The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Allison & Lillia

Title: Allison & Lillia aka Allison to Lillia
Genre: Action/Romance
Company: Madhouse Studios
Format: 26 episodes
Dates: 3 Apr 2008 – 2 Oct 2008

Synopsis: The neighbouring nations of Roxche and Sou Beil have been at war for 130 years but are currently in an armistice. Wilhelm Schultz and Allison Whittington grew up together in an orphanage in Roxche. Wil is an outstanding student with a photographic memory and Allison serves in the Roxche Air Force, transporting planes. These two meet an old man who claims to know about a treasure that can end the war between Roxche and Sou Beil permanently, but after the old man is taken by a suspicious individual, the two decide to follow the captors, which lead them into a dangerous conspiracy.

The Highlights
Characters: Strangely likable; the female characters are seriously (though probably unintentionally) moé.
Plot: Atrocious; rarely makes sense and doesn’t seem to have been thought through.
Logic: Most of the antagonists’ actions are seriously low on rationale.
Setting: Vast, with an interesting history.

When I heard that the novels that Allison & Lillia is based on were penned by the same author who wrote the Kino’s Journey novels, Sigsawa Keiichi, I had high expectations. And while, from the first episode, it becomes clear that Allison & Lillia is a very different type of adventure series from Kino’s Journey, I still couldn’t see any obvious reason not to expect a quality anime. The end of the first arc fixed these expectations with its lack of logic and erratic sense of morality setting the tone for the rest of the series. It doesn’t take long to forget that this series has anything to do with Kino’s Journey which, in all honesty, is a good thing. Any comparison between this and Kino’s Journey would just make Allison & Lillia look stupid, which it certainly doesn’t need; Allison & Lillia is perfectly capable of making itself look stupid on its own.

I don’t want to suggest that Allison & Lillia is a total loss, because it isn’t. Despite some major shortcomings, the show does a decent job of constructing a cast of likable (if flat) characters. This is true moreso of the first half of the show than it is in the second, with Allison in particular keeping the show lively with her buoyancy and eagerness for adventure. Allison, voiced by Mizuki Nana, and Fiona, voiced by Noto Mamiko, are cases of accidental moé if I’ve ever seen it. Allison is a pouty tsundere, whose strong-headed attitude makes for a stark contrast to the vulnerable side she shows to Wil and her romantic frustration at his obliviousness, while Fiona is dependent and a little naïve, as well as having the quintessential voice of moé. It makes for extremely cute female characters, one of the refreshing cases where the moé characteristics are incidental and aren’t forced down your throat, but it’s ultimately out-of-place, since this is an action/adventure series that’s supposed to be taken seriously.

What truly hinders Allison & Lillia’s chances of being taken seriously is its embarrassing script, riddled with unlikely coincidences, farfetched events and characters who apparently have limited cognitive ability. With rare exception, each arc ends in an anticlimactic cataclysm of illogical revelations and/or deus ex machina resolutions. One major antagonist meets his demise after a gust of wind blows him off a tall building, while two arcs have the same protagonist surviving life-threatening situations because of one-in-a-hundred coincidences (in fact, the second time, the odds are probably lower than that). The motivations behind the antagonists’ actions turn out to be, time-and-again, mindnumbing, and it becomes obvious that the rationale behind their actions isn’t important enough for the scriptwriters to bother thinking through, since they’re there purely to generate conflict. The protagonists, on the other hand, are morally erratic, expressing deep indignation at the antagonists’ evil schemes, only to themselves do or plan to do something atrocious to thwart them without a single acknowledgement of their own hypocrisy.

While the show does have a few good things about it, the fact remains that the more one thinks about Allison & Lillia, the more illogical it becomes. As is the norm, Madhouse do a fairly good job of setting an absorbing atmosphere; unfortunately this is undone after-the-fact by the anticlimactic nature of the arc resolutions. The animation and music are reasonable, the characters are likable enough and the world is vast and detailed. However, the writing is a disaster. Believe me, the irony of the final episode ending with a trainwreck isn’t lost on me. In fact, metaphorically speaking, most of the arcs end with a trainwreck.

The Rating: 5

Reviewed by: Sorrow-kun

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