Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Patapata Hikousen no Bouken

I just finished watching the fansubs of the anime Patapata Hikousen no Bouken, known in English as Secret of Cerulean Sand for its more-than-passing resemblance to Secret of Blue Water. It’s not commercially available in the U.S., and I don’t know if any company has plans to release it. If not, it’s a shame because it’s actually quite a good series. What the plot lacks in originality, it more than makes up for in charm.

The animation is not great, but not bad either. The music is mediocre, and I found it distracting as often as not. However, the characters are engaging, and the story is great fun. Its pseudo-nineteenth-century setting bursts with bad science in a grand Jules Vernesque sort of way.

Jane is a young girl with a passion for inventing and a dream of flying. When her scientist brother is reported dead on an expedition to the East, she refuses to believe it and sets off in search of him, dragging her long-suffering butler along as her chaperone. Along the way, they gain a dachshund and a street urchin, both characters who start as comic relief and end as heroes. In fact, there weren’t any characters who I would jettison from the cast. You know some stories have annoying characters who serve no purpose? This isn’t one of them. Not only did I like all of the heroes and their allies, but I also felt that everyone had a well defined role in the plot.

Within the first few episodes, I developed a comfortable notion about the type of series I was watching. Good kid’s show. Not great, but pretty decent. I expected it to be the type of show where nothing truly horrible happens and no major characters die. It turned out I was wrong about the last part. I won’t spoil it with any clues as to who didn’t make it, but I will reassure you that the deaths had literary merit and were meaningful and appropriate to the story.

I should also mention that merely eight episodes into the series, I abandoned my standard practice of one-episode-per-sitting and blasted through the remaining eighteen episodes in five days. In fact, tonight I watched the final eight episodes all in one sitting. (Obviously, I didn’t do anything else this evening!) As with a good novel that you just can’t put down, I couldn’t stop myself from jumping into the next episode.

If you can get ahold of it, I recommend this series highly. Very good stuff.

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