Abenobashi Mahou Shoutengai

November 21, 2010

When you think of hilarious parodies of TV genres, you think of Excel Saga. But if you add adventure of its parallel worlds into that, then you’d get Abenobashi Mahou Shoutengai (Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi). This is quite an old show (in my opinion) and is from the year 2002. Might not seem very far but if you have been watching animes on a regular basis, you can tell the obvious difference and quality of it now and then.

What is this anime about? Set in the shopping arcade called Abenobashi in Osaka, at first the cramp locations of the shops and the narrow maze-like alleys may bring to mind that this is some sort of a slum. Yeah, that’s what I thought too. Our main protagonists are a couple of 12 year old childhood friends, Satoshi “Sasshi” Imamiya whose family once used to run a bath house and Arumi Asahina whose family is currently running a restaurant called Grill Pelican. Due to some magic twist of fate, they are transported to other magical (some may call it nonsensical) worlds parallel to Abenobashi and that’s where the comedy of making fun of some of the TV genre comes from. Hold on to your seats because this is going to be one big (mis)adventure that will have you laughing so hard that your stomach hurts. Well, at least for most of the episodes.

As introduced in episode 1, Sasshi returns to Abenobashi and learns from Arumi that her family and their business are closing down and moving to Lake Akan in Hokkaido soon. They’re not the only occupants evacuating as many of the other inhabitants have also closed down and moved out due to some redevelopment thingy. The kids go back to Grill Pelican to see Arumi’s grandpa Masayuki AKA Masa and his French-talking son Tetsu AKA Papa, the former arguing that he is bent on staying and not close down. On the rooftop, Sasshi and Arumi talk about their grandma and grandpa respectively. They think grandma liked someone else before they got married. Next day, they continue on this and think Masa is staying because of his old crush. A hideous neighbourhood cross-dresser, Aki, happen to pass by so Arumi asks her straight about if there’s any shady relationship between Masa and Sasshi’s grandma. Sasshi ‘softens’ the question by asking if she knows if their houses are related like as in their positions. Aki brings them to Abeno Seimei shrine and tells them about the harmony of 4 gods from 4 directions: A turtle, bird, dragon and tiger. After realizing the locations of the sacred animals to some of the animal statues of the various locations in town, they realize the bird is Grill Pelican, supposed to be the last one left standing. They rush back to ask Masa. Masa is trying to shoo away a cat sleeping on the pelican statue when the old roof gives way. He hangs on for dear life. When the kids arrive, it was too late as Masa falls. Though Masa was hanging on the sign, the statue breaks when it hit the ground. Arumi faints. Masa is hospitalizes after landing on his hip with his family beside him. That night Sasshi woke up and is shocked to see a dragon flying outside his window. He tells this to Arumi the next day. She tells him Masa will be released in a week’s time and has given up on staying and will move with them to Hokkaido. Suddenly the people who are exercising in front of them turn into mushrooms! The panic kids make a run and realize the town flat! The town’s facade collapses to reveal a majestic castle linked by a rainbow with dragons flying all over it. Welcome to Abenobashi Sword and Sorcery Shopping Arcade.

Standing outside the castle gates in episode 2, Arumi thinks they’re in France and the castle a love hotel! After getting a surprise of seeing a talking mole, they see Papa as the king on a horse and Aki the queen. Aki gives them 800 gold coins as war funds to defeat the Great Evil Lord. Walking through the market, they hear the familiar voice of Mr Kouhei. He tells them they’re in Abenobashi Shopping Arcade. Otaku Sasshi is excited to buy all the weapons and armour for a bargain. However Arumi bumps into a hooded guy who sells her a magical key chain for 800 gold coins. Easy come easy go. Sasshi felt she’d been ripped-off. On their way, a weird sexy busty woman, Mune, appears and fights them RPG style. The mole shows onscreen RPG-like texts such as Sasshi losing health points. Eventually Sasshi ‘died’ so Arumi drags him back to the castle to resurrect him. She feels she has a hang of how things work here. Continuing their journey, they encounter Mune in several different forms. Each time Sasshi getting killed and Arumi taking him back for resurrection. Several times. He sucks in RPG. Finally in an attack, the duo get to know Mune’s weakness as snails (Arumi has them because she’s a French cook’s daughter). When Mune spots the key chain and learns where Arumi got it, she asks for directions for that hooded guy and off she goes. Entering the dungeon, Sasshi is faced with the Great Evil Lord. But he’s just running around like a loser. Arumi gives in to his pleas to use the key chain for help. Suddenly he is bestowed with a giant sword but as he strikes the final boss, the sword wobbles like jelly! The Great Evil Lord’s chest starts to expand and then explode! Soon he turns into a harmless cute little goblin. Since he is defeated and the game cleared, he allows the duo a wish. They want to return to the world they came from. After some chanting and magic ritual, the kids are teleported away. But they open their eyes to find themselves in a space colony just outside Saturn. Now, welcome to Abenobashi Great Milky Way Shopping Arcade.

