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Make a Date with "Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi" Vol. 3!

by on August 19, 2004

Sasshi and Arumi are trapped in a set of dimensions parallel to their own, all of them apparently variations on Sasshi’s hobbies and dreams. With Arumi ready to get on home, the pair get separated when Arumi’s has too much of living in a dating sim. Can Sasshi’s newfound knowledge of Onmyou mysticism take the two home, or will they find out that the real world isn’t as safe as they thought it was?

When we last saw Arumi and Sasshi, they were leaving the police-drama-themed world. The series then paused long enough to show the Abenobashi Shopping Arcade a’borning from the minds of Grandpa Masa and Eutus, the mysterious blue-haired Onmyou Mystic.

What is Onmyou Mysticism? You got me. Maybe it’s the cultural differences, but even after watching this disc, it doesn’t make the most sense to me. Something to do with ki and yin and yang and such. For our purposes, though, it’s the explanation for all the world-traversing the pair have done. But, I’m skipping ahead of myself.

Instead of landing back in their home world, the duo land in a dating-sim game of sorts. You’ve got your stereotypically shy girl with a speech quirk (adding “ryun” at the end of each sentence), and the school pretty who can magically transform into a Naru-from-Love Hina-ripoff, complete with hair antennae. Sasshi’s all up for falling in love with these girls, but Arumi’s not; having nothing to really do with this world, she has become a goblin: an incredibly ticked goblin who’s ready to kill Sasshi.

After that great parody (I love dating sim; life should be more like them; maybe then I could actually get a girl, being that I’m a power gamer), Sasshi ends up training in the Onmyou Mystic way with Eutus. The second episode on the disc gives more backstory about Eutus, why the kids are traveling between worlds, what’ll happen when they go home, and who Mune-Mune is. While I guess it’s necessary to fill in some backstory, it’s certainly not as enjoyable as the stories set in skewed worlds; the only humorous bits come out of Eutus’ odd nature. Being in ooooold (so old, I had to use multiple “o”s) Abenobashi—I’m sorry, it’s just “Abeno,” because there’s no bridge (“bashi” means “bridge”, thank you AD-Vidnotes!)—it’d certainly be odd to see helicopters and cans of beer amidst lords and Samurais.

Fate (or Sasshi’s good intentions) brings us the Abenobashi Fairy Tale Shopping Arcade, a world crafted with Arumi in mind. It riffs on classic fairy tales (Cinderella and such) and magical girl series (Cardcaptors gets parodied real good), and it’s certainly nice to get a more Arumi-centric episode. Most of the stories up to this part have centered on Sasshi’s dreams (though, oddly enough, that’s a notable plot point).

I’ve preferred the parody episodes of Abenobashi over the information-filled ones, but the parodies would get old if there were no substance or meaning behind them; so this disc has a good balance between parody and plot. These episodes in general are funny as heck and just reinforce my already high opinion of Abenobashi. My only fear at this point is that the next volume will be the last so that the parodies will be shortened and the plot wrapped up neat and tidy.

Extras continue to be “magical” in their simplicity. While the disc isn’t brimming with them, they are quality. Outtakes, or more like redubbed scenes (only one appears to be an actual flub) are here and are still hilarious. And yes, they still make fun of Michael Jackson, but Bono gets thrown in the mix. “AD-Vidnotes,” the Pop-Up Video (is that show even still on?) style cultural references and in-jokes guide, can be played through all three episodes, and it really helps make sense of some of the stuff, like the previously mentioned “Well, it’s not Abenobashi because there’s no bridge” thing. And continuing the award for “Best Insert Ever,” there is another issue of the Weekly Abenospoiler included. As “spoiler” is in the title, be forewarned; don’t read it beforehand. I accidentally flipped through and saw some stuff I probably should have waited on. The packaging continues the clear amaray and reversible cover trend.

Once again, there’s real magic in this arcade. Have volumes 1 and 2? Buy this one as well! Don’t have the previous volumes? It’s only four discs, and the first three have been kick-butt so far. Bein’ human, havin’ your health, and watching this DVD. Good enough for me.

Episodes included on Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi (Vol. 3)
Episode 8 “Set Your Heart Aflutter! Abenobashi Campus Shopping Arcade
Episode 9 “It Cries! The Bush Warbler Heiankyo”
Episode 10 “Fluffy, bubbly! Abenobashi Fairy Tale Shopping Arcade”

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