Anime Review: Level E

level e coverThis is an anime I did not hear one bit about before catching the first two episodes of by chance, late at night at a convention. Episode two ended in a cliff-hanger, so I couldn’t help but find and watch the rest. It proved to be a most unusual show!

There’s no real way to do justice here without some pretty massive spoilers, so…

SPOILER ALERT!

This show, science fiction, largely follows the s̶a̶d̶i̶s̶t̶i̶c̶ s̶c̶h̶e̶m̶e̶s̶ crazy misadventures of an e̶v̶i̶l̶ eccentric alien prince and h̶i̶s̶ ̶v̶i̶c̶t̶i̶m̶s̶ the people around him.

The show starts typically enough for one involving aliens on Earth, including a story about the prince, Baka, crash landing, losing lots of his memory, and having to hide out from shadowy government institutions and other hostile aliens in some hapless Earthling’s apartment. This particular Eartling is Yukitaka, a high school baseball player, who shelters Baka despite the tremendous annoyance it causes him, mostly because Baka loves messing with him, and most anyone else for that matter. Yukitaka is assisted by his next-door neighbor, Miho, an attractive girl, his age, whose father works for one of those alien-hunting scientific institutions. At the same time, the Prince’s bodyguards, Captain Kraft and his subordinates, Sado and Colin, are searching for him, and have to play very nice with the local aliens who have immigrated to Earth. Oh, and Baka manages to deeply offend these “other” aliens.

Sounds fairly typical, right? Still, keeping in mind that this is all within the first two episodes, I was very much enjoying it. It was a well-told story, and hilarious. As all friendly parties managed to meet up, hostile parties are getting ready to crush the entire lot of them. End of episode two.

Episode three delivered a massive punchline, which all of this was building up to: it was all a scheme hatched by Prince Baka “to test the loyalty of his bodyguards,” though “just to mess with them for fun” sounds more believable to anyone familiar with Baka’s character, or lack thereof. Everything he had done, including invading Yukitaka’s apartment to pay the “other aliens” for their part in his scheme by giving them an in-depth look at a most promising young baseball star’s daily life (they are extreme baseball fans).

All of this… for a gag. And one which still makes me laugh.

"No need to get so angry. Or violent. Admit it, you laughed too. Admit it... search your feelings... I am content to wait as long as it takes for you to decide not to murder me... just admit it..."

“No need to get so angry. Or violent. Admit it, you laughed too. Admit it… search your feelings… I am content to wait as long as it takes for you to decide not to murder me…”

Truly, Prince Baka has a most unique brand of humor, where he loves using people as his playthings, like a puppeteer. This might not be such a bad thing on its own, but his sadism is matched only by his brain, including an IQ that puts geniuses to shame, a massive knowledge base, and a ruthless cunning. The combination of which is directed at anyone he pleases.

The rest of the twelve-episode show involves what turns out to be a horror story written by Baka, some elementary school students he forcibly turns into Color Rangers (an obvious parody of everything like the Power Rangers) for his own amusement, averting the extinction of the human race when an alien princess wants to mate with them (long story, watch the anime for the details), a strange phenomena or two, and concluding with a cat-and-mouse game as Prince Baka tries to avoid getting married.

That last one, in particular, is even better than it sounds. While this is, honestly, a fairly disjointed story, everything is brought together in the end, albeit indirectly. Baka has proven, by this point, to have one of the most dangerous minds in the universe, mostly selfish but occasionally serving useful ends, but he finally meets his match in the woman pursuing him. Yes, she is pursuing him. That should tell you all you need to know about her, and her triumph over him is glorious. Through all the convoluted scheming, she manages, in the end, to outwit even him.

She’s a serious looker, but tricking him, for all his brilliance, into marrying her? I do believe she just managed to catch his heart too, now she’s proven she’s not just a pretty face. And it looks like she’ll be a good influence on him too. The universe really hopes that is the case!

In addition to the hilarity and the intrigue, what I like most about this show is their unique take on aliens, and their interactions with Earthlings, their intentions in coming to Earth. There are all sorts of aliens, with all sorts of cultures, and all sorts of purposes behind their interstellar visits. And when the humans become aware of them all around the world all at once, even that is atypical. Most stories have it happening because of an invasion, or exploration, or extermination, or accidents, or simple first contact. Level E is the only story I can readily recall where humanity’s awareness of alien life is heralded by a wedding.

The happy couple who may or may not destroy the universe!

The happy couple who may or may not destroy the universe!

Not fear and death, but life.

Though, as anyone who’s been married knows, not necessarily “peace!” LOL!

And the story behind that wedding, where the bride tricks her devious groom into saying “I do?” That’s a tale to last the ages!

All in all, I’m giving Level E a good 8 stars out of 10.

Grade: B-plus.

If you want something sci-fi, comical, unusual without being mind-warping, I recommend trying this one out.

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