Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi Vol. #3 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: A-
  • Age Rating: 15 & Up
  • Region: 2 - Europe
  • Released By: ADV Films UK
  • MSRP: £19.99
  • 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 Dani Moure     February 15, 2006
Release Date: March 21, 2005


Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi Vol. #3
© ADV Films UK


What They Say
They've begged. They've pleaded. Crikey, they've even threatened bodily injury. But for Sasshi and Arumi, getting back home to the real world really isn'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!

Swoon as Sasshi tries to find true love before an angry Arumi's sniper bullet finds its way to his fluttering heart! Marvel at what really goes on in Eutus' spellbound bachelor pad! Uncover the secrets Sasshi is so desperately trying to hide from Arumi.

Don't miss a second of the hilarious hocus-pocus in the third outrageous volume of 'Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi'!

Includes 3 complete episodes.

The Review!
The parodies continue as the latest volume of Abenobashi also gets a little bit serious on us.

Audio:
I listened to the Japanese stereo track while watching this disc for my review, and noticed no distortions or dropouts. The track itself sounds good with both the dialogue and background music coming across really well. The manic action scenes sound particularly good. I really enjoyed the performances from the cast, with the actors for Sasshi and Arumi being particularly fun and fast paced, and the deliveries in the final episode really fitting in with the more dramatic tone.

I spot-checked the English language track, which is presented in 5.1, and I noticed no technical problems, though it didn't really seem a great deal different to the stereo track.

Video:
Abenobashi has the shiny digital look to it and, as has become typical of ADV, a very nice, crisp and sharp anamorphic widescreen transfer. I noticed no artefacts, aliasing or other problems during regular playback, and could just sit back and enjoy it with no distractions. Subtitles are in a clear, yellow font.

Packaging:
Packaged in a clear keepcase, the cover features Sasshi dressed in his Onmyou gear in the background, with two of the girls from the dating sim episode next to Arumi in her magical girl outfit. The show's logo is at the bottom along with the volume number. The back cover features four screenshots, along with a description of the show, a list of special features and the cast list. Technical information is presented clearly at the bottom of the back cover, which is great as always.

The reverse side of the cover features a nice wrap-around image of the cast in and around Abenobashi.

For this release, ADV also put together a series of booklet inserts, and ADV UK has kindly brought them over to the UK as well. They feature a few insights on the characters and happenings in the episodes, all presented as "Weekly AbenoSpoiler", in a newspaper format that really fits the show well.

Menu:
The main menu is done up with the cover style images of Arumi and the two dating sim girls floating around, with the episode selections, languages and special features links listed on the left. The features sub-menu is of similar style but the language menu is amusingly in the style of a dating sim question, which was a nice touch. Music from the soundtrack also appears on each menu.

Extras:
The big draw here is the AD Vid-notes, which are a pop-up video style selection of facts about the show and many of its references that plays along with the on-screen action. There's also a set of out-takes, and the obligatory clean opening and clean ending.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The last volume of Abenobashi ended with an episode that was far more dramatic than the previous parodies, and hinted at some heavier things to come. While we initially jump back into the parody style, the middle episode on this disc is once again more serious in tone, as some of the meanings behind certain things in the series are revealed. It’s all a bit strange, but then would you expect anything less from this series?

The first episode returns Sasshi and Arumi to action for some high school drama, dating-sim style! This world is pure love for Sasshi, as he becomes the central character with several of the girls lusting after him, and since he’s the only male around, he has the pick of all the girls. As you’d imagine, he has a lot of fun with the world and plays things up as much as he can, carefully considering his actions and what impact they’ll have on his results with the ladies. Of course, he doesn’t really consider Arumi a great deal, though she is in this world herself, looking rather short and stumpy since she’s taken the role of this world’s goblin. And naturally, she’s not happy that they are still not home, and it’s all Sasshi’s fault.

If you’ve ever wondered why people love these kinds of dating sim, harem type stories, or are just generally amused by the more clichéd examples of the genre (as if the genre itself wasn’t cliché enough), you’ll find a lot to laugh at here. Everything is just done so right, with parodies of all different series floating around. Some might go over your head (that’s what the vid-notes are for), but how can you not laugh at Sasshi getting choices of things to do and stressing over which option to take and which will be best for him. And then there’s the ending scene, where the girl becomes a goddess and ascends, and several more clichés and parodies are thrown in for good measure.

But then things get more serious again, as Eutus appears when Sasshi and Arumi are trying to get back home. This time Sasshi is alone with Eutus in what appears to be the Heian Era, and Eutus decides that since they keep running into each other, he’ll explain some things to Sasshi. Eutus takes him home (complete with TV, beer and more, showing Sasshi that this isn’t as straightforward a history lesson as he might have first thought), and explains that he is the ancient Onmyou mystic Abeno Seimei. He’s well known in Japanese history, and he explains how he came to start journeying across the dimensions and why Sasshi can do the same, and gives Sasshi a crash course lesson in using his Onmyou powers.

While a few parts of this story weren’t entirely unexpected, there were a lot of interesting revelations here and I really liked the way all the flashbacks and things were handled. It was one of the episodes that was very low on the parody and almost gives the show a bit of a schizophrenic feel as these more serious episodes keep popping up now in between the parodies, but it was still enjoyable. It was a bit silly that Sasshi managed to learn and master his powers so quickly, although giving Sasshi some control over his imagination and hence what the worlds turn out to be could lead to some interesting drama, much like the revelation about Grandpa Masa surely will. This episode also gave away the true identity of Mune-Mune, so it got bonus points from me there!

Now that Sasshi knows how to use his imagination and powers to actively create the world himself, he decides to try and make things up to Arumi by sending her to a fairytale land that he’s concocted himself! He does everything he can to try and please her, using his paper dolls to do all his bidding, but nothing works and Arumi just gets more and more angry. Then one of Sasshi’s paper dolls goes out of control, becoming a giant teddy bear, and only magical girl Arumi can stop it!

Back with the parody again, and since it’s based on fairytales then almost anyone should be able to spot several of the parody references here. Some of them were just hilarious, such as Grandpa Masa becoming the fairy godmother ready to send Arumi to the ball, and also the rather funny take-off of the magical girl genre (particularly a swipe at Cardcaptor Sakura) when Arumi has to transform to battle the teddy bear. Of course, in the background there’s the real reason that Sasshi doesn’t want to go back to their real world, although he’s extremely reluctant to say anything about it to Arumi because of how upsetting it’ll be. This aspect does add something of a new dimension to their antics, but you have to wonder where exactly the series will go from here to wrap things up.

In Summary:
Once again this volume of Abenobashi provides a bit of a mix in style and tone, with the parody episodes split up by one that maintains the comedy but adds a bit more drama and some plot revelations in as well. I am still finding this series quite enjoyable, though it doesn’t always get things right and the jokes don’t always hit home as perhaps they should. Still, while it’s not for everyone there will be a lot of people out there that this will appeal to, and now we can all wait and see what Gainax come up with for the ending in the final volume.

Features
Japanese Language (2.0),English Language (5.1),English Subtitles,AD Vid-Notes,Out-takes,Clean Opening & Closing

Review Equipment
Philips 28" Pure Flat Widescreen TV, Pioneer DV-464 code free DVD player, JVC gold-plated RGB SCART cable, standard stereo sound.

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