Problem Children Are Coming From Another World, Aren't They? (Mondaiji-tachi ga Isekai Kara Kuru so Desu yo?) Print
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Thursday, 25 April 2013 00:00
Problem Children Are Coming From Another World, Aren't They? is a light novel adaptation (if the title didn't already give that away) that falls firmly into the "this really shouldn't be as much fun as it is" category. A sure sign that I'm losing my marbles, that...

Sakamaki Izayoi, Kudou Asuka, and Kasukabe You all possess skills greater than the average person - skills that have attracted the attention of someone who'd like to make them an offer. "This letter is for those of you with many troubles and extraordinary powers. If you wish to see how far that power of yours will take you, cast aside your family, your friends, you possessions, and come to our 'Little Garden'." It's an offer they prove unable to resist, and on accepting, they're transformed to the aforementioned Little Garden - a world apparently many times the size of our own, where groups of inhabitants - "Guilds" - compete for superiority in the Gift Games. Those'll be Games where the participants make use of their particular Gifts, you see. The particular Guild that's called on the services of our problem children currently has no name, having been stripped of it after losing badly in the Games (by foul means rather than fair), but knowing that the trio are extremely well Gifted, Guild leader Jin - who looks about 12 - and his aide Kurousagi hope they'll be able to bring the Guild back to its former glory. And with the Guild now primarily made up of kids with no Gifts of their own and no real ability to look out for themselves, they can quite legitimately play the "Think of the CHILDREN!" card.

Fortunately, all three quite like the idea of a challenge like this, with Izayoi taking particular interest in the possibility of taking on the Little Garden's Gods if they do well enough in the Games. So let the Games commence...

First impression of this was of a fantasy series with much the feel of Elemental Gelade - the setting is very much Generic Fantasy Land, with a fairly simplistic fighting anime built on the top of it. Not exactly an auspicious start, and I had figured on a few episodes before dropping and quickly forgetting about it. But courtesy of a group of decent characters at the core of it, I found myself getting caught up in the fun of it. Izayoi is very much the lead protagonist, a kid who cares very little for anything or anyone, as long as he gets some fun out of it; he's also stupidly overpowered ("Oh, that Medusa's firing a petrification ray at me? I'll just KICK IT OUT OF THE WAY!"), but that's played more for fun than expecting you to take it seriously. Asuka has a Voice that wouldn't be out of place in Dune, while You has a way with animals that comes in useful (although she's by far the most underused character in the show). Last of the main four is Kurousagi, the bunnygirl noble of Little Garden, whose fur changes from blue to pink when she gets annoyed, and who possesses a magic skirt that Izayoi can't look up, no matter how hard he tries. (Yes, they've made the Magic Skirt canon. That alone impresses me.) Add in a bunch of fringe characters - adorable dragon-girl Sandora, highly-perverted demon lord Shiroyasha, and more besides) and mix with a good sense of fun, and the result manages to be very entertaining, despite being a predictable and derivative as hell.

As well as drawing heavily on standard anime tropes, the series also takes a lot of inspiration from the world of fairy tales (of the Grimm sort, usually), with most of the show's bad guys drawn from one tale or another. There seems to have been a decent amount of research done into the origins of these tales as well, as the series quite cleverly plays with the tales, presenting them no so much in the ways that you'd most commonly hear them, but referring back to the underlying history that they may have been built on. That's the sort of thing you could easily miss, but once you see what's going on it's another string to the show's bow and a little bit of depth that you normally don't get in shows of this ilk.

The end result, while it's never going to be a classic, is surprisingly enjoyable. Yes, there's very little you've seen here before. Yes, it relys on fanservice in its various forms to add a little 'spice' (which I'm fine with). But it's not as simple as it appears on the surface, and its cast of 'good guys' are enjoyable enough to watch in their own right that I was able to overlook its flaws and just go with the flow. It's like candyfloss - great while you're eating it, very quickly forgotten - but if you're okay with spending time watching that sort of series, then this is one of the better examples.