Arumi is pissed that they’ve been deceived and will get her revenge if she ever sees that goblin again. In episode 3, they see a robot version of Kouhei and realize they’re in the Abenobashi Great Milky Way Shopping Arcade. Sasshi argues about gender equality that it’s Arumi’s turn to play the hero. She experiments a way to resurrect him by hitting him out to space with her harisen (paper fan). Sasshi saw the start and end of the universe before he came back to life! While taking a break, they spot a yellow goblin with Arumi’s panties on his head! WTF?! As they chase it, they come into the trio of Milky Way Federation Investigators, the sexy and scantily clad Abeno Angels: Mune, Aki (horrible!) and Sayaka (Sasshi’s sister). As Arumi tells the trio about her woes, Sasshi chases the goblin and bumps into the hooded guy peeping with his telescope into the sky. The Abeno Angels show a wanted poster of the hooded guy so when they learn Sasshi’s encounter with him, off they go. The goblin turns into a giant robot monster, Daimongar! Like we see in sentai shows, Sasshi and Arumi are whisked away into robot vehicles by mecha Papa and scientist Masa. They merge with 3 others (an alien, a dog and an old aunty. WTF?!) into a giant robot to fight the menace. They pull off fluke moves with elaborated made-up names to defeat it. Suddenly a ship crashes into the colony and it’s revealed the Abeno Angels turned into space pirates at night. Their day job not enough? The goblin seeps into Mune’s ship and merges with them to transform into a giant menacing mecha dragon. Sasshi with the guidance of Masa and Papa, uses the legendary power to merge his robot with the entire colony. A big bang battle is on the cards and since Arumi has been irked about getting her panties back (from the start), she charges straight in even if it means the destruction of the universe. Thankfully she got them back (after thoroughly washing them) and with the cheap and same moves made by the goblin, the duo manage to teleport away before the entire universe is destroyed! But Arumi is pissed once more that she has received the short end of the bargain because they end up in Chinatown.

They see Chinese Kouhei selling fake goods in episode 4. Mune is happy to see Sasshi and calls him her brother. She wants him to defeat the Golden Claw, which is Papa. And with Masa as Sasshi’s ‘father’, he learns Papa has killed his eldest son and stole their family doll treasure, a kyonshii (Chinese vampire). Papa challenges him to enter a combat tournament to avenge his death and will use the stolen doll as its prize. Mune makes Sasshi enter as a participant. As part of its condition, he has to buy lots of stuff. The contract is 2 weeks old and expired so he has to pay up before Aki. Otherwise taken to her master, Sasshi’s grandpa, Taro, to undergo special training. After a pathetic intro (getting beaten up by Arumi’s harisen), he unleashes a panda that will prepare him for his journey. Sasshi goes through weird training like scrubbing the panda’s back but at the end, he is over-muscular! Till Mune sinks her boobs into his face, he reverted to his normal scrawny self. On the day of the tournament, the duo meet the hooded guy who sells Sasshi Bruce Lee’s trademark yellow jump suit. Yeah, it only makes him feel strong. Since Papa and Sasshi are the only participants, the start is the final round! Sasshi takes a beating. He reflects on hooded guy’s words “If you gain confidence, your abilities tend to follow suit”. Suddenly his moves become slick and he turns into Bruce Lee! Pulling off his moves and making his trademark sounds! WooOOOoooOOO! Not only that, he gains the moves of Jacky Chan, Virtua Fighter and even that Dragonball character! Super Saiyan! Kamehame! Sasshi blasts Papa through the roof to claim victory. In the aftermath, Sasshi gives the doll to Arumi since he noticed she wanted it. However Mune steals its talisman since that is what she is after and couldn’t care less about the revenge crap. The kyonshii turns into a giant and wrecks havoc. It’s about to eat Sasshi and Arumi but Sasshi manages to but the talisman back on its forehead, returning it to its doll form. Then it turns into a 3-eye bottle goblin so the duo have him send them home for real. After the usual ritual, the duo find themselves in the prehistoric dinosaur ear. Should’ve known better than to trust that little thing, eh?

