Oh. My. Haruhi. If you have not seen this show, I kid you not you’re missing out. especially considering how strong a first episode this is. Think Occult Academy, only ten times funnier. Think of every comedy this season that’s made you smile: this one will make you genuinely L.O.L. I won’t spoil any of the jokes for you, because that’d be doing a disservice to the show. I’m already going to take bets on this season: Level E is definitely the dark horse of the season for comedy, something even ANN’s hard-to-please reviewers have recognized.
Greet レベルE , for it’s a UFA (Unidentified Fantastical Anime) that’s sure to stay.
So you’ve browsed through the anime preview guides. You’ve scanned the pictures, breezed through the descriptions, maybe even seen a promo video or two for each. You see Level E, and immediately you’re turned off. It’s not a cute girl, but rather a naked guy in a premise of what looks to be one of those sci-fi anime. Immediately you lose some interest in watching it and upon breezing through it’s description and confirming some of your preconceived notions by watching the CM, you get excited for other anime such as Kore wa Zombie Desu ka? or Mitsudomoe Zouryouchuu! as you place Level E low on your priorities.
Boy oh boy, were you deceived.
Sure, the art in Level E may have defined lips, shots of unbuttoned pants, or shirtless guys, but rest assured, the quality of that art is superty duper. Ignore the fact that the original manga was released in the 90’s, you wouldn’t be able to even conclude that it was originally written or drawn in that time period at all. With shots like these glowing blossoms or this duck (in motion of course), it’s hard not to appreciate the efforts placed into the animation.
The premise in the anime may be sci-fi and the previews may have presented this series as serious, but I kid you not, this is actually a golden laugh. In fact, this is the selling point that makes Level E stand out from most of the introductory episodes. It makes you laugh. Hard. Even at this.
Its dry humor and some slapstick are both timed nicely. Sure, some jokes may be a bit common, but they way they’re executed by their VAs is absolutely amazing that they feel fresh. Not a big fan of dry humor? Me neither, but something about the writing and dialog about this anime makes it funny nonetheless. Think of it as bread that’s been perfectly toasted to perfection, without burning it as many people often do. It’s dry, but not dry enough that only a stuck-up deadpan intellectual would find “amusing”.
*skip this part if you haven’t seen the plot*
However, don’t think that this series is purely based on comedy. The nice thing about the show is it’s concurrent focus on the plot. The ending set things up for some dramatic scenes in the future, and of particular note are the foreshadowings of the parrot and the children.
Take your average hero of a sports anime, Yukitaka Tsutsui (Yoshimasa Hosoya), who’s just moved out of Tokyo to join a baseball team that recruited him. Have him spot a strange blonde male (Daisuke Namikawa) sipping coffee and reading a book in his new apartment, who claims to have lost his memories (a theme I swear they’re abusing in anime). Add in a cute girl-next-door (Satomi Akesaka) whose father happens to be the lead engineer researching a crashed UFO. Oh yeah, add a parrot in there too.
So far most of the cast has done a remarkable job of bringing out their characters. Most notable are the interactions between main characters Tsu^2i and his couch crashing blonde foreigner. The two are undoubtedly a force of good in the world of duo comedy, which will undoubtedly carry over through the series. Funny. As. Haruhi. However, not much can be said about the other characters though, simply because they haven’t received enough screentime to make a fair judgement.
If you’ve been taking notes, you’d recognize some elements that seem similar to Occult Academy. If you’ve watched said series like me, you’ve already begun formulating suspicions of certain characters, not to mention any of course. The two share a similar premise of sci-fi feel, dry humor, and animation designs, but be assured, they have no actual formal connections, either in author, studio, or even time period.
The OP and ED, though not as ridiculously catchy as other series, is quite fitting and refreshing for the series itself. Said artists of the songs, Chiaki Kuriyama and ViViD respectively, are actually quite new and unexposed to the music world. It’s nice to see some new artists making headway into the sphere, especially with ClariS sharing the same boat as them.
In closing, Level E is a surprise hit, at least for the first episode. It’s unclear where the direction will head, whether comedy or sci-fi driven, but it seems the writing has it down either way. If you’re looking for a break in panties, a break in moe, and also a
double triple dose of true L.O.L. material, I urge Level E to rise in your watch list. It’s something that I believe most watchers will enjoy no matter their preference. My only hope is that this kind of comedy continues throughout the series, and that the first episode is not the climax of its humor ^^.