Sunday, 10 October 2010

Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru - Episode 1

Ahh, maid cafes - what a staple part of the anime diet they have become.  That said, SHAFT's Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru introduces us to a maid cafe that is barely worthy of the name, residing as it does in a small shopping district and with barely any customers to speak of.

Still, the cafe's solitary young maid, Hotori Arashiyama, seems to be popular enough, if only with one boy and classmate Sanada - however, when she mentions her work to friend Toshiko Tatsuno things soon take a turn for the... well, different.  In short, Tatsuno has more than a passing interest in maid cafes herself, thus when she turns up to visit Arashiyama at her work place she's not far short of disgusted by how decidedly un-maid cafe-like the place is, doing her best to teach her friend how to act before deciding to take a job at the cafe herself once she learns that Sanada frequents there, oblivious to the fact that he only visits to see Hotori.

So the template is set for this series, with the second half of this opening episode focusing on the girls having their part-time work discovered by their teacher and trying to use their wiles to allow their unauthorised jobs pass - a mission which seems to have failed miserably on the surface, yet somehow it seems to have worked perfectly at the same time.

Truth be told I probably didn't need to label this series as a SHAFT show in my introduction - as you might expect, it oozes that aesthetic from first scene until last (not to mention the fantastic opening and ending credits), although on this occasion it actually feels overblown on a number of occasions and seems to distract from rather than complement whatever is going on on-screen.  Aside from such complaints, this was a reasonable opener that can boast that its mission is accomplished almost solely on account of its slapstick humour, which worked okay when deployed in conjunction with the odd bit of wordplay and Chiaki Omigawa offering up a decent turn as the voice of the eminently likeable Arashiyama.

Will this series end up as another Natsu no Arashi, only with even less room for manoeuvre?  I hope not, but by the same juncture I do wonder where its comedy is going to come from once the slapstick gags get tiring, as there's only so much you can do with a good old-fashioned love triangle story.  We'll just have to wait and see what it has up its sleeve (or in its apron, perhaps?) for now.

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