Jan 122011

Level E’s first episode is easily the best of the new season. While Madoka’s pretty snazzy, Wolverine’s solid, and a few others seem tentatively interesting, none of them were as fucking fun as Level E. And given everything else that I’ve heard is coming out this season and the rest of the year, I’m gonna make a bold prediction:

Level E is gonna be this year’s best anime series.

We’ll see if that holds up. It it doesn’t, I’m down with that. I’m cool with being wrong. But yeah, y’all should know me by now. I’m also down with the ridiculous proclamations.

There’s some obvious things to say about Level E. Comparing it to Occult Academy seems to come to mind right off the bat, what with the matter-of-fact way it deals with aliens and shit. Aliens are here, humans don’t know, deal with it dudes. I liked that attitude in Occult Academy and I obviously love it in Level E. Ghostbusters and Men in Black and blahblah let’s play comparative anime literature bullshit. The sense of humor’s a bit more outright slapstickish and anime-like, but it pulls it off pretty well. Digging those Alien Muppets. Maybe they’ll bust out into a rendition of Mahna Mahna or something.

But yeah, the main thing that stuck out at me about the first episode is how it mirrored the way your typical Magical Girlfriend series begins. In those sorts of series, some girl with special powers essentially forces her way into a dude’s home, shows off her mystical goods in one way or another, and riles up the dude’s life by dragging him into her world. Whether it’s Ah! My Goddess or Video Girl Ai or the rather shitty Kore Wa Zombie (Damn, Zombie, way to ruin a lot of stuff that looked awesome on paper!), they all play off of that initial formula.

Level E seems to be using that formula as well. Dude moves into a new town. He finds another dude that’s intruding upon his apartment. Dude turns out to be a space slug in pretty boy drag with magical druid tree-hugging healing powers. Main dude is on the verge of being dragged into a world of men in black and alien-dissecting scientists and evil spy parrots. The main dude even develops some sympathy for the space invader. It may not be the full-on hard-on that the dudes get for the chicks in magical girlfriend series, but there’s a developing relationship going on here– more best friendish than romantic, but still. It’s basically a bros-before-hoes Magical Boyfriend anime at this point, regardless of the suspicious next door neighbor chick/obvious love interest.

Cool little twist on the formula there, and it makes me wonder if there’s ever been an out-and-out “Magical Boyfriend” series that follows the same Belldandyisms of those sorts of series, regardless of the gender of the lead character. There’s shit like Kuroshitsuji, but that doesn’t quite match up. Wouldn’t be surprised if I’m not seeing the obvious right in front of me, but I can’t think of anything off the top of my head.

So yeah, there’s a lot going on in the first episode of Level E, and I’m loving it.

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