Based on first two episodes
Summary: Arashiyama is a clumsy girl who works for an Old Lady’s sudo-maid café. The café is mostly empty giving her plenty of time to goof around with her friends. Ill-fated love stories, run in with incompetent police and a general lack of common sense plague the employees and patrons of this small maid café.
Review: Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru is a strange show. So strange that I had to check to see if this aired on the famous Noitamina block. The first episode is filled with odd camera angels, surreal dialogue, a manic pace, and a twisted sense of humor. This is SHAFT, after all, and their shows tend to challenge traditional Anime trends.
The show is mostly made up of shorts where the characters tackle a topic, mostly in dialogue, and include a pile of jokes at the expense of the characters, the twisted situations, and I’m sure some Japanese word play that will never be adequacy translated into English. While the dialogue is snappy and interesting it is the situations the characters find themselves in where the humor of the show mostly comes from. Simple tasks like Arahiyama attempting to be good sister by having her siblings play together or running errands for the Maid Café end up exploding in her face. While “clumsy girl” is a common anime trope Arashiyama owns her flaw by not being embarrassed when she is caught in a rather stupid moment but being confident and bullheaded, which extends simple moments of carelessness into large and more complicated events.
Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru isn’t just another show about a Maid-café nor is it just another work place comedy like “Working!” the humor mostly comes from the characters and the absurdity that this little Maid Café exists in such a shabby place being run by an old lady and the clientele are simply older men who know the owner. It breaks very standard convention of a Maid Café to the point where Arashiyama’s classmate Tatsuno comes into the shop one day and begins to scold the staff for not greeting her properly, for not following the protocol of the Maid. The café becomes itself a part of a large absurd comedy, in part to comment on how insane the concept of a maid café is in the first place but mostly just to have a set the characters can interact with each other without being distracted by pesky things like “work.”
The show is, at its core, an absurdist comedy but it does have a lot of important issues to comment on. As stated above there is some commentary on Japanese society such as questioning the concept of a Maid Café, issues around the sensitivity of woman to any comment that can be taken sexual, the bureaucratic insanity of Japanese public schools, the disrespect the youth has for adults, and a host of small commentaries that dwell in the background. It is a rich show that is using its tone and humor in order to point out the flaws in society.
The character designs are well done, done in a unique style that abandons modern aesthetics in favor of something more traditional. But there are some strange character designs that stand out, in between the smooth faced Arahiyama and Tatsuno are a host of unique designs from the colorful cast that makes up the owners of the sopping district to the kindly yet strict elderly owner of the cafe, and the striking design of Tatsuno’s friend with a large forehead and buckteeth. The variation in the design is a welcome change to what has become the standard anime girl face type.
Verdict: Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru is a spectacular show. It is a fast moving comedy that jumps from story to story without any worry about character development or a consistent narrative. If you allow yourself to be lost in the unique tone of the show and allow it to take you on its ride it shows the potential to being a deeply profound piece of Japanese animation.