Anime Spotlight: Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi

Introduction

Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi is an anime series created and produced by Gainax and Madhouse. The series was directed by Hiroyuki Yamaga, and it aired on Japanese television from April 4-June 27, 2002.

As of this writing, AEsir Holdings holds the North American distribution license for the Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi television anime series.

About Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi

The main characters of the series are childhood friends Arumi and Sasshi, and they live in the Abenobashi commercial district in Osaka, Japan. This area where they live is falling apart, with many of the businesses shutting down and residents moving away. Sasshi’s own family had to shut down their bathhouse and move into a different home. When they moved, Sasshi’s family made him leave his items associated with his otaku habits behind, because the new home they were moving into was much smaller.

Arumi’s family, excluding her grandfather, has decided to leave their restaurant and go to Hokkaido, where Arumi’s dad has a job offer. Sasshi is upset and doesn’t want Arumi to leave.

Arumi’s grandfather has an accident, and the two children are transported to an alternate world of sword and sorcery. After defeating the “boss” of the alternate world, the children try to return back home; instead, they are transported to another alternate world. These alternate worlds turn out to be built around surreal manifestations of Sasshi’s otaku interests.

In addition to the sword and sorcery world, the children find themselves in other lands, which are based on such interests as science fiction, dating sim games, and American movies. It turns out that Sasshi is the force causing the two children to travel to these different “hobby worlds.” Sasshi no longer wants to cope with reality, due to Arumi’s family moving away and the destruction of the shopping arcade.

These worlds are also populated by analogs of the protagonists’ relatives and acquaintances. However, they also meet a blue-haired stranger named Eutus and a red-haired woman with glasses named Mune.

My Impressions of Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi

Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi is a very interesting series, but a viewer needs to have an understanding of various anime and otaku references, as well as a knowledge of pop culture references.  Without this kind of a background, some of the humor of the series will be lost on the viewer.

Overall, I thought that Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi was kind of a fun and whimsical viewing experience. My favorite episode was the one where Sasshi and Arumi end up in the science fiction world, because I recognized and appreciated several Space Battleship Yamato references that appeared in it. That particular episode nearly made me bust a gut.

Conclusion

Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi is only 13 episodes in length, so it’s a rather small time commitment that’s needed to watch the entire series.

Personally, I would recommend Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi to anime viewers who have an understanding of anime, otaku and pop culture references. Without some kind of background and understanding on these topics, some of the humor of the series could be lost and the enjoyment of the series could be decreased dramatically.

Anime DVD Review: Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi Box Set

The Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi box set is a 3-disc DVD set that includes all 13 episodes of the series. Unfortunately, this is a rather “bare bones” release, which means that the special features from the four individual DVD releases were not included. Also, there is no labeling anywhere as to which episodes appear on which discs. I was a little frustrated when I saw that this information was missing from the packaging.

Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi is set in the Abenobashi commercial district in Osaka, Japan. This area is falling apart, with many of the businesses shutting down and people from the area moving away.

Sasshi and his childhood friend, Arumi, are the main characters of the series. Sasshi’s family recently shut down their bathhouse and moved into a smaller home; as part of the move Sasshi’s family made him leave items associated with his otaku habits behind, due to having less space.

Arumi’s family, excluding her grandfather, has decided to leave their restaurant and go to Hokkaido, where Arumi’s father has a job offer. Sasshi is upset and doesn’t want Arumi to leave.

Arumi’s grandfather has an accident, and Arumi and Sasshi are transported to an alternate version of Abenobashi that has sword and sorcery. After defeating the “boss” and trying to return home, they find themselves in another alternate world. The alternate worlds they visit turn out to be surreal manifestations of Sasshi’s otaku interests. These other interests include science fiction, dating sim games, war, and American movies.

These worlds are populated by analogs of their relatives and acquaintances, as well as by a couple of people they’ve never met before. One is a blue-haired stranger named Eutus, and the other is a red-haired girl with glasses named Mune. As the series progresses, it’s revealed why the two kids keep jumping to alternate worlds, and the connection that they have with Eutus and Mune.

Overall, I thought that Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi was kind of a fun and whimsical viewing experience. My favorite episode was the one where Sasshi and Arumi end up in the science fiction world, because I recognized and appreciated several Space Battleship Yamato references that appeared in it. That particular episode nearly made me bust a gut.

As I mentioned earlier in this review, this DVD box set for Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi is “bare bones.” The first disc in the set has five episodes, as well as trailers for properties that were being promoted at the time this set was released and DVD credits. The second and third discs only have four episodes on them.

Even with the fact that I was a little disappointed by the lack of special features, I still believe that this Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi DVD set is the best and most economical way to acquire the series for your anime collection. It’s also easier to find this box set than it is to track down the four individual DVDs that were originally released for this series.

I wrote this review after watching a copy of the Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi DVD box set that my husband and I purchased.

New Anime Releases: December 11, 2012

Here are the new anime releases for December 11, 2012. If you see any error or omissions in this list, please feel free to contact me and let me know.

Bleach: Uncut Set 15 [DVD]
A Certain Magical Index: Season One, Part One [DVD]
A Certain Magical Index: Season One, Part Two [DVD]
Is This A Zombie? Season One [DVD]
Level E: Complete Series [Blu-ray/DVD Combo]
Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi Complete Collection [DVD]
Tegami Bachi: Letter Bee Collection 1 [DVD]