Appare-Ranman! – 1st Episode Review
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Synopsis: The socially awkward yet genius engineer, Appare Sorano, and the wise but cowardly samurai, Kosame Isshiki, find themselves aimlessly drifting in the sea between Japan and America. In order to earn enough money to get back home, the duo enters a trans-American race in their own steam-powered car. Rivals, bandits, and other trials await them on this race from Los Angeles to New York. (Official Funimation Synopsis)
1st Episode Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Linny: Appare-Ranman! is bursting with flair and style as it takes an almost fantasy- like approach to what looks to be around early 1900’s America in its opening moments. It immediately gives off this vibe that you shouldn’t be looking for much logic or reality in its story as aside from the crowds and the ‘straight man’ characters, the racers and the cars they are driving have some very ‘out there’ designs that one could almost describe as caricature like.
Tom: Appare-Ranman gives us a flash forward to display what the series will ultimately be about, Appare and his crew racing across the United States in order to earn prize money, before shooting us back in time to see how Appare and his straight-man Kosame came to find themselves in America in the first place. It’s that flash forward though that I think deserves the most attention as we see that the series intends to drape itself in a flurry of outrageous character designs woven together by common stereotypes. There’s a chance some of these designs could offend, particularly if you’re tired of seeing certain races portrayed in only a handful of ways through the anime medium. That said, the series almost presents itself like G Gundam, where the designs of the characters are all so stereotypical, so draped in common perceptions of each race that while some could be offensive, it’s all cancelled out by everything being equally theoretically offensive? I mean, nothing compares here to the Tequila Gundam in terms of potential cultural insensitivity. [Disclaimer: I love G Gundam, although I do admit the whole thing is so wildly offensive across the board.] Assuming you don’t take any of these designs seriously, and like G Gundam I don’t think you’re supposed to, what Appare-Ranman becomes is this wild display of colorful characters that leave a lasting impression thanks to the unique style and flamboyant visual presentation.
Linny: Once past the opening minutes Appare-Ranman! has a fairly standard follow through. The series isn’t done drawing from the stereotypical/common tropes well as the show offers yet another odd couple set up for the Spring season with its leading duo, Appare and Kosame. Appare is the carefree oddball who’s only interested in inventing and building things. In fact this predictably lands him in a tight spot with the local lord, who wants Appare punished when one of his inventions destroys his property. Kosame, a typical noble man’s son and upstanding young man becomes Appare’s straight man, forced to accompany Appare under threat from the local lord. Through Kosame’s attempts to get Appare to atone for his crimes he instead finds himself thrust into an unlikely adventure, as the two wind up headed for America completely by accident! What could be boring and predictably is thankfully redeemed as Appare-Ranman! does a decent job of keeping the pairing entertaining and lively. It utilizes humour in all the right moments, never overdoing it while keeping the audience engaged and amused.
Tom: I think Appare-Ranman! has the potential to be a ton of fun. Its designs immediately stick out, for better or worse, and offer the series its own unique brand of flamboyant personality. The story seems like it’ll be fairly predictable, but if the characters continue to offer up enough memorable quirkiness then that should help to obfuscate more typical developments. If you’re looking for something fun, a bit crazy, but with standard enough a story to follow without too much effort, Appare-Ranman! holds premise.
Linny: For those hoping for detailed dives into Appare’s inventions, the show might be a bit disappointing as this first episode is clearly more focused on his hijinx and adventures over his actual inventing. This is clearly a show you watch for the goofy characters, their wacky adventures and the thrill of the race rather than the motor or mechanical side of it. As Tom mentioned, the characters themselves could potentially be a sore spot due to their stereotypical portrayals so keep that in mind if you decide to check it out. Overall, besides the character portrayals, Appare-Ranman! feels like a promising show with its fun take on the odd couple duo and a lively cast, making it worth a try for most anime fans.
Appare-Ranman! is available for streaming via Funimation.com