Urahara – Anime Preview
Synopsis: Harajuku…The place where culture, kawaii, and fashion come together. Three high school girls Rito, Mari, and Kotoko are planning to open a temporary store called Park. One day, aliens from space come to Earth to take away the culture of humans. That’s when a mysterious girl who calls herself Misa appears. Now, in order to protect the Harajuku that they love, these three girls must be prepared for anything! (Official Crunchyroll Synopsis)
1st Episode Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Linny: Urahara is this season’s case of ‘moe is all that matters’ taken to the extreme. It’s all about style over substance as the show throws colourful and nuanced imagery at you in the form of bubbly girls, crazy buildings and bizarre objects. A lot of effort seems to have gone into making the girls look and sound superficially cute with less than substantial content to actually back them up and turn them into convincing characters.
Tom: Urahara offers an adorable, unique artistic style that’s both fluffy and vibrant. But tight, close ups, frequent inter-cuts and other questionable directorial choices can make Urahara very confusing to watch. It also doesn’t help that when the time comes for some serious action, there’s a serious lack of impressive, fluid animation. It’s more static than anything else and that’s a worrisome sign for any premiere.
Linny: That’s right! There’s no denying that the animation budget and effort are on the low side. Very little fluid animation and ever so often, the background cityscape is reduced to an outline of box like shapes. However, the neon pastel colour palette does help to make everything pop and really helps establish and sell its particular aesthetic, however low budget it may look to more picky audiences.
Tom: All three girls feel very cutesy, perhaps to the point where they almost come off as total airheads. But despite the slew of dialogue peppering this episode, constantly padding the run time since, in all honesty, not a lot happens, we surprisingly get very little sense of why any of these three girls is at all compelling. It’s only in the back half we get the idea that they want to stand up to and fight the aliens, but deeper character traits are all but absent. It’s almost impressive how much dialogue is in the episode and how little we really learn about any of them.
Linny: The whole story telling style and pace in the episode is chaotic. We jump into the episode with a flash forward then go all the way back to the start which isn’t unusual but the way it’s done in this case makes it feel more chaotic than story building. And as Tom points out, there’s so much monotonous exposition, disguised so poorly that they may as well have saved some budget by substituting those scenes with still images of the girls and a blurb of text with the exposition info.
Tom: Most of the episode is exposition dumps, from explaining the life style, day to day the girls generally go through, to laying out the entire plot before us as soon as things get even mildly interesting. It’s hamfisted to its core and unless the visuals are grabbing you, it’s not enough to prop the rest of this ill-conceived series up.
Linny: If you like cute, pastel aesthetics and also like the sound of a bunch of young, perky girls being all chirpy and stylish, then you’re most welcome to go check out Urahara. It’s got all the visuals to engage anyone who wants fluff and style. But if you prefer your cute shows to have convincing characters and well paced story telling, give this a miss.
Tom: Ultimately, Urahara is a smattering of half-baked content. From it’s limited animation during key action moments, to its directorial oddities that make it sometimes difficult to follow, and finally its writing which is more irksome and bland than entertaining. Without a major appreciation for its off-beat art style, it’s perhaps one of the most off-putting series this Fall.
Urahara is available for streaming via Crunchyroll.