The dinosaurs seem cute (why is there an Ultraman monster here?) in episode 5. Sasshi seems knowledgeable about them though Arumi teases him as an otaku. They find a red baby Triceratops and decide to help look for its mother. Entering a prehistoric civilization led by the crazy autocratic Sayaka, she wants them to hand over the Triceratops as she deems it as a bad omen. She proceeds to do S&M whip-lashing on Taro and Sasshi’s dad, Arata, and use marks of the whips as signs of the ill premonition. Tarzan-like Mune swoops down to save the kids and escape on her Apatosaurus. On their escape, she tells them there is a person she wants to meet so the kids think it’s that hooded guy. Sayaka and her tribesmen give chase. Mune throws her boomerang but it returns and hits Sasshi. She’s happy with the fact it returned. All the tribesmen that threw their weapons seem to hit Sasshi only. He’s a magnet for bad luck. Then they all off a cliff, swept away by the river and over a waterfall. Sasshi and Arumi see the hooded guy inspecting the fossils. He introduces himself as Eutus. They make fun of his name. When he makes fun of the kids’ name, Arumi whacks him with her harisen. Eutus spots the Triceratops and goes off to make preparations. The kids see the pack of Triceratops and let the baby reunite with them. Sayaka catches up and points towards the sky. A meteor is going to crash and it seems the baby Triceratops is the marker. Seriously? Sayaka and her tribesmen fled in panic while Sasshi draws weird drawings on the ground in hopes the meteor will stop?! Or plead somebody to save them at least. Mune is going to throw her boomerang at it but is stopped Eutus. He has prepared an offering table and wants Sasshi to hand over his most valuable possession he has now. He gives his handphone. Chanting some spell, Sasshi and Arumi are sent flying into the air, colliding with the meteor. They crash onto the ground as Eutus disappears. They see the little green goblin limping over and make him do the ritual to send them home. Thinking that they have never offered anything all the while, Arumi offers her handphone. But they end up in the dark cobblestone streets of Victorian London. Hard boiled…

Getting caught in the middle of a crossfire in episode 6, Sasshi is taken away by Arumi’s mom, Ayako of the Pelican Family. In their secret hideout, the boss, Masa recognizes Sasshi as the legendary sniper Rugolgo. Meanwhile Arumi has become part of the police force and the police chief Taro introduces her to her partners. Calling themselves the Abeno Angels, they are Mune and Sayaka as they drag Arumi to bust the Pelican Family. Sasshi learns snails have been banned and thanks to that, prices of it have soared. They’re doing good underground business but recently it’s getting tough due to Taro’s intervention. They want him to assassinate him and no other ways would do because they would’ve got an errand boy to do that if they wanted to. But Papa appears and claims Sasshi as the fake Rugolgo. I’m not sure if Sasshi’s pretty knowledgeable in weapons but his ranting on the type of gun Papa used isn’t suitable for sniping. And he’s right! They hold a shooting contest to determine who the real deal is. In a fluke shot, Sasshi hits the can. Papa fires like a machine gun but misses! Then he blows it up with a dynamite! Because of that, Masa acknowledges Papa as the real Rugolgo as something to do with being a pro! WTF?! Sasshi is shot and turned into a chibi self because the rational is such characters are comic relief and no one will take him seriously. WTF?!

The Abeno Angels decide to bust into the hideout by using Arumi as decoy and dress her up as a sultry stage singer. Singing and catching the attention of the men, the other Angels duo note that the big boss isn’t here (not referring to Masa). Papa spots them and flashily fires his machine gun. Some sniper. But all missed! Some sniper! It was enough for Sayaka to shoot him and turn him into a chibi guy. Then all hell breaks loose as the police bust in. Both sides exchange fire and those who get shot become chibi?! Doesn’t anybody die here?! Mune enters a room upstairs to find the big boss, Eutus staring at the sky with his telescope. She has been wanting to see him but he talks about humans’ fate can’t be changed. As he leaves, Mune shoots him and turns him chibi. He encounters Arumi looking for Sasshi amidst the chaos. She tells him about the goblin cutting corners, thus the reason why they can’t get home. However Eutus refutes that if it was so, they would’ve remained in the same world. He concludes it’s because they don’t want to go home. Speaking of Sasshi, he crashes into Eutus. He is pissed and decides to do the sending-home ritual himself. Before they teleport, Arumi finds out that Sasshi doesn’t really want to return home because if they do, Arumi will leave for Hokkaido. But she says of the troubles they’ve been through and her wish to go back to the world where everyone is normal. Sasshi agrees as they begin to teleport.

