While Yukitaka just wants to play baseball, life throws him a curveball when he discovers he now has an alien for a roommate and many others walk among us.
What They Say:
Episode 1 - An alien on the planet
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the short three volume manga series by Yu Yu Hakusho and Hunter x Hunter creator Yoshihiro Togashi that ran back in the mid 90's, Level E is a new one cour anime series from Studio Pierrot that brings some science fiction to the game this winter. While I've enjoyed parts of Togashi's work before, the two main series simply ran too long in manga form and were difficult to adapt to anime because of that. With the success of thos series, Level E was something that didn't last all that long in Japan for a few different reasons but because of that length it makes for an interesting adaptation as it has only so much to work with and can move within it well enough so as to be faithful but still find its own way.
The show has a strong science fiction angle to it as it introduces us to Yukitaka, a high school student who has come to the rural city to a high school who's recruiting a lot of baseball players so as to increase its rankings and stature. Yukitaka's a pretty decent guy as he gets his own place but discovers he has a roommate named Prince. Nothing like truth in advertising as Prince is actually the first prince of a planet called Dogura. Aliens come and go to Earth in all types but they all work to blend in while conducting their business there. Prince is amusing as he's rather open with Yukitaka about his origins since he's not quite up to speed on things yet when it comes to human language. While Yukitaka wants him out, Prince is able to get under his skin enough to cajole him into letting him stay with him. Of course, it's a pretty cringe inducing way it happens, with Yukitaka apparently causing quite a few deaths by accident, but it just adds to the surreal nature of what Yukitaka is going through.
What makes things better is the discovery of his next door neighbor who just moved in herself, Miho. Her arrival brings some brightness to his suddenly dark and complicated life, though even that starts with a tinge of worry on his part. A lot of the initial focus is on Prince convincing Yukitaka that he's actually an alien and playing on his fears and sympathies. The two have a definite Odd Couple feeling about them at first here but Prince is focused on finding what he needs in order to survive, especially after complications arising from the discovery of his ship that crashed here. There's a nice mix of science fiction into it, such as his superior strength and agility as well as the ability to heal more than just himself and it all has a really solid visual design to it. Togashi's work is like a lot of others from decades past in that when it's introduced into modern animation techniques, it stands out against the sea of designs that feel very similar today.
This opening episode definitely has a quirky feeling about it, especially as Prince isn't actually named throughout it. Yukitaka has a very good design about him since it avoids making the teenagers look like middle school kids and it has them changing clothes a bit as well. Prince himself is amusing because of his style of speech and the way he jumps from idea to idea without so much as a sliver of a connection. Everything does slowly reveal itself over the course of it, largely because Prince gets his memories back as time progresses on, and it puts Yukitaka in a strange position but one that has him unable to get away from it. While he wants to focus on baseball, life has thrown him something very different here and seeing how he copes with it is really intriguing, especially when we start to see something of the aliens out there and it doesn't go for the norm. The ending sequence is definitely worth noting as it has a lot of fun with classic UFO visuals, especially with the cows, and it adds a neat little spin onto everything.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Dell 10.1 Netbook via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.