Anime Review: Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru Episodes 4, 5, and 6

(originally published and formatted for Livejournal on 12/20/10)

Anime Review:
Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru Episodes 4, 5, and 6

Series Premise: Hotori Arashiyama is your average klutzy teenage girl who works at a local hole-in-the-wall corner cafe. But unlike the thousands of cafes around the country, the owner has decided upon the brilliant idea of turning it into a maid-themed cafe, to try and bring in new customers to the struggling business. One day when Hotori’s best friend Toshiko Tatsuno visits, she is aghast that they seem to have no clue how to run a maid cafe; but she also learns that a classmate she has a secret crush on is also a regular, local customer. Toshiko immediately signs up to work at the cafe under the guise of teaching Hotori, who is perhaps the most un-maid-like person in the world, how to be a maid.

ep.4 tl;dr review: Hotori continues to torment Mr. Moriaki; Boy plus Girl divided by Morals equals Zero.

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Episode 4 Summary: Hotori continues with her schoolgirl crush on her math teacher, Mr. Moriaki. However, he has other ideas about Hotori, who is the worst student in the class. Keeping her after school for a special tutoring session, Mr. Moriaki recalls his arch-nemesis from his childhood; a teacher that embarrassed him in front of the class over a disagreement about solving a math problem. Tattsun relates a story she heard about another student years ago that had a crush on Mr. Moriaki, but whom he rejected completely; unbeknownst to him, she later grew up to work at a teacher at the same school, still harboring the secret crush. After being fed up by Hotori’s nonsensical excuses for tardiness, he summons her to his office; but freezes up when he must choose which of three chairs to sit in, knowing that one of the chairs is defective and may cause him to lose face if he sits in it.

ep.5 tl;dr review: Toshiko chickens out asking Sanada on a date; Eri has no such qualms about forcing Takeru on a date, however.

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Episode 5 Summary: Toshiko scores a special ticket to a movie and sets her sights on inviting Sanada on a date. But as the days pass, she realizes she is too bashful to ask him out. In the end, she ends up giving the ticket to Hotori, and settling for a stressless afternoon alone with Sanada at the cafe. At school, Hotori’s little brother Takeru is pushed around by the class bully, Eri (Ebi-chan). But he learns that Eri has a totally different side when she invites herself over to Takeru’s house to hang out. Hotori gives Takeru a thousand-yen bill, and tells them to go out and have fun; but Takeru is stressed the entire time that he might be spotted by his fourth-grade classmates hanging out “with a girl”. The two of them end up having a good time, but at class the next day when Takeru calls out her nickname, she punches him into silence.

ep.6 tl;dr review: Hotori’s social faux pas ruins Toshiko’s birthday; Sanada fails at ‘Hide the Porn’.

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Episode 6 Summary: Hotori is looking for a birthday present for Toshiko, and ends up at the local antiques shop where she picks up a ‘mystery box’ and has a strange African love mask forced upon her. At the birthday party, Hotori throws tact out the window by forcing everyone to tell their birthday, and it is revealed that Futaba’s birthday is that day. Realizing she has totally killed the mood, she tries to weasel her way out, but the damage is already done. Later, Hotori’s class has the assignment of creating a website, and she decides to make one for the maid cafe. Looking to upload a cute logo, they ask Sanada if it’s okay to come over and use his computer. He agrees, but has to run around like made cleaning up his room before they arrive. When Hotori and Toshiko arrive, they learn that it was all for naught because Sanada does not have a scanner; but Hotori also accidentally upsets his secret stash of porn magazines. Hotori and Toshiko then go over to Futaba’s place to care for her, since she caught a cold. While Toshiko cooks, Hotori uncovers a bass guitar and makes a nuisance of herself. The next day, it seems everyone has caught the cold except Hotori, who recalls the old wive’s tale that “idiots don’t catch colds.”

My Thoughts: Just some more everyday hijinks as happy-go-lucky Hotori crashes through life. There’s no real plot involved with this series, just a bunch of mostly-unrelated sketches, jumping around back and forth through the manga that it was adapted from. One thing that I am relieved to see is that the story mostly focuses on Hotori and her acquaintances rather than the maid cafe itself — the maid cafe is nothing more than a *setting*, and that’s just fine with me. The show is really nothing special, but what really puts the exclamation point on it is the pitch-imperfect acting by the person who is playing Hotori. Add to that the constantly amusing facial expressions, and it’s just fun to watch.

A few quick points:
– Does anyone else get an “Arakawa” vibe from the show when the teacher is involved? He’s the straight-laced, totally serious “Kou” character who is trying to deal with the totally insane Hotori and her crew — you can practically see his mind cracking whenever he has to deal with Hotori.
– The person who created this show must have a MAJOR leg fetish. There’s no other reason that I can explain for the frequency of unusual camera shots prominently featuring all the girls’ bare legs. It just stands out so much.
– Poor, long-suffering Tattsun, you can practically hear her sigh internally every time she has to deal with Hotori’s shenanigans. Then again, some of the reason for her position (well, with respect to Sanada) is of her own making, unable to bring her own self to confess to him of her own accord. Stop being such a shy coward already, and get it over with!
– Not too crazy about taking the focus off Hotori for half an episode to run around with her little brother, but I did find the ridiculously-awkward “date” between ten-year-olds totally cute. Takeru completely oblivious, and Eri more comfortable using her fist as an expression of her affection. Silly, but entirely accurate, too.
– Wonder when Futaba will have her due in the series; up until now she’s mostly been a foil and side character.
– Again, not the greatest show of the season, but pleasantly entertaining nonetheless.

The Verdict:

Coming up next: My Little Sister Can’t Be This Cute (4-6), Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt (4-6), Psychic Detective Yakumo (4-6), Shinryaku Ika Musume (4-6), Letter Bee Reverse (4-6), Bakuman (4-6), Kuragehime (4-6)

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