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Anime / Oh! Edo Rocket

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In Edo during the mid-1800's, fireworks maker Seikichi Tamaya and his friends struggle to live under the harsh frugality laws imposed by the strict city magistrate, which ban all luxuries, including fireworks. One day, a strange girl named Sora stops by Seikichi's shop with an equally strange request: she wants Seikichi to build a firework that can reach the moon. It doesn't take long before Seikichi and the people of the poor row-house where Seikichi lives all find themselves trying to help her dream come true. However, not only do they have to hide the fireworks from local authorities, but there are rumors of mysterious "sky beasts" running rampant around Edo as the bodies of young women are found with their blood drained.

Oh! Edo Rocket is an anime that was shown in Japan during 2007, with an English-dubbed version from Funimation released in late 2010. It is loosely (and we mean loosely) based on a stage play written for the Gekidan Shinkansen theater troupe by Kazuki Nakashima. It is by no means a period piece, even though the story gets very dramatic.

Can be seen on Youtube and Hulu.

Oh! Edo Rocket provides examples of:

  • Acrofatic: The agility of Arms, a former sumo wrestler, is pointed out and complimented by Tenten. Arms claims to be in sub-optimal shape, so one can only imagine how quick he was before.
  • Actor Allusion: Near the end, Kazuki Nakashima’s Author Avatar is modelled after Kamina and is even voiced by Katsuyuki Konishi. This doesn't carry on in the dub, as the character is voiced by John Burgmeier instead of Kyle Hebert.note 
    • Genzo, also voiced by Konishi at one point wears Kamina’s iconic Triangle Shades.
  • Alcohol-Induced Idiocy: Get Sora drunk and she'll start eating spiders.
  • Anachronism Stew: Irreverent jokes are made about American culture, otaku culture, and anime. Some people have black and white TVs and maybe even old computers in their homes, yet they haven't discovered the combustion engine.The first thing the audience sees the North Edo Commissioner doing is updating his web blog while acting like a giddy teenager. "Like, O M G!"
    Tenho: At least he approves of anime dubs.
    • A lampshade is hung on the ability of the audience to buy into it when Oriku shows up on a helicopter (explaining it as an attempt to save money by recycling cels from a previous anime) and Tetsuju orders her to apologize to the audience and to the original author!
  • Anti-Villain: The Blue Beasts, specifically the ones that split off from the Blue Girl, start out by mercilessly killing people and drinking their blood, but they ultimately just want to leave Earth and go back to their home planet. They become obsessed with returning home, so much so that by the end of the series, it is almost hard not to feel sorry for them, even though they are wanted criminals to both the city of Edo and by Sora's own people.
    *The Blue Beast is beaten, stabbed, and struggling to crawl along the ground*
    *Practically sobbing* I just... want to.. go.. HOOOHOOOHOOME!!
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: A giant wooden mecha rampages across the town at one point.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Ginjiro and Oise used to be partners in crime before they settled in Edo and pursued their own interests. Their past never fully escapes either of them, and even though they never had any sexual attraction to each other, they still have a relationship that is too close to ignore.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Constantly, but after episode 20, there's pretty much No Fourth Wall left. What few fragments that do remain are quickly smashed down as well.
  • Breather Episode: The rather lighthearted episode 21 comes after a serious five episode mini-arc.
  • Butt-Monkey: Despite being a genius at math, nobody remembers who Genzo is, not even the animators.
  • Camp Gay: Akai, especially in the English dub.
  • Cloning Blues: A SWARM of Blue Beasts are accidentally created in the finale.
  • Cartoonish Companions: About half the residents of the row house stand less than half the height of the rest of the residents, with vastly simplified features.
  • Circling Birdies: Onui gets these when bonked on the head in episode 7.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Tetsujin introduces himself by babbling in a made up gibberish. Sora immediately starts speaking the same way and the two of them hold a conversation. When Seikichi asked what they were saying, Sora says she doesn't know. The two of them continue this gibbering dialogue with each other every now and then when Tetsujin shows up later on. Beyond that, Sora can be a bit spontaneous and goofy sometimes.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: The Old Man is more clever than he appears. He's always able to outsmart Akai, the Men in Black, and the commissioners. He also always has a backup of everything. Combines with Chekhov's Gunman.
  • Cute Kitten: Four of the main characters are briefly turned into cats in episode 10. Hilarity Ensues when they do a brief musical number consisting of them meowing about the fact that they can't understand each other because they're now cats.
  • Cute Little Fangs: Onui, fitting with her dog girl personality.
  • Darkest Hour: Episodes 16 to 20 focus mostly on resolving the main conflict of the story. While comedy isn't completely removed, the story takes precedent.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Episode 23 (focusing on Ginjiro and Oise's past), lampshaded when Sora yells about their last bit of screentime in the episode.
