Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi Vol. #3 -

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Mania Grade: B

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 17 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi

Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi Vol. #3

By Chris Beveridge     March 03, 2004
Release Date: March 09, 2004

Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi Vol. #3
© ADV Films

What They Say
They've begged. They've pleaded. Heck, they've even threatened bodily
injury. But for Sasshi and Arumi, getting back home to the real world
ain't as simple as saying "abracadabra!" So once again, the pair plunges
headfirst into strange, new worlds loaded with hyperactive girlfriends,
magic, murder, and enough syrupy cuteness to choke the Sugar Plum Fairy!

Will Sasshi find true love before an angry Arumi's sniper bullet finds
its way to his fluttering heart? What really goes on in Eutus'
spellbound bachelor pad? And what is Sasshi trying so desperately to
hide from Arumi? Don't miss a second of the hilarious hocus-pocus in the
third outrageous volume of Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi!

The Review!
Abenobashi takes another turn into the worlds of Sasshi's imagination before getting into some of the deeper meanings of just what reality is. The heavy hand of Gainax storytelling really hits with this volume.

With this series having such a heavy slant on Osaka dialect and puns, so much so that they even have a credit for an Osaka Dialect Comedy Rewrite position, we decided to go with the Japanese language for this series. The track is a fairly standard stereo mix that has some good movement across the forward soundstage at a few times, usually when the characters go zooming across the screen. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Originally airing in 2002, Abenobashi is presented here in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is encoded for anamorphic playback. The transfer for the show is very clean looking and free of most of the usual problems, though there is a bit of aliasing in a few areas during some of the digital panning, but it's very minimal. The series has a wide variety of color palettes used; the first episode is done very real world styled for a lot of it from backgrounds to character animation, but once things kick in there's a lot of vibrancy used, such as in the third episode.

Putting Arumi into a place where she should be having fun, she's given over to a magical girl image, complete with wand and crown, alongside a couple of the girls from the dating sim world while the mystical Sasshi looks over them. The back cover provides some varied shots from the show along a strip on the side while also going through a couple of paragraphs of summary. The discs features are clearly listed and the technical side is well listed in the box block along the bottom. The insert included for this release is the continuation of what we really liked with the previous volumes. It's done up as a weekly magazine for the Arcade where inside you have all sorts of shots from the episodes and jokes relating to them as well as informational pieces. It's in full color and looks fantastic and something that adds great charm to the release. With this release being in a clear keepcase, the reverse side cover has a wide shot across both panels and the spine of what looks to be a scene of normal old Abenobashi in the present day.

The menu layout utilizes the cool look of the front cover by bringing in the character artwork and setting some moving smoke around them. All of this is set to a brief part of the opening song and the menus are anamorphic as well. Access times are fast even with the minor transitional animations that shift the menus from one screen to another.

The extras are similar to the previous releases and fill out the volume nicely. The Vid-notes take the top spot of course and fare better overall in this volume. The opening and ending sequences get their textless versions done up here and there's also a few minutes worth of dub outtakes. These are done pretty well, with the section done properly showing up first and then the outtake itself following it.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
While the second volume of the series ended on a fairly heavy episode with hints at the bigger picture, this volume swings right back to the fun before going headlong into the deep material once more.

Since we hadn't really seen Sasshi or Arumi for a bit, we catch up with them in a world that's tailor made for Sasshi. As they arrive, he suddenly realizes that he's by himself and Arumi is not to be found. The world looks normal to him with girls going to school before he realizes that they're all beautiful girls (after one particularly great segment that plays with the last Evangelion episode, which I had seen just a few hours prior). Going down the dating sim route with lots of Tokimeki thrown in, Sasshi is apparently the only real male in the world and all these women are his to go after ? and several of them are actively interested in him. He plays the world out like the game it is, even after he finds out that Arumi is here as well but has taken on the role of the goblin, complete with horn.

While Arumi is both repeatedly abused (by the chicken from Hamtaro no less) and repeatedly abuses Sasshi, she finally hits her breaking point and heads off into the sunset. It's at this point that Eutus arrives and finally decides that there must be a reason he keeps running into these two. He's particularly taken with how vivid the worlds that Sasshi envisions are and invites him over to his place so that the two can talk. Their journey is a strange one across the dimensions and to a place where Abenobashi is actually just Abeno, back in the Heian era. Of course, it's not completely Heian since Eutus also has his own personal helicopter he uses to get around and his normal looking residence actually looks like a typical middle-aged mans apartment in present day Japan.

As we learn, Eutus is actually the ancient Omnyou named Abeno Seimei, long revered in Japanese culture and yearly festivals. He explains to Sasshi how he came to that position, what fostered his desires to cross the worlds and why he's the way he is. It's all quite amusing in some regards, and parts of his past are told in a very uniquely way of animating it that was very intriguing. What this all allows for is that reasoning behind why Sasshi is able to make these journeys to new worlds and why they're all basically coming from his own imagination.

So with understanding comes mastery, and Eutus gives Sasshi something of a crash course on becoming an Omnyou. With being able to consciously manipulate things, he tries to make up for the past with Arumi by taking her to a world where she'll be happy, or so he thinks, which brings us to Fluffy, Bubbly! This world is an insane Candyland on crack kind of place where what Sasshi thinks girls like are all important and Arumi finds herself becoming something of a magical girl. This all plays out while Sasshi continues to be overly cocky in his newfound abilities, which causes plenty of trouble in itself.

While it wasn't surprising what kind of links were created to give Sasshi the abilities he has, I'm surprised that it was revealed as early as it is in the series. This is usually the kind of thing that the writers here love to pull out in the last episode to twist everything around, which now makes me fear the last three episodes that are coming up since it's going to mess with things even more. I especially liked the way in these episodes that we see Eutus as he really is, even with his mastery of time and space, he simply likes taking in a few shows and drinking beer in the comfort of a small apartment.

In Summary:
The shifts in storytelling for this volume are pretty similar to what we got in the last volume, though not quite as drastic since Eutus isn't as stone serious this time around as he was in the 1950's. The story that makes up the backbone of this series is told really well and provides the way for more fun but also keeps an element of danger and potential sadness in play so that there's a reason for it to keep going. While the first volume of this series barely got a reaction out of us, we've definitely enjoyed the follow-up releases more.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,A.D.
Vid-Notes,Outtakes,Clean opening and closing animation

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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