Level E – First Impression

Level E

I was persuaded to try the first episode of Level E after watching miscanime’s preliminary review of the 2011 Winter season.  As it’s pretty much the only show this season for which he showed a positive response, I went into the episode with high expectations.  While it doesn’t oust my forerunner favorite, Fractale, it definitely does not disappoint.

The Premise
On the surface, this anime looks pretty ordinary: high school students, potential romance, new guy in school, and baseball (I’m also currently watching Cross Game, which I am thoroughly enjoying despite my disinterest in the actual sport).  The art is nicely drawn, with smooth animation.  So far, so ordinary Joe.  Tsutsui Yukitaka transfers into Kisaragi High School on a baseball scholarship.  His pleasant good looks and easy going manner are again, nothing new.  Our first hint of the strange (with the exception of the opening credits) occurs at at the stop light, when two deadpan-faced boys stare into the taxi where Yukitaka sits.  I end up feeling just as uncomfortable and weirded out as our protagonist, which is a good step towards liking and sympathizing with the character.

Who are you?

Upon entering his new home, Yukitaka discovers that a stranger has intruded upon both his property and his personal belongings.  The stranger claims that he is an alien who crash landed his pod nearby, and that he suffers from memory loss.  Can you blame Yukitaka for not believing him? After several mishaps leave Yukitaka no choice but to believe in the stranger’s otherness, Yukitaka allows the “alien” to stay in his apartment for the remainder of the first episode.

Magical appearance of puppet show romance!

A large part of what makes this show so fresh is its use of manzai: traditional Japanese comedy featuring two actors, the funny man (“boke”) and the straight man (“tsukkomi”).  While manzai has been around for quite a while and is used frequently in comedic anime, its presence in Level E works well due to the pacing and execution of the humor.  Yukitaka plays the straight man, who’s constantly exasperated by the stranger’s funny man acts.  The much used harisen (large paper fan used to smack the boke) may be absent, but the silliness of the jokes hits well.

What lies beneath...

What I’m most curious about is how Level E will remark on the inevitable xenophobia towards the alien.  He may look human on the outside, but his otherworldly abilities of strength and regeneration and the revealed nature of his being are sure to spark scientific fascination and public revulsion.  I’m interested to see how Yukitaka will handle the knowledge of the alien’s true form and whether or not he will be able to keep himself from exhibiting the disgust that was on his face as the first episode closed.

Come aliiiiiiiiive!

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5 thoughts on “Level E – First Impression

  1. I’m not too familiar with “manzai”, but they sound silly, which is completely up my alley in Anime. I prefer shows that utilizes the strength of Anime’s medium, and these manzai characters sound like just that.

  2. lol I actually saw that you planned to watch this on MAL and went ahead and watched the first two episodes of this because I figured you would be blogging about it soon. I have to admit this really pleasantly surprised me. I didn’t really know what to expect going into it. The comedy in this has a kind of old school feel to me, but it works. The little E.T. moment made me actually laugh out loud which I don’t do often.

    The second episode keeps things going nicely and I already think there is going to be a pattern of how each episode ends and is then tied into the next episode, but I don’t think I’ll ruin that for you.

    • @Sweet Tooth– You’ll have to tell me what you think of the comedy in Level E if you ever try it out. I’m planning on just collecting all the episodes before watching it, since I’m already following 5 airing shows.

      @Dragonymos–It’s funny, cuz I saw you had watched 2 episodes before I actually began my blog post on the first. I thought, “Eh, too bad I can’t put another entry on his list…” :p I guess you caught me in between having seen the 1st episode and getting around to blogging about it!

  3. Well technically you did put a new one one my list with this one. Actually puts me up to seven currently running anime. I saw you mentioned that you are watching 5 so I checked the ones you are watching and it might not be good for me. At least two of them are on a second season so even if you make them sound great I can put them off and of course you already got me watching Fractale. That still leaves two.

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