Spotlight
Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi
A.D. Vision, Inc.
Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi is produced by Gainax, the studio that brought us Gunbuster, Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water, and Otaku no Video. Like these shows, Abenobashi dives headfirst into genres, simultaneously revering and mocking them in ways guaranteed to make anime, SF and gaming fans howl with delight. The Gainax crew, after all, are fans themselves. Who else would know which buttons to push?

Abenobashi also makes regular use of the infamous "Gainax bounce," in which a female character's breasts bounce with such ample splendor that they probably require their own team of animators. The main exemplar of the bounce in Abenobashi is Mune-Mune, one of the two regular characters that Arumi and Sasshi didn't know prior to their adventures. Endowed with enough T & A for at least two of Charlie's angels, Mune-mune appears in each world heralded by either a "va-va-voom" musical sting or a single timpani hit that singularly embodies the concept of "boing."

These are the things that kept me watching through the first DVD, because quite frankly the first few episodes also provide good reasons not to keep watching. First is the design and animation itself. Gainax and Studio Madhouse (who provided animation services) are both well-known for their graphic flair, and in general the visuals in Abenobashi are pretty tight. But when something particularly goofy or chaotic happens—fairly often, really, including most of the third episode—the stylization simplifies so much it tips right into being slipshod. The gags themselves also veer headlong into territory that's just senselessly crude, as if the animators themselves all regressed to the age of the characters.

But I'd laughed through enough of Volume 1 that I was willing to give Volume 2 a shot, and I'm glad I did. The potty humour got a bit of a rest, the visuals were more consistent—and then Gainax threw a curve ball.
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