Spring is finally here with the first official LIA premiere of the season (unless you count the Anime Japan Mushishi screening) and it’s a show that wasn’t prominent on my radar going on. But there are a few interesting elements about Maijin Bone, an original digital card game tie-in. First, it’s directed by Uda Kounosuke for Toei, and no one should ever overlook an Uda-directed “kids” series after Ginga e Kickoff. Toei (for whom Uda directed One Piece) has plenty of money to provide a decent production, and the creative staff behind the series is spearheaded by the writer and artist of the quite respectable Eyeshield 21. It also features One Piece and Toriko Animation Director Oonishi Ryou as A.D. and Character Designer.
Given all that, the fact that the premiere was surprisingly good is perhaps not such a surprise. In the first place, the look of the series is extremely retro – fabulously (if you like that look, which I do) early ’90s, from the character design to the backgrounds and even the animation itself (not counting the CGI). The plot seems pretty stock for a kids sci-fi series, but the premiere has perfect comic timing and an excellent performance from Kenn (voicing another guy who saw a UFO as a little boy) as main character Ryuujin Shougo. I’m pretty sure it’s Kenn (and the rest of the male cast) singing the fantastically goofy ED, too. Kenn is having a superb couple of years and is proving especially terrific at these sort of shounen roles, and he’s paired here with one of his GeK Furuya siblings, Tachibana Shinnosuke.
In sum, this is what often happens when talented and smart people get together to put on a show – the material offers nothing of distinction yet, but the execution is top-notch. There’s a fair amount of wit if not originality in the writing, providing evidence that there’s no way Maijin Bone is going to take its story of a boy who hears strange noises coming from under a rock in his osananajimi’s garden too seriously. One amusing twist is that Shougo lives at Hikawa Shrine – a Hikawa Shrine anyway – which I did a post on a couple of weeks ago, and is the home of Sailor Mars herself. Is that a wink to the audience or just a coincidence?
It’s way too early to know if the story and characters in Maijin Bone are going to be interesting enough to make it more than a modestly entertaining distraction, but it’s certainly off to a good start. The concept seems generic but the show itself is distinctive, and that’s a good sign of things to come. I’ll certainly check out a couple more episodes and while I’m certainly not expecting another Ginga e Kickoff here, I’ve long since learned that dismissing series because they include kids in their target audience can be a big, big mistake.