Ooedo Rocket (also known as Oh! Edo Rocket, it seems) is one of the more neglected series of the past spring-season. I have no idea why, as it’s been directed by the director of Full Metal Alchemist. You’d think the fans would want to see his next work. I’m glad I checked this series out though, as it’s without a doubt the best comedy-series of the season. And not only does it make you laugh for nearly every single episode, it also has something that/s very rare in other comedies: a compelling plot.
Ooedo’s power lies in its characters. Every single one of them is fun to watch and they literally come in all kinds of different sizes. Each one has his or her own quirk and they can actually be funny without making a joke at all. They’re all far from stereotypes, they feel like real characters, they develop a bit, and they’re a delight to watch when they start interacting with each other in just a daily manner.
This is enough to make a good comedy. What makes Ooedo a great comedy is how it adds so many details to strengthen the series. An example is its setting: the series explores fireworks in the Tenpou-era (between 1830 and 1844), and yet people have televisions, toasters and even internet and nobody seems to find it strange, even though these references only appear occasionally. And let me specifically mention the music. It’s not your standard soundtrack with all kinds of jazzy tunes, but it works perfectly. For me, each time it started playing I got pumped and exciting for the new scenes.
And then there’s the plot and the drama. The drama is for me the weakest point of the series, basically because the characters are so much fun to watch when they’re quirky that they become a bit disappointing when they’re serious. The plot, however, makes this series shine. The main character, Tamaya Seikichi (the son of THE legendary fireworks-maker) is basically asked by a cute girl to build a rocket to fly her to the moon. A large part of the series actually sees him, testing out different designs for a rocket to try and figure out how to do it, which is quite interesting. In addition to that, there are numerous side-plots that are explored, and the characters actually have the talent to be both funny and develop the plot at the same time. Most other anime only go to comedy when there’s some kind of aftermath or intermezzo where the plot doesn’t really matter that much.
Then there’s also the interesting point that the dramatic climax of this series is at episode 20, instead of twenty-six. At that point, I was beginning to fear that the final parts of the episode would focus way too much on the drama, but to my surprise, they didn’t. The final episodes are basically the characters having fun while the plot develops, combining both perfectly, with a sort-of satisfying ending.
I’ll admit, Ooedo Rocket isn’t consistently funny. Some episodes are utterly hilarious, while others are a bit less, and there have been comedies where I laughed harder. But because of all the extra things it added, it turned into one of the more successful comedies out there. A definite recommendation if you’re looking for a fun series.