When Kamogawa Asumi was very little, the spaceship "Lion" (Shishi-gou) crashed over her town of Yuigahama, killing many, including Asumi's mother who passed away from massive burns after being in a coma.
When Asumi was in elementary school, she met Lion-san, a man with a lion head over his head, who only she could see. Lion-san and Asumi became fast friends and he encouraged her to follow her dream of becoming an astronaut.
Now Asumi is thirteen and is going to the new Tokyo Space School to learn how to become an astronaut. How will she face the many challenges that await her?
I could easily review this anime in one word: "SQUEE!" I really enjoyed this anime a lot, and I feel that it's really underrated. Just why does doinkies enjoy this anime?
The first and most important reason is the character of Asumi herself. Asumi is devoted to her dreams and even though she faces adversity and was exposed to a traumatic situation at a young age, she never, ever whines or angsts like certain doinks (coughShinjicoughcoughShiponcough). I found myself liking her a lot. Lion-san, despite his "doinky kiddie show" appearance, isn't annoying in the slightest and doesn't distract from the story. Asumi's friends at school, Oumi Kei, Fuchuuya Shinnosuke, and Suzuki Shuu, are also likable. But perhaps the most intriguing character is Ukita Marika, another one of Asumi's friends whose stoic personality hides a dark past where she was cooped up inside by her father, who said that she wasn't the "real Marika". You want to know more about her, but unfortunately the anime ends before we can.
The plot is also a good one, and there are many heartwarming and heartbreaking moments to be found. Indeed I was moved to tears by one of the earlier episodes where the five-year-old Asumi falls into the river and hallucinates about the River Sanzu (the river of the underworld) and meeting her mother ... but she cannot tell her that she is her daughter. That episode and many other moments got me crying every time. Unfortunately, the ending is a rather open-ended one, and while it wasn't a bad ending, they probably should have thought of something better.
The art is great to look at and the character designs are also pleasant. They remind me of Studio Ghibli character designs a little. The animation is your average TV-quality stuff. The music, especially the powerful opening song, is awesome ... it's doinky that they never put out a soundtrack for this series because doinkies would have bought it immediately.
In short, I highly recommend this series. Hopefully it'll get licensed so more people will have a chance to watch it.
A great show! Subtract a star if you don't like anime that have a somewhat slow pace. — Jennifer Berman
Recommended Audience: This aired on NHK (the Japanese equivalent of America's PBS or the UK's BBC) so there isn't much that is objectionable. However, this series does talk about death and it is very emotional, so it is not recommended for the very little ones.
Version(s) Viewed: Prerelease fansub
Review Status: Full (20/20)
Twin Spica © 2003 Yaginuma Kou / Media Factory / NHK / NEP / Sogo Vision
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