Anime Review

Anime Hajime Review: Mitsuboshi Colors

Original Run: January 7, 2018 - March 25, 2018
Number of Episodes: 12
Genre: Comedy, Slice of Life
Based on the Series Created By: Katsuwo

***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Mitsuboshi Colors. Reader discretion is advised.***

Series Synopsis

The district of Ueno is one of the most famous, busiest, and most fascinating places in Tokyo. Within a few steps, you can traverse from the hustle-and-bustle of modern urban life to the peaceful tranquility of Ueno Park. Along the way, you will pass some of Japan’s most important landmarks and institutions.

There are indeed many amazing things within this unique corner of the city.

And protecting the safety and peace of it all are the energetic defenders of justice known as the Colors.

Three young girls, Yui, Sa, and Kotoha (voiced respectively by Yuki TakadaMarika Kouno, and Natsumi Hioka) make up this lively bunch. No matter the time of year and no matter the weather, if you keep your eyes open, you are sure to see the Colors running around.

In fact, their presence is so significant, this trio is just another fantastic feature within the one-of-a-kind town of Ueno.

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Series Positives

Mitsuboshi Colors was incredibly nostalgic for me. There was a time when I lived just a stone’s throw away from Ueno Park and Station. I am quite familiar with this area, and this series almost made me miss the place.

I say “almost” because Mitsuboshi Colors could not have been more misleading. To give you an idea: Every spring, Ueno Park becomes one of the most popular sakura viewing destinations in Japan, and yet, this show made it appear as though people don’t climb on top of one another to get at the perfect spot.

The crowds of Tokyo – not just Ueno – are not something you forget easily (they were the main reason I left the city). I assure you, much of what was shown in Mitsuboshi Colors was a fairy tale.

That aside, this was still a very good series.

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I’m amazed at how this show managed to replicate a small town feel within the biggest metropolis in the world. There were even times when I forgot the events of Mitsuboshi Colors were taking place near the heart of the Japanese capital.

That was when it hit me. I’ve seen something like this somewhere else.

Although Mitsuboshi Colors didn’t have the same high makeup of characters, charm, and overall quality, atmospherically speaking, this series was to the city as Non Non Biyori (one of my absolute favorite anime) was to the countryside. Both shows were beautifully animated.

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Note: I am aware Mitsuboshi Colors and Non Non Biyori came from the same studio, Silver Link. While that may explain WHY this show ended up being so well-animated, we should only concern ourselves with the fact that this show WAS well-animated.

Like Non Non Biyori before it, Mitsuboshi Colors was gorgeous. To be clear, I’m not referring to character movements, designs, or expressions. While this series had those things, there were also segments which were nothing more than glorified slideshows.

Instead, what really impressed me about this show were its backgrounds.

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Wherever the Colors went, they always appeared to exist within a blend between a highly detailed painting and a photograph. I have seen other shows overlay their animation on top of real-world pictures. Results have varied, but none have ever stood out to me. Mitsuboshi Colors is currently my only exception to this trend.

No matter how photorealistic a location looked, the three girls, Yui, Sa, and Kotoha, were always a part of the world. They weren’t cardboard cut-outs. Our trio could interact with the things around them, and their presence was tangible.

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In other words, Mitsuboshi Colors didn’t look like half-effort crap (except I did see a few hints of piss-poor CGI). This was an unexpected treat to the eyes.

While top-tier animation is never a bad thing for an anime to have, it should never be the only thing. This series’ visuals may have been great, but they were not what made this show worth watching. Along with being quite clever, Mitsuboshi Colors was also extremely detail oriented.

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Much of the humor in this series came from the small touches peppered throughout its run. Although there was a fair bit of slapstick and wordplay, Mitsuboshi Colors’ bread and butter was its use of reactions. This was more than loud, over-the-top bursts of energy (even though there was plenty of that, too).

This show was at its best when it threw in something subtler or unexpected.

Then again, no matter what a joke is on paper, it is worthless if poorly delivered. Fortunately for Mitsuboshi Colors, it had three excellent messengers that allowed this series to land hit after hit.

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The Colors

Our main trio of Yui, Sa, and Kotoha took some getting used to. These three were never bad, but they also weren’t the most interesting – initially. I urge you to remember that point because it will be brought up again later in this review.

Regardless, each of the girls had a moment that was entirely their own. By the end of this series, the Colors became the most memorable aspect of Mitsuboshi Colors.

