Upon the release of Ranma 1/2 on Bluray, Mike takes a stroll through the world of Rumiko Takahashi.
Reviewby Maral Agnerian, Sep 20th 2002
Brigadoon - Marin and Meran
In a ramshackle district of 1960s Japan, a 13-year old orphan, Marin, remains steadfastly optimistic in the face of poverty. On one of those destiny-changing days, there's a roar in the sky as the floating city of Brigadoon appears and dumps a living bio-weapon, Monomakia, to Earth. Apparently, the Monomakia has been programmed to seek and destroy Marin. After an initial assault, the orphan escapes into a nearby shrine, and finds herself backed into a corner. Just when it seems to be the end for Marin, another Monomakia appears and completely destroys Mono 1.
We soon find out that Mono 2 has a name: Meran Blue, a cyborg bred for battle. From that point on, the poverty-stricken neighbourhood receives a powerful protector and Marin gets an extraterrestrial roommate.
Why do guys always get half-dressed babes for robot protectors, while girls get weird-looking mecha? I'd say that definitely counts as inequality. ^_^ Anyways, Brigadoon is weird. No, REALLY weird. It isn't one of those totally incomprehensibly nonsensical shows, though; there's actually a plot and characterisation, even if we're not always sure where they are.
Marin is adorably spunky and a very likeable heroine, although she's got the most overactive imagination I've ever seen. Many scenes are very crack-induced, and most of those involve Marin imagining her horrible (and wacky) death as a result of something she's about to do. She does this a lot, and it can be somewhat disconcerting the first few times as you're never quite sure what's real and what's her imagination. She's a sweet kid, though, and her adopted family are also very wacky--they include identical triplets who cook for everybody, a mad scientist and his American assistant, among others. Marin also has a weird, vaguely shoujo-ai Tomoyo/Sakura-type relationship with her best friend Moe-chan, which leads to cute embarrassment and hilarity.
The alien robot invaders aren't free of the kookiness, either, as their design is decidedly weird--take the first alien that attacks Marin, which looks like a giant pink gorilla head. They're kind of ambiguous, as Meran looks sort of like a robot but bleeds when wounded and eats enormous amounts of rice...and yet when he's not needed he transforms into a tiny blue ampoule which Marin can carry around in her pocket. There's also a weird green rabbit-monkey thing that appears to be the show's mascot, although it doesn't seem to have any real connection to the plot; it just shows up occasionally and is in the closing credits and 'next episode' shorts.
The art style is fairly retro, in keeping with the 60s setting, with simple, cartoony character designs and huge eyes. There's an interesting contrast between the muted colours of Marin's neighbourhood and the bright colours of Marin herself or the Monomakia. The music is very good, with a beautiful opening song and BGM strongly reminiscent of Yoko Kanno.
The plot so far is fairly monster-of-the-day, but it's handled very well and isn't tiresome. Each episode a little more of the mystery of the city in the sky is revealed, while keeping things down-to-earth by focusing on the day-to-day life in Marin's little neighborhood. Cool action sequences and serious drama are paired well with wacky humour to create a well-rounded series. Recommended.
Overall (sub) : B+
Story : B
Animation : B
Art : B+
Music : A
+ Sweet, funny and wacky story of a girl and her alien robot
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