Mitsuboshi Colors
Episodes 1-3

by Christopher Farris,

How would you rate episode 1 of
Mitsuboshi Colors ?

How would you rate episode 2 of
Mitsuboshi Colors ?

How would you rate episode 3 of
Mitsuboshi Colors ?

Cozy anime about cute characters and their benign goings-on aren't hard to come by, and barring extreme cases, shows like Mitsuboshi Colors are hardly ever awful or offensive. The worst a series like this can do is sink into irrelevant blandness. At their best though, these types of series can be entertaining escapes. Thus far, Mitsuboshi Colors has proved able to serve up amusing antics with just enough of an edge to keep our attention.

The premise for the show is just distinctive enough to set it apart, with the trio of Yui, Sat-Chan, and Kotoha fancying themselves a sort of superhero team (with nominal color-coding and occasional tokusatsu transformation poses) who protects their town from perceived threats. This translates into various games played out in each segment of the show, from rounding up a troublesome cat to cracking a mysterious safe to safeguarding the Earth from environmental disaster. What makes these events work is that they're presented in such a banal way. There are no chuunibyou-style visions showing how the girls view their own daring adventures; the humor comes from seeing their larger-than-life reactions in a real-world setting.

In general, the kid's-eye-view exploration of the town and its people feels similar to the antics in Yotsuba&, while the dynamic between the girls hews very close to Strawberry Marshmallow. This is hardly a bad thing; in the derivative crowd of cute-girl shows, there are worse choices you could make than taking after some of the best entries in the genre. But that raises an important question: In the overstuffed crowd of cute-girl slice-of-life shows this season, what does Mitsuboshi Colors do to stand out?

Well the ‘Colors’ in its title is a good place to start. The color palette of this series really pops, with bright primary colors framing not just the trio of main characters, but virtually every element of their world. From a distance, the composition can look positively candy-coated, but less in an overly stylized way and more with simple emphasis on distinguishing every detail in the frame. This visual blast at least partially comes from the photo-referenced backgrounds, whose style conveys a sense of the real-world as seen through the eyes of these excitable youngsters. The show also doesn't skimp on artistic ambition when it needs to, such as the scene near the end of the second episode featuring the girls by the lake with sunlight brilliantly glittering off of its surface. Tons of minor details are included in these scenes, from the décor of the girls' clubhouse to the packed nature of Pops's shop. In general, Mitsuboshi Colors comes off as more ambitious in its artwork than you might expect.

Also, while a lot of the humor comes from a knowing adult perspective on the girls' low-stakes adventure, the content of each episode is decidedly child-friendly. Kotoha's obliquely macabre comments are as PG as it's gotten so far, and even those embody the harmless absurdity of kids who aren't self-aware about the things they say. Even when the girls are threatening to blow up Saitou with a rocket launcher, the joke is that the grown-up isn't certain how seriously he should actually take this. This gets parlayed into effective generational-bridging antics in the third episode, with the girls unleashing their childish charms on various adults (including local mobsters!) to coerce them into buying banana overstock. It's this idea of youngsters finding adventure in their everyday lives without ever being in real danger that sells the show's lighthearted escapism effectively.

Trying to cast too wide an appeal net can undermine the entertainment value of the series, however. When the show finds a truly funny concept, such as the aforementioned rocket launcher, it can hit a comedy home run. On the other hand, stories like the hide-and-seek game in the second episode simply meander, not including enough absurd entertainment value for older viewers nor enough relatable adventurous spirit for younger viewers. The detailed art design of the series also gets in its own way at least a couple times, notably in the second episode bit with the closed-off areas. The initial idea of the girls' suspicious investigation is funny, but the animation of them leaving footprints gives the reveal away too quickly, and showing their repeated trespassing comes off as unnecessary. It's an example where less definitely would have been more in depicting their misunderstanding. By contrast, the bomb-diffusing mystery Pops sets up for the girls in episode 3 is a much more effective little puzzle. The series would do better to lean on these sorts of pleasant activities moving forward rather than meandering mischief.

Overall, Mitsuboshi Colors easily falls into the category of ‘pleasant enough’ so far. It's got the breezy slice-of-life atmosphere down effectively, and the girls and their personalities make the show interesting enough to keep watching, if this is all your your sort of thing. Mitsuboshi Colors is one of the stronger cute shows of this cuteness-saturated season.

Rating: B

Mitsuboshi Colors is currently streaming on HIDIVE.

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