  • Deus ex Machina: Downplayed: When Tetsujin is first introduced, the camera momentarily focuses on this little pink alien-like thing happily sticking out of Tetsujin's clothing. Nothing is made of it, and it is never brought up. Later on in the story, these same pink floating aliens start flying around Yuu, and enter her body. She starts to glow in a pink aura and the audience is given a vague idea that she seems to be filled with happiness and love, but again they are never explained. Later on, someone asks just what those things are, but they are told that it doesn't matter.
  • Digital Piracy Is Evil: When Genzo finds out that his performance in episode 21 was uploaded to "Yuutuubu", he laments to himself about digital piracy while shedding one large make-up stained black tear, enough to fill a bowl, apparently.
  • Drop the Washtub: In episode 21, the cast puts on a play of the plotline that happened thus far. Sanza is cast as one of Akai's "YOU'RE UNDER ARREST" men, but halfway across his charge across the stage, he becomes enamored with Tenho, who was playing Seikichi. When O-Ise notices he's breaking the script, a giant washtub comes falling down on top of him, leaving him imprinted into the washtub itself underneath.
  • Expressive Hair: Tenten's long, single bang on his forehead will sometimes show expression with his current mood. Question marks, exclamation marks, and a hand forming a thumbs up, for the most part.
  • Expy: Oriku has a very similar hairstyle as Washu, inluding a similar hair color and the two small Hair Antennae bangs hanging down her forehead.
  • Eye Scream: Eyes has his left eye ripped out by the Blue Girl in episode 19.
  • Forced Transformation: In episode 10, Genzo is turned into a dove and stays that way until episode 21. A few characters notice his absence, but only his mother still remembers who he is.
  • Gag Dub: Both the Japanese and English versions are like this, but the jokes are modified to play to their respective audiences.
  • Giving Up the Ghost: Shunpei is so worried about his constant worrying in episode 15 that he can't get any sleep. When Onui sees him the next morning, his body is a shriveled up husk and his spirit is drifting out of a pouch attached to his waist. She panics and quickly revives him.
  • Heel–Face Turn: The Men In Black...except for Eyes, who doesn't want to disband the group and gets killed later. Akai pretty much has a face turn in episode 25, but only because he is faced with completely overwhelming odds.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: The Blue Girl/Yuu.
  • Hot-Blooded: Tetsuju lives his life to the fullest, always embracing his masculinity and love and knowledge of fireworks. Very rarely is he ever shown not in a happy, upbeat, or confident mood.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: An accidental version that causes Akai to slip that he's the murderer.
  • Interspecies Romance: Seikichi and Sora, Akai and Yuu, Shunpei and Onui.
  • Imagined Innuendo: For much of the series, Seikichi (and Akai apparently) thinks Ginjiro and Sora have been going out.
  • Jerkass: Akai, Torii, and Mizuno. Akai takes the cake though. Right from the very start of the series, he's abusing the power of his job to pick on the residents of the rowhouse, doing whatever it takes to catch them in the act of breaking a law. He only gets worse from there.
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All: Shunpei is afraid he's this in episode 15, but it turns out to not be true.
  • Lampshade Hanging: In episode 4, Seikichi flat-out tells Sora that the visual pun she's making doesn't work in English.
    • There are tons of these. At one point, the characters comment on how their lines do not sync with their lip movements!
    • At another point, the characters grab cels from the production studio (when cels haven't been used in mainstream animation since 1996!) to comment on past events.
    • Episode 21 is about a Play Within a Play which is a watered-down version of the plot. Due to the alien cover-up, Sora's face can't be shown on-stage, so Genzo appears as Sora's stand-in, while Sora recites her lines backstage... like a voice actor!
    • With the main drama elements of the plot wrapped up in episode 20, Seikichi remarks (on more than on occasion) that it feels like the writers are just making stuff up in order to fill out the remaining 6 episodes.
    • Episode 22:
    Ouni: "Sora! What are you doing here?"
    Sora: "I need to be, for the story to work out."
  • Large Ham: Tetsuju is very manly and passionate, always speaking with a flair for the dramatic. Only in a few scenes does he ever talk in a very serious manner or in a lowered tone of voice.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: Sora and Ginjiro have to keep their respective secrets from the rest of the heroes until episode 16.
  • Lost in Translation: Frequently lampshaded that certain jokes just don't translate from Japanese to English.
  • Love Makes You Evil: Akai is already enough of a jerk as it is, but once he finds an injured woman in his house, he vows to do whatever he can to help her. He knows that she's the Blue Beast, but doesn't care. This is later turned into Love Redeems.
  • Love Potion: Shunpei accidentally takes some in episode 22, causing most of the females of the town to go after him.
  • Medium Awareness: So, just where did Oriku get that helicopter? She used cels left over from a previous show.
  • The Men in Black The.. well, Men In Black themselves are a covert government operation, though in action they act more like a Super Sentai team.
  • Mr. Vice Guy: O-Ise is only concerned with making money. She runs a rental store and provides most of the furnishings for the residents at the rowhouse. Part of the contract she has with them is that they have to pay up at the end of the year. The rowhouse residents purposefully avoid her on New Years Eve, knowing that if they can make it to midnight, she'll have to wait another entire year to collect on them. She's a businesswoman, through and through, but she's still an understanding and a not uncaring woman who helps out her friends. She's the one who largely finances Seikichi's operations throughout the whole series, especially from episode 21 onward.
