Wow I sure did review two shows with unnecessarily long titles in a row

For a show about science, it sure has good looking food

Mari, the daughter of a patissier and a frequently absent scientist, lives a normal middle school life with her friend Waka. One day, Waka’s crush, Futa, is hit in the chest with a baseball and goes into cardiac arrest. Waka’s older brother Shun saves him using an AED.

While reading a book of Shun’s called “Magnets and Electricity,” the pendant Mari got from her father activates and she vanishes. She arrives in London in the year 1600 and meets the doctor and scientist William Gilbert. Back in the present, Shun and Waka try to solve the mystery of her disappearance, and Shun reveals he got that particular book from Mari’s father.

Gilbert tells Mari about a “scientist from the Orient” he met once, and Mari theorizes that it is her father, who has been missing for three years.  He also tells her of his research into why compasses always point north, and offers to let her help out.

Waka and Shun break into Mari’s father’s lab in hopes of finding more clues to Mari’s location. However, a mysterious man sees the lights on in his lab and immediately begins preparations to capture who he believes to be Mari’s returned father.

“My crush almost died? TIME TO MAKE HIM A CAKE”

I was interested in this show both because I like time travel narratives and because I was intrigued by the concept of an anime based on an educational children’s book. That’s not something you see frequently – especially because the book that inspired this series was written in the 1980s.

Mari Waka definitely does not skimp on the educational content. Gilbert’s explanation of his research, while brief, is interesting, as is the “science corner” after the credits where Mari’s father explains the topic in more detail. I’m also impressed with the choice of some less well-known scientists – I’d heard of Gilbert, but I still had to look up more information about his research and discoveries. So definite props to Mari Waka for actually making me want to learn more about the scientific topics it covers.

MODERN GIRLS’ CLOTHING IS SO INAPPROPRIATE GUYS DID YOU KNOW THAT IT’S -INAPPROPRIATE- grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

However, unfortunately, this episode also had a number of flaws. The scene with Shun and Futa definitely dragged out the episode a lot, and seemed unneccessary filler that just made the actual time travel happen later in the episode. I got pretty impatient waiting for that scene to be over. It was also very weirdly paced – it went rather abruptly from “let’s make a cake for Futa’s birthday” to “OH NO FUTA IS IN CARDIAC ARREST.” I understand that the scene was meant to introduce the show’s “magnetism/electricity” theme, but….I feel that could have been done a little better. Somehow that part managed to be both rushed/frantic and slow/boring, which is an impressive but not positive achivement.

My other major issue with Mari Waka was the art style. The present day characters are all animated in a very “old school” style, with huge eyes and pointy hairstyles. I get that this is probably meant to invoke a “retro” feel tying in to the original book being from the 80s, but I have to admit Mari looking like an illustration from some bargain “How to Draw Manga” guide consistently bothered me throughout the episode. Luckily, the more realistic design of the scenes set in the past was much nicer to look at (though it did make Mari’s early-2000s-shounen-anime design stand out more). The designs of the scientists, seen in the opening, was pretty interesting as well – despite there being 8 of them, there’s no “sameface” and they all look distinctively different from each other.

Gains points for being genuinely educational and interesting, loses them for the above-mentioned issues and pulling out the perenially unfunny time travel joke of “girl ends up in the past, people are scandalized at her ‘obscene’ clothing”. Out of 5 Dios:

diodio

Gilbert seems way too chill about this revelation

 

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