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on November 17, 2005
On my first attempt at watching Abenobashi, I was only able to see the first two episodes and the last two episodes, so I saw the extent of the comedy as well as the drama that makes-up this show. I was convinced, in seeing these four episodes, that this was as close an FLCL copy as there was, and quite a good copy at that. But, in only seeing the episodes I did, I was left quite confused. I realized only after purchasing the box set that I had missed a lot.

Abenobashi is about two childhood friends, Sasshi and Arumi, who live in a shopping center in the southern Japanese area of Osaka (the accents of the characters seem to play on the American interpretation of north and south). We join their story as Sasshi is exploring the ruins of a bathhouse his family once owned and he's getting the news from his friend Arumi that her and her family are moving to Hokkaido so that her father can live his dream. But, on their way back to her family's place of business, a small French restaurant, her grandfather has a fall and is hospitalized. Thus starts a series of events in many magical worlds of Sasshi's creation, and the conflict comes in discovering just why they keep ending up in these strange worlds and why no matter how much they try they can't get back to their home world.

These worlds are mostly parodies of popular forms of entertainment, namely anime, video games, and Hollywood movies. Sasshi and Arumi must play the game in each world to its fullest extent in order to make the next "jump." And in each world, there is the common cast of characters, all regulars of the normal day Abenobashi, with the exception of Mune Mune, a character-parody of fan-service, and Mister Eutus, who seems to actually know what is happening to Sasshi and Arumi. Both of these characters have a dramatic roles that are revealed later.

The episodes of parody are hilarious, with funny dialogue happening between the characters and recognizable stereotypes in which the characters play off of. It's always interesting to see what will come out of Sasshi's head and mouth next. The rules in each world are different, as are the settings (though always based in Abenobashi), and even with different artistic styles of drawing. Every parody is as unique as the next.

Then there are those four episodes that are purely dramatic. These are what caught me off my guard. In my original viewing of the first four episodes, I got the feeling that everything between episode one and thirteen were purely satirical and comedic. Yet the middle episodes were as serious as possible, explaining the apparent history of Abenobashi, along with the history of Sasshi and Arumi's family. And then we find out the true reason for Sasshi's creation of these parody worlds, and Abenobashi takes a serious dramatic turn.

When all is said and done, you'll realize that, while it parodies a lot of what we know as anime fans, the story itself has plenty of morals and themes. It's more about a boy wanting to protect his best friend from the worst, and only realizing in the end that he might not be able to do it. It's also about the significant power of friendship and what one can accomplish with someone behind them. It's a great story, nowhere near as hectic or comedic as FLCL, with undertones that are meant to jab at the human soul, and not only at our funny bone.

I recommend this for anyone who enjoyed FLCL, as it's made by the same people and has a lot of the same themes and animation style. I also recommend Abenobashi for anyone who enjoys experimentation in their anime, as well as good, plot driven stories. Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi ends up being one of those smart anime that needs further interpretation in order to understand it.
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on January 16, 2006
You're missing out on some hilarious outakes and the ADVidnotes if you get the thin pack version. I'd originally borrowed the DVDs from a friend and watch thru twice (with Vidnotes the second time). When the thin pack came out I picked it up, pretty much just to have. While going thru my collection recently, I popped in the first DVD and was disappointed that none of the extras were included. I'm probably going to trade in the thin-pack set and order the series here.

Anyways, the series itself is funny in its own right. Much like Excel Saga, Abenobashi takes an irreverent stab at many anime genres and pop culture.
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on January 24, 2006
I am surprised no one wrote a review about this anime. It is hilariously funny. Like the description says, it all starts out when Arumi and Sasshi jump into different worlds. They aren't sure how they get there but there are a few connecting facotrs about each world. Each world is a parody or spoof of some video game, anime or movie genre. It is worth watching if you want to laugh. I sponser an anime club and I brought this anime for the club to watch. The members in the club were 14-17 year olds and they couldn't stop laughing.
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on February 5, 2013
Sasshi and Arumi live in the Abenobashi shopping arcade of Osaka. The 2 friends spend all of their free time together. One day, Arumi finds out that her family is gonna move to Hokkaido. By a strange turn of events, Sasshi and Arumi are transported to another universe. Apparently of Sasshi's design. In their attempts to get back to Osaka, they are led to many different worlds. All of them are crazy, and resemble different video game or anime scenarios. Sasshi is subconsciously avoiding returning home to keep from losing his best friend. They will have to get their hearts in synch and face harsh realities to return home.

This anime is a parody of pop culture. It makes fun of RPG's, anime, movies, culture, and society. No matter how much knowledge of this stuff you possess, you can find something fun with this series. It's a very fast paced anime. There is practically no down time at all. It is also one that you can watch more than once. It's so easy to miss things at the speed at which this show moves.

The production quality is pretty good. The animation, voice acting, and soundtrack are all very well done. It's about 10 years old, and you can tell. But it's not one that is gonna seem outdated in 5 or 10 more years I think. I really enjoyed watching this show, and I think that most anime fans will agree. Be warned, there is some harsh language, and some perverted situations. There is no frontal nudity or anything like that, but there are quite a few bare ass shots. Obviously it's not suitable for kids. I liked this series, and I recommend it to anime fans 16 and up.
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on December 14, 2005
What I liked best about this series is that it parodied a lot of the genres included in anime cartoons--caveman, fantasy castle, mystery, WWII, etc. It was fun to guess which world the two kids would fall into next....and then be surprised by a sudden sprinkling of a serious episode that would explain why they are going from one world to the next. ...The animation could have been better (especially the water balloon episode--ugh!), but I think it was drawn a little hastily at times on purpose, for humor. ...I was actually kind of sad while watching the last episode; I didn't want it to end. Great series!
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If I had to describe "Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi," it would be simple: "Fooly Cooly" as written by Lewis Carroll.

