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Review: Asatte no Houkou

Asatte no Houkou is, at its heart, a fairytale. It conforms perfectly to the classical structure: a normal person leads a normal life. A single act of magic grants a well-intentioned but poorly-worded wish. This creates confusion and distress for the wisher and all around her, but everyone eventually adapts to the new situation. Finally, valuable life lessons having been learned, the status quo is restored.

The problems in fairytales often stem from the fact that magic seems to be a terribly literal-minded force which will only do the absolute minimum which could possibly satisfy a particular wish. This explains the great power and reputation of wizards–scholarly people who spend years in study and weild their power through complex incantations–as they’re essentially the lawyers of a magical world. The problem isn’t accessing the magic; any fool can do that. The trick is getting it to do what you intend. However, this leaves everyone who uses magic without all that forethought out of luck.

In this case, a young girl lives with her adult brother because their parents died. Their deaths brought him back from studying abroad to take care of her. She sees her dependence on him as an imposition, and so habitually wishes at a wishing rock to grow up immediately so as to free him of her. It’s like dropping coins into a fountain; it can’t hurt, but nobody really expects anything to come of it.

One can’t blame her for being utterly unprepared when one day at the wishing rock, she opens her eyes after making her wish and discovers that she now occupies the body of a twenty-year-old. The wishing rock gave her an adult body, and stuck her there without any corresponding increases in maturity, education, or intellect. The rest of the series is everybody figuring out what to do about this.

It’s a story gently and interestingly told. The author clearly subscribes to the theory that anybody can adapt to any situation without too much trouble. If a pauper suddenly elevated could make a good king, than a child in an adult’s body could make their way in the world without too much trouble. The art and music are nothing to remember; it’s the people in this story who keep your attention.

As with any fairy tale, you know from the beginning how things will end. The journey is the important part, not the destination. This one doesn’t really make it to greatness, but it is certainly pleasant enough for its duration.

Genre: fairytale
Emotion: melancholy
BTFS: 0.8

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2 Comments

Comment by Nat Mac OS X Mozilla Firefox 2.0.0.16
2008-08-26 06:12:30

Hmm, sounds like Big or 13 Going On 30, and probably others with which I’m unfamiliar. I’d be curious to hear you compare this movie with those.

Comment by coriolinus Windows XP Mozilla Firefox 3.0.1
2008-08-26 07:43:48

It does sound like them. However, it’s been ages since I saw either one of those; I couldn’t make any real comparisons based solely on their imdb pages.

One thing I can say: both of those are comedies; in the former, Hanks adapts easily to adult life, and in the latter, the magic just fast-forwards time, so she arrives as an adult with friends, a career, and a support structure. In contrast, this series takes the stance that magic in the modern world is essentially traumatic. There are funny moments, but they are not at all the focus of the show.

 
 

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