Shinbo is back, with another manga adaptation – this time Masakazu Ishiguro’s Soredomo Machi wa Mawatteiru. Think Shinbo’s version of “Natsu no Arashi” crossed with “Working!” and you’re getting pretty close, though Shinbo always makes every series his own (for better or worse).
What works? To start with, this is SHAFT and we get a terrific OP and ED. The OP is a Busby-Berkeley styled musical number, the closer a sort of “K-ON with accordion” rock piece featuring the maid cast. I enjoyed the voice work – Chiaki Omigawa plays the lead, Arashiyama, and while she doesn’t suit everyone’s tastes I love her voice. Irinu Miyu is Sanada, the male lead at the center of a blooming triangle featuring Arashiyama and Aoi Yuki’s Tatsuno, and he’s one of the best in the business. Sakurai Takahiro is a cut-up gender-bending as the hideous elderly female owner of the maid cafe at the heart of the story, Fortune. I also like Shinbo’s visual tics when they’re used in moderation, as they mostly are here. His series always look interesting but sometimes they just make me exhausted and faintly nauseous. Not this time, so far.
On the other hand, none of the humor or characters really popped for me the way the first ep of “Natsu no Arashi” did. This feels a little more clever-clever in that way SHAFT can be. The male teacher was a walking cliche and quite the bore, and some of the sight gags felt a bit worn. Still, there’s enough potential here involving romance and slice-of-life elements that I’m willing to give this cast and director some time to ramp up.