Episode 7 is a flashback during the time Masa was hospitalized. He thinks back 45 years ago when Abenobashi Shopping Arcade was non-existent and he still had hair over his head. Back then, Masa was trying to court Mune, a schoolgirl whose family runs a bath house in the south of the area. Try as he might ranting about opening his own French restaurant and starting a family, Mune only had eyes for Abe Seimei (Eutus) who was the urban planning specialist. His job was to redevelop the entire area into a shopping area. Masa also works under Abe to help him build the desired town. Mune is shown the blueprint of it and I don’t understand Abe’s gibberish about putting 4 sacred beasts across town for balance and security. Sounds like a yin-yang master. Masa tries to get a bank loan but the grim old officer denies him. Remembering Abe’s words to use his card if he’s in a pinch, he shows the officer Abe’s name card. The card starts glowing and the officer made a total u-turn, begging Masa to borrow money. As Masa continues to work hard and place the sacred animals as Abe instructed, he began to notice Mune’s feelings for Abe. He becomes depressed, lonely and broke. One day as he heads home, he sees the shoes of Abe and Mune outside the room so he runs away after thinking his worse fears has come true. He sinks further into depression, jealousy, getting drunk and in a dilemma. At his limit, one night he calls Abe to meet him but has the intention to stab him with a kitchen knife. But Abe knew something isn’t right and notes himself as powerless after all that the world won’t go the way he wants to. After saying he doesn’t want to lose anyone anymore, Abe walks away leaving Masa standing there stunned. The next day Abe disappeared mysteriously. Masa tried contacting the municipal council but they knew no such person. Pregnant Mune frantically searches for Abe but was futile. She never saw him again. Masa went on to marry another woman, Gin, opened his own Grill Pelican restaurant, get married, have a son and ultimately lived through Gin’s demise. Back in present, Masa wonders if Abe has been reborn.

Back to the story proper in episode 8. It seems the kids didn’t return to their original Abenobashi. It’s a high school love comedy harem setting! Tokimeki Campus Abenobashi! A cute girl Amiryun bumps into Sasshi on her way to school. Mune is the sexy school nurse but why is Arumi a chibi version and always being chased by a rooster wearing sunglasses?! Typical love sim-like moments that will cause Sasshi the typical perverted guy craving into his carnal desires and Arumi the jealous girl. Like Amiryun and Sasshi annoyingly try to share a textbook (is this an all-girls school?) and trying to get bread from Kouhei the canteen guy. Sasshi gives his bread to Shiotan, a girl who seems to be looking for her Pocchi. As usual, no jealousy from Amiryun and though she’s sad, she’s not bothered. But Arumi is bloody pissed at all this. Realizing a horn on Arumi’s head, they think she’s a goblin here and went to do that teleporting ritual. However they end up in the same world and Sayaka a high school girl with onii-chan complex (Sister Princess parody as she calls Sasshi different ways of calling ‘brother’). Arumi’s blood is really boiling. Sasshi and Shiotan are going out on a date so Arumi is hell bent on wrecking this world. She summons Freddy Krueger (Papa) and Jason of Friday the 13th (Masa) to teach that perverted kid a lesson. But I don’t know why Sasshi was so scared watching a movie with Shiotan that his precise evasion of their attacks causes them to break their own bones. Arumi gets slammed by another monster she summoned. Then she uses the satellite laser to fire on the duo at the riverbank and I don’t know why either Masa’s forehead was there to reflect the lasers back to Arumi.

Though Sasshi fainted, he wakes up in the infirmary with Shiotan and Mune very relieved. He too has a legion of fan girls outside because Shiotan told them how he was Superman and saved the world. WTF?! Arumi tries to snipe outside but some girl keeps dropping things on her (pots, tables and blackboard?). I guess Arumi has had enough and sick of this world so I guess her tears was enough for Sasshi to agree to return to their world. He mentions about the Confession Tree he is supposed to meet with Shiotan after school. Thinking that the game will be cleared like in most dating sims, the goblin may appear then. As Sasshi is about to meet Shiotan, Amiryun bumps into him and bids him farewell. She reveals herself as an android that has to go back to heaven. Sasshi has fallen for Amiryun and regrets he should’ve taken her route and wishes to Arumi if they could redo it a little for this world. Now Arumi is so mad that she turns into a giant monster and goes on a rampage. She uproots the Confession Tree as all the girls in this world disappear. As Arumi runs away in tears, Eutus appears before Sasshi. He wants him to study science under his tutelage. With nothing else to do, Sasshi agrees and follows him to his place while Eutus spews the tip of the iceberg on linked fates and scientific elements. Erm… What? Say that again?