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As the leader, Yui — on the surface — didn’t seem to be the best person for the role. Unlike her two friends, Yui was much more reserved. She was cautious and acutely aware of whenever a rule was being broken. Along with that, she was the fastest to cry in the group.

All that notwithstanding, there was never any question: Yui was the definitive leader of the Colors. She was the most even-handed, and her natural good-girl mentality usually lessened the amount of trouble the trio got into.

Plus, when angered, Yui could cut back like a knife. She delivered one of the best well-f@&$-you-too retorts I’ve heard in a long time.

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If Yui was the Colors’ pause button, Sa was the group’s fast-forward switch. Her whole thought process was: Say “yes” to every possible adventure and then maybe reflect on the consequences. I don’t recall Sa ever learning from her actions.

Mitsuboshi Colors was smart because it didn’t have Sa be a full brat. Although she was a bit full of herself at times, she was never intentionally mean. In so many words, Sa was a harmless troublemaker. She was like a pet that you just can’t stay mad at.

Therefore, Sa was at her best when she went at her own pace. No matter what was actually going on, Sa would either be focusing on her own thing or throwing in her two-cents (no matter how relevant they were to the conversation at hand). If nothing else, you could always count on her for a good chuckle.

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Finally, there was Kotoha. I knew early on she was going to be my favorite and Mitsuboshi Colors gave the perfect one-word summary of her character. She was the group’s instigator.

Kotoha was incredibly sharp and a fast problem solver. She was also willing to be as subdued as Yui or as crazy as Sa depending on whatever pulled her away from the video game she was playing. Essentially, Kotoha was the wild card of this show, and it was always a fun challenge to guess what would happen whenever she was around.

It was also thanks to Kotoha that I was able to fully invest myself into this series. There was a scene where the Colors were discussing each other’s weaknesses, and Kotoha’s shortcoming had me dying. This was an exceedingly brilliant touch, and I felt myself enjoying Mitsuboshi Colors far more afterward.

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Series Negatives

Overall, I would have to say there were two issues with Mitsuboshi Colors.

Before getting into that, though, I should preface this section with:

Of all the problems for a show to have, Mitsuboshi Colors could have done way worse. This series’ issues didn’t bring it down, but they did prevent everything from being stronger.

There have been far better shows from 2018 , and these were the two reasons why.

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One: Mitsuboshi Colors often tried too hard to make the three girls sound like young children.

I’m not going to deny the pretentiousness of such a statement since it would seem like I’m unfairly nitpicking at this show. Perhaps I am, but nevertheless, there were points in this series that felt off, and this was the only conclusion I could come to.

At the risk of turning what I’m trying to say into something even more confusing, this disparity was most evident when the Colors were at their most “childish.” The girls’ behavior — as well as their misbehavior — didn’t strike me as the kind of things kids would do.

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This came off as adults acting the way THEY imagine kids act, and the outcome was too heavy-handed.

This series was far funnier whenever the girls were saying and doing things that made them appear OLDER than they were. Whenever they “acted their age,” the trio lost some of their charm.

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Two: Mitsuboshi Colors became enjoyable, but it didn’t start out that way.

For about the first two episodes, this series was disappointingly average. Minus the beautiful animation, there was nothing to this show at the beginning.

I don’t believe this was a case of a series taking its time. It was more like Mitsuboshi Colors had yet to find its voice.

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Interestingly enough, this lackluster start largely coincided with the odd adults-pretending-to-be-kids behavior of the Colors. Funny how that was so.

As luck would have it, Mitsuboshi Colors eventually did hit upon its winning stride.

Once that happened, this show became one worth going out of your way for.

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Final Thoughts

Part of me was looking forward to this series. Clearly, though, not enough of me thought it was prudent to review this show at the end of its original run a few months prior to this post. Nevertheless, I had some expectations going in.

I’m happy to say those expectations were sufficiently surpassed.

This was one of the most beautifully animated shows of the year, and it had the added bonus of being a blast to sit through. It took a second for things to start moving, but thanks to three outstanding lead characters, once this series did get going, it went the distance.

Mitsuboshi Colors is an easy recommendation.

But these are just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this show? What would be your advice concerning Mitsuboshi Colors? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.

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For Anime Hajime, I’m LofZOdyssey, and I’ll see you next time.

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