Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi Volume 3

As Abenobashi flies madly into its third volume, it soon becomes clear that Arumi and Sasshi still haven’t made it home: trapped in yet another bizarre parallel universe, their weird and wonderful journey seems far from over. Although they appear to have worked out why the reality-hopping isn’t getting them anywhere, things don’t seem quite right. For instance, this time the Shopping Arcade looks like a Japanese dating simulation game, and much to Arumi’s annoyance Sasshi is getting too distracted to help her make sense of it all”¦

There were hints of there being a method to the madness in some of the previous episodes, and it appears that some of these mysteries are beginning to be solved. In a break from the new-world-per-episode pattern, Sasshi meets Eutus again and finally finds out who this guy really is and why he keeps showing up in every world they visit. The answer is both surprising and interesting, giving not only a disturbing piece of news for Sasshi, but a run-down of the sorcerer’s life story in a very different (and quite pleasant) animation style. It also gives a bit of a break from the usual pattern of episode structure, making sure the series continues to be predictable in its unpredictability.

With only one volume left to go, the story will soon be approaching its conclusion. With what appears to be a turning point in the main story, it will be interesting to see how this will be achieved. Of course, both the viewer and the young heroes are convinced that the madness will end and that they will return to normality in the next episode, so we’ll have to wait and see. One thing is for sure: the parodies still come thick and fast and the imaginations of the Gainax production team show no signs of drying up just yet (giant teddy bears and attacks from chickens wearing shades, anyone?).

The DVD extras are the same in quality and quantity as with the second instalment, having the standard clean opening/closing animation sequences, ADV previews, the  ever-useful AD-Vidnotes feature and some amusing outtake clips from the English language dub: satisfactory if not outstanding, although the inlay booklet is still a delight.

In Summary

With a slight departure from the usual pattern of Arumi and Sasshi’s travels in the form of Eutus’ revelations, the third volume of Abenobashi takes a slight breather from the rapid-fire gags and adds a bit more to the explanations on why the events of the show are happening in the first place. While some viewers might find this momentary change of pace disappointing, it does add to the background story and begs the question of how this series will turn out.

8 / 10