With the realization that my 500th post was coming up soon, I realized I had to find something special to commemorate the occasion. But unfortunately, that post where I talked about Nisekoi and how it would have been cool if it was practically Ranma wiped out my creative juices, and as I cursed myself for not saving that post for my big 5-0 whilst facing the reality that I might have to turn to porn again to solve my problems, I realized that Shaft was still fresh in my mind and I haven’t written anything substantial about Soremachi aka that Shaft show that nobody really remembers aka the BEST SHAFT SHOW EVER! So yeah, I’m going to review that.
Soremachi is an anime centered on a high school girl named Hotori, who is chipper, energetic, and is voiced by Chiaki Omigawa, which means you’re getting a voice so nasal that it makes the Irate Gamer sound…well actually Chris Bores sounds a lot worse than her, so that comparison is utterly screwed. After school, she works for her grandmother at a maid café and helps her out whilst dealing with the customers and all sorts of wacky adventures that come her way, from matching wits with her math teacher to learning how to be a proper maid according to otaku standards to discovering space cookies left behind by time travelers. Did I mention this was a Shaft show?
Each episode is composed of two or three segments separated by those confusing raccoon segues that are sometimes interconnected with each other in order to form some overall story and is pretty much structured similar to Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei’s three-act structure, only Soremachi has more in common with some of the current stuff airing on Cartoon Network in terms of substance. It’s a pure comedy based entirely on character reactions and culture-specific jokes put into increasingly bizarre situations, and whilst the Shaftisms are there, they’re toned down and Shinbo doesn’t overindulge in his quirks here so it doesn’t feel like we’re watching Shinbo Show #23 or whatever. Also, unlike most other comedies of this kind that anime try to push on us, it doesn’t try to pander too hard and most of it comes off as natural. I’d like to see other anime try to use maidjutsu to impress customers without someone screaming how stupid it is. It’s sort of like Hataraku Maou-sama if that anime was actually fun to watch.
And what I like the most about Soremachi is that despite the fact that it doesn’t have grand ambitions, it doesn’t let that handicap that ironically handicapped Monogatari get in the way of breathing life into the slice-of-life genre. Actually come to think of it, it practically does more to slice-of-life than Monogatari does to harem trash whilst utilizing the same techniques from the witty dialogue to the supernatural to reaction shots to multiple girls – except it actually goes so far as to make one girl ugly whilst being likable. But since it’s structured to be “hilariously entertaining” first and “plot-focused with fanservice” second, it ironically comes off all the better for it. It’s the same sort of stuff that makes Totoro and Whisper of the Heart some of the greatest Ghibli products despite the fact that they don’t have much serious aspirations like Princess Mononoke.
There’s a difference between not having grand ambitions and being weightless to the point of tedium and that difference is a teacher questioning which chair in the office was broken and getting increasingly paranoid about it.
I’ll also admit that it’s one of the few anime I’ve ever seen that actually gave me “feels” or whatever nerds call a rush of happiness, particularly with its ending. I won’t spoil it for you, but it basically plays out like a special full-length episode of Regular Show in that it introduces a bit of a more serious element compared to the rest of the series into the mixture, but it’s used as a support in order to have more fun rather than be “the” element of the story. And that’s pretty much Soremachi in general. Instead of using the comedy as a tool to tell something deep, it uses something deep to tell comedy. It’s pretty much Shaft going in the opposite direction from its more popular comedies in entertaining the audience similar to how G Gundam went the opposite direction to all the other Gundam series. And in doing so, they address some important aspects of religion and culture and whatever without getting all preachy or overbearing.
So yeah, where’s my second season of Soremachi, Shaft?