Bihada Ichizoku is, sadly, a show that most people never watched. I remedied my ignorance over the Christmas holiday. These 12 8-minute episodes follow the two Bihada sisters, a family that “battles for beauty,” as they become rivals for the most beautiful skin in the world. Yes, I swear that is the premise, and I also swear it is perfectly executed and hysterical. The show was created to promote skin care products. The show is a near-perfect riff on all things shojo from the 70s; from the character designs to the expressions to the desperate seriousness of it all. Sara acquires a mysterious benefactor, who leaves her a random assortment of objects such as purple sweet potatoes, and teaches her the ways of skin care in order to defeat her sister in the final battle! There is hardship, death, doomed love, and so much more; Bihada Ichizoku plays it straight and entertains amazingly well. And at this length you can shoot through the whole show in less than 2 hours!
I decided to delve back into the work of Kill em’ all Tomino with the first 15 episodes of Aura Battler Dunbine. This story does not start with much foreplay in the regular world before throwing the protagonists, Shou Zama, in the magical world of Byston Well. Byston Well is a medieval fantasy land with insect like mecha called Aura Battlers. Shou finds himself pressed into the army of Duke Drake who plans to rule the world with an elite fighting force of pilots from Earth. Apparently people from Earth have massive amounts of spiritual power in Byston Well and can power up any device they control exponentially. After a few battles Shou find himself fighting on the side of the rebels. The fact that he is keen of the red-headed Marvel Frozen who is also part of the resistance is no small part of his decision. This feels very much like a Tomino work despite its fantasy setting. You will notice a very standard Tomino style of pacing and characterization for better and for worse. So far Shou is a solid lead with a good mixture of knowing when to be aggressive and when to be passive in his personality as opposed to other Tomino leads. Neal Given has really only gotten on my nerves so far and I am still undecided on Marvel. All the villains so far are pretty despicable and we don’t really have a gray Char like character so far. So far Garalia is the most over manipulative and the top insanely evil character but Shot Weapon looks like he is saving his full crazy for a later date. I am curious to see how the Tomino does his version of Escaflowne over a decade before Escaflowne. Continue reading