This is review number one hundred and sixty three. This is part of the Winter 2011 lineup. It’s Level E. This show is the biggest surprise of the lineup for me. I’ve already seen Madoka so I was pleasantly shocked by this one. It’s a thirteen episode anime about aliens living on Earth. Let’s read on.
Presently, there are hundreds of alien species coming and going, living their lives on Earth.
There are species that comes in peace, aggressive and warlike species, and species on the brink of extinction. All kinds of alien species, from the level of international intrigue, to individual crimes, to research, with a kaleidoscope of different goals and the only ones who don’t realize this….
Are us, the humans!
Taking the Pants Off
I don’t really know what to make of this show when I first heard of it. What the hell is Level E and why is there a naked dude in space on every promo picture of this anime. It was certainly interesting. At first I thought it’d be like a Silver Surfer kind of planet destroyer sci fi anime or whatever. The funny thing is that I’m only half right. This show is incredible. I rarely see anime with really good story that it effortlessly unfolds massive twists and surprise while keeping you guessing at how certain events will end. The writing of this anime is incredible and I cannot freaking believe it came from the mind of the guy who created Yu Yu Hakusho and Hunter X Hunter. I knew that guy is brilliant but I always felt he was good at Shounen. I never expected his career actually consists of different works spanning different genre. It’s incredible. I’m in love with this guy all over again.
The anime is about aliens. It’s a simple concept and something that feels very familiar. There are aliens on Earth. Some of them are good while others are bad. The show consists of different stories about humans and aliens. The show has different stories to them that involve a lot of characters. The one thing these individual stories have in common is that it features one recurring character, the prince of a planet called Dogura, named Baka. The stories range from simple aliens-terrorizing-humans kind of story to Twilight Zone-esque kind of supernatural stories and it even branches out to some more complex kind that makes the show pretty enjoyable. The show will keep you guessing and it will surprise you in ways you never expect the story will go to.
All the stories are usually about aliens but there is a wide range of things told in the individual stories of the anime. Despite the stories often being one to three episodes long, there were a lot told and done in that short amount of time. The beautiful thing about the anime is that you’ll never know what you’re getting in the stories. There is the typical dark themed kind of stories but there are also comedic stories about alien encounters and romantic ones and even dramatic ones that really make the anime pretty incredible. The stories never seem to be stable. They often change shape or slowly plunge in another direction at a moment’s notice. A scary story about school kids suspecting their teacher of being an alien would suddenly turn into a story about the same kids playing a real life RPG game. None of the stories are predictable and you often lose yourself at the kind of surprises the anime have. I love that about this anime. There is no way you can be a step ahead of it because the execution of the twists is flawless and original.
The Sci Fi aspects of the anime are pretty great. The backstories about the aliens featured are pretty inspired. From aliens that go into comas to pretend to be dead to aliens that wipes out other species by sleeping with them, the aliens in the anime looks familiar but there is a lot of interesting things about them that makes them stand out. The stories usually take advantage of these unique traits by the aliens and make a story out of it. Some are really imaginative and they never felt weird in anyway. I think it’s the fact that we’ve embraced the ideas of aliens and weird customs but I just really admire how the aliens are featured in the anime.
All the stories in the anime have their own pace to them and they are pretty different but they all share one common theme. It has this theme of “things aren’t what they appear to be” that seems to be a common subject in the anime. I love how the anime painted some aliens in a pretty convincing light only to have the story unfold that they aren’t actually what you perceive them to be. Perhaps the best example is the main character that seems to be inconsistent in every move he make. It’s also part of why the anime is so great. It keeps you guessing and once you’ve adapted to the unpredictable nature of the anime thinking you can predict how the rest of the stories unfold, it just keeps getting better. For someone like me who loves story in an anime above all else, this show has crafted a pretty masterful one.
The characters in the anime are pretty great. Both the recurring and the one shot characters are nicely presented. For the one off characters, they all have a precise role to the story and they really play their part well. You’d think having a lot of characters would be confusing but the anime tries to have a small cast at every story. The group dynamic among the one off characters is what makes them pretty memorable. There is always a stand-up guy who speaks for the rest, a tough guy who brushes off the idea of aliens, the cowardly one and the middle kind that just stays in the sidelines. Even with a big group, these four tropes are often utilized to help the story move along. The characters really do a lot to the story since most are told in their perspective. Some twists are cleverly hidden because the stories are told in the character’s pace.
