Film:
DVD:

Directed by Akira Nishimori
Based upon the work of Rumiko Takahashi
Characters designed by Ichiro Ogawa and Mari Tominaga

Features:

  • Clean closing animation
  • Production art gallery

Dindrane’s Anime Warnings:

  • Scary military men working counters
  • Scary bunnies with fangs
  • Dangerous assumptions
  • Dangerous parents
  • Dangerous bratty children

Released by: Geneon
Region: 1
Rating: 7+
Anamorphic: Yes

My Advice: A must for Takahashi fans.


Happy Disaster is a collection of shorts from the creator of Ranma 1/2, Inuyasha, and The Mermaid’s Scar, along with many other anime favorites. The three shorts, each about 25-30 minutes, are all united on this DVD with the theme of people in distress in strange situations, but they also share an inherent warning against leaping to conclusions…unless, of course, you’re right to be paranoid.

The first one, “In a Pot,” opens with the funeral of Mr. Tonagawa; it seems that the widow was not a good wife, or so goes the gossip. She asks her next-door neighbor to care for her many houseplants while she goes to take the cremated remains to the hometown of the deceased. Will the neighbor let her imagination and vicious gossip affect her actions and her understanding of the situation? The second story “Aberrant Family F,” is told from a child’s point of view. Hazuki fears that the family trip she is on might be intended to be some kind of weird mass family suicide. Humor collides with pre-adolescent angst to create a story very true to a seventh-grader’s thoughts and fears. Finally, “As Long as You Are Here” follows Mr. Dohmato as he struggles to adjust to his customer service job. This tale is very lighthearted, but sincere in its depiction of how someone with a lot of pride loses his job and must make-do with a job he views as beneath him.

The art is of course excellent, if a bit plain, all in Takahashi’s signature style. Whether the mood is light or chilling, Takahashi’s use of color and shadow is perfect. Backgrounds are always used to enhance the action and theme, as well as providing a slice of Japanese life; they are not fancy, but the focus is meant to be on the characters and not on the art or the backgrounds. The characters are very plain and realistic in style, not romanticized or overly “perfect.” There were very few problems with the digitalization, and you can count on a pleasant viewing experience. The audio is also excellent, with skillful voice acting in both English and Japanese. Rachel Hirschfeld as Hazuki in the second tale is particularly skillful pretending to be a young girl.

The features include a clean closing and a gallery of production art. There’s also the usual selection of Geneon previews. It would have been nice to have had an interview with Takahashi, busy as she is, to discuss how these works came to be, and how they differ from her other works. The mind that can conceive of “family suicide” as well as Urusei Yatsura has to have lots of interesting things to say.

If you’re a fan of Takahashi’s work, then you’ll love this one and need to own it. If all you know of her is her more action-oriented pieces, then this will be quite refreshing and interesting. Fans new to anime will gain a kind of education in the variety of anime titles available, including drama, suspense, and slice-of-life themes. These shorts may not be what you expect from Takahashi, or even from anime, but they are still well worth the watching and adding to your home anime collection.

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