• Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi


    published in Empire No.68, Sydney
    Complete Collection


    Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi sharply plays up the prejudiced view Tokyo-ites hold of Osaka to great effect, while widening its frame on Osaka as a city of unique attributes and characters. Centred on a shopping arcade built after the American Occupation in the latter 50s, the eponymous Abenobashi is the childhood home of young Satoshi and Arumi, both who wile their time away in the now-dilapidated arcade. Satoshi's family runs the bath house while Arumi's family runs a French-style restaurant. They comprise some of the few remaining tenants, as developers are set to move in and demolish the remains of the original arcade.

    Satoshi and Arumi are too young to have any fundamental connection to the arcade and its history, yet they feel spiritually aligned to it despite their hard-nosed and often cynical dismissal of their elders. A classic love-hate couple of kids, their firery volleys are intensified when a portal opens up and shuttles them back and forth across eras, all bizarrely sited on the ground upon which the arcade has been built.

    But the real ingenuity and entertainment in Abenobashi comes from the depiction of these alternate realms and the ways that Satoshi and Arumi respond to their geo-shocks. Ranging from Neanderthal deserts to outer-space voids to 19th C. English streets to an oversexed high-school, each episode is ultimately a fantasy concocted by Satoshi without him realizing it. In these imaginary zones, Satoshi and Arumi regularly encounter variations of their current and past family members. The family interconnections become particularly messy - especially when Satoshi realises exactly who the large-breasted Munemune is. Furthermore, some episodes overflow with a beautiful sadness and graceful regret, so be prepared for major shifts in this otherwise anarchic series. Final warning: play the dreadful American dub track of Texan accents at your own peril.