Eutus and Sasshi are travelling within some time-space link thingy in episode 9. I’m as stupid as Sasshi so I don’t understand what Eutus is saying about locus between karmic bodies. In short, they’re still in Abenobashi no matter how they travel. Suddenly they find themselves in a jungle and horns grow out of Sasshi’s forehead. Something about his fate not linked to this world. Riding a helicopter, Sasshi realizes below that it is feudal era Kyoto! Eutus’ home seems to have modern day amenities and he is doing what normal present people do. Drink beer, watch TV, etc. Where to get electricity? Some chi thing he says. Besides he is what is called Onmyou in this era (something akin to a scientist). After revealing himself to be the legendary Abe Seimei, Eutus seems to know lots about Sasshi and Arumi’s family. He points out that Mune is Sasshi’s grandma. He also tells of his past how he was travelling as an Onmyou for 20 years. When he came back to his homeland at Abeno, only his childhood friend Masa recognized him and warmly welcomed him home. Masa had a wife, Mune. Eutus became her confidant and in time they fall in love with each other. Ridiculous rumours of Eutus started surfacing in court and one day Eutus came home to find jealous Masa has stabbed Mune and then shortly killed himself. In grief, he decided to bring them both back to life via some ultimate technique ritual. Some gibberish about twisting upcoming realities to avoid bad things happening and properly following orderly linkage of fates so you can’t wander easily into nonsensical worlds. The ritual was successful and Eutus appeared in a different world (flashback in episode 7) where Masa and Mune are alive but not together. Unlike him who has suddenly appeared, Masa and Mune are residents of this world.

But this doesn’t explain how Sasshi and Arumi ended up in parallel worlds (beside his otaku fetishes). Eutus tells him straight that Masa died back then when he fell from the roof (the pelican statue was the one hanging on the sign). As long Sasshi is unable to accept the reality of Masa’s death, he is unable to return. Sasshi starts breaking down, turning hysterical and throwing fits. He is desperate for Eutus to tell of any way to avoid this there isn’t. Meanwhile Arumi wakes up in some custodian room in a decimated place of Abeno and is back to her normal size. When Sasshi has calmed down, Eutus tells him to learn and become and Onmyou and decide for himself to return or not as Arumi and Masa’s fate will be in his hands. He thinks he has potential to do so as he ended up in such a predicament. Next day, Eutus throws him an Onmyou training kit while he goes off to do his exorcism job. Cheapskate! Do it yourself, man! Sasshi isn’t happy that he’s cutting corners and bugs him to teach him properly. Some tutelage that was.

Bored Arumi watches the TV in episode 10 and surprisingly sees Sasshi on screen in a traditional priest outfit. They’re able to interact with each other. He summons a goblin to her in which it teleports Arumi to where Sasshi is: A fairytale amusement park named Sasshiland! Lots of sexy babes offering Arumi 1 year worth of goods. Computers, cars, etc. WTF?! She’s not happy but Sasshi thought she’d be happy if he did all that. It’s not the materialistic wealth lah. Walking through the weird town filled with animals and creatures (Kouhei in a bunny suit?), Arumi is whisked away in a pumpkin carriage. Via a TV inside it, Sasshi tells her he is going to make her have tons of fun here. He goes on ranting that he has an Onmyou mystic licence to cast magic and go to other worlds via hitogata (little paper humans). Arumi isn’t interested in all that crap (that includes bragging about his clothes) and just wants to return home. Arumi is then pulled out of the carriage by stepmother Mune and you can guess Arumi is going to be poor Cinderella. While Sasshi consults his Onmyou book, a hitogata escaped and ventured into town. It takes a form of a teddy bear and turns itself giant size. Meanwhile Masa as the hideous fairy godmother wants Cinderella Arumi to go to the ball but she’s not interested so Masa goes home. Sasshi comes as the prince and wants her to do so or else the plot won’t move. As they argue, the giant teddy stomps on Sasshi and goes on a rampage over the town. Sasshi looks up his kit but couldn’t find the answer so in his panic he calls the Onmyou support hotline! Too bad he doesn’t have the serial number with him which was on the box of the kit he threw away. Bummer.

Sasshi materializes a hitogata into a magical pet, Henyasuke (a crazy looking a sounding version of Card Captor Sakura’s Kero). Henyasuke forces Arumi to become a magical girl complete with her own outfit and transformation scene. With embarrassing chant lines and spells, they cage the teddy but it breaks free and grows bigger. Arumi gets whacked by it. Sasshi has finally found the answer: There is no answer! But he decides to do something as he summons all his hitogata and turns them into little green goblins to draw and do up that teleporting ritual and send the teddy away. Sasshi and Arumi appear in a void space. With everything over, Arumi pleads to go back to their original world. Sasshi couldn’t mention the other reason he doesn’t want to go back so Arumi politely says that they can’t change fate. He agrees and off they jump once more. During the journey, Arumi felt this deja vu and to her horror, Sasshi is still bent on going to his crazy fantasy worlds! As they argue, Arumi shockingly pulls out weird stuff from his head (an indication that’s all he ever thinks?). Missiles fire out from his head towards her as he doesn’t want her peeking into his head.