  • Mundane Utility: Ginjiro's power can open anything. He makes his living as a locksmith.
  • No Fourth Wall: Pretty much all the time after episode 20.
  • Only Sane Man: Ginjiro for the most part, and O-Ise is this towards Genjiro.
  • Orphaned Etymology: Lampshaded, like all of the other anachronisms.
    "Sir that terminology is not in use during this time period."
  • Painful Transformation: Or consciousness splitting, but the Blue Girl still applies.
  • Precious Puppies: Onui in her dog form.
  • Precision F-Strike: When Akai tries to investigate the rowhouse and Seikichi is blocking it (English dub line): "Move, you little shit!"
  • Quirky Miniboss Squad: The Men In Black are all nicknamed after each of their own specialties. Eyes, Ears, Arms, Feet, Ankles, Knees, and Bellybutton. When doing a roll call, Feet, Ankles, and Knees often soon quarrel with each other over who gets to do what when setting up for their "Super Sentai" Stance, getting ignored in the process. They all have their own specialized (and very deadly) forms of combat specifically tailored to each of their skills and body parts though... Except for Bellybutton. He didn't pick that nickname.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: The Blue Girl's eyes do this when she gets really serious.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Oriku and Sora respectively, though subverted a bit; Sora is an enthusiastic "blue" to Oriku's tsuntsun "red".
  • The Reveal: A few times, but in one case it's subverted — Sora turns out to have known all along that Onui was really a dog.
  • The Mole: Ginjiro, but it backfires for a while later.
  • Sarashi: Ginjiro's is always visible, marking him as the designated action hero.
  • Satire: This basically is to anime what Galaxy Quest was to Star Trek.
  • Scary Shiny Glasses: Akai's actual eyes are rarely ever seen. This further cements his Jerkass attitude as well as making sure that nobody forgets that he's pretty much the main antagonist of the story.
  • Scenery Porn: The animation quality is always pretty consistent. Edo itself, whether it's the traditional wood buildings and styles of ancient Edo or the modern commercial buildings decorated with neon advertisements and billboards (the two are apparently different sectors of the city), is always beautifully detailed.
  • Sdrawkcab Name: Onui's name (おヌイ) reversed is Inuo (イヌお), which means dog.
  • Shout-Out: So, so many. Due to the Gag Dub nature of the series for both Japanes and English dubs, they all slip in their own references now and then. The English dub even has Sora talking Negima! at one point.
  • Shown Their Work: The show's descriptions of fireworks construction and the chemicals involved are, for the most part, extremely accurate.
  • Sibling Team: Tenhou and Tenten are brother and sister, and started off as street performers, specializing in illusions and slight of hand. Once the new laws went into place banning "unnecessary and unproductive" business practices, they had to close up their act. The North Edo commissioner knows how to put their talents to better use though
  • Snake Oil Salesman: Knees, literally, in his civilian identity. He isn't portrayed as a dishonest huckster, though. He's even shown demonstrating the products he sells, including a salve that instantly heals up a fresh cut he inflicts on himself for the audience.
  • Spot the Imposter: Oriku comes under suspicion that she might be the Blue Beast in disguise. Sora knows how to sort it out.
    Sora: Fansubs, good or bad.
    Oriku: Bad, of course!
    Sora: She's human.
  • Starcrossed Lovers: Akai and Yuu...until the final episode.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: This is bound to happen when fireworks are involved.
  • Sweet on Polly Oliver: Inverted. When Genzo has no choice but to put on a woman's dress, both O-Ise and Genzo's Mom discover that he's absolutely gorgeous in it. O-Ise immediately decides to cast him as Sora in her play. As soon as he goes back to wearing his usual clothing, everyone in the world goes back to forgetting who he is.
  • Theme Naming: All the members of the Men In Black are named after parts of the body.
  • There's No Place Like Home: Both Sora and the Blue Beast are both stranded on Earth due to an accident, and thus both want to go back to their homeworld. While Sora's experiences with the rowhouse residents make her realize that it wouldn't be so bad if she were to never leave Earth, the Blue Beast becomes absolutely obsessed with it.
  • Third Act Stupidity: Akai lets Seikichi and Sora go free in episode 19... so he can shoot Seikichi when his back's turned. Fortunately, Seikichi reveals he had actually been wearing something close to a bulletproof vest.
  • Together in Death: After Yuu activates the self-destruct mechanism on the ancient space ship, Akai vows to stay and die together with her. She doesn't accept this though, and ejects him out in an escape pod.
  • Transformation Sequence: Sora the first time she goes into Sky Beast form in the open.
  • Tsundere: Oriku towards Seikichi. Being from a rival firework making family as well as being childhood friends, she always keeps a competitive streak with Seikichi going.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: The commissioners outside of the rowhouse.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifter: Sora and the Blue Girl (the Blue Beasts as well).
  • Wingding Eyes: Sora and the Blue Girl both have stars inside their pupils. Other characters show various versions depending on what is happening to them. Most of the time just swirly eyes because they're dizzy.
  • Who Would Want to Watch Us?: A play is put on about the series' plot in episode 21.