The recurring ones really aren’t that different from the one off. I’m personally a bit surprise to see some characters appear in the story again. They’re still one dimensional and they only serve to make the story much better. Prince Baka (it’s his real name. Baka Ki El Dogra) is probably the most impressionable. He loves manipulating people and he often toy with them simply because it’s fun. I’m with the rest of the people that complain when you often found yourself hating Baka because he is just so evil but the show never meant for him to be more than so. He is super smart though and dangerously sneaky where you can just never predict how he thinks.
The rest of the recurring cast is his bodyguards. The Captain is really well done. He has lived all his life being a toy for Baka and he loses his insanity bit by bit as problems keep arising because of the prince. There is also the guy introduced at the first episode. Tsutsui is a baseball prodigy that first met the prince. He has a love-hate relationship with the bastard that I wish the anime had more of. He got little role as the anime progresses so I was a bit disappointed by that.
The Sci Fi elements of the anime were pretty good but the thing that really sets this one apart from other alien shows is that it has Comedy in it. The brand of humor in the anime is nicely incorporated to the story. Some of them are overused like the random personality of Baka or the constant overreaction of Tsutsui but some of the Comedy in the anime often comes from nowhere. A character would just be speaking and something funny would happen. Some crucial part of some the stories also has some humor nicely woven between the folds. The anime often make light of some of the moments but the deadly implications of the story is present. So you’re laughing your ass off while the Captain chases after this alien but you also know that if he doesn’t catch her then the human race would go extinct. Some of the humor in the anime is also a bit dark. Since you’re never really prepared for the joke until the show presents it, you’re often not really thinking much about it. There was a scene where an innocent human got stuffed in a trash can with a pretty horrifying look on his face that I personally can’t stop laughing at.
This is an amazing show. I want more of it to be honest. Everything about this show is just so wonderful. From the brilliantly told stories to the unpredictable twists to the characters themselves, there is just a lot to love in this anime. I will admit though that some of the stories didn’t have as much punch as the better ones but they are all still nicely conceived. You don’t see a lot of great story in anime and Level E is definitely one of them.
Sight and Sound
The character design is familiar. If you’ve seen Yu Yu Hakusho or Hunter X Hunter then you’d recognize some of the faces in the anime. There is a wide range of character types in the anime though. There are the typical hot/pretty characters but then there also some pretty cartoonish ones. Again, if you’ve seen the two shows the author is known for then you’d know just how many characters are introduced in them combined. There is flexibility in the designs. Even a crowd scene, characters have their own unique design. I love the familiar ones though because some I’m pretty attached to some of the characters of Yu Yu and HxH.
The designs in the aliens are also pretty nice. They really went wild in some of them while others retain a human form while having alien characteristics. They also range from conventional alien types to some pretty outlandish ones but they all look nicely conceived. The spaceships are also nicely designed. They have an extra-terrestrial look to them that has a lot of details if you look up close. The nice mix of CG in the aliens and the ships are also nicely incorporated.
The animation is pretty awesome. The movements of the characters are all smooth and the animation was able to enhance a lot of the scenes in the anime. There were some pretty grim scenes in the anime and the scene was really frightening. There were also some pretty comedic ones that the animation was able to present as really lighthearted. There aren’t a lot of fight scenes but the ones the anime had are also nicely made. Some of the punches in the anime are pretty nice and the movement was smooth.
The anime’s OP is “Cold Finger Girl” by Chiaki Kuriyama. This was the girl with a ball of chain in Kill Bill. That’s pretty awesome, isn’t? The song itself is pretty cool. It has a catchy beat and the jazz appeal of the song was pretty awesome. Chiaki’s voice sounds so mature and I love how it nicely stands out. The OP sequence features a lot of bright colors and comic inspired scenes with dark streets and a western feel to it. It just has Baka and a bunch of aliens as if the anime was telling us that Baka is an alien hunter or something. It is pretty misleading but it’s cool. It’s like Trigun’s OP but that is definitely much cooler.
The anime’s ED is “Yume~Mugen no Kanata~” by ViViD. It’s a really nice Jrock song and I love the singer’s voice. It nicely stands out with the loud beat of the song. The ED sequence feature UFOs caught by video or photo and Baka just looking up in the sky. It’s a pretty cool sequence because the videos all look pretty amateurish as if it was actually a real alien sighting.
8/10 “The anime never runs out of surprises that makes the execution of the elements absolutely flawless.”
This is an awesome song. It’s probably the low expectation coupled by the amazing story of the anime that I can’t get enough of it. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it too. It’s just so amazingly presented that it nicely stands out in a sea of predictable anime we’ve come and known. I highly recommend it.