That's only a glimpse of the explosive weirdness and insanely cracked-out madness that fills every episode of this wacky anime series. And while "Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi: Volumes 1-3" starts off a bit slowly, this brilliant series soon blossom into an acid-tripping flower filled with constant spoofs, genre cliches, and lots of fanservicey breasts.

Sasshi is unhappy -- the Abenobashi Shopping Arcade is being bought out for demolition, and his friend Arumi is going to be moving away. Fortunately they are distracted from their impending separation by a series of mysterious animal statues all throughout the Arcade.

But when Arumi's grandfather is badly injured and the bird statue is smashed, Arumi and Sasshi find themselves sucked into a freaky D&D-video-game-esque fantasy land, where they are called upon to defeat the stereotypically Evil Lord. Unfortunately, Arumi spends all their money on a mysterious charm by a blue-haired sorcerer, and Sasshi keeps getting killed by the insane, scantily-clad Mune Mune.

Each attempt to get back home sends Sasshi and Arumi to another cracked-out variant of Abenobashi -- a mecha space station with a hulking mecha, a Chinese martial-arts competition, a Flintstonesy dinosaur age, a noir gangster story, a dating sim, the ultimate girl fantasy land (or so Sasshi thinks!), a deranged warzone, and a frenetic mishmash of every movie Sasshi has ever seen.

But where did all these crazy worlds come from? Who are Mune Mune and the grumpy sorcerer Eutus, and what is their connection to Sasshi? The secrets of the shopping arcade are revealed even as Sasshi comes face-to-face with a tragedy that keeps him from letting Arumi go home...

"Neon Genesis Evangelion," martial-arts, "Dragonball Z," medieval S&S fantasy, hard-boiled noir, "Monty Python" ("My old wound from the WAR!"), war movies, "Indiana Jones," and even "2001: A Space Odyssey." All of these get spoofed and/or lovingly homaged -- not to mention minor tropes such as shouting anime attack names, or the little details ("But it's standard BGM").

The first half or so of the series is pretty much a steady stream of wacky spoof mayhem, peppered with endless fanservice (Mune Mune's mostly-nude getups), repeated deaths ("I saw the beginnin' and the end of the UNIVERSE!"), and plots full of random and inexplicable twists ("I don't understand! Why am I a dumpling?" Sasshi moans after getting encased in a dumpling and sent off the top of a skyscraper).

But about halfway through, the insanity is threaded with an elaborate and rather sad subplot, involving the death of a much-loved family member, a legendary Omnyoji, and a centuries-old love triangle.

Sasshi makes a good hero for this series -- he's a die-hard geek who enjoys all the weirdness (including repeated deaths) and acquires some world-changing new powers. But the core of his personality turns out to be his desire to save Arumi from heartbreak. Arumi herself is a good counterpoint -- down to earth, steady, and a bit crazy by the end ("Let Sasshi know the torments of HEEEEEEEEELLLLLLL...").

And it has a pretty fun supporting cast, with the same family members playing out different roles in every world. The only exceptions are Mune-Mune (a loopy half-naked redhead whose true identity is a shock) and Eutus (a sorcerer having a midlife crisis).

"Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi" is a wild, tripped-out ride that mingles a fantastical coming-of-age story with chaotic spoofery. Delightful all the way through... but definitely not for kids.
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on March 26, 2012
Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi is one of Gainax's better titles. Although Gainax titles are prone to decay into rampant artistic avant garde excesses in the later episodes, they actually managed to hold to a minimal amount of discipline in this series.
The characters are well defined with strong emotional connections, and the humor is well played and controlled, one of Gainax's strong points.
The continual hopping between alternate universes doesn't lend itself to a coherent story line, but the studio manages to tie it all together.
Although the parodies and inside gags could use an extensive translator's notes, they aren't usually necessary to following the story.
I would buy it again if I lost this copy, and it's a title I recommend to other fans of the genre.
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on August 3, 2010
MSAA is hilarious. Everything in pop culture is fair game to be parodied in this show , everything from various types of anime to video games to films to Hollywood in general. Even the dub voices are a parody , the characters are from the south of Japan so they are given the drawl accent of the American south. Some of the episodes are pure comic genius , others fall a little short but are still good . Its hard to pick out my favorite parts , but I really enjoyed the Bruce Lee spoof and the snippet of The Terminator . There's so much here it's hard to take it all in with just one viewing and with all the humor thrown at you there's also a nice story there also.
So if you like off the wall humor you should really check out this show, you probably won't be disappointed.
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on November 16, 2009
This anime is my all time favourite. It is the story of Arumi and Sashi and how they go on a crazy adventure during their last summer break together. It is very funny but also has a serious side. I enjoy this anime because it pokes fun at a lot of other anime (mecha, fighting, and magical girl anime to name a few.) You kind of have to know your anime before you watch this one, otherwise you might not get all the jokes. But there are plenty of hilarious moments whether you do or not. My boyfriend, who hasn't seen much anime, loves this one as much as I do. This is a crazy, very weird and silly anime. I recommend it for people who love anime and who love to laugh.
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on March 11, 2013
Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi is a Japanese anime television series created by Gainax. The supernatural comedy drama is directed by Hiroyuki Yamaga.
The series premiered April 4, 2002 on Kids Station. It was licensed in North America by ADV Films. A manga adaptation, authored by Satoru Akahori, was published in English by Tokyopop; the Tokyopop version of the manga is out of print as of August 31, 2009
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