Xebec is one of those studios with a decent output that I’ve somehow managed to largely overlook. I’ve reviewed three of their works so far. The good Rinne No Lagrange, the mediocre Bakuretsu Hunters and the downright terrible Mnemosyne. Since this review I’ve added Zombie Loan to that list. One trend you may notice is that these works tend to be for older audiences. So, how does a studio like Xebec handle an anime with children as the primary audience? To find out let’s look at Bottle Fairy.
Bottle Fairy doesn’t have a cohesive story so much as it does a scenario. Four faeries associated with the seasons come to Earth in bottles where they live with a bloke they know only as “Sensei-san” and try to learn about the human world. Unfortunately for them, most of their information comes from television dramas and the first grader next door, Tama-chan, who thinks she’s more knowledgeable than she actually is. The main elements of comedy revolve around them finding out about an aspect of the human world, be it love letters, Golden week, a school’s opening ceremony or something else, and trying to figure it out and explore it through imaginative play coloured by what they’ve seen on television and the misinformation they get from Tama-chan. It actually reminds me of Calvin and Hobbes in the way imagination is employed. Now, a lot of the humour in this is firmly based on Japanese culture. However, since the faeries are learning about the human world, I don’t think the humour loses much, if anything, in translation. The audience basically learns about the various aspects along with them unless the audience knows the information already. Except for possibly the jokes that work as plays on words, but there really aren’t many jokes like that. Most of the humour comes from their imagined scenarios which are pretty hilarious. The only episodes that don’t really work very well are the last two which don’t have a lot of the imaginative play that defines the rest of the series in favour of doing a slightly more serious plot. They still have some funny moments, but the humour is much weaker. I do like the way they give each month it’s own episode in order to explore a year of time and various events throughout. It’s quite a clever setup, especially since there isn’t much in terms of plot.
The characters in this are quite simplistic. I know, it’s shocking when an anime for kids has simple characters. That being said, they are a lot of fun and they interact well with each other. The weakest character is probably Sensei-san who tends to stay out of the humorous segments, returning to help wrap things up. He’s not a horrible character, but he is pretty bland and he doesn’t do much.
The art in this is cutesy, which fits in with the series even if it’s not an art style I tend to like that much, and kind of minimalistic. Don’t get me wrong, there are some really good details in the imagination sequences and the costumes they wear during those sequences tend to be surprisingly intricate. However, they never do more than they really need to. So a lot of the backgrounds are pretty bare.
This series got a pretty spectacular cast. Nonaka Ai, Horie Yui, Nazuka Kaori and Mizuki Nana take on the main roles as Hororo, Sarara, Chiriri, and Kururu and they’re all fantastic. They give energetic performances with some emotional scenes, usually when the girls are over-reacting to something for the sake of humour. One odd thing about the music is that the series has five ending themes. This anime has all of thirteen episodes. I mentioned earlier that each month gets one but there’s also a finale. Each faerie gets to sing her own seasonal based ending and the finale has an ensemble cast. So, while it’s kind of odd to have that many endings, it does work for the series and they’re all sung well. The music is mostly energised and pretty enjoyable.
The yuri factor is a 4/10. Here’s the thing, the faeries engage in a lot of different imagined scenarios. Some of which put them in the roles of love interests for each other. So you do get quite a few homo-erotic moments in the series.
So, how is Bottle Fairy? Well, it’s a creative work with a lot of imagination and a great sense of humour. Even with a few weak episodes, it’s still really enjoyable. I’m going to give it an 8/10. Check it out for some light-hearted fun. You may just learn something about Japanese culture in the process. Besides, the episodes are less than fifteen minutes long so it’s a quick watch.