Yui HorieKoji MasunariOmishi Magical Theatre: Risky Safetyshinigami
Omishi Magical Theatre: Risky Safety
Medium: TV, series
Year: 1999
Director: Koji Masunari
Original creator: Ray Omishi
Studio: Pony Canyon, Studio A.P.P.P.
Actor: Maaya Sakamoto, Rie Iwatsubo, Akiko Yajima, Kazuhiko Inoue, Kikuko Inoue, Koji Tobe, Masaya Onosaka, Rumi Kasahara, Yui Horie, Yuri Shiratori, Yuriko Yamaguchi
Keywords: anime, shinigami
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 24 ten-minute episodes
Url: http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=1168
Website category: Anime 1990s
Review date: 19 April 2006
A young girl, Katsuragi Moe, has been dumped by her boyfriend and is feeling blue when a shinigami ("death god") comes for her soul. This foul-mouthed, obnoxious demon (Risky) tries to talk her into suicide and then simply tries to murder her with a scythe. Fortunately this is less serious than it sounds. Risky is only two inches tall. These attempts on Moe's life ironically cheer her up, whereupon Risky transforms into Safety, a squeaky-voiced angel who lives to spread love and happiness.
That's right, Risky and Safety coexist in one body. Given their opposing goals and personalities, this pretty much guarantees failure at everything they do. Risky hatches evil schemes which might be thwarted at any time by her getting sat on, knocked through windows or just carried off on the breeze. Meanwhile Safety is near-sighted, easily flustered and not particularly good at her job. For Moe it's like being given custody of a flying schizophrenic hamster.
All that's brilliant! I'd have loved to see a proper Risky Safety series, but sadly this isn't it. The absurd ten-minute format means that episodes have hardly started before they end. There are multi-part stories, but it's not the same. If you tot up the total screen time, I've seen longer-running OVAs. It's disappointing, especially since there's so much good stuff here. It didn't have to be throwaway fluff. Unfortunately Risky Safety was the other half of the Omishi Magical Theatre anthology series alongside Steel Angel Kurumi, although you could hardly imagine two more different shows. Together they ran for 25 minutes. Kurumi's episodes were too short, but the brevity of Risky Safety's episodes is ridiculous. It's almost annoying, actually.
I also know now where they got the money for Steel Angel Kurumi's gorgeous animation. When reviewing that show, I speculated that each 15-minute Kurumi episode must have had the same budget as a normal 25-minute episode. Yup, that's right. They took it from here. Risky Safety is surprisingly deft, but it's cheap! That doesn't make the animation worthless, though. There's some lovely character design and a good sense of character, especially from the superb creations that are Risky and Safety themselves. They also do little things with effects like rain, fire and motion. It's subtle rather than flashy... and I approve! The extra budget made all the difference for Kurumi, but Risky Safety just isn't that kind of show.
At one point I was even wondering if this was a children's show. It is, of course, but in a double bill with Steel Angel Kurumi? ("Yes, girls, you too will squeal idiotically, grow melon-like breasts and develop a scary romantic fixation on wildly underage boys!") Risky Safety is subtle and understated. It can be silly, but also profound at the same time. You've got cartoon slapstick with our pint-sized protagonists, but they're dealing in people's pain and suffering. There's even a narrator giving the moral of the story, though that's at the beginning more in the manner of a pre-show teaser than anything else.
This is one of those frustrating shows that could have been so much better. I'm not talking about the animation, which frankly didn't need to be a megabudget extravaganza. This does the job and has some lovely little touches. No, it's the running time that really hurts. Risky Safety just doesn't run long enough to go anywhere, either as individual episodes or as an overall series. I suspect it might work better in bite-sized chunks. Some shows cry out to be marathoned, but this cries out not to be. Unfortunately one feels a bit silly putting on a DVD, watching seven minutes of it and then switching to something else.
I like the characters too. Risky and Safety are great, never letting the series slip into cutesy mawkishness. Risky is gleefully obnoxious while Safety is well-meaning but naive. Meanwhile Moe is thoughtful and mature beyond her years. Much children's television is raucous gibberish aimed at retards who just want moving lights and colours, but this show is quiet, subtle and at times sombre. Admittedly I found it frustrating, but that's because there's so much I admire about it. If nothing else it's a pleasant surprise to find a series with so much imagination, personality and potential that it desperately needed to be longer! We've all seen too many shows with the opposite problem.