LEVEL E – 01
「An alien on the planet」
I had a feeling that Togashi Yoshihiro’s decade-old sci-fi comedy would be in the running for the funniest show of the new year, and after this first episode had me laughing just as much as the manga I skimmed through, I’m starting to think it may just come out on top. While Mitsudomoe Zouryouchuu and Kore wa Zombie Desu ka bring the slapstick laughs, LEVEL E focuses on humor of the deadpan variety, and I like it! In combination with the old school and more realistically proportioned character designs that I grew up watching, the high definition treatment that this thirteen-year-old series is getting from Studio Pierrot and David Production makes it come off as a renewal project of sorts. Quite frankly, I would’ve settled for much lesser production values since I enjoy the content that much, but I do appreciate getting to see first-year high school student Tsutsui Yukitaka (Hosoya Yoshimasa) on the verge of suffering an aneurysm in HD.
Much like I mentioned in the Winter 2011 Preview, the premise revolves around the peaceful coexistence of aliens species on Earth without the knowledge of humans, centering on one of the brightest minds in the universe, Prince Baka Ki El Dogra (Namikawa Daisuke), in his ongoing quest to make aspiring baseball player Yukitaka suffer from said aneurysm. Well, not really, but “Prince’s” problematic personality leads me to believe as much, after he crash lands on Earth, loses his memories, and decides to make himself at home at Yukitaka’s apartment. The end result is one smart-ass alien taking a lot of enjoyment from preying on a poor teenager who was hoping to start his lively high school days with the cute Edogawa Miho (Akesaka Satomi) next door, which the sarcastic jerk within me loved every minute of. From guilt-tripping Yukitaka to making a mockery of his conversation with Miho, this is my kind of humor. Yukitaka’s outbursts definitely help drive a lot of it, which was amusing in its own way since he sounded a lot like Yoshimasa’s portrayal of Shichika in Katanagatari when he was calm, yet spent the majority of the episode screaming his head off. I was really looking forward to hearing his reactions to Prince’s ridicule, and he really surprised me with a voice that’s really well-suited for comedies. All that reiterated to me is how I’d like to see him in more starring roles in the future. For a very different reason is Satomi, whose normal voice for Miho makes it difficult to picture her playing Futaba in Mitsudomoe.
Anyway, if dry humor is your thing like it is mine, then there’s more to look forward to next time when Prince’s bodyguard Captain Kraft (Koyasu Takehito) comes looking for him. The decision to leave off with a cliffhanger where Prince shows his supposed true form worked surprisingly well, given the serious tension that filled the room. Having read a bit further in the manga than what was shown, I’m already anticipating the fallout to that revelation and Yukitaka’s reaction. For whatever reason, I didn’t mark this series down as a guaranteed watch in the season preview, but I probably should have since I was pretty sold on the chapters I skimmed through. This first episode only reaffirmed that sentiment, as I was laughing more at stuff I already knew was coming. To me, everything’s just better animated and LEVEL E is quickly shaping up to be my favorite comedy of the season because of it. It looks like Mitsudomoe’s got competition.
* For those wondering why Nakagawa Shouko was featured in the PV, she’s slated to play Prince’s fiancee, Luna Mi Mad Magra.