Rating - ***

1 - The Problem Children Have Arrived at Little Garden, Haven't They?
Sakamaki Izayoi, Kudou Asuka, and Kasukabe You, all possess skills greater than the average person - skills that have attracted the attention of someone who'd like to make them an offer. "This letter is for those of you with many troubles and extraordinary powers. If you wish to see how far that power of yours will take you, cast aside your family, your friends, you possessions, and come to our 'Little Garden'." It's an offer they prove unable to resist...


2 - Seems Like a Crazy Loli Clad in Japanese Clothing?
Black Rabbit explains her community's situation to Izayoi, and it's not a happy story: in one attack, their community was almost wiped out, with very few survivors. With Jin and herself the only adult members left, and their name stripped from them, they're about as low as its possible to get - but with a large number of kids in the community that they need to support, they simply have to rebuilt - and Kurousagi's hoping Izayoi and the others will help. Meanwhile, the girls meet with a representative of the Fores Garo community and make their first enemy...


3 - Sounds Like We're Doing All Sorts of Things in the Bath Together?
With the gift from the water god, the water supply of the No Names is restored - the first step in the revival of the Community. On the eve of the challenge with Fores Garo, Izayoi stops an attack from Galdo's subordinates and reveals to them that their efforts are futile as all of Galdo's hostages have already been killed by him. Before sending them away, Izayoi asks them to spread news about Jin, claiming that his community welcomes anyone willing to overthrow the Demon Lords...


4 - It Seems Some Pervert is After Kurousagi
With their first victory behind them, Izayoi has agreed to help Jin win back a former community member who was lost in a Gift Game a while back and has been traded as a prize ever since. But when that member attacks the community's base in the middle of the night, their 'rescue' plans get off on the wrong foot...


5 - The Oath Seems to be Beyond the Stars?
No-Names vs. Perseus: a match-up that should be an easy win for Perseus on paper, but thanks to the arrival of Izayoi and the others, it quickly turns out to be anything but, as Izayoi finally gets the chance to go all out - and doesn't disappoint those watching...


6 - Looks Like the Problem Children are Participating in a Festival?
When You and Asuka learn that there's a festival coming up on the Northern side of the Little Garden, it's an opportunity for entertainment that neither they nor Izayoi want to pass up on. They're also a little annoyed with Kurousagi for trying to keep word of the festival from them, so they spice up their trip with a little game - if Kurousagi can’t find them before the day ends, they'll leave the community...


7 - Someone Might Get All Kissy with Asuka in the Dark?
While Kurousagi and Izayoi were busy trashing town in their little face-off, You's been storming her way to victory in a fighting tournament, making use of the abilities she's gained from the animals she's been in contact with. Although the locals don't entirely appreciate their efforts. Asuka, meanwhile, has been wandering town with the little fairy she found - a fairy that, unknown to her, seems to be connected to the prophesied appearance of a Demon Lord...


8 - It Seems That a Great Disaster Will Come With the Playing of a Flute?
Despite hearing the tale of Rattenfanger and the Peid Piper, Asuka's doing a bit of living in denial and trying not to believe that her little fairy friend isn't really a familiar of a Demon Lord. With that thought pushed firmly to the back of her mind, she joins the others in watching You's Gift Games appearance - which turns out to be the prelude to a Demon Lord's appearance...


9 - It Seems That the Smell of Death That Brings About Disaster is Growing Throughout the Town?
The Gift Game is postponed, to give a chance for negotiations over how it'll proceed - negotiations that are supposed to take place in good faith, but it seems that Pest has used the opportunity to expose those who had taken part in the game with her pathogen - the Black Death. Which gives her a lot more leverage in any deal-making than Jim and the no-names have. But Asuka, given a Gift Game of her own to complete, may have access to a power that'll help turn the tables...


10 - It Seems that the Problem Children Prove Who's On Top?
Just as things are looking bleak for the no-names, Asuka arrives on the scene with her new toy, and Izayoi decides to stop messing around and get serious. They've both been waiting for an opportunity to cut loose, and that opportunity has finally arrived.



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