Hey there fans! This week is yet another installment of Anime Winter Fun, where I pick a few of the newest anime to be released in Japan and see if there were any that were worth watching this season. As I said before, I initially thought that this particular season’s offerings were not as great as they were, say, last Summer or Fall, and, just by having thought that, I was proven wrong at least twice! And, with this next anime, I’m am going for a hat-trick of being wrong yet again! This week’s offering is something rather different, as it constantly switches from being comedic to dramatic science fiction at a drop of a hat, contains pretty-boy aliens, and has enough plot twists to please M. Night Shayamalan. Confused yet? Good! Let’s dive right in the world of Level E!
Tsutsui Yukitaka is a first-year high-school student who moved from his hometown in Tokyo to Yamagata, a rural village somewhere in Japan, in order to become a baseball player after being in the best middle school baseball team in Japan, and to stake it out on his own by living alone away from his parents. It sounds like a premise from a coming-of-age anime, until Yukitata finds a slim, blonde pretty-boy sitting in his room, wearing his clothes and saying flat-out that (a) he is an alien, (b) his ship has recently crash-landed in the nearby area, and (c) he has lost all of his memories. This sets up the first arc of the series that will ultimately involve the girl next door (who happens to be the daughter of the scientist researching the crash), more than half the townspeople of Yamagata, a few local punks, the researchers in the area, a cat, a parrot and an intergalactic conference that has all of the sentient beings in attendance with the exception of one important prince. You with me so far? No? Good! Because keeping the audience a little off-balance seems to be the root of the humor found in this series, and it works!
The moment I heard the seiyuu, or voice-actor, of the amnesia-stricken alien (whose identity is revealed later in the first arc), several bells went off in my head. With a bit of Googling, I found out that it was Daisuke Namikawa, the same voice actor who voiced Italy in Axis Powers Hetalia. Admittedly, he also voiced several other characters, but the character in the show sounded so similar to Italy that it, amongst other things, hinted at the true comedic nature of the show. The modern, almost realistic animation style that the show is drawn does not imply that this show would be funny; rather, it gives it a more serious feel to it, as if one would expect the cops from Monster to come pounding on the door to investigate a serial murderer on the loose (something similar to which, oddly enough, does happen). One moment, there is sudden terror and pulse-quickening tension and drama, then it quickly becomes a scene of joviality and misunderstanding, the caliber of which is similar to a really good episode of Friends. It’s really quite funny, and done well… a bit too well. Upon viewing, it may seem a little jarring to some viewers to have this bait-and-switch happen constantly for the sake of comedy. I feel that if the show does it too often, its novelty will wear off, and the comedy alongside it. Not that it needs to rely simply on that; the small mix of characters presented in the first arc play off of each other well and the antics of the alien is good enough to warrant a laugh.
All in all, a decent show, and a good change of pace for those willing to explore anime outside of the usual magical-girl, gigantic-robot, or moe-moe cutesy series. Level E is available on Crunchyroll. See you next week, fans!
Rating: 3.5 / 5 Stars