Western Conection
Western Connection
1: WEST 033
2: WEST 036
3: WEST 040
All sub

Cert 12

Slow Step

On the plus side, this is the only Mitsuru Adachi anime to be released to the UK or the US market (and that annoys a few US folk!) On the minus side, it's a Western Connection release, which inevitably means poor quality tapes and those annoying subtitles that seem to be timed by accident, contain spelling mistakes and are possibly a little too big.

However, let us deal with the story. It all centres, as many Adachi stories do, around young people trying to get it together in relationships in some sort of adversity. Slow Step cuts to the chase very early on when a young girl, Minatsu, witnesses a hit and run and identifies the guilty party to the police. Said party isn't happy about it and tries to do something to silence her, but not before the intervention of a neighbour, who happens to be the local boxing champion. To cut a long story short and to avoid spoilers, the whole thing resolves itself into a love triangle, especially after Minatsu disguises herself as Maria; first to avoid the gangsters that want to hurt her, later for fun and later still because she is frightened of what could happen if her neighbour, who has fallen in love with Maria, ever found out about her alter-ego. Since she already has one boy madly in love with her, and he is also a boxer, this could get painful!

The story doesn't end with that love triangle either as a third suitor, a softball teacher and former university boxing star, gets involved too. He wants a wife to care for him and his niece, though he sometimes has a funny way of showing it! Add to that a delinquent softball catcher, a softball coach that has a phobia of women and a principle that does a good Hitler impression, plus the usual sprinkling of hormonally active high school kids, and there you have it.

Packaging aside, the series is surprisingly addictive if you aren't looking for major fighting scenes or huge stompy mecha. It's a good example of shojo anime, though it does suffer from a number of stalled subplots, no doubt victims of production budgets. Whether it would ever capture a wide market in the UK is dubious at best, but then you have to consider the typical market. It was a brave decision by Western Connection to release it, but I am not convinced that this form of anime could ever capture a big enough audience in the UK to justify more releases. Having said that, I liked it a lot, and if my rating puzzles anyone, it may be because, in the end, if I have enjoyed what I have watched, it deserves the praise.

[4 stars]

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