Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi
All things extant in this world: Gods of Heaven, Gods of Earth, let everything be as it should be. Thus shall it be!
Arumi and Sasshi are two twelve-year-olds who have grown up together in the Abenobashi shopping arcade in Osaka. But the arcade and the neighborhood around it are now slated for redevelopment; one by one, the old familiar buildings are being torn down. Worse, Arumi and her family are moving to Hokkaido. What's poor Sasshi to do?
Well, none of that really matters, after Arumi's grandfather is hospitalized in an accident that destroys the last of four "guardian" figurines that bound the shopping district. Before their eyes, the neighborhood changes. Sasshi and Arumi find themselves trapped in a warped version of Abenobashi as if it were an RPG, with everyone they know recast as NPCs.
But once they fight their way through the game's plot in grand slapstick style, thinking they will then return home, they find themselves transported to an outer space version of Abenobashi... then a Hong Kong martial arts movie version... then a dinosaur-filled, prehistoric one. And many more. Will Sasshi and Arumi ever get back to the real Abenobashi? Why are they "jumping" in the first place? Who is that blue haired sorcerer who appears to be going through a mid-life crisis?
A Deconstructive Parody of a dozen or more genres of film and anime, Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi (Abenobashi Mahou Shoutengai in the original Japanese) generously trowels thick layers of off-the-wall comedy on top of a surprisingly serious storyline, one you're likely to forget about until it pops back up at the last minute to smack you in the face. Made by Gainax, the show makes both subtle and in-your-face references to various other series.
There is also a two-volume Manga version, which is even weirder. The basic plot is pretty much the same, although different worlds are visited, the ones that are in the show are different, and there's a character not shown in the anime (with the exception of a "blink and you'll miss her" scene in the twelfth episode.)
- Accent Adaptation: The official dub translates Osakan dialect as Texan and Kouhei's Tokyo dialect as Brooklyn.
- Actor Allusion: Takeshi Aono, who voiced Grandpa Masa, also did Michael Palin's roles in the Japanese dub of Monty Python's Flying Circus. Something to keep in mind in Episode 12, when Grandpa goes "lumberjack"!
- Alternate Universe: A new one in almost every episode.
- Art Shift: Between a more realistic style for the mundane world and a more flat, colorful style for the alternate dimensions.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Sasshi to Mune-Mune
Sasshi: I ain't the only one being a little kid here! You're nothing but a kid who wants to... uh, you're just... you're just!... A little kid and... DON'T SMOKE!!
Arumi: ...that really the issue?
- Aside Glance: Done by Sasshi a couple times through the series. Sometimes looking at the audience, and other times just looking away from Arumi so he doesn't have to make eye contact.
- Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever
- Barbie Doll Anatomy: Averted
- Big No: Shown silently, however
- Biting the Handkerchief
- Boke and Tsukkomi Routine: Used throughout various parts of the series, but part of the Incredibly Lame Pun listed below in particular.
- Breast Expansion: In the second episode, Sasshi had to defeat the final boss by using a magic talisman that Arumi bought, which turned out to be used for Breast Expansion -- the boss's chest swelled up so much it exploded.
- Broken Aesop: The message is clearly a set of stock aesops like Be Yourself, Live in the real world, accept reality as it is, You can't fight fate, Let the dead rest, and most specifically, You can't use magic to solve all your problems. If it wasn't clear enough, Sasshi's father even lampshades this, telling him that he should just drop the whole Onmyo business and grow out of it. All that is suddenly rendered null and void in the last few minutes of the final episode when Sasshi regains his memories of his past life and completely reforms the world, not only saving Grandpa Masa, but also bringing Abe and Mune back. At that point, the whole thing starts feeling like a deconstruction of stock aesops more than anything else.
- Butt Monkey: Sasshi throughout most of the series. Anytime Sasshi and Arumi end up crashing or falling somewhere, Arumi lands on her feet while Sasshi crashes into the ground. In Episode 11 in particular, He becomes an Iron Butt Monkey as he is a lowly private of the army and is constantly ordered to do everything for everyone. He even lampshades this by asking if he's even any use at all because the messages he's supposed to be delivering to his superiors become known to them before he can even report it.
