「それ町」 (Sore Machi)
What started off as a regular episode with Hotori wrapped up in her antics transitioned into something that caught me completely off guard. Starting with the usual Hotori antics, she somehow thought it would be a good idea to combine a pen and a magnifying glass. In practice, it looks like Hotori’s version would be a bit large to hold in the hand. Plus who would want a huge magnifying glass in their face as they write? Of course the idea of combining those two items has already been created – in the form of a cheap pen with a small magnifying glass on the cap. Besides creating something that already exists, did I mention that Hotori butchered a Montblanc pen to create her penifyinglass? Bad puns aside, Montblanc is a really expensive brand name for really nice fountain pens. By expensive, I’m talking over hundreds of dollars for a single pen here. The look on Futaba’s face perfectly mirrored by own “What the heck were you thinking?” face.
Going home early from work, depressed after learning the origins of her newly butchered pen, Hotori decides to solve this in a way only she can – aiming for first place in a story writing competition. Somehow I can’t help but feel that Hotori let her inner feelings flow out into her writing. Starting with an island made out of Jelly, featuring the entire cast of the show, it sounds like just the kind of story Hotori would write. However, within minutes of docking Tatsuno gets murdered and Hotori is on the hunt to find the killer. After having Tatsuno killed off first and Moriaki praising her for her detective work, I still couldn’t figure out if Hotori is aiming to be praised by Moriaki or if she actually has feelings for him.
I have seen many different interpretations of what Heaven could actually be like, but I think Sore Machi’s version is the funniest I’ve ever seen. Once again, the angels who messed up with Maid-chou’s husband come and take Hotori. While these angels managed to grab the right person, they also managed to drop her off in the wrong spot. Dropping Hotori straight in front of the Egyptian’s portal to heaven. After a Japanese social worker manages to grab Hotori before Anubis took his wrath out on her, I couldn’t stop laughing at what Japanese heaven looked like. I thought it was pretty funny to see it represented as something like the DMV – lines, office workers in small cubicles, and more lines. In this heaven they also have the coolest arcades. They have sticker picture booths like we do, except these photo booths add those ghost type things to other people’s photos instead of words and effects to your own. I thought it was interesting seeing how some things like bunny ears cost more than a hand or a face. Explains why you never see pictures with things beside blurry wisps! Besides the photo booths, they also have these binoculars that give you a first person view of anywhere in the world.
I never expected to get emotional during Sore Machi, but watching everyone in Hotori’s life mourning for her death slowly got to me. Starting with Takeru and Yukiko trying to fight the tears, it just got worse. I never knew Tatsuno, Moriaki, and Matsuda ( the police officer) cared so much about Hotori, but it became pretty clear as all of them let the tears start flowing. As I watched everyone around Hotori mourn, the final nail in the coffin came as I watched Hotori’s father throw everything he had in his wallet into the offering tub at the temple, wishing for Hotori to recover. As Hotori finishes watching, she slowly acknowledges her death. It was pretty bittersweet watching her vow to work hard in the afterlife so she could afford to put bunny ears in everyone’s photos. Just as she comes to terms with the reality of her situation, the DMV-esque center of heaven calls Hotori to inform her she has the choice to return to the living world! As the workers of heaven literally drop her back onto earth, Hotori wakes up in-style at the hospital, bringing a happy end to a great series.
After a whole season of Sore Machi, I wish there were more episodes coming out. I know it’s been a bumpy ride and I’ll admit that the first few episodes didn’t impress me much. But as the weeks went by, I started looking forward to watching Hotori, Futaba, Maid-Chou, and even Tatsuno go through their antics each and every week. I’m sure that the humor in this series doesn’t mesh well with everyone, but I think just about anyone can sit down and watch this show. What I found pretty interesting is that this show pulls from random chapters each episode. It doesn’t go in sequential order and picks what content it chooses from each chapter. While it does create some small plot problems, like Futaba saying “this is where you work?” this episode even though her birthday was held at Seaside back in episode six, it allows SHAFT to spice things up each week. Even though SHAFT decided to pull from different chapters out of order, everything still feels like it flows well together. If you don’t even think about where in the timeline the episode comes from, I bet you probably wouldn’t even notice some of the inconsistencies.
Since Futaba was introduced back in episode three, I remember a point in time where I asked for SHAFT to show more Futaba. Lo and behold the next few episodes were just full of her. I don’t know if it was her small fang, short blonde hair, blue eyes, or her tomboy personality, but I know that after I first saw her, it was game over. Something about her character and her voice just captured me. It saddens me that her seiyuu Yazawa Rieka is a new one. The only listed role she has is as Futaba in Sore Machi! I hope that she gets more roles in the future, as she now holds a pretty large spot on my favorite seiyuu list. Besides Futaba’s seiyuu, I am also quite fond of Hotori’s seiyuu, Omigawa Chiaki. Back when I heard her in Soul Eater, I have never forgotten her unique voice. I consider myself pretty lucky to have caught her in Sore Machi. Seeing as how her list of roles is still pretty small, the only other place I remember hearing her was in Seitokai Yakuindomo as Mitsuba. The way she played Hotori in Sore Machi felt like it was a match made in heaven. Whenever there was scene where Hotori is whining or spouting out her ignorance or crying like a little kid, Chiaki’s squeaky voice just made it perfect.
All in all, I’d recommend Sore Machi to just about anyone. It’s easy to watch and brings on the laughs. While it isn’t Mitsudomoe funny, I think SHAFT’s take on it leaves a great impression. The jokes are still a little slapstick even to the point where some are pretty lame. But it’s not jokes that make the show funny; it’s the scenes and the situations that make each and every episode an enjoyable watch. One of the funniest running jokes is probably Moriaki and Hotori’s relationship with each other. From Moriaki being inches away from strangling Hotori at times, whether it’s her atrocious math skills or her crazy personality, it’s even funnier to see that Hotori take all of it with a grain of salt since she has a crush on him. To things like Eroyuki ruining his impression with Hotori, Hotori indirectly ruining two people’s birthdays at once, or whenever Futaba gets on screen. You can never go wrong with Futaba Kon. It’s this type of spontaneous humor (or futaba overdose) which makes Sore Machi, Sore Machi.