Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Anime Review: Level E

I almost didn't try out this title when it started airing back in Winter 2011 since it was on almost none of the lists of winter anime, couldn't find out more than a basic summary on it, and the promo image (displayed below) looked rather strange. True the original manga was by the same manga-ka who did Yu Yu Hakusho and HunterxHunter (Yoshihiro Togashi) but I didn't like YYH that much, although I did like HxH and between that and deciding to try more comedy anime (since I was pleased with the ones I saw in the Fall 2010 season) I gave it a whirl, that fact that it's streaming on also helped my decision there. 

Level E

Summary: There are hundreds of alien species coming and going on Earth all the time (some peaceful, some violent, some who just don’t care) and only the humans are unaware of these activities. Yukitata has just transferred to a school out in the sticks to play baseball and arrives at his apartment to find a strange visitor already there, a beautiful young man with no memories but who swears he’s an alien. Hijinks ensue.

The Good: For those who thought that Orihara Izaya from Durarara!! was the greatest troll ever, I give you Prince (the aforementioned alien and the central character of the show). This is a comedy and with Prince the joke will play out, keep playing, and then long after most people would have told the punch line the “twist” will finally come and be almost nothing like the viewer expected. It takes old clichés, parodies them, and manages to be a fun and interesting story despite all the clichés, an impressive feat*.

The Bad: People who prefer character driven stories to plot driven stories will be unhappy that the cast from the first three episodes is not the main cast for the entire series, but they do return for the last couple of episodes (and Prince, being the character that ties this anthology of stories of sorts together, is in nearly every episode). The other characters in the series are hardly bad or uninteresting but, since the original manga is now over 15 years old, even the parodies of some of cliches have become cliched and the story doesn't bring anything new about them anymore.  

The Art: There is a lot of conspicuous CGI in this series (mostly concerning the aliens but, since the aliens are rather important in this series, that means it comes up fairly often). The art style changes a bit from arc to arc, depending on who the arc is focusing on but it’s never a very drastic change.

The Music: The opening sequence wins the “Most Stylish” award of the season (and hints that very few of the characters will be reoccurring characters) and the Engrish “do not phear!” combined with the comedic circling of the UFOS in the ending sequence makes the ending almost a parody as well. Neither of the songs were translated on crunchyroll (again) and there were no insert songs in the show.

I’d also argue that this show had the strongest ending of the season. All the shows ending this season had good endings (well, except for Fractale but I didn’t like the entire show anyway) but this one had me giggling for a good five minutes once the episode was over. Perfect in tone and great execution, there was no better way for the show to end. And, for those wondering where the title of the show came from, the original manga-ka thought that the word “alien” started with an E in English, apparently he was confused by the title E.T. (which does make sense, “extra terrestrial” and “alien” mean the same thing, although where the word “level” came from, that’s also in English, I haven’t a clue).

*No really, I read a number of webcomics that are parodies of the fantasy genre or such, managing to parody an idea and still tell a good story is even harder than you’d think, most people can only pull off one aspect of it.

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