- Calling Your Attacks: As part of the Sci-Fi/Mecha episode. Though since they don't know any of the pre-existing attack names, Sasshi and Arumi just make up new ones on the fly (and comment on how difficult it really is...)
- Catch Phrase: Arumi's "Being human, having your health. That's what matters", which she says three times in the first episode but rarely after that. Sasshi steals it for the last line of the show.
- Cluster F-Bomb: Mr. Kouhei in episode 12. Also counts as a Crowning Moment of Funny.
Mr. Kouhei: "HEY FUCKING COWBOY, FUCKING COWGIRL! HOW THE FUCK ARE YOU DOIN'? So tell me, are you kids on your FUCKING way home from school or something like that? FUCK, why don't you two buy a FUCKING hotdog from me, Mr. Kouhei! Come on bebah, don't be cruel you FUCKING cowboy! Tell you what, I'll give you the King Special with a ton of FUCKING ketchup and FUCKING mustard to go with those FUCKING hotdogs, and sell you a pair of them for 500 FUCKING Yen! How do you like those bargains, bebah? A-FUCK-YOU-VERY-MUCH-AH! Hey, are you lonesome tonight you FUCKING-Cheer-FUCKING-Girls? FUCKING HOTDOGS FOR SALE, FUCK YEAH!
- Cranial Eruption
- Crash Into Hello
- Crossdresser: "Ms." Aki.
- Cross-Popping Veins
- Cultural Cross-Reference: Owing to the show's premise, being Reference Overdosed is unavoidable. However, it isn't terribly discriminating about from which parts of the globe it lifts its references. Anything that fits the topic of the episode is fair game.
- Dating Sim: An entire episode dedicated to it, and it doesn't take Sasshi very long to figure out that he's in one. The end of the episode resulted in him seeing an ending that would have made more sense to him if he had achieved the proper relationship flags to develop that character. Arumi was the Goblin of that world. Needless to say, she was angry.
- Dead All Along: Mune-Mune.
- Deadpan Snarker: Arumi, to contrast with Sasshi's Idiot Hero general behavior.
- Deconstructive Parody: A gigantic middle finger towards geekdom. Well, at least that's what it looks like for the first half. After that, it gets... weird.
- Deus Ex Machina: Sasshi's finally ready to go back to the real world and face reality, when in the last few minutes he has a change of heart and suddenly gets enough power to rewrite reality.
- Expy: Young Grandpa Masa in not entirely unlike two cartoon characters modeled after a certain actor who played their live action counterparts.
- Early-Bird Cameo: Of a sort. During the portal sequence in the Hollywood episode, the manga-only character "Ne-ne-ne Okane" briefly appears.
- Face Fault
- False Camera Effects
- Fan Service: Played for Laughs throughout the whole series with Mune-Mune and Sasshi's sister. And then there's...
- Fate Worse Than Death: People who are shot in the Film Noir world don't die. Instead they're chibified and turned into comic relief characters that nobody can take seriously.
- Flash Back
- Flung Clothing
- The Four Gods
- Gag Boobs: Mune-mune
- Gainax Ending: Of course. Could someone please explain the ending to me?
- Easy. Sasshi turned out to be one of the greatest Onmyou Mystics ever, because he's the heir of Eutus -- I mean, Abe no Seimei. In order to keep Arumi from moving away, he remade the world, as he had been throughout the series, except this time, it stayed remade, with the help of Sasshi's future self that has grown into his powers. As a bonus, Mune-Mune and Masa lived, and The Grilled Pelican stays open.
- Genre Savvy: A large part of each episode is Sasshi and Arumi trying to figure out "what kind" of world they're in and what the rules are. This starts from the very first episode, where Sasshi immediately takes to the Dragon Quest-esque RPG world that they inhabit, and remarks that spending 600 of their initial 800 gold pieces in an initial shopping spree is ideal, since the strategy guide recommends saving 200 GP for inns and the like. Another example occurs in a sci-fi world: when Sasshi discovers that their sci-fi world has all of the elements of a Super Robot show, it just becomes a matter of locating the Humongous Mecha that is awaiting the two destined pilots.
