by John Schlosser
It is the mid-1800’s and the city of Edo is suffering under the rulership of a harsh magistrate. A series of bans on all luxuries is making the people miserable and angry. Naturally such ostentatious displays as fireworks are number one on the list of banned items, but that isn’t stopping Seikichi Tamaya. Determined to defy the ban (and the magistrate), Tamaya is still carrying out test runs of his latest fireworks. Then, just as his latest and most spectacular display really lands him in hot water with the official, a ditzy girl (literally with stars in her eyes) show up on his doorstep, wanting him to build a firework that will reach the moon.
This tour-de-force period piece from Studio Madhouse is one of the funniest things to come down the pike in a while. The fourth wall takes a merciless beating and slapstick antics and ludicrous anachronisms are the order of the day.
At the same time, there is a dark side. The story of the magistrate (who has his own mysterious visitor) is dark, twisted, and tragic.
Of course, the majority of the plot concerns the building of the rocket. Since this is a historical piece (sort of) we are treated to a slapstick history of rocketry.
The series has its odd parts, most notably the musical episode where the entire cast has been inexplicably turned into cats. One of the secondary characters is lost about halfway through the series (there was a scheduling conflict with the original voice actor) and his character becomes a bird.
In short, if you like historical pieces like Inu-yasha or Ruroni Kenshin; or if you’re just into big rockets (Wings of Honneamise) and slapstick comedy, then this is the anime for you.
By the way, the theme song: Oh Edo Nagareboshi IV is one of the funniest things in years.