It’s war between Turtle Bath Army and Pelican Army in episode 11. The Abenobashi district has been turned into a decimated war zone! Private Sasshi has been made to run around to relay a message of the enemy’s tank assembling in front of Wakaba Cigarette Shop to Major Sayaka, Major General Taro, Colonel Mitsuyo (Sasshi’s mom) and General Mune. Note his long posting title each time everyone tries to repeat it! Poor Sasshi gets bombed everywhere he goes. Meanwhile General Masa, Papa and Arumi plan their assault on Turtle Bath Army. Kouhei tries to sell stuff to Sasshi and all the army boys are waiting in baited breath for a sexy singer as motivation. Turns out to be Aki acting as Marilyn Monroe. They’re so dead even before going out to war! They pack her up as hazardous material and send her away! Sayaka takes Sasshi to the front lines (via her reckless riding) and encounter Arumi and Papa’s tank army. Due to Papa’s bad joke about Arumi’s boobs, Arumi goes on a rage and starts her tank assault. Sayaka leaves Sasshi to sacrifice himself. Though he gets blasted, he manages to radio for artillery power and it results in Pelican Army’s failed blitzkrieg and Papa got KIA. Sasshi is promoted to sergeant and is ordered to lead a group of bomber planes to bomb the enemy’s Pearl Barber (?!). Closing in on the target, Sasshi spots a rare dog figurine and his otakuness has him change target and causes the entire fleet to crash. This was all part of Arumi’s plan because he knows that idiot well. Turtle Bath Army’s surprise attack fails and Sayaka is KIA.

Ironically Sasshi is promoted to captain due to diminishing men. WTF?! Masa turns his base into a giant ship for a final assault on Turtle Bath Army’s planes. He calls Mune and wants her to surrender (after that joke about wanting to marry her) but she refuses and calls him stupid. Oh, now he’s mad. Mune changes her base into a giant cannon artillery and fires away but it destroys everything. Taro and Mitsuyo are KIA. Mune and Sasshi are the only ones left as she strips herself and changes into Rambo and charges into the enemy’s base blindly, dragging Sasshi along. In the end, Sasshi carries her out and a tearful farewell speech of wanting to see that person and she believes in him before Mune dies. He buries her and notes how everything was rough and that there’s no place like home. Arumi pops out from the rubble and points out what he just said. She adds moving to Hokkaido doesn’t mean they’ll never see each other again. Plus, it’s better to live in good health in their own world rather than keep wandering from one stupid world to another. Sasshi gets his confidence to go back and believes he will jump to a world where Masa is still alive.

Sasshi has to wish right this time in episode 12 because if he doesn’t, he knows what’s good for him courtesy of Arumi. I don’t know why they teleported back to their original world naked but soon got their clothes back (must be some parody from Terminator because Sasshi was trying to force a bunch of thugs to give him their clothes). Entering Grill Pelican, they find Masa and Ayako in mono-colour speaking in a weird tone and the scene is like from a B&W movie. Suddenly Masa gets all lively and says his dream is to be a lumberjack and cut down trees. This prompts Arumi to suspect that this must be another one of Sasshi’s stupid fantasies. They meet Kouhei as a rude punk hotdog seller. He’s using the “f*cking” word in every sentence! OMFG! They also meet the cheerleading trio of Mune, Sayaka and Aki who tells the duo their parents want to see them. At the shrine, Arumi argues that this isn’t their own world and knows the family here isn’t her own due to their un-Osakan accent. She starts suspecting that there’s something Sasshi doesn’t want to tell her. He is adamant that nothing has happened. Suddenly Ayako’s head turns into an alien and swallows Arumi without Sasshi knowing because that kid just walked off! Sasshi gets the shock of his life when he finds the entire Abenobashi area to be a giant movie set. He realizes he is in a Hollywood movie world. Thinking back the wish he made, he realized he wished for something realistic and that Arumi is suffering.

