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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Final Thoughts: Level E

Hundreds of aliens inhabit our Earth today. Some friendly, some belligerent - some are here for research purposes while others came for the sake of committing crime. It is only us humans who have yet to realize their existence. One day, a hell of a troublemaker arrives on our planet. Though he is regarded as the smartest man in the universe, he has a major flaw in his personality - he is always causing trouble to bide his time. (Source: Crunchyroll)

Spoiler warning: Spoilers for the entirety of Level E are beyond this line. Read with caution!

Aliens! They’re everywhere! And their favorite past time is – high school baseball? And trolling the hell out of humans? Or at least that is what I gather from watching Level E, in which our beloved Prince of aliens – aptly nicknamed Prince Baka due to the hijinks he pulls humankind into on a daily basis without any warning or any reason – decides to crash for a while on Earth so he can avoid that pesky little thing called responsibility. Based on the manga by Yoshihiro Togashi – yes, that Togashi of Yu Yu Hakusho fame – Level E is a berserk colorful free-for-all, a sci-fi comedy screwball that also manages to throw plot twists out that will make even the most observant watcher’s jaw clatter on the floor. But most important of all, Level E is wall to wall fun that is much needed in this current anime atmosphere of overblown dramas and mysteries – and the sequels, my god, the sequels! But I digress.

Read the rest of my review after the jump!

The audience’s enjoyment of Level E really lives or dies on whether they like the harebrained schemes of one Prince Baka, who has been dubbed by anime fandom to be the truest Troll Prince that has ever trolled a series since – well, ever. He truly embraces the trope of the bored genius who plays with people’s lives in a way that hasn’t been done so wonderfully and so hilariously since the days of Tenchi Muyo and the mad goddess/genius Washu, a character who seemed destined to be a fan favorite from the start, just like Prince Baka. He is provided a wonderful foil and straight man in the form of Yukitaka, who has the terrible honor of being the guy whose apartment the Prince sleeps in and uses as his Earth base for most of the series. He is also the unwilling partner to a lot of the alien’s shenanigans and is usually the guy who slaps said Prince down for his idiotic plans.

But this series isn’t just Prince Baka heckling just one human, oh no. He pretty much heckles every human he comes into contact with using his elaborate nonsensical plans, which further infuriates his Dogurian bodyguards who are forced to clean up after their prince’s mess. It seems that Baka’s favorite target is a group of school kids he forces to become Super Sentai-like superheroes for his amusement: the infamous Baka Rangers, complete with color-coded uniforms and ridiculous attack names. 

Fans seem to be split on whether or not the Baka Ranger episodes were a good thing or not; I personally loved them and looked forward to each one. Kind of disappointed they didn’t have a cameo in the finale! It was also a good way to explore the different ways aliens were trying to fit into life on Earth, especially with the episode in which the Baka Rangers have to save a mermaid alien from a group of grown bullies, which ends up being one of the strongest and more emotional episodes of the entire series; it proves that for a comedy, Level E is capable of some surprising amounts of dramatic depth. Y’know, until the next time Prince Baka pops up for another lesson in intergalactic trololo.

So. Do you like a good, relatively sized series that is full of aliens and strange technology as well as kooky situations and laughs galore? Do you like your aliens to be strangely enamored of Japanese culture, especially their high school baseball teams and their native bug species? Does the idea of a main character being king of the trolls amuse you rather than terrify you? Then Level E is definitely for you. It is thirteen episodes of a rollicking good time, provided you aren’t one of Baka’s unwitting human victims. Plus, the opening theme sequence is swank as hell.

You can watch all thirteen episodes of Level E streaming on Crunchyroll right now! (It does not seem to be licensed for DVD home release, which is a shame. I wonder which anime I'll be begging for next License Line...?)