way Shopping Arcade”
Episode 01: “Fire It Up! Abenobashi Hong Kong Combat Shopping Arcade”

Abenobashi is kind of, well, hard to explain. Each episode is its self-contained parody of a certain genre, kind of like Excel Saga. Volume 1 covers RPGs, Sci-Fi, and Martial Arts. Arumi and Sasshi go from world to world, each somewhat similar but a skewed version of their home of Abenobashi à la Sliders. It’s got off-the-wall humor that ranges from an Ultraman-shaped space station to the world going old-school video game-style for parts of the RPG episode. The main kids are likable. Sasshi’s a geek at heart and Arumi’s a girl that somewhat puts up with him but still isn’t perfect herself. The rest of the characters are constantly changing so you’re not going to get attached to any certain facets of theirs… other than Mune-Mune’s “facets,” if you know what I mean.

The Audio
Listened to the show in English, naturally. You know, I fell in love with these accents. The two kids (and various others) have a Texan accent, which just fits so perfectly. I can’t imagine Arumi sounding like anything other than a hick. The music’s not notably awesome, but really wasn’t bad at all.

The Video
Wide screen goodness. Sharp, clear, no problems.

The Extras
Trailers are standard fun to go through once. But other than that, you get AD Vid-Notes (a Pop-Up Video style special for all the episodes) that point out various references or character notes. The main voice actresses do commentary for the Sci-Fi episode, which is worth a listen, not for any real insight, but for just some fun conversation and spur-of-the-moment singing to go along with the episode. Clean openings and endings are available but that’s not really “special.” The commentary and AD Vid-Notes raise this disc a little over bare bones but it’s definitely not brimming with features. Maybe they’re spreading it out over the series but I definitely want some more bonuses (Character designs? Interviews?).

The Packaging
I picked up the first disc with the box. The box isn’t of the highest quality but the art is nice. It’s going to be awkward to have such a pastel colored box sitting next to GameCube games and other DVDs, but oh well. The Amray case is clear with a cover you can flip. Extra nice is a “Weekly AbenoSpoiler,” a mini-newspaper/magazine that really is something for a simple DVD insert. There’s nothing really to complain about the packaging.

All in All
Find a good deal? Pick it up. There are only three volumes after this so it’s not a major investment. It’s definitely entertaining and while the disc is somewhat lacking with only four episodes, the various extras and packaging make it up.

Final Grade: A

Equipment
This being a “Real Review,” I don’t have any intricate stereo system or TV set up. I watched it through a Playstation 2 hooked up to a Samsung TV from the late ’90s.

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