Risky / Safety
Or more fully Omishi Magic Theatre presents : Risky/Safety. This interesting title has many elements, a shoujo-ish fascination with character and large helpings of cute but rounds it out with some traces of depth and complexity.
The story is also wonderfully low key. Beginning with a young girl alone in her room. Clearly something has saddened her, and the ambience of depression and dejection is almost palpable, helped by the rain and gloom outside her second story window. In fact it must be even more intense than she realizes, because she eventually notices a trail of tiny puddles leading from the window to her desk. And on the desk a cute doll-like figure is attempting to dry out. It turns out that she has been visited by a god of death who has come to ease her suffering by killing her and claiming her soul. Admittedly this god of death, actually an apprentice, is about 3 inches tall (complete with miniature scythe) and has an attitude more like a rebellious teenager than a god of death. And he's not amused that the female find's him cute, his antics amusing and his company welcome...despite his best efforts to carry out his mission.
Things become more complex when it turns out that risky, this tiny god of death, is actually sharing a body. And when his efforts to depress Mai fail, and her character re-asserts itself, we discover that risky's other half is the apprentice angel safety. She's much more friendly but not much more competent and probably even less perceptive. The two of them swap possession of the body based on how much good fortune and positive thoughts are in the area at a time. Considering how different they are, and their objectives, this largely guarantee's failure at anything they attempt. Still, it seems they agree on one thing, they both seem to quite like the female...to the extent that she's now got a permanent, but very weird, pair of companions. Of course they're always on the lookout to claim/save souls, so the leads life becomes substantially more complex.
It's a real mix of elements and by and large it works. There's a very real sense of skill to it and the episodes are quite addictive. However let's give some of the negatives first. The reason it has the longer title is because it's probably only one part of a larger show. This is made obvious because the episodes are a mere 10 minutes long. While this is not quite as bad as it sounds given the absence of long intro and end songs, and a willingness to have multiple episode stories, it does have a constricting effect on how the story works. This steals from the depth the show seems eminently capable of achieving. Then again, it looks like this is how the `client' wanted it. There's trite little intro's to each episode, giving cliche homilies, that are also an attempt to defuse and reduce the depth and power of the story. After all, the essence is an angel and a spirit of death fighting for the soul of a distraught young person (generally female, apparently males don't have interesting problems).
Still, it has no shortage of strengths. It's novel and imaginative and the stories are well written. Not brilliant mind you, the many elements can confuse and the stories are familiar, even a bit cliche, but they still have a fair amount of power. These are enhanced by some brilliantly defined and expressed characters. The self doubt of the lead, safety's helpless good nature and the spiky, rebellious but also lonely risky are all excellent while also being entertaining. The mixture of cute, while containing also complexity and power (for all three characters) is awfully impressive. And the way in which all three relate to the focus of the story, and the actions of the other, is also good. It's really suprisingly focused, well written and skillfully produced.
Indeed even the animation itself is very fitting. It's not super flashy, CGI enhanced stuff. In fact it feels a lot like a modern shoujo animation with sombre, simple coloring and restrained palette. But there is a great sense of character and ambience as well as effects such as rain, fire and motion. This is especially true for riskey and safety, who are just wonderful to watch. There's also an amazingly rich sense of observation, fine detail like the leads glasses, habit of playing with her hair, or risky's need for glasses is depicted with impressive and unexpected skill. This also extends into the voices, which are strongly matched to the character. Although safeties voice can be a touch grating. And, as expected, the music shows similar depth and care, with good music and character ambience sounds (especially for risky) which really enhance the production.
None of my sources have a review (yet) for this title