As closing time nears, Judge Joel Pearce really hopes that the food court has a Popeye's Chicken.
"When a man and woman's fates are linked, no one can stop them from falling in love"—Abe
"I'll mess this damn world up!"—Arumi
Well, here I am, reviewing the third volume in this light but thoroughly chaotic series called Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi. The first two volumes were a little too silly and childish for my liking, yet it is a series that has a lot of fun to offer fans of anime, parodying pretty much every genre and major show in the history of animation. As the second volume ended, it seemed like a more serious plot was beginning to bring the show together. My hope for this volume was to see more of this plot, augmented by the silly fun of the other volumes. Unfortunately, the third volume has not fulfilled my wishes, and is the weakest one of the series so far. It contains the following three episodes:
• "Set Your Heart Aflutter! Abenobashi Campus Shopping
• "It Cries! The Bush Warbler Heiankyo"
• "Fluffy, Bubbly! Fairy Tale Shopping Arcade"
I was really hoping that this third volume of Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi would start to bring some of the disparate elements of the show together as it draws to a close. Unfortunately, this volume has done the exact opposite. In trying to explain the complex mythological system of the show, all the creators have done is muddle an already chaotic mess. While some of the episodes still have some laughs, the zany energy of the series seems to be dying away, but nothing is really taking its place. I am still intrigued to find out what happens to Sasshi and Arumi, and the show does remain light enough that I don't consider it something to be hated. That said, it is going to take a miracle of scripting to bring this show back together in the final three episodes.
As with the previous two volumes, the technical quality of the disc is exceptional. ADV has continued to deliver a top-notch video transfer and a dub that becomes less annoying as I get used to it. The original language track is still preferred, but for me to praise a dub is a pretty big deal. The on-screen translation notes are more useful this time around, as I really did need some groundwork into the history of Onmyou mysticism.
People who have loved the show to this point are going to want to continue watching the series to start to figure out what the hell is going on. The answer to that question is a bit more convoluted than it could have been, but at least it's here. For people wavering on whether to check out the show or not are still advised to give it a rental rather than a purchase, because it doesn't look like the show is developing into a valuable and cohesive whole.
I am much less impressed with this volume than I was for the first two. Still, I will withhold my final sentencing until the last volume has arrived for its trial.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: ADV Films
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