It’s a shame that Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi passed under the radar of so many anime critics, because it is one of the most original shows of all time.
Every part of this show shines with vivacious energy and animation. The entire span of the series is a big mind trip. In the same way that Paranoia Agent plays tricks on you with its scare tactics, Abenobashi fools you into thinking that this series will follow a tragic turn of events.
Yet, it’s not a series about the tragic human condition, where all people have to die at some point or another. The show is all about a boy’s coming of age. He learns how to turn his best moments into reality.
It certainly takes a while for the main character to fully understand every part of his dream world. However, this show is one of the few pieces of animation that takes you on a joy ride, to try and understand how movies are really supposed to enlighten us.
Somehow, the main characters change their real world into a culmination of shared experiences with faces they love. The Abenobashi characters cannot settle with accepting things as they are–they have to take action in order to turn their best dreams into reality. The final ending is a surprisingly hopeful vision, that we hardly ever see in an anime.
Many other series have tried to follow the Abenobashi formula, but failed. Kyoto Animation tried to pull off a similar storyline in their series, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. This saga, Endless Eight, was a hideous story arc, where the characters kept repeating the exact same events in every episode of the story.
Only Abenobashi truly nailed the endless dream formula. If only other anime shows would follow suit with this show, because it’s just that good.