The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru

Title: Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru aka Soremachi aka And Yet The Town Turns
Genre: Comedy
Company: Shaft
Format: 12 episodes
Dates: 8 Oct 2010 – 24 Dec 2010

Synopsis: Arashiyama Hotori works at a maid café, Seaside, run by Isohata Uki, an old woman with a mild interest in how maids look. Seaside doesn’t get much business, and its most frequent visitor is Sanada Hiroyuki who is there mostly because he has a crush on Hotori. Hotori’s friend from school, Tatsuno Toshiko is a maid aficionado, and is appalled by the lack of attention-to-detail paid to maid culture at Seaside. She decides to start working at Seaside, but her motives go beyond trying to fix the café’s careless approach to maids.

The Highlights
Directing: A relatively mild effort from Shinbo Akiyuki.
Comedy: Solid; not overly eccentric, but a few well executed jabs.
Drama: A couple of short stories late in the series about death are really affecting.
Theme songs: Sakamoto Maaya’s “Down Town” and the seiyuu cast’s “Maids Sanjou!” are two of the best anisongs of the year.
Conflict: Hotori v Moriaki is a hilariously antagonistic match up.
Seiyuu: Excellent.

Shinbo Akiyuki is definitely anime’s most prolific director at the moment, and makes what feels like at least one and often two anime every season. He’s known for his eccentric style, filled with canted camera angles, fish-eye lenses, abrupt transitions and exaggerated slowmos, to the point where he’s recently started copping criticism for becoming gimmicky and not evolving his style. He isn’t doing much outside his comfort zone in Soredemo Machi, but if there’s something a little more subtle that shouldn’t be underestimated about Shinbo, it’s his grasp of comedy.

Soredemo Machi is pretty much Shinbo’s attempt at a sitcom, so it’s left field, but much milder than the random parody/satire of Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei or the quick-witted repartee of Bakemonogatari. But it’s solid; the jokes are often overblown takes on mild situations that build to punch lines that work more often than not. However, the absolute funniest moments come when there’s conflict or tension involved: an “impromptu” birthday party, a demonic table tennis match and the accidental discovery of Sanada’s porn collection are some of the more memorable examples. But, comedically, there’s not much that compares to the war of ideals that takes place between Hotori and her humourless maths teacher Mr. Moriaki.

A comedy of this type usually has a limited lifespan before its jokes become stale, so 12 episodes is probably the appropriate runtime. Even throughout its run, Soredemo Machi mixes things up a bit, and isn’t a pure sitcom about quirky characters 100% of the time. While the utterly absurd sequences, such as those involving alien weapons that either destroy or restore everything they touch, or vending machines from the future, are among the weaker moments, when Soredemo Machi tries to be touching, it manages to pull it off. One sequence where Hotori takes her younger brother, Takeru, through the empty town late at night, depicts a genuine, warm sibling relationship, while two short stories later in the series about characters in the afterlife are sweet and heartfelt.

Soredemo Machi’s seiyuu cast excels. Yuuki Aoi (whose talent I openly admit I’ve underestimated), newbie Yazawa Rieko and an unrecognizable Shiraishi Ryoko are all superb in supporting roles, as is Sugita Tomokazu as Moriaki, who plays his character with so much utter seriousness that it becomes a parody of itself, which is perfect for this style of comedy. The most noticeable voice has to be Omigawa Chiaki’s nasal and whiney speech in the lead role. Hers is the type of voice which will inevitably divide audiences. On one hand, I can understand why people would find it annoying, but on the other, it fits Hotori to a tee. Omigawa gives a good performance here, filling out Hotori with a variety of expressions and inflections. She’s surrounded by proven professionals, but not only does she keep up with them, she’s sometimes so far out in front that the other seiyuu have to keep up with her.

Soredemo Machi isn’t really breaking new ground for Shinbo and its quirks are, relatively speaking, mild. However, it’s solid, remaining fairly humourous and occasionally uplifting throughout its run.

The Rating: 7

Reviewed by: Sorrow-kun

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