Magical☆Shopping Arcade Abenobashi

Magical☆Shopping Arcade AbenobashiType: TV Series
Episode Count:
13
Genre: Episodic Genre Parody / Fantasy
Vintage: 2002

Version reviewed: Japanese Subtitled
Date of Review: 09 Jul 2006

Grade: B

In which Gainax unleashes another unexpected round of insanity and general weirdness onto unsuspecting viewers.

Plot Summary
Twelve-year-old lifelong friends Sasshi and Arumi are suddenly transported to one strange incarnation of their local shopping arcade after another following an unlikely twist of fate that they could never have prepared for. In order to make their way back to the real Abenobashi, they’ll have to learn why it is that these other worlds have appeared.

The Review
The Short Review: FLCL on sedatives.

Actually, Magical☆Shopping Arcade Abenobashi deserves a better explanation than that, and there is always the chance that there are those who have not seen FLCL and are thus unable to know what I mean by that. So here’s how it goes…

Magical☆Shopping Arcade Abenobashi takes no prisoners in its twisting of not only anime genres, but of movies as well. Most of the episodes take a style and run with it. In typical Gainax fashion, they don’t merely push the envelope, they tear right through it. This was one of those few shows that had me laughing out loud a few times. The more anime you’ve seen, the more you’ll get, as far as the spoofs are concerned.

Abenobashi isn’t entirely a series made for laughs at the expense of other genres. Running underneath all of the chaos is a clever coming-of-age tale. Also, out of the 13 episodes, there are three that aren’t a non-stop assault of jokes and visual gags. Episode one lays the groundwork for the series, and offers no indication of the craziness that lies ahead. In the middle of the series is a flashback episode to two generations previous that somehow links to Sasshi and Arumi’s experiences in the many Abenobashis. The final episode almost pulls an Evangelion, then brings everything to a close. Speaking of Evangelion, there are at least two shamelessly blatant (and hilarious) references to the sister Gainax series.

Overall, Magical☆Shopping Arcade Abenobashi is an unusual experience probably better suited for a more seasoned anime fan. The more references you are able to pick up, the funnier the show will be. I nearly fell on the floor during the Cardcaptor Sakura spoof. It may be mostly fun and games, but behind it all lies a good, and even touching, story about growing up.

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