Real Magic in "Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobshi" Volume 2
It’s been a while since I got to see the parallel-universe adventures of Arumi and Sasshi, two kids from Osaka who are stuck traveling through alternate dimensions, visiting worlds that would look a lot like home if it weren’t for the dinosaurs or mafia crime families littering the landscape. I was instantly attracted to the Osakan nature: that’s “redneck” in Japan, so naturally it would click with a redneck American who’s interested in Japan. That, and it’s a parody show from Gainax (creators of Neon Genesis Evangelion and FLCL), so I was hooked pretty quick.
So, does disc two hold up?
Well, the story sure as heck holds up. The highlight on this disc is easily episode 7, which details the origin of the Abenobashi Shopping Arcade so many years ago. Arumi and Sasshi barely show up in that one (they’re only in a flashback), and instead it focuses on Masa’s love life. Maybe that just got to me, as I’m currently lacking love, just as he is. C’mon, who wouldn’t want some Mune-Mune action?
Wait, what’s Mune-Mune doing in the flashback? The kids aren’t visiting an alternate universe, which are the only places they met the busty babe. Hmm, that looks like a plot point waiting to be explained.
With the main kids (who manage to stay in character no matter what universe they end up in) you get two adventures: One’s set in a prehistoric Abenobashi (complete with dinosaurs, cavemen, and a dominatrix older sister), while the other is set in the cop-drama rip-off-verse. The dinosaur world is rather forgettable; it doesn’t make any attempt to parody The Flintstones or anything, which makes it more of a “weird universe” than a “parody of current universe” story. Much better is episode six, in which the kids become adults and get wrapped up in a snail-smuggling ring. Arumi ends up as a cop, while Sasshi gets mixed up for the legendary sniper Rogolgo. It’s a fun episode, and it’s certainly weird to see the kids grown up. I think the designers really focused on Arumi’s older design more, as Sasshi just looks like his head on a bigger body; Arumi actually looks like herself older.
Helping to explain the jokes are AD Vid-Notes, a “Pop-Up Video” style guide to cultural notes. Don’t watch the disc without them on, as they certainly help get some of the Osakan vibe across.
Abenobashi continues to have a decent set of extras. The really funny stuff comes in the “outtakes,” which are more “hilariously written bits of dialogue joking on Michael Jackson, booty calls, and steak-shaped bicycle seats” than “oops, a VA flubbed a line.” More DVDs need to have these. Commentaries are, sorely, missing; volume one had them, but this does not. I’ve always been a fan of commentaries, so they probably mean more to me than y’all. If you don’t care for them, you’re obviously not going to miss them. Included in the case is the second volume of the “Weekly AbenoSpoiler,” which is possibly the greatest insert known to man. It’s essentially a full-color mini-newspaper set in the world of Abenobashi.
My only complaint is that, with this second disc, we’re already halfway through this great series. While it could have been compressed into a two-disc set, each volume manages to have good material in it. The first episode is rather forgettable, but the other two, along with the extras, mean Abenobashi is a must-buy series. Go grab it!
… why are you still reading this?
Episodes included on Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi Volume 2
Episode 5: “Extinction! Abenobashi Ancient Dinosaur Shopping Arcade”
Episode 6: “In The Night Fog! Abenobashi Hard Boiled Shopping Arcade”
Episode 7: “Flashback! Magical Shopping Arcade Birth!”