- That said, Sasshi understanding how each world "works" is probably a side effect of each world being retrieved from his subconscious.
- Glamorous Wartime Singer: Hillariously subverted in the War episode when Ms. Aki shows up for a USO show. After getting a good look at her face, all the troops fall to the ground in a near-death state. After pulling a Marilyn Maneuver but before she can finish her introduction, she's quickly grabbed by Gas Mask Mooks, shoved into a body bag, and stuffed into a nuclear waste containment barrel, which is then filled with cement, bolted shut, lowered into a larger air-tight container, sealed in cement, tested for radiation levels, boxed up into a cargo crate, put onto the helicopter she arrived in on, and immediately flown out.
- Grandma, What Massive Hotness You Have!: Mune-Mune. Can you feel the Fan Disservice and/or Squick?)
- The what? Sorry, too busy drooling to care.
- Gratuitous English: Part of the opening theme is in English, but you just try to understand it without subtitles. (Or with them, for that matter.) There's also an obviously-American guy rapping in English in the background.
- Gratuitous French: Arumi's father often uses this trope as he's a chef who specializes in French cuisine.
- Hammerspace: Arumi often pulls a Paper Fan of Doom out of hammerspace in order to punish Sasshi.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Hilariously subverted in the war episode. Sasshi's sister comments that when situations become this dire, that there's only one thing left to do. She then asks that he never forgets her, and says goodbye to him but then immediately spins the motorcycle around, forcing Sasshi's sidecar to break off and continue rushing right into the tanks ahead of him. He calls her out for it.
- Historical Domain Character: Abe no Seimei, who really was an Onmyouji, and was additionally said to be a Half-Human Hybrid with a fox (kitsune) for a mother.
- Humongous Mecha
- The Idiot From Osaka: Sasshi. Subverted by Arumi, who is anything but an idiot.
- Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: In the Film Noir version of the arcade, Sasshi has to compete with Arumi's father to prove which one is the real "legendary sniper Regolgo" by shooting a can on the other side of the room. Sasshi manages to hit the can with a pistol by complete accident, while Arumi's father empties an entire M16 clip and hits everything but the can. Then he walks right up to the can and blows it up with a bundle of TNT. Arumi's father is declared the winner.
- Incredibly Conspicuous Drag: Crossdresser "Ms." Aki. is never outed, but is rather obvious — so much so that it seems the rest of the cast is aware of it and just treats him/her as a lovable eccentric.
- Incredibly Lame Pun: Lampshaded by Sasshi
Sasshi: "Woah, Arumi. Since when did you have boobs?"
Arumi: "Aww shoot, you noticed already."
Arumi's Dad: "No-no-no, you still have not deciphered the meaning of this tank unit, ey mon ami?"
Sasshi: "You pad Arumi's boobs so now it's really a Pad-Ton tank unit? Heheheh Like it would really be something THAT stupid."
Sasshi's Dad: "Uhhh...."
Sasshi: "What, you went through all of this for something that lame?"
Arumi's Dad: "Ooooh! That's why I didn't want to say it! Sacre Bleu!"
Sasshi: "If you didn't wanna, you shouldn't have done it to begin with."
Arumi's Dad: "But there's more! *grabs into Arumi's chest takes out a gold orb while switching to an Irish accent* Dontyeknow, it's a real pad o' gold?"
Sasshi: "Not pad, POT of gold!"
Arumi: "He's stealing the punchline!" *Smacks her dad with her Paper Fan of Doom*
- Kamehame Hadoken: Sasshi tries to fire one off in the Hong Kong Shopping Arcade episode. He ends up burning his hands in the process and drops it. He tries it again, but it took so long to summon that during the 2nd time, they cut the scene and say "The rest has been abridged" then shows him firing at his opponent.
- Kansai Regional Accent
- Long Title: "Private E-1 Sasshi of Squad 7, Corps 6 of Division 5 General Headquarters, Auxiliary to the 4th Battalion, Under the command of the 3rd Regiment, Under the 2nd Division of the 1st Army, reporting for duty, Ma'am!"
- Even sillier, as mentioned in the pop-up notes. The Japanese version goes just as long, but goes biggest to smallest unit (reverse order).
