Wow, does Oh! Edo Rocket start off with a bang, literally. Within but a minute into the first episode, a massive firework propels upward into the night sky and explodes in a multicolored shower of sparks, much to the excitement of onlookers—and displeasure of the magistrate. But it’s not just the government that isn’t amused. Young Seikeichi, a fireworks maker with a passion to be the best in the land, looks on with jealous admiration and becomes filled with inspiration to improve his craft even more. Little does he know that before long he’ll be tasked with creating something beyond his wildest dreams.
Oh! Edo Rocket takes place in Japan during the 1840s in a city where almost everything is illegal, but the show’s setting is only loosely based on actual history. Not only is there a plethora of out-of-place technology, but most scholars would be hard-pressed to recall just when and where aliens from the moon work into the Japanese historical timeline. One of these lunar creatures, a princess that can take on the form a beautiful human girl, learns of Seikichi’s fireworks prowess and makes a request: Build a rocket that can carry her back to the moon. Seikichi’s ego gets the better off him, and soon he takes on this seemingly impossible challenge.
Fans of off-the-wall humor will be in for a treat with Oh! Edo Rocket, as it is possibly one of the craziest, most frantic anime programs I’ve ever watched. The Japanese voices are outstanding and full of wild energy, but the dialogue-heavy show often zooms forward with hectic pacing, making reading subtitles almost impossible at times. Thankfully, the English voices are up more than adequate and allow viewers to focus their attention to all the details on-screen, which is a must because Oh! Edo Rocket is quite the looker. With playful, fluid animation provided by veteran studio Madhouse, Oh! Edo Rocket is a visual tour de force. Backgrounds are reminiscent of traditional Japanese brush paintings while the diverse cast runs the gamut of almost every anime character design imaginable. Its aesthetics puts most other anime created for television to shame.
Unfortunately, Oh! Edo Rocket overstays its welcome. The series would have actually been better off at half its length because the second crop of episodes lose steam and rely upon even zanier humor that, while still entertaining, is unable to carry things on its own. To the show’s credit, it still looks and sounds great to the end, but given that Oh! Edo Rocket is set in such a curious and unique world and begins on such a high note, it’s disappointing that the series couldn’t wrap things up in a similar manner. Nevertheless, anime fans looking for something off the beaten path will find themselves right at home in this version of 1840s Japan, even if they’ll start thinking about returning home well before the trip is over.
Oh! Edo Rocket Season 1 Parts 1 and 2
directed by Seiji Mizushima
750 minutes, Number of Discs: 4
Company Age Rating: (13+)