Speaking of which, she is being cornered by zombies in the form of Masa, Papa and Ayako wanting to rip her clothes off. WTF?! Then the trio turn into recognizable Hollywood movie characters and hold her hostage atop a building (Towering Inferno parody) with Taro and his policemen surrounding it below. Sasshi decides to go save Arumi and summons Aki (Robocop with tits?) to take him there. They are being chased by a truck so Aki merges with Mune and Sayaka into Knight Rider (car with tits?) to take him there faster. Crashing into the building where Arumi is held hostage, Sasshi dresses as Indiana Jones and starts whipping. Aside from hitting Arumi, Masa shoots him (for Matrix’s bullet time effect) and I don’t know why but Sayaka is poking Sasshi’s butt. Then a twister with Jaws threatens them all. So everyone starts throwing oxygen tanks and shoot it. But Jaws crashes into the building as everyone clings for dear life on the sinking block (like Titanic). Sasshi and Arumi fall off so the girl says how she’s really flying (like that iconic scene in Titanic) when she’s actually falling! They drop into Air Force One plane which is being hijacked by naked terrorists Mune, Aki and Sayaka. Using recycled actors is getting old. Anyway their random firing causes the plane to crash. Then on land, Masa did some weird human carriage thingy to send Sasshi and Arumi home like you see in Back To The Future. However they find themselves still in this Hollywood fantasy. Then Arata appears and wants Sasshi to hurry home for dinner.

In a mini theatre room in episode 13, Arumi talks about moving to Hokkaido and her dream of going to New York and space (besides that space colony farce episode). Arata comes in to tell them it’s time for dinner and Mitsuyo is keeping vigil. Not wanting to let Arumi know Masa is dead, Sasshi hurriedly whisk dad away. Arata seems to know of Eutus and says he is Sasshi’s real grandpa. Taro is just a stranger. He also knows of Sasshi’s fantasy adventure. Seems when Arata was young, Eutus popped out from his drawer and gave him that Onmyou kit. But he didn’t believe in all that crap. He wants Sasshi to return to reality but he isn’t ready so he takes Arumi and makes a run for it. Arriving outside the real Abenobashi, however Sasshi says this isn’t their place because the shops they know aren’t here and it lacks everyone’s warmth and cheery kindness they know. Arata appears and chides Sasshi for being a kid because the only thing that will change is the imaginary in his head. He hints to Arumi that she’s an adult and will understand. Flashes of Masa’s fall goes through her mind so Sasshi quickly chants a spell to teleport them away. In a blank world (because Sasshi’s in a slump), Arumi’s memories of that tragic event is still fuzzy. Suddenly Mune appears in a sexy lingerie. The usual antics and teasing. But Sasshi gets serious and calls her full name: Mune Imamiya. He tells her straight that he is her grandson though she doesn’t believe it. All the worlds they’ve been through and the people he knew are those from his head. He doesn’t know how Mune looks like when she was young she can’t be making her up. In other words, this is a world of bitter regret that the wandering soul of Mune created. Since he has Onmyou powers, he wants to help her rest in peace. She mocks him for being a kid so Sasshi gets upset. Then Mune gets all emotional and hugs him, wanting to meet Eutus 1 more time. He agrees to help her and since she hints of wanting to do ‘that’ when she meets him, Sasshi gets flustered so she teases him and not to worry about her but his girlfriend instead.

Arumi and Sasshi are walking back through the empty space. Sasshi apologizes to her but she extends her hand and wants them to return to their Abenobashi. During the ritual, she thanks him and it hit him that she already knew Masa won’t be around if they went back. Sasshi blows his top because he feels like a kid and wants to make Arumi happy as he cares for her and orders Eutus to show his face. Eutus is summoned as while Sasshi is in unconscious state. He works his magic to see Sasshi’s true identity: Onmyou Minister Yasuchika. Realizing that’s how his fate is linked, Yasuchika awakens and does a spell. Returning back to the time when Masa is going to shoo away the cat from the pelican statue, Arumi and Sasshi were fast enough to arrive at Grill Pelican so when Masa spots the kids, he steps back down and thus avoided of him falling. The cat also casually left. In the end, Arumi tells Sasshi they aren’t moving to Hokkaido after all. Masa introduces Papa to an urban planning specialist, Abe and his secretary Muneko Muneyama (it’s Mune). Sasshi agrees that being human, having your health is most important.

I find this short old series to be quite enjoyable, especially the hilarious parodies. If this show was a little longer, I bet they’ll go through more worlds and make more parodies out of other themes like murder mystery, sports, western, slice-of-life, typical shonen and drama-romance. Apart from that, it was the mumbo-jumbo that Eutus talked that took away the fun. I didn’t comprehend a big chunk of his explanation about parallel worlds and the likes. I was like scratching my head so hard and even replayed the scene several times just to understand but all that but I resigned myself to be as dumb as Sasshi and just enjoyed the mindless fun. So that guy is just wandering around through various worlds to find an ideal world of his own? It sure hinted that he was going to end up at the real Abenobashi again but this time with Mune. History repeating itself? But I’m sure glad that Mune finally gets to be with him and Masa is alive in the end. It’s odd to note that Eutus doesn’t like to be called ‘ossan’ (uncle). I mean, he doesn’t look that young, right? But I’m still wondering if Sasshi’s inner magic that caused him and Arumi to teleport to different worlds in the first place and the cause of it was triggered by the breaking of the pelican statue. I think just like any kid who doesn’t want to lose a loved one, it was Sasshi’s denial and reluctance to accept reality that caused all this mess.