- Love Triangle
- Magical Girlfriend: Subverted. If you want to count Arumi for this role, she has no magical powers at all. In the Dating Sim episode, She's actually That world's magical goblin and everything she tried to inflict on Sasshi backfires on her. The same episode plays it straight with characters from the world itself.
- Magical Girl: Subverted. In one world, Sasshi tries to give Arumi everything she'd ever want in order to be happy. His own screw up antics eventually result in Arumi being forced to transform into a Magical Girl (complete with the poses being controlled by one of Sasshi's little oni servants). She was less than enthusiastic about it.
- Magic From Technology: or so a character claims...
- Marilyn Maneuver: Ms. Aki pulls this off during a USO show in the War episode. Refer to Glamorous Wartime Singer for further detail.
- Marshmallow Hell: Mune-Mune to Sasshi. Oh so very much, but turned into Squick when Sasshi knows and confronts the truth that Mune-Mune is Sasshi's Grandma
Sasshi: AAAH! I DON'T WHETHER TO BE SCARED OR HAPPY! I'M SO CONFUSED!!
- Meaningful Name: "Mune" is Japanese for "chest." Sounds like a nickname at first, but no, that's her actual given name. She also adopts the pseudonym "Muneyama Muneko" (literally "Chestmountain Chestchild") in the last episode.
- Medieval European Fantasy: Episode 2, and perhaps 10 too, considering it is based on fairy tales, which in turn have a generally MEF setting.
- Meganekko: Mune-mune
- Megumi Hayashibara: Sings/raps the theme song, and sings the ending theme.
- The Monolith: At the beginning of episode 3.
- Mood Whiplash: Between the middle and end of the first episode, and the series in general around episode six.
- Musical Pastiche
- Once an Episode: Whenever he ends up going to a new world, Sasshi always ends up finding an animal and trying to name it Spot (except for the Dating Sim world, where there was already an animal named Spot.)
- Otaku: In the "dinosaur" episode, Sasshi briefly turns into the Japanese stereotype of an otaku. In fact, it's the very picture for the trope's page.
- Overly Long Gag: "Private E-1 Sasshi of Squad 7, Corps 6 of Division 5 General Headquarters, Auxiliary to the 4th Battalion, Under the command of the 3rd Regiment, Under the 2nd Division of the 1st Army, reporting for duty, sir!"
- Panty Shot
- Paper Fan of Doom: Arumi's weapon of choice.
- Post Episode Trailer: Extremely idiosyncratic. Sasshi's lifelong dream of doing a next episode preview is constantly thwarted, and by the time he finally gets everyone else to shut up, it's the last episode already. When their live action counterparts come to the manga, he tries to do it again, and fails because it's the last volume of the manga as well.
- Reference Overdosed: To illustrate, one fansub group included a methodical catalogue of every popular culture reference made in the third episode at the end. It occupied most of the screen in fairly small print.
- The Reveal
- Role Playing Game Verse: The first world they jump to.
- Running Gag:
Sasshi's Mother: "You're Private E-1 Sasshi of Squad 7, Corps 6 of Division 5 General Headquarters, Auxiliary to the 4th Battalion, Under the command of the 3rd Regiment, Under the 2nd Division of the 1st Army."
Mune-Mune: "WHAT'S THAT!? Are you Private E-1 Sasshi of Squad 7, Corps 6 of Division 5 General Headquarters, Auxiliary to the 4th Battalion, Under the command of the 3rd Regiment, Under the 2nd Division of the 1st Army!?"
Sasshi: "That's right..."
- Screw Destiny: Sasshi's ultimate reaction to the revelation that Grandpa Masa is dead in the real world. And, making for either a Crowning Moment of Awesome or a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming, he comes through with it and brings him back to life.
- Screw destiny, they reversed death. That's even more awesome, and a wonderful ending for this immortalist troper.
- Shojo: In one world, Sasshi tries to give Arumi everything she would ever want to be happy. She doesn't want any of it.
- Shorttank: Arumi
- Shout-Out: Many, though it'd be more appropriate to say they're parodying more than simply just referencing them.
