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Case Number 04737: Small Claims Court

Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi (Volume 4)

ADV Films // 2002 // 75 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Joel Pearce (Retired) // July 8th, 2004

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All Rise...

With his stop at Banana Republic, Judge Joel Pearce concludes his visit to this magical mall.

The Charge

There's no place like home.

The Case

Well, here it is: the end of this rather disjointed and manic anime series. My last hope for the series is that it would end on the right note, bringing all of the elements of the show to some kind of coherent end. I think I will make you read the episode summaries before I tell you whether that hope has been fulfilled.

• "Resolution!! Abenobashi Battlefield Shopping Arcade"
I don't have much to say about this episode. It doesn't advance the final plot arc of the series, which is well underway by this point, and it isn't especially funny either. Sasshi and Arumi wind up in the middle of a World War II style battle for the Shopping Arcade. As expected, though, the scale of the battle is so small that it just comes off looking trite and silly.

• "Huge Reversal?! Abenobashi Hollywood Shopping Arcade"
Although it is not the last episode, the penultimate show is the culmination of the more manic, over the top humor side of the show. This is especially true for North American audiences, because the references are mostly from Hollywood movies, rather than from video games and anime, as they have been through the rest of the series. It has more raunchy bits, more bizarre sight gags, more swearing…fans of the insane humor that marks the early episodes of the series are going to call this their favorite one.

• "Return to Life! The Legendary Onmyou Mystic"
If the previous episode closed off the more manic side of Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi, the final episode is designed in order to bring the wider, more serious story arc to an end. Unfortunately, the arc doesn't successfully bring any of the issues to a close in a satisfactory way. The whole point of the series is to help Sasshi to grow up and learn to deal with the difficult realities in his life. Having Arumi move away is one thing that he needs to get over still, but the other issue that prevented him from coming home is not handled well. In the whole journey archetype, you can never truly return home to a world exactly as it was, which makes the solution of this story completely wrong.

Perhaps I should define deus ex machina for those readers that have not come across the term before:

1. A power, event, person, or thing that comes in the nick of time to solve a difficulty; providential interposition, esp. in a novel or play. (From the Oxford English Dictionary)
2. A really disappointing way to end a series.

At the end of the series, the problems that the characters have been working through from the beginning should be solved, not nullified. As Sasshi has moved through the various worlds, he has come to learn that imagining new worlds will not solve his problems, and that he is simply postponing the inevitable problems of the real world that he is trying to escape. We have already learned that the problems in the real world are due to the meddling of Onmyou mysticism. So why on earth should we be happy with an ending in which Eutus once again meddles in reality? I know I'm not.

The technical quality of the disc is up to par with the rest of the volumes. It has a nice anamorphic transfer and high quality sound whether you watch the English or Japanese track.

In terms of extras, this volume is about on par with the others as well. The outtakes are longer this time, which I don't consider a good thing. They are every bit as annoying as they were in the other volumes. Fans of the show that don't think the episodes proper are offensive and irreverent enough ought to love them though. This disc, much to my disappointment, has another commentary track. A third voice actor is added this time. It doesn't help any. Particularly pointless and dull this time around is the discussion of which of the voice actors uses the vending machines at the studio, but all of them repeating the lines that are said on screen gets old too. This time, they do talk about the process of doing voice work for a little while, but not nearly enough. At those moments that one of them does try to start an interesting conversation, the others interrupt the conversation by saying stupid things that pulls the conversation off track.

Fans of the series will want to grab this last volume to get some closure. Those who have been waiting to see how the series turns out before making a purchasing decision may want to just go with a rental instead. Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi wants to be far more than it is, and the lack of consistency makes it feel disjointed and unsatisfying. As a silly comedy, it works fairly well, but the filmmakers shouldn't have tried to do so much more than that if they weren't willing to carry it through to a proper conclusion.

I have reserved my judgment until I have seen all of the volumes of the show. Having accomplished this task, I hereby sentence the filmmakers to travel through 13 dimensions until they are better able to conceptualize a comedy that works on a larger level. ADV has done an admirable job in handling the translation of this mess, and are free to leave.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 74

Perp Profile

Studio: ADV Films
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Japanese)
• English
Running Time: 75 Minutes
Release Year: 2002
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Anime

Distinguishing Marks

• Outtakes
• AD Vid-notes
• Commentary with Voice Actors


• IMDb

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