Ever since being inspired by a classic anime seen on a whim during her formative years, Midori Asakusa has dreamed of animating a wondrous and exciting world. The present day finds her and her friend (or at least acquaintance) Sayaka Kanamori freshly enrolled in a Byzantine high school. The pair embroil themselves with Tsubame Mizusaki, the daughter of a wealthy magnate, by “rescuing” her from suspicious men chasing her from an anime club recruitment viewing.
Tsubame explains afterwards that her parents are intent on having her develop a glamorous and well-paid career to the point of having her tailed in school and – due to her interest in animation – specifically prevented from joining the anime club. Kanamori suggests that Tsubame and Midori collaborate, and the two lose track of time going through each other’s sketchbooks and having a brainstorming session.
If you ever wondered what it would be like if Hayao Miyazaki made a broadcast TV anime in the style of Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind and Castle in the Sky, well, me too, because even though he did exactly that in 1978, Future Boy Conan isn’t, shall we say, readily available stateside. A legally distinct analogue of that series, however, was apparently streaming somewhere in the neighborhood of four years prior to Eizouken’s present day, when it mesmerized an adventurous young Midori, home alone on a rainy night. What I find particularly interesting about this prologue is that the computer in it is the only piece of explicitly electronic technology in the entire episode. Electric devices, of course, are all around the girls’ school and neighborhood, but there is a somewhat conspicuous lack of things like cell phones, and I can only imagine that this is part of a multi-level effort to hearken back to an earlier era.
Maybe I’m reading too much into it.
Whatever it is that Eizouken is trying to do, it’s certainly charming. Midori and Kanamori have awkward teenager aesthetics that make them instantly recognizable, and the environments are chock full of detail – Midori briefly expounds on the quirkiness of their patchwork campus, though the surrounding area may be a little too quirky:
There are two dives into imaginary worlds inspired by sketches, which are appropriately distinct but both utilize Midori’s hilarious mouth foley (which has a different feel than I think it would in English just because of how ingrained onomatopoeia is in Japanese).
The characters themselves are all enjoyable so far, even the money-focused Kanamori, though the amount of faith she has in her enthusiast associates is unclear relative to what she thinks they’ll be able to get away with based solely on name recognition, given Tsubame’s celebrity status. I feel like the first episode doesn’t even really finish introducing the show, but it’s a strong start nonetheless – definitely one that merits being followed closely.
I’m not sure where this show is going yet, but it won’t have to go far to be worthwhile if all of the episodes are this fun.