- The most obvious being to Neon Genesis Evangelion -- music from the series is used for a mecha combat scene, and Sasshi's sister is a Rei Ayanami Expy. Throughout the Battlefield episode, Sasshi's facial features resembles Shinji.
- Sister Princess
- Episode 2 is a shout out to JRPG's in general, but Dragon Quest in particular. Slimes, dead characters being represented by coffins, and needing to go back to town and pay to have them revived are just the tip of the iceberg.
- Episode 3 follows Science Fiction in general, including shoutouts to 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Wars and numerous Giant Mecha series.
- Episode 4 includes a Panda who puts Sasshi through a training montage, Sasshi getting extremely muscular with constellation-shaped scars on his chest, Sasshi going Super Saiyan, arcade fighting games, and Bruce Lee in general.
- Episode 6 is a general shout out to Film Noir style Hard-boiled Detective and Mobster movies.
- Episode 11 is a shout out to war movies in general, including All Quiet on the Western Front, Patton, and others.
- Episode 12 has dozens of references to American horror, science fiction, and adventure movies, including, but certainly not limited to: Terminator, North by Northwest, The Shining, Speed Racer, Knight Rider, Twister, Jaws, Indiana Jones, Back to The Future, RoboCop, Die Hard, The Exorcist, Barbarella, Titanic, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Escape from New York, Friday the 13 th, Air Force One, and 2001: A Space Odyssey.
- There's also a brief scene where Grandpa Masa says he always wanted to be a lumberjack... In the same episode, there's also references to war wounds.
- There's one for the American short cartoon The First Bad Man during the dinosaur episode, where Mune Mune's dinosaur is slowly chipped away and reduced in size from a dinosaur to a small lizard every time they duck behind a rock.
- Also in dino world: Sasshi briefly turns into an old man with white hair, white beard, and a cane after impressing Arumi with his knowledge of dinosaurs. No, it isn't Colonel Sanders.
- In the Fairy Tale episode, Sasshi creates a mini, teddy bear headed creature with little angel wings, entrusted to be guardian of a certain magical girl. At first he looks yellow. Cardcaptor Sakura, anybody?
- Don't forget about "the legendary sniper Regolgo."
- Arumi also apparently spends episode 9 and the start of episode 10 hanging out at the school from The Drifting Classroom.
- Shrines and Temples: The Abeno shrine is an important location to the plot.
- Snot Bubble
- Somewhere a Paleontologist Is Crying: In the Prehistoric Shopping Arcade episode, Sasshi going into good detail to point out how many of the dinosaurs they have encountered didn't exist for millions of years between each other and never would have encountered each other over the time span between the early Cretaceous and late Triassic periods. Sasshi, being a preadolescent boy, is an expert on dinosaurs, of course.
- Sparkling Stream of Tears
- Speech Bubble Censoring
- Star-Crossed Lovers: Mune-Mune and Eutus.
- Stock Footage: The world-transfer ritual, though there are some minor discrepancies between them each time.
- Super-Deformed: The fate of anyone who gets shot in the Film Noir world. Arumi also spends much of the Dating Sim episode like this after being turned into that world's goblin.
- Suspiciously Similar Song: Of the Star Wars theme in episodes 2 and 3.
- Swirling Dust
- Theme Tune Cameo: In episode 12 they enter the arcade proper and hear the show's ending theme playing as muzak.
- Trapped in Another World: Repeatedly.
- Truth in Television: The redevelopment of the Abeno area of Osaka has caused many older commercial districts to be gutted or demolished completely. A case in point is Abeno Ginza shopping arcade, which was torn down at the Turn of the Millennium and replaced by a trendy shopping mall, complete with a Krispy Kreme Doughnuts shop and the Osaka branch of Shibuya 109. Poor Sasshi...
- Twelve-Episode Anime: Actually thirteen, but who's counting?
- A Worldwide Punomenon: During a bombing run in episode 11, Sasshi looks through his scope at the target, then looks up and blinks in disbelief at the fact that the barber shop they're about to bomb is called "Pearl Barber".
- Visible Sigh
- Voice of the Legion: Mune-Mune for one sentence in the final episode.
- Yum Yum: Mune Mune does this with a dumpling in the martial arts episode.