The Winter 2018 Anime Preview Guide
How would you rate episode 1 of
Mitsuboshi Colors ?
What is this?
SOMEONE needs to stand up and defend this town. Between unsolved mysteries and corrupt police officers, it feels like this place has really gone to the dogs lately. Fortunately, the Colors are here to help. Yui, Kotoha, and Sat-chan have all dedicated themselves to fixing up this town, whether that means chasing down a cat who kinda looks like a panda or solving a riddle to open a mysterious locked safe. From their secret hideout in the local park, the Colors are ready to stand up and defeat any and all challenges that come their way. Especially if those challenges happen to involve poop. Mitsuboshi Colors is based on a manga and streams on HIDIVE, Sundays at 9:30 AM EST.
How was the first episode?
Now this is a cute girls show I can get behind! Mitsuboshi Colors understands the joys of childhood games, sending its three protagonists Sat-chan, Yui, and Kotoha (the eponymous colors) on a series of quests to protect not just their neighborhood, but the animals in it. Well, animal – their first mission is to find the panda-colored cat who's been stealing stuff around town. That they keep him and name him Colonel Monochrome is further evidence of the way the show understands kids – it's the kind of overly grand name that led to my family having a cat known as Octavius Augustus Dominus Maximus at one point. Equally wonderful is the way the two adults we've seen the girls interact with play along – local cop Saito and shop owner Pops not only encourage them, but also actively engage in their games; that's actually how Colonel Monochrome came to live in the Colors' hideout…with Saito paying for his food. Children, as Saito occasionally forgets, may be simple at times, but they sure aren't stupid.
The episode is divided into three segments, or rather, missions. In the first the girls hunt down and capture the Colonel. The third involves an elaborate puzzle game constructed by Pops to get the Colonel a food bowl. The second is listed here out of order because it's easily the best: the Colors confront Saito, whom they've decided is not adequately protecting the town, with a rocket launcher. The whole thing, from the images of three little girls propping up what they're positive is a real weapon to Saito's concern that it might actually be a real weapon, is like the best games you played as a child, the ones where you're absolutely convinced that what you're playing is real to the point where when you come home after an entire afternoon spent running through the woods afraid that Baba Yaga was after you and your mother isn't sure you aren't telling the truth. (Or was that just us?) That the whole thing ends with Saito getting rocket launched in the crotch somehow just makes it better, especially since the girls seem kind of unaware that they've actually hurt him.
While the character designs definitely get wobbly on the consistency front, the show's bright colors and realistic backgrounds help to give it the appeal of childhood. That the girls aren't squeaky but instead sound relatively like actual children is another plus, as is the fact that their personalities feel true to childhood as well rather than idealized forms thereof. Mitsuboshi Colors looks like it could be a good antidote to the adult world, a weekly reminder that things can be much more fun than we let them. It feels like the cute girl show for people who aren't into them (alongside A Place Further Than the Universe), and definitely worth checking out.
The first episode of Mitsuboshi Colors is one of those experiences where you may well find yourself liking the episode despite yourself, no matter what your usual tastes are. It's just that charming.
The concept is simple as can be: a trio of elementary school-aged girls, each with their own primary color theme (blue, yellow, and reddish), have formed a club called Colors, using an abandoned shack as headquarters. From there they go on quests to help the public good of Tokyo's Ueno district, though one of the quests in this case is something a local shopkeeper gives them to distract themselves with. Along the way they interact regularly with a police officer named Saito, who often comes up on the worst end of interactions with them, especially in a role-play incident involving a fake rocket launcher. They also pick up a mascot in the form of a cat which looks like a panda, which appropriately gets called Captain Monochrome.
Yes, this is all as inane as it sounds like it is, but it still works. As you might expect, each of the girls has their distinct personality quirks: the (red) leader is a crybaby, the yellow girl is the spunky one who acts without thinking, and the blue one is obsessed with her portable game plater and has an odd predilection for being morbid. While there may be nothing too special about this personality mix, their banter with each other is balanced just right for it to be endlessly amusing. The police officer makes a nice foil for them, while a jovial shopkeeper who specializes in weird glasses and other odd knick-knacks is the other major adult character so far. (The closer suggests that a couple of women will eventually be added to the mix, too.)
