Akitaro Daichi is the writer/director responsible for popular Fruits Basket series. His latest endeavor is the adaptation of his own manga strip Makasete Iruka, which ran for two years in Animage in Japan. Daichi decided to make this an independent production and produce the show himself. This first (and only so far) episode (retitled for reasons that are beyond me) went straight to video (something common for higher grade productions in Japan) and is being released by ADV here in the United States. While only 24 minutes long, this show has a lot of energy and charm packed into that short amount of time.
Umi, Sora, and Ao are three young girls who run a 'handyman' shop called Irukaya. They preform odd jobs, and will handle just about anything. From helping a guy break up with his girlfriend, to handling negotiations with management for a group of workers, to doing homework, they'll tackle anything. For a fee. The girls themselves don't go to school though they are much too busy. So when a mother hires them to convince her son that he should go to school, they have their work cut out for themselves. They talk to the boy, Riku, and he explains that school doesn't teach you the useful things in life. It only teaches you what's in the textbooks, and what if they are wrong? The three girls are stunned. They have no answer, and actually agree with him. Riku is so happy to have found someone who understands him that he starts to work for them rather than go to school. But when he finds out what it takes to run the best handyman shop in the area, he may decide that school is much better.
This was a very fun show. It was humorous and energetic, and the story flowed very well. The three girls were very appealing, and I was pleased that they even explained why they don't go to school and why their parents don't mind them tackling potentially dangerous assignments.
One nice touch was Ao. She is a deaf mute and talks using sign language. They managed to make her comments funny without making fun of deaf people. All three of the girls were fun, and while there wasn't enough time to really develop their characters in this short OVA, there is a lot of potential in that area. Hopefully this show will do well enough to warrant further episodes.
The DVD offers you the choice of an original Japanese language track in stereo, or an English dub in 5.1. I watched the show in the original language, and spot-checked the dub. I thought the voices of the main characters were too high pitched to be enjoyable on the dub track, were talking breaking glass here. I know they are supposed to be kids, but the director and the voice talent went a little overboard. The voices sounded better on the Japanese track. The audio was very good, with the voices being clean and clear. There was good use of the soundstage and the whole show sounded great.
This show was an anamorphically enhanced widescreen presentation. The colors are nice and vivid, and there is good detail and shading. The encoding is very good, resulting in a disc that is virtually free of artifacts. This is a great looking disc.
This disc has more extras than any other single DVD release that I can think of. There is a 42 minute interview with creator/director/writer Akitaro Daichi, in which he talks in detail about how the show came about, including how he had to create the manga first since there isn't a market for original projects (!) the differences between the manga and the anime, the casting of the voice talent and just about everything you'd want to know about the show. It was an interesting, if a little long for my tastes, interview.
There is also a text based Q&A with the Japanese voice actresses, and an 11-minute interview with the actresses who did the English dub, and a commentary track with the English actresses. This commentary track was one of the more enjoyable that I've heard. The women start off speaking in character, which was pretty funny, and then talk about little background details, and how it was hard voicing a deaf/mute character. It was a very fun commentary track, the best that I've heard on an anime DVD.
But wait, as they say on TV, there's more! Also included on the disc is a 20-minute introduction to the show that was filmed at the Tokyo Animation Fair. Akitaro Daichi and the three main actresses each answer some questions about the show.
I would have been much happier if the MSRP was about $5 lower. $20 for a half hour show is asking a lot even with all the extras that are included on this DVD. The extras were great, but they aren't the main attraction and I can't see sitting through them again. The audio and video were both very good though. If it didn't have such a high price for only 24 minutes of content, I'd give if a stronger recommendation. As it is, this is a fun show and anime fans should be sure to see it. Recommended.