Reviewby Paul Fargo, Apr 28th 2004
Omishi Magical Theater Risky Safety
With its second of three volumes, Omishi Magical Theater Risky-Safety manages to stay true to the original premise laid down in the first episode. Centering around a pair or apprentice spirits and the mayhem they tend to create, the series is a sugary sweet collection of comedic misadventures that uses the classic "good and bad conscious" plot device as a backdrop. Offering up another eight episodes of fluffy fun with tiny celestial bodies, there isn't much that's new or innovative in this second release, but there's still a whole lot to like.
Picking up where the first disc left off, this volume wraps up a previously-established story arc involving a doll maker's daughter before moving on to a whole new set of hijinks, including a visit to a shrine after New Year's, a science fiction take on the Japanese legend of Momotaro, and an incredibly clever episode that plays out like an old silent film. In each of these tales, the shinigami Risky stirs up trouble in an attempt to claim souls, while the angel Safety (who shares the same body as Risky) frequently pops in trying to save those souls and perform general damage control on Risky's antics. Usually, the hapless victim is somehow connected to a junior high school girl named Moe, who has the unfortunate luck of being the pint-sized duo's primary link to the mortal world.
Though this basic setup provides the frame for each of Risky and Safety's adventures, the show never manages to become stale or repetitive. Even with some episodes verging on being a little too fluffy and pointless, the overall product is well-written and reasonably cute, with bits of clever satire sprinkled throughout. At eight minutes in length, some episodes can feel a little rushed, but this only becomes an issue during some of the longer stories that span over two and three episodes total. Most of the time, the viewer is simply treated to brief, yet adorable mischief at the hands of the two title characters.
Helping Risky-Safety's charming nature along is its overall appearance. Everything is shot in a crisp, pastel collection of decidedly autumn colors, which adds a subdued atmosphere to the production. The lack of anything truly bright and vibrant keeps the cute designs from feeling overdone, and lends a touch of legitimacy to the sparse moments of angst felt by the human part of the cast. Character designs are simple, expressive, and sugary sweet, though none of them really stand out beyond the title characters. They aren't necessarily bad, they're just a touch on the generic side, while the little dueling deities are wisely made to stand out from the crowd. Animation is also very well done, with everything being consistently on-model and surprisingly smooth at times for a TV series.
Despite the visual aspect of the show being a success, it unfortunately falls short in terms of music. The ending theme is a subdued, respectable piece that fits the series nicely, but it's really the only part of the soundtrack that stands out. The background score is composed almost entirely of generic "cutesy chime" and "comedy synth" type tracks, along with a seemingly endless supply of instrumental interpretations on the ending theme. After a while, everything begins to sound not only boring, but painfully repetitious, and one can't help but wonder if the musical arrangement is really helping the show at all, or simply acting as a stand-in for the occasional pause in Risky or Safety's frenetic dialogue. Only during the aforementioned "silent film" episode does the score work, but then with no sound at all except for the music, that is only to be expected.
Audio is mostly saved, however, by the voice acting, which is competently handled in both languages. On the Japanese end, Rie Iwatsubo absolutely steals the show, managing a very impressive performance as both the uncouth Risky and the very prim and proper Safety. She's so convincing in both roles that it was ultimately a surprise to find out they were voiced by a single seiyuu. Others in the cast are handled well enough, with Maaya Sakamoto's Moe strangely standing out as the only glaring weak spot. While her acting suits the decidedly mature character, the tone of her voice sounds way too old for a girl that's only around thirteen years old, and it's a fairly significant distraction for several episodes. The English cast is similarly a majority success, with most of the voices fitting the characters. There's a bit of overacting along the lines of a typical children's show present in their lines, but given how this is essentially a show aimed at a decidedly younger audience, that's really to be expected. The only really noteworthy fault of the dubbing is the inclusion of choice Japanese phrases in the script, which are in themselves a chore to hear the cast stumble through.
Extras presented on this disc are a bountiful collection of the usual anime DVD fare. A respectable gallery of screen caps and creditless ending sequence are present, as is a reversible cover with Safety lying in a wreath on one side, and Risky sitting upon a throne of hamsters on the other. There are also dubbing outtakes, which really just feature a few flubbed lines, and nothing of the intentionally comedic variety of previous Rurouni Kenshin and Berserk! releases. Liner notes, given both as an insert and in the Extras menu, are surprisingly in-depth, pointing out everything from Japanese culture factoids to an exceedingly brief reference to Star Wars. Perhaps the most unique addition here is the fanart gallery, which showcases a few pieces of Risky-Safety artwork submitted by some pretty talented individuals. All in all, there's a lot to enjoy here, even if most of it is just what we've simply come to expect from anime DVDs over the years.
Anime that are cute for the sake of being cute are certainly not in short supply, and at first glance, Omishi Magical Theater Risky-Safety could quite easily be considered just another pretty face in the ever-growing genre. However, despite being a sugary sweet collection of all-too brief adventures, it still manages a solid execution, and pulls ahead by throwing in some genuinely clever moments of satire, to boot. It's not the best show out there, but it accomplishes more than many of its contemporaries, and anyone looking for a simple burst of saccharine that won't insult their intelligence too much will do well to give this series a go.
Overall (dub) : B
Overall (sub) : A-
Story : B
Animation : A-
Art : B
Music : C+
+ Adorable, funny misadventure, excellent visuals and an overall solid execution.
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