Review by: Brenda Gregson
Publisher: Sentai Filmworks
MSRP: $49.98 US
Running Time: 300 minutes
Rating: TV PG
Release Date: Available Now
As the saying goes, you should not judge a book by its cover and that also applies to places as well seeing as they too have the ability to surprise you. Let’s take the Seaside Maid Café somewhere in a Tokyo prefecture, for instance. It’s not fancy nor does it have a collection of lovely “maids” ready to serve you Earl Grey tea in the proper maid fashion but you will find a charming and very amusing place in a town you will find equally enchanting in the Complete Collection of And Yet the Town Moves.
As I mentioned, the Seaside Maid Café isn’t luxurious nor does it contain anything a real maid café would have but it does have an elderly woman in a maid’s outfit (who they all call Granny) and a pigeon-toed girl with puffy cheeks who livens up the place. Her name is Hotori Arashiyama who attends Oya High School but isn’t much of a student. In fact, through her awful math score, constant tardiness and other academic blunders she is unintentionally giving her poor math teacher, Moriaki-sensei, a stomach ulcer.
However, the maid café does see some business, particularly from Hotori’s classmate, Sanada Hiroyuki who frequents the place just to be near Hotori. Of course, Sanada can’t quite bring himself to confess his feelings for the homely girl but he’s the kind of guy who is willing to wait for the right time even if it takes forever. Meanwhile, Hotori invites her two classmates – the sexy tsundere named Toshiko Tatsuno and the table tennis prodigy named Haribara.
It is Toshiko who freaks out when she sees the state of the maid café. To her this is more than just a disappoint but rather an insult to all maid cafés. Granny offers her a place in the café since she seems to know the business better than she does or Hotori put together and she’s reluctant to take the job until she hears that Sanada practically haunts the place. You see, while Sanada is in love with Hotori it is Toshiko who is in love with Sanada. Hotori, on the other hand, is in love with somebody that certainly wouldn’t qualify as a good match … or an appropriate one. With nobody being able to confess their love for each another, the Seaside Maid Café has officially become a lot more interesting.
While Toshiko is trying to muster up the courage to confess her love to Sanada, she also finds herself trying to keep Hotori from ruining her job as a maid in the café. In Japan, students just can’t get jobs without the consent of not only their parents but also the school and -thanks to Hotori’s big mouth – Moriaki-sensei finds out about them working at the café and puts their skills to the test. Could they win him over with their Maid Jutsu? As a result, Moriaki-sensei becomes something of a regular but mainly because he is baffled by Hotori’s surprisingly rational logic.
Then again, Hotori is the kind of girl who often finds herself in trouble, whether it’s accidentally ramming a motorized scooter into Officer Junsaku’s family jewels or pissing the poor police officer again by posting arrows all over town for people to find the maid café. Meanwhile, her math tests are so horrible that Moriaki-sensei considers her his enemy much in the same way he once declared his own grade school teacher as his enemy.
At one point, Hotori meets who he thinks is a cute blonde boy but finds out – to her surprise – that the blonde is really a girl named Futuba Kon … a rather tomboyish girl who lives on her own and just so happens to be a talented musician. A friendship develops between Hotori, Futuba and Toshiko and the girls (along with Haribara) perform a rock tune during a school festival.
While the series keeps its attention fixed on Hotori, the series also allows us to get to know the others characters so we find out a little more about the reserved Futuba as well as Sanada. However, one of the best characters in the series also happens to be the town itself, particularly its residents that make it fun. For instance, we meet the pretty proprietor of an antique shop who makes a killing from selling and re-selling a simple pot from a married couple having a spat. There’s even an old man who nobody but animals could see and this is for a very interesting reason.
We even get a peek into the lives of Hotori’s family, particularly her little brother Takeru who – to his surprise – finds the school’s mean girl wanting to spend a day hanging out with him. He doesn’t really agree but she hangs out with him anyway as the boy attempts to not only avoid his friends but also keep himself from liking the girl who so obviously likes him. There’s even a story connected to Moriaki-sensei and a student who fell in love with him.
The comedy in the series is genuinely comical and, at times, can get crazy but in the best possible way. For instance, when perfectly round holes are inexplicably found in the town, it is Hotori who tells Futuba that she fired an alien ray gun she found as well as come face-to-face with two battling aliens. It is through Hotori, Futuba and Toshiko that we also discover the wonders of vending machine food, experience a serious game of table tennis and – in Sanada’s case – make a dream come true by spending the day with the girl he loves. There are also plenty of sight gags scattered throughout so you’ll be thankful for the on-screen text that explains the wordplay or visuals gags.
It is these little things that make And Yet the Town Moves such an endearing 12-episode series and it is Hotori that will not fail to put a smile on your face or make you laugh aloud. She may not be the prettiest or the smartest but her ability to brighten a place up or cause trouble makes her fun to watch. How can you not like a girl who is so totally oblivious and clumsy that she creates chaos around her?
Simply put, And Yet the Town Moves delivers an over-the-top funny series that never overstays its welcome to the point that you will wish it were longer. It’s hard not to love a series with endearing characters, lovely animation and a sense of humor that is just as charming as the characters. On top of that, the stories are just too much fun. If you liked Working! you will find yourself falling in love with And Yet the Town Moves, believe me.
DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN
In a quiet yet fascinating little town, a rather lackluster little maid café can be found but an oblivious yet quirky high school girl named Hotori gives it life as does her friend, Toshiko, who becomes a maid to catch the eye of the boy secretly in love with Hotori. How will they ever deal with space aliens, a near death experience, Officer Junsaku and a tough-as-nails rocker classmate
VIDEO QUALITY: A
The animation in the series is actually quite stunning and delightfully colorful to the point that you wish it were released on Blu-ray. Whether it’s the charming character design or the gorgeous backgrounds, this series is definitely easy on the eyes. There are also plenty of sneeze-and-you-miss-them sight gags.
AUDIO QUALITY: A
There’s no English dub to be found but you will certainly not be disappointed with the voice acting in the series whether it’s Chiaki Omigawa delightful performance as Hotori or Aoi Yuki or Miyu Irino just to name a few excellent voice actors. The best performance comes from Rieka Yazawa who has a rocking voice as we can see from one episode. As for the music, the original score is great and the opening theme song from Maaya Sakamoto is brilliant. My personal favorite, however, is the closing theme song “Maids Sanjou!” by the Maids (AKA the main female cast).
All you will find are a few Sentai Filmworks trailers and the clean opening and closing theme songs so not much in terms of extras here.
The Complete Collection of And Yet the Town Moves is a genuine slice of comedy bliss that will make you wish it lasted a lot longer than just 12-episodes. In fact, by the end you’ll be craving a large second helping of what these maids serve up so if you have been waiting for an anime comedy series that will not fail to make you laugh out loud then this is one collection you need to buy right away.
Review copy provided by Sentai Filmworks