Disclaimer: There might be spoilers ahead.
For many people anime is just a form of entertainment, just another medium that helps pass the time. For others, anime is much, much more than that. In the case of Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!, it’s clear that the people that made this wonderful piece of animation have a deep respect for their art and they wanted their creation to both captivate through its wonderful animation, as well as stir the emotions of all other fellow anime lovers out there.
Among the various anime offerings that come out each season, there is always one that stands out from the rest. Last season it was Beastars, this season it could well be Eizouken ni wa Te wo Dasu na! Although it is still too early to tell how the story will progress, it is clear from the first episode that this anime is special. The concept behind it as well as the tremendous work that has gone into the animation, the directing, the voice acting, the SFX and the music (more on that here) have created a truly wonderful experience for us, the viewers. Right from the start, I immediately connected with young Asakusa Midori, one of the three main protagonists, who discovered a whole new world through anime. A world of amazing adventures, wondrous landscapes and impossible machines. A world that is neither boring nor disappointing. I am sure that for most of us, anime has acted as a form of escapism from the mundane and sometimes cruel reality we live in from time to time.
We skip a few years and we meet a more grown up Asakusa on the roof of a building, people-watching and sketching in her thick notebook. Enter the second protagonist, Kanamori Sayaka. Kanamori, does not seem to understand Asakusa’s obsession with anime nor is she eagerly willing to join her for an anime screening arranged by the anime club. Apparently, Asakusa is not a member of the club and is too shy to go alone. Its clear from their chemistry that the two girls have had similar conversations in the past. Asakusa asks for something, Kanamori obliges only if there’s something to gain, preferably monetary in nature. Kanamori comes off as a bit of an opportunist but it’s clear that she mostly messes with her friend for fun and actually cares about her. After the two of them find a couple of seats in the screening room, just as the anime is about to start, Kanamori asks Asakusa why she likes anime so much. A question that is answered in the form of an extensive analysis of the movie and its stylistic and creative choices. Asakusa clearly knows her stuff but it’s all a bit too much for Kanamori. Enter protagonist three, Mizusaki Tsubame, an actor/model with rich and strict parents. So strict in fact that they have forbidden her from joining the anime club. To enforce their decision they have sent a couple of goons to stop Mizusaki from acting on her wishes of becoming an animator. Thankfully for her she had the good fortune to run into the crafty duet that aid her in escaping. After rescuing the ‘princess’ through the use of Scooby Doo-like trap doors and transforming stairs the three girls head to Asakusa’s hideout, an odd laundromat. Why a laundromat? Well there was a small accident involving Mizusaki’s shirt and strawberry milk during their escape.
From the very beginning of the anime it was clear that the animators went above and beyond to create an interesting and detailed world. The girls destination is no exception. After struggling a bit with the washing machine, Mizusaki and the rest make their way upstairs to a the waiting area. This is were they truly get to know one another and share their thoughts on anime. Both Asakusa and Mizusaki start talking about their work, while Kanamori, the innocent bystander, sits quietly drinking her milk. She does make a contribution to the conversation though. Despite not “understanding” anime like the other two she can understand that they have talent and the drive to create their own anime, she even offers to help, in her own special way of course. Putting their sketches together the two aspiring animators start conceptualizing their creations. Through their sketches we are transported to the world they have so imaginatively created. We watch us they take their seemingly pointless doodles and turn them through each alteration into a ‘working’ machine. Although the machine is obviously fictional its clear for us the viewers that for these three girls – yes three, even Kanamori joined in, although reluctantly – its ‘real’. The animation, once again, is the star of the show with the voice acting supporting it beautifully. The choice to make the girls create the sounds of the dragonfly inspired vehicle was especially interesting. After their not so brief adventure the girls go their own separate ways and the first episode comes to an end. To be honest I felt sad that it ended. I got so hooked on the world of Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken! that I didn’t want it to end.
As you can tell, I really like this anime and chances are you will too if you give it a chance. I started this article by saying that for some people anime is just a form of entertainment and that is absolutely fine. There is no reason to apologize for wanting to watch anime just for the fun of it and there certainly isn’t any merit to claiming that you only watch good quality anime. Don’t deny it, we’ve all watched our share of guilty pleasure dumpster fires and we liked it. However, there is no reason to dismiss this anime in fear that it’s too ‘out there’ or ‘too different’. Watching something more creative from time to time can be really rewarding. Besides, Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken! is funny, vibrant and more than capable of abducting you to a wondrous and whimsical world that is much more interesting than our own. The only problem is having to come back.