Gacha machines are serious business.

Summary:

A young boy named Keita has a fateful encounter with a ghost from a gacha (capsule) machine, who calls himself “Whisper” and declares himself as Keita’s steward.  After coming home to find his parents arguing over something extremely petty, Whisper reveals to Keita that it is actually a ghost’s doing.  Whisper gives Keita a watch which allow him to see ghosts.  The two quickly solve the ghost problem through some peaceful negotiation, and all is well.  Whisper then explains to Keita that the ghost world overlaps that of the human world, and it is most often a ghost’s presence that causes humans problems.

Good thing her husband’s the “ghost of joy.”

Not long after, Keita hears of a haunted street intersection, and goes to investigate.  This time, it is the work of a cat-ghost named Jibanyan, who possesses people in order to make them cross the street so he can attack the cars passing by.  It turns out that Jibanyan was killed by a car in that very same intersection, and heard his owner say something mean in his dying moments, sparking his desire to “defeat” a car.  Keita tells him to stop, though; as he’s putting innocent people in danger.  Keita feels bad for the cat-ghost, so he strikes a friendship with Jibanyan, getting rewarded with a ghost medal for doing so.

Jibanyan’s design is pretty cute. Not sure how to feel about his personality as it’s too early to tell.

My Opinion:

A bit of background on this series: this anime is based off a game of the same name that was released in Japan a few months back.  Both the game and the anime are being produced/directed by Level-5, the same guys who did the Professor Layton series of games.  I personally own four out of six of the original DS/3DS Layton games, and I could definitely feel the Level-5 vibes from this episode.

The animation is rather high-end, though stylized in typical Level-5 fashion.  In the opening alone, I’ve noticed a lot of unique-looking side-characters, which is also typical for Level-5.  Story-wise, however, I can tell that this is aimed at a much younger audience.  To put it bluntly, this is pretty obviously a “kids show.”  There are a lot of visual-based gags and slapstick humor here, and also the situations (so far) are pretty low-key and nonthreatening.  Still, I was very surprised at Jibanyan’s whole introduction.  Getting hit by a car, and coming back as a spirit because his owner said something mean… and then continuing to get hit by cars in the afterlife… I know it’s all played for laughs but man something about that is just surprisingly morbid.

This episode was divided into two individual parts, so I’m going to assume that future episodes will also be divided so (with each part being ~10 minutes each).  There’s not much indication of an overarching story as of yet, though it’s pretty obvious that Keita will be solving many more problems involving ghosts.  The “ghost medals” he earns are from befriending ghosts, and I’m assuming Keita will be able to summon ghosts with them, based on the OP.  It was around the time Jibanyan was introduced that it became much more obvious that this anime is sort of a marketing ploy to get kids to buy the game.  Did it work?  For me it did!  I hope that the game gets licensed and translated, as it seems like it would be a fun little rpg.  But I digress.

Not sure how to feel about the characters so far.  Honestly, the ghost characters have shown much more personality than the human characters in this episode.  Keita is a little bland though obviously kind-hearted.  Whisper is a pretty fun mascot who manages to be whimsical but not annoying (thankfully), and his voice actor is amazing.  Jibanyan… well, he’s cute and not too annoying either, at least.

Overall, it’s a cute, fun series but it really isn’t my thing.  It’s certainly got a ton of Level-5 charm, but the story feels a bit too “kiddy” for my liking.  Which is kind of hypocritical considering I’m a fan of MLP:FiM and the Precure series.  I guess it’s just that the tension/conflict is handled so differently here–After the initial surprise Keita isn’t even at all distressed about Whisper’s sudden appearance or him being a ghost; Keita’s parents have an argument over PUDDING of all things; and Keita and Whisper are way more upset at Jibanyan’s owner saying mean things about him than about the fact that Jibanyan actually DIED.  I just get the feeling they’re sugar-coating upsetting subjects a bit too much.  While this is perfectly fine given the audience they’re aiming this series at, like I said it just isn’t my thing.

Another reason I’m not very motivated to watch this is that I can already foresee this being a long-running series, and I sadly just don’t have the time for it.  I DO hope this series becomes popular among kids, though; as that means Level-5 might branch into doing some more anime in the future.  And with Level-5’s track record of making great series’ with wonderful characters, that is always a good thing.

Out of five:

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As someone who is addicted to blind-boxed trading figures… I feel you Keita.

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