Ima, kore ga hoshiin da! - Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Or for the marketing minded people out there, if it made money once, it can make money again. Those of you not living under a rock know that when anything appears to be successful, there are a million carbon copies that will have to be swallowed by the public in the coming months. This happens in music, at the movies and of course television. Now, this isn't a cultural thing, because, yes, Virginia, it happens in Japan as well.

Successful formulas get copied or imitated all the time and Anime is not immune. Sometimes the imitation is simply the reuse of a plotline, retold using the characters of the new series. Sometimes it's a familiar theme, such as giant robots, or wacky aliens. And sometimes the imitation is so blatant it becomes a parody of the original. If a parody is good, it's often said to be homage to the original creators. If it's bad, fans will just write it off as bad or show it in the dark rooms at conventions, snickering the whole time. Some parodies and imitations end up being just as popular as the series that inspired it.

One major theme that always plays through Anime is the idea of one male, surrounded by many females. This is followed closely by Anime featuring a female character completely infatuated with the lead male, but the lead male is interested in someone else. Just to keep things interesting, I'm also going to look at a new series that has nothing to do with the above anime types, although it does feature 5 females. The thing all 3 of these series share in common is the length of each episode. Each episode runs about half the time of a normal episode: around 12 to 15 minutes. The pacing in these half shows is always a bit more frantic often focusing more on story rather than character development. These half shows tend to be quick entertainment, while driving the DVD fanatics crazy as they try to figure out how many episodes should be on a disk.

Hanaukyo Maid Tai (Maids of Hanaukyo)
Coming from the talents over at M.O.E., Hanaukyo Maid Tai follows the life of Taro, a young boy that inherits a large estate from his grandfather. Along with this estate are the maids who only live to serve Taro. There's one catch though, poor Taro is allergic to girls, changing colors whenever one touches him. This show is all about comic hijinks, with lots of intelligent humor thrown in just to keep the viewers on their toes. The episodes follow a nice steady storyline, but are independent enough to be watched in nearly any order. The writing is witty, characters are interesting and overall a simple feel good show. With one male and multitudes of females, it's actually nice to see this show take a step in a different direction than the setup could have gone.

15 episodes total were produced, running on Japanese TV from April 2001 to June 2001. This series would make a nice quick double disk release for a North American distributor. Despite the obvious fan service, this is a nice cute comedy with a broad appeal. This would make a nice release for a small company like CPM who has done the cute fare with releases like Magic User's Club and Jungle De Ikou.

Premiering April 2, 2002 comes this cute little comedy about Tomonori Iwaki, a 15-year-old boy, who comes home one day only to find Rizelmine, a 12-year-old girl, and her 3 Papas waiting for him. To make things just a little more interesting is the fact that Rizelmine, legal documents in hand, is Tomonori Iwaki's new wife: let the comedy ensue! Long time Anime fans will immediately note quite a lot of similarities to this series and Rumiko Takahashi's classic, Urusei Yatsura. Rizelmine is more than she seems. This becomes obvious right away thanks to her ability to cry tears of nitroglycerin. The opening theme song even harks back to the opening theme for Urusei Yatsura. With only a few episodes out, this series feels a bit done already, since no new ground is being covered. There are a few new twists, but for the most part, it all feels too familiar. Of course, if you haven't seen any Urusei Yatsura, this series feels like a lot of fun!

This is another M.O.E. production. M.O.E. seem to have a thing for this quirky little comic hijink type shows. Animation and character design come across as high quality, and there might just be a real story lurking under the current pratfalls as the mystery of who/what Rizelmine comes to light. There is strong potential for a fan following in North America. I'd like to see Pioneer or CPM take a stab at this one, since it falls in a genre they've handled in the past.

Galaxy Angel (Series 1 and Series 2)
Rounding out this week's new series is a show that has already gotten well into a second series in Japan. Originally airing on Animax, this show moved to TV-Tokyo for its second season. This show follows the misadventures of the 5 Angels as they search for Lost Technology and defend the people of the galaxy. Well, they actually spend more time driving their commander insane and getting into trouble wherever they go. This show is often fast paced, with no driving storyline, allowing an interesting array of storylines. Yes, comedy ensues. With the move to TV-Tokyo, two of the girls saw costume changes to conceal a rather abundant amount of cleavage. (See, its not just Americans that adjust things for TV!)

Character designs are fanciful and the writing is hysterical. This series is sure to be a hit when it makes it to North America. With the mecha involved, AD Vision might make good with this one, although this series going to Pioneer wouldn't be a bad thing.

Girls, Girls, Girls. Ok, silly 80s rock reference, but sums up the 3 shows this week. Recurring themes will always happen, let's just hope that each time they happen, something new is brought with them.


Allen Divers

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