At the start of this season, Natsu no Arashi was the last time in which I actually liked a Shaft series, so I guess that it’s no surprise that I wasn’t really looking forward to their two shows: Arakawa Under the Bridge and Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru. Nevertheless, the latter surprised me by being a pretty charming slice of life series. It neither feels like a rehash of one of Shaft’s previous series, nor does it take its style to the point where it gets in the way of the storytelling.
From the outside this seems like another show full of cliches, with the maids and all, and while this show certainly could have done without the maids, it’s the execution that makes this a fresh series. It’s especially good at fleshing out its characters though its dialogue, which is interesting, varied and really brings the characters alive. The entire cast has a good chemistry, and the show continues to juggle them in different situations and combinations in order to keep the series fresh throughout 12 episodes. I especially liked the conflicts between Hotori and her math teacher: they’re pretty much the polar opposites of each other and the tension between them is quite addictive.
There are some annoyances throughout the series, though. First of all is the way in which this series uses these eye catches that already were obnoxious back when Sayonara Zetsubou-Sensei used them. Hotori herself also has this really annoying voice actress, who really manages to portray her as this immature teenaged girl. It’s a good characterization, but her yelling will get on your nerves in one way or the other. The most annoying are the scenes that focus on Hotori’s love interest, though. His inner monologues about how he wants to get inside Hotori’s skirt are boring, overdone and go on for way too long, and it never really amounts to anything.
In terms of the graphics, Shaft really put the earnings of the DVD sales of Bakemonogatari too good use, as this series is really well animated, especially the first two episodes. There are few of their usual shortcuts that have gotten old at this point, and instead it’s able to fully animate its characters while still able to experiment a bit. This definitely adds an interesting dynamic to the characters.
An interesting note is that Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru is the first series since the first Sayonara Zetsubou-Sensei that Shinbo actually directed himself, rather than acting as some sort of supervisor. The results really show: this series is skillfully directed and balanced instead of just using Shaft’s style for the heck of it. There’s enough to keep you busy and the characterization is surprisingly good when you look past the initial annoying characters.
|Storytelling:||8/10 – Sometimes funny, sometimes not. Doesn’t aim to be the most spectacular, but manages to keep things surprisingly interesting for a slice of life series.|
|Characters:||8/10 – Characters don’t shy away from being annoying, especially the lead character. They’ve all got a bit of depth and background and are quite likable, though.|
|Production-Values:||9/10 – Very well animated, especially the first two episode.|
|Setting:||8/10 – Solid, aside from the one or two weird moments where the show delves into the supernatural.|