Shiratori Ryuushi is a young artist-in-training, about to start studying at a vocational school. Arriving at his new lodgings, Narutakisou, he finds himself the focus of attention for the collection of weirdos that inhabit the place. He also meets and falls for the landlady, Aoba Kozue, who seems to be both lovely and charming. However, Kozue is not what she seems to be... in fact, she's more.
When I was younger, people often treated mental illnesses as if they were a joke or an excuse. People suffering from depression were often called lazy, schizophreniacs were shunned, more serious cases of mental illnesses were put away - out of sight, out of mind. Because of these beliefs, and because of some atrocious acts which were sensationalised through national media, all mental illnesses became tarred with the same brush. It's only in the last few years that society has become more accepting and understanding of the suffering caused by mental illnesses on the part of those suffering from them, and those who care for,
and about, the sufferers.
You may think this is a bit of a serious note to begin a review of a comedy anime, but it has a point to it. See most forms of visual entertainment still protray certain forms of mental illnesses to be something dark or evil. Granted they may be caused by some traumatic event(s), but that doesn't mean being crazy is necessarily a bad thing (take it from one who knows).
With this in mind, I'll begin the review.
Mahoraba is a rare anime, and an absolute gem. The story is about Shiratori Ryushi, an aspiring children's book author, and his encounters with the people who live in Narutakisou, the apartment block where he has moved to while he attends art school. Most especially the story is about the relationship between him and his cousin, Aoba Kozue, and this is the key part of the story (I'll explain why in a second).
At first glance the story looks to be the same as shows like Love Hina, but looks can be deceiving. This show is so much more than that, and the dimensions that are added to the story are rooted in the fact that Aoba Kozue suffers from a serious mental illness - she has Multiple Personality Disorder, brought on by a traunatic event in her childhood. Aoba Kozue is, in effect, five main characters at once.
What I liked most about the story was the fact that it approached the subject of mental illness in a far more sensitive manner than most other shows - anime or otherwise. The story allows the characters to develop their relationships with each other, and shows how they cope with the fact that someone they care about suffers from such a serious disorder.
The art style is very clean and colourful, but what I especially liked was the way they inserted 4 koma manga into an anime (you'll find one in almost every episode and they're highly amusing). I also liked the way the childrens story (which becomes a main theme of the show at the end), is depicted.
The sound is of a very good standard. The music is very complementary to the show,and the sound effects are used very well. The characters voices don't grate on the ears (unlike a certain Oribe Aoi from Myself;Yourself).
The main reason why this show is so likeable, other than the story, is the characters themselves. Once you're familiar with the characters you'll realise that this is no Love Hina by any measure - this is better. The two (or six) main characters are likable enough. Ryushi isn't as much of a loser as Keitaro, and Kozue is way nicer than Narusegawa. The other characters in the show are just as likeable, and have their own personalities, likes, dislikes, etc. Not one of the characters is boring in this show ( I have to admit that my two favourite characters are Konno Natsume - one of Kozue's personalities who sprouts flowers out of the top of her head when she's happy, and Erika Vermillion - the masochistic head of the Occult club of which both Kozue and Tamami are members).
This anime won't appeal to everyone. I found this to be a funny, sweet, and above all sensitive comedy about caring for a person with a mental illness, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It may not be realistic in certain ways, but I don't think it was ever meant to be. I found many of the scenes to be extremely funny, and the scripting is very well done for a show like this. The dialogue between the characters is often highly amusing, and this, coupled with some of the "insane" antics the residents of Narutakisou get up to meant this show was never boring.
It's nice to finally see a show where mental illness is treated with sensitivity and humour instead of the typical "he/she is crazy and trying to take over/destroy the world", or "must kill Makoto and/or Sekai", etc.
When watching an anime series, above all else, there are really only two important distinguishing qualities that make good anime great: storyline and character. What makes Mahoraba absolutely a joy to watch is the cast of dynamic characters who we learn to love throughout the series. The characters in Mahoraba are very unique but genuine. They each have their own quirks and faults and as the story progresses, we learn a little more about each of them. It's funny how in the first few episodes, everyone tends to pick their favorites. I did the same thing, and there were even
a few that I didn't particularly like at first. However, as I learned more about all the characters, I found towards the end that I loved all of them for their silly faults.
Mahoraba can be arguably a romantic comedy (less romance, more comedy), but I would rather say it's along the lines of a "slice of life." Interestingly enough, the anime didn't follow a story, but rather the characters in the story. Afterall, it's the characters in Mahoraba that make it Heartful Days. Each episode is filled with laughter and wisdom. We learn more of each character, and, in a way, learn more about ourselves. Although the anime has a loose storyline, it still feels amazingly coherent, so overall, it doesn't take anything away from the anime at all.
The majority of the story is focused around Aoba Kozue, the cute young landlady of Narutaki-Sou. Although she is not the main character of the story, she is very unique and important to all the members of Narutaki-Sou including Shiratori, the main character and new tenant of the apartments. As the story progresses, we learn more of Kozue especially of her personality disorder. However, the way it is presented, Kozue's disorder doesn't seem like a burden, but rather a joy. Perhaps in some ways she may seem very naive at times, but her ability to make the best of everything and smile makes us smile as well.
The art and sound is nothing out of the ordinary. Generally, most will find that all of the characters are very cute (especially when eating umeboshi). The artwork it self is very pleasing to the eyes, and the silly 4-panel manga portion typically in the middle of an episode are often hilarious.
Overall, I really enjoyed this anime. If you like unique virtuous characters that make you laugh, I'd definitely recommend this anime. In any case, I would say, give it a shot. You won't regret it.
Mahoraba is definitely an interesting anime, on the surface, it looks like nothing more than a slice of life, typical, boring anime with no plot and uninteresting characters. After watching it, I was pleasantly surprised by it actually.
Story, 7/10: There really isn't a main plot to the show, instead they supplement it with some small stories that may or may not come back in later episodes. The show focuses more on characters backgrounds, which adds to the stories as well. That being said, the pacing can be a bit off some times, certain things that occur do so very suddenly, sometimes with little
to no resolution.
Art, 8/10: Everything in this category fit the show pretty well as it really elevates the overall tone. They also use what I believe is called 4 koma, which I feel is used perfectly.
Sound, 7/10: I don't really have much to say about the music, I think if fit the cuteness of the show well.
Characters, 8/10: Probably the strongest part of Mahoraba is its characters, they all developed, and have some very complicated backgrounds. Mostly Kozue, she has MPD and instead of being shunned, made fun of, or looked down upon, the other characters in the show actually care about her other personalities as if they were separate people.
Enjoyment, 7/10: I liked it, normally something I don't watch and probably one that I won't watch again, but it is fun and cute. Characters were the best part in my opinion.
Overall, 7/10: Its definitely not like other shows that have similar concepts, the characters in particular are very well done, I do feel however that some things were left out, the ending of the show felt like a bit of a letdown. . But I recommend it.
Honestly I look at this entire series as the Cutest case of multiple personality disorder ever.
It's a light hearted .. and truely funny and endearing tale of a boy who wants to write childrens books .. and the crazy people he lives with.
If you want to focus on the 2nd main character and her personalities .. thats great .. each one of them is great in a crazy way .. :D
But honestly if your looking for a accurate portrayal of MPD... then go read a medical journal ...
Antipanda Highly Recommends this series for a good laugh and some really interesting characters.