I know the drawing and art may be old but I can’t help notice that in certain episodes the drawing becomes rather cartoonish and simple, usually during very comical parts and when all helter-skelter breaks loose. It’s quite obvious. Then there are quite a few frontal nudity though all you get to see is Sasshi’s ‘little buddy’. Sure viewers could see Arumi but at most it would be her naked butt, that’s all. Other than that, Mune and Sayaka provide much of the fanservice and Aki ‘neutralizing’ it all with her hideous cross-dressing. And though we’ve never seen the real Kouhei in the original Abenobashi, him being a trader tells us the kind of person he is in the real world, right? It’s quite fun to see the odd relationship between Sasshi and Arumi. Sasshi being the typical otaku, usually bears the painful end of Arumi’s harisen and her reasoning. It’s like they are a manzai comedy combo. If Sasshi isn’t at the receiving end of that, it will usually be some other stuff slamming into him and the likes. He’s such a comic relief guy and takes all the pain (except for that dating sim episode whereby Arumi bears it). You really got to love him. It’s funny to note that Sasshi is such an otaku and what does this tell you? Yeah, anime has influenced every inch of Japan! It’s amazing that Arumi is able to stand him. That’s what childhood friends are for.

As I have earlier mentioned the parodies, if your knowledge is good in the anime and Hollywood section, then you can spot tons of them in each episode. The next episode preview is also one of my favourite segments because it is anything about the preview of the next episode. All we hear is mainly Sasshi and Arumi ranting about DOING the next episode preview but due to silly circumstances like interruption of other characters or taking to long just to start, it always never gets done. Better time management next time, eh? Another odd thing is that as far as I know, this is the only series to do a next episode preview on the final episode. What do I mean? Okay, so it wasn’t much of a preview either but the scenes and title seem to refer back to the first episode! Back to square one? Odd. Yeah, that’s what this show is too.

Since the main characters are from the Osaka area, they speak quite a heavy accent of the Kansai dialect. Not that I’m knowledgeable of that dialect but the way they speak it’s pretty obvious. So when I found out that the seiyuu of Arumi is Yuki Matsuoka, she was so damn convincing in that accent that it didn’t cross my mind that this was the same lady who voiced Orihime in Bleach, Mako in Da Capo and Evangeline in Mahou Sensei Negima series. Thus when I said in my blog that the characters were speaking in weird accent, it was in reference to standard normal Japanese as opposed to their Kansai dialect. Keiji Fujiwara as Papa was also convincing as the smooth, groovy and soft-spoken (literally) guy who puts French words literally in every sentence of his (sometimes English or German). You can’t recognize him as Sven in Black Cat or Paul in Keroro Gunsou. Other casts include Tomo Saeki as Sasshi (Coo Erhard in Di Gi Charat series), Rikiya Koyama as Eutus (Kogarashi of Kamen No Maid Guy), Aya Hisakawa as Mune (Maya in Tenjou Tenge, Yuki in Fruits Basket), Akemi Okamura as Sayaka (Nami in One Piece) and a cameo appearance by Yui Horie as Amiryun. Both the opening and ending themes are sung by Megumi Hayashibara. The opening theme feels like rap and R&B so I didn’t quite like it. The ending theme sounds like a slow song from the old days. The animation here shows real still black and white photos of the Abenobashi district. Though there are a variety of background music. The main ones seem to feel like a carnival or circus. Perhaps it’s to reflect the crazy worlds the kids were in.

It’s natural for a human’s mind to venture into escapism when harsh reality sets in. That’s why we all have our own never-ending dreams and fantasies. If I was in Sasshi’s shoes I would do the same too. How often do we get to live and play out our deepest desires? But sometimes there is no harm in dreaming because it’s what we look forward and strive to achieve. That’s only half right. Because if you don’t wake up, that’s all you’ll ever do. One day, I know that I will have to completely stop watching my regular animes. NoooOOOoooOOOooOOO!!! I’m pretty sure that isn’t going to happen. Can somebody pinch me up from this dream? Or shall I go on? If you need me, you can find me at Anime Land…

Abenobashi Mahou Shoutengai

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