Most importantly, the content is actually funny. This isn't the more sophisticated, meta-driven humor that you see in a lot of other anime comedies these day but rather the more straightforward kind of jokes that even younger viewers should easily get. Adults won't have to stoop to appreciate the humor, either, such as one scene where the other two girls conspicuously back off when the yellow girl charges into a bread store shouting about poop. I probably chuckled or outright laughed at this episode as much as I have anything since Gamers! aired back in the Summer 2017 season.
Aside from showing off the sights of Ueno, the artistic quality here puts the series towards the lower end of what has debuted so far this season. Despite that, though, this was a thoroughly enjoyable opening episode.
What kind of games did you and your friends come up with during childhood? When I was about nine, Nickelodeon released its movie Harriet the Spy with Michelle Trachtenburg. The move came out in July, and I promptly spent the rest of that summer with a notebook wandering around the cul-de-sac making cryptic notes about my neighbors' comings and goings.
Mitsuboshi Colors recaptures those childhood make believe stories, where a group of friends are all dedicated to keeping up the game by completely suspending their disbelief, at least until you have to go back home for the evening. Admittedly, this episode didn't resonate with me immediately. It seemed like another low-stakes cutesy show of three silly girls running around their neighborhood. It's not that it's not that, but an inspired script really pulls the show up from the rest of the soft, slice-of-life pack.
The three girls regularly interact with two adults, a policeman named Saito who should be the straight man but he's not, and a sunglasses stall owner who only wears the most ridiculous sunglasses. You can probably qualify most of what the girls do as borderline harassment, at least for poor Saito, but everyone seems committed to entertaining the girls' quest to be local superheroes, sometimes even creating scenarios for them.
The result is 20 minutes of abject silliness and punchlines that are just asking to be turned into .gifs. I resisted filling this write-up with Kotoha stepping on people, but it was hard. Mitsuboshi Colors has a type of humor that falls in line with social media shit-posting, which means you're either going to find it too obnoxious or hilarious. There isn't really a middle ground.
Holy crap is this a good season for slice of life. After A Place Further Than the Universe nailed the “slice of life coming of age drama” subcategory and Laid Back Camp settled into the “pure comfy slice of life,” here comes Mitsuboshi Colors with a terrific take on the “slice of life-slash-comedy” space, offering cozy atmosphere and snappy jokes to spare. If you're looking to relax and be healed by your anime, this is definitely the season.
The quickest way to describe Mitsuboshi Colors’ first episode is “three little Yotsubas terrorize a local park.” That description demands you have read Yotsuba, which every single human being ought to do, but it otherwise covers everything. The show focuses on the Colors, three young girls who've taken it upon themselves to be the guardians of their town. This episode sees them tackling challenges as diverse as panda-colored cats, mysterious locked safes, and the possibility of poop. Poop is always a possibility.
On the tonal front, Mitsuboshi Colors absolutely nails the unique wonderment of being a kid in a cozy local neighborhood. Yui, Kotoha, and Sat-chan have an enthusiasm for adventure that is utterly infectious, and their interactions with the various shops and characters of their home immediately imbued this episode with a rewarding sense of place. The show's reliance on filtered photography for its backgrounds was a little disappointing, but when it came to the storytelling, everything about this episode successfully worked to evoke the lazy happiness of wasting days being a little delinquent, creating a tone reminiscent not just of Yotsuba, but of other troublemaking-kid classics like Calvin & Hobbes.
Mitsuboshi Colors is also greatly assisted by the fact that its three main characters have such a strong dynamic, as well as its consistently excellent comedy. Sat-chan is the perpetually hyperactive leader, Kotoha is the quietly sadistic brains, and Yui is the probably-should-find-better-friends heart, and all three of them develop a convincing communal friendship over the course of this episode. The show's dialogue invites further comparisons to Calvin & Hobbes; not only is it snappy and smartly written throughout, but it finds a strange comfort zone in alternately embracing the childishness of its stars and giving them a snarky self-awareness far beyond their years. The show's deadpan delivery greatly elevates sequences like Yui declaring that local officer Saito has “become too corrupt,” and thus must be destroyed with a rocket launcher, while the infectious love for life of its stars comes through clearly in moments like their giddy reaction to learning there's a safe that JUST WON'T OPEN.
On the whole, Mitsuboshi Colors’ premiere was a joy from start to finish, possessing both a well-executed fondness for lazy childhood and a counterbalancing sharp ear for comic back and forth. Its aesthetic qualities were only a bit above par, but its writing, comic pacing, and general scene-setting were so strong that they more than made up for any visual weaknesses. If joining very funny brats on their very silly adventures sounds like fun, please check out this show.
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