Asobi ni Iku yo! – 01
「ちきうにおちてきたねこ」 (Chikiu ni Ochita Kita Neko)
“The Cat That Fell to Earth”
For a science fiction series, I probably should have mentioned back in the season preview that there’s more to this one than a beautiful alien catgirl falling into the lap of our unassuming male protagonist Kakazu Kio (Tamura Mutsumi). While that’s more or less how things begin, there are government agencies aware of the existence of extraterrestrials and illegal organizations bent on having their own way as well, making things extend beyond a simple harem series. The pattern generally seen in harems is a lighthearted fan-service-filled progression for the majority of the series before concluding around some conflict that comes up in the last few episodes. Here, it’s a bit different since problems arise almost immediately upon Elice‘s (Itou Kanae) arrival.
The fan-service was prevalent as expected, but Kio’s childhood friend Kinjou Manami (Tomatsu Haruka) has already begun spying on Elice and reporting her findings back to the CIA. Her father happens to be a real CIA agent and she’s aspiring to become one, hence her whole semi-amateurish attempt to prove herself. Incidentally, she also happens to be a gun fanatic of sorts and possesses a complete arsenal of weaponry in her very room. Upon seeing her covert op, I was somewhat surprised to see Kio’s own childhood friend more or less sell him out, but what’s even more alarming is his teacher/club advisor Itokazu Maki (Hirata Hiromi), who’s a member of some organization called “Beautiful Contact”. Judging from her online interactions with the other members, their purpose seems to be disposing aliens deemed too unsightly to be recorded in history as humanity’s first contact with another race. She immediately reports that Elice’s “Cathia” race as unfit due to how she speaks fluent Japanese, which is a dumb reason that they’re actually serious about it, as seen by the firearms they’re packing to get rid of her. Given their objective, Beautiful Contact seems like a zealous cult more than anything else.
To further compound problems, there’s Kio’s classmate Futaba Aoi (Hanazawa Kana), who seems to have romantic feelings for him but is actually a member of the special branch of the Japanese immigration office. She possesses the unique ability to warp in weaponry as needed and is dispatched on missions that range from dealing with oversea smugglers (as seen in the action-packed opening scenes) to eliminating alien threats and those who harbor them. What’s more, she’s like a completely different person when it comes to business, so much that she’ll scare the crap out of her messenger for making remarks about her and Kio. She apparently has the uncanny ability to come out of any situation alive and unscathed too, earning her the nickname “Akuuon Momiji” 「悪運紅葉」 that’s feared by many. “Akuuon” means “bad luck” (for those who cross her path), whereas “Momiji” describes the color of leaves changing in fall (like being dyed in blood I suppose). Her latest assignment turns out to be Elice and Kio, which puts her in a clearly difficult predicament. So with that, Kio is up against three different parties that he’s completely oblivious about at the moment.
Looking back, it’s surprisingly how much was revealed in the very first episode right after Elice’s arrival to study Earth, but it was a nice change from what I’m normally accustomed to given the series’ premise. I originally compared this series to Sora no Otoshimono (which is getting a sequel this fall by the way) and still feel that it has some similarities. One notable difference is that things pick up very quickly here in comparison, with a lot of the main characters such as Aoi and Manami at odds with Kio to start. It’s very reminiscent of Nymph‘s situation, whose seiyuu Nomizu Iori plays Elice’s spaceship’s AI, Rulos, as well as a yet to be introduced character named Antonia. Another difference is that there’s a lot happening concurrently, so much that some of the details I pointed out above were only hinted at. As such, I couldn’t help but wonder if this rampant pacing is intentional, especially considering how there are still a bunch of characters to be introduced — including aliens from other planets — and it’s been said that this adaptation will only be 13 episodes long.
I question how well the story will turn out at this point, but given all the action I wasn’t expecting, the inclusion of multiple organizations out to capture or dispose of aliens, and the absolutely beautiful character designs and animation by AIC PLUS+, I’m seeing this one through to the end like I was planning. The cast is chock-full of a lot of my favorite seiyuu, plus it looks like they’re cycling character songs for the ending themes. The first one is Aoi’s, which is a pretty good song by Hanazawa Kana, though I doubt anything will live up to popularity of “Renai Circulation” in Bakemonogatari. Heroine-wise, Itou Kanae is fresh off of Mayoi Neko Overrun and back in another cat related series, bringing along another really cute voice for Elice. Horie Yui and Inoue Kikuko from the “forever 17 year-old club” make appearances as well, in addition to the other three members of seiyuu group sphere — Toyosaki Aki, Kotobuki Minako, Takagaki Ayahi — who perform the opening theme that wasn’t included in this premiere episode.
Overall, this series is right up my alley as something I can sit back and enjoy, but it’s not one I can make a recommendation about until I know how it turns out. Much like I indicated in the Summer 2010 Schedule, this is another show I plan on watching this season but won’t be covering in my ongoing attempt to cut back on the number of shows I blog. Crunchyroll has secured rights to simulcast it, but it won’t be starting until July 15th — five days after the earliest television broadcast.