Winter 2017 Anime Preview: ēlDLIVE

screenshot-2017-01-09-21-30-28
ēlDLIVE is fairly standard, supernatural action meets middle school fare, but with a compelling enough conceit to to be worth a watch.

Chuta Kokonose, has always tried to disassociate with others, mostly because he often talks to himself while accidentally ignoring them. More specifically, he chats away with an autonomous voice reverberating in his head that only he can hear. The Mothers Computer, a precognition-equipped web of artificial intelligences, apparently sensed this voice’s real identity. So it dispatched intergalactic operatives to recruit Chuta to ēlDLIVE, the police force of the universe.

screenshot-2017-01-09-21-27-42The Solar System’s bureau of ēlDLIVE, a floating spaceship chalk full of different species, is led by a suave eyepatch-wearing humanoid chief named Laine Brick. And whether Chuta wants it or not, Laine thrusts the job of ēlDLIVE officer upon him, so long as he can successfully slap some space handcuffs on a specific low-ranked alien criminal on Earth. It’s a pretty sudden shift. The withdrawn middle school boy with voices in his head (and whose only redeemable skill appears to be home economics) can snag a job with the space Men in Black — so long as he passes the entrance exam.

Misuzu Sonokata, ēlDLIVE’s female lead, simultaneously grounds the show and serves as Chuta’s foil throughout the episode. She’s his classmate and the girl he has a one-sided crush on. Misuzu also turns out to be an ēlDLIVE officer, and she does not approve of Chuta’s hiring one bit. Voiced by Saori Hayami, her monotone dismissal of Chuta as a delusional pervert who murmurs to himself comes across clearly, and it suits her character design perfectly. The “delusional” complaint seems apparent, but the “pervert” one rears its head during the only sequence that initially made me balk during the premiere.

jan-09-2017-21-24-55I gagged when Chuta made googly eyes at Saotome, an exceedingly buxom teacher that departs from the show’s other character designs, seductively wrestles two of her students under each arm, and then invites one of them to karaoke. My reflexive distaste turned out to be intended by ēlDLIVE’s creators. Saotome isn’t human. She’s Chuta’s first alien target. A gelatinous monster disguised as an attractive woman to lure human boys into becoming its meals.

Chuta’s parasite pal is ēlDLIVE’s great narrative conceit

After expressing a strong desire to save his classmate from Saotome, the voice in Chuta’s head reveals itself as a multi-billion-year-old symbiotic alien parasite. It can physically manifest from his chest and perform telepathic attacks if Chuta imagines them.

jan-09-2017-21-22-43Both Chuta and the other supporting characters show believable growth within ēlDLIVE’s premiere, and Chuuta’s quirky character is quickly developed by his actions, and the world around him. Few middle school boys have a sewing machine on their home desk instead of a computer, and his aptitude for domestic tasks (thanks to his clutz of an aunt serving as his guardian) is woven throughout the whole episode. From his absentminded speed-cutting of a cucumber during cooking class, to his final telepathic sewing attack on Saotome, there’s enough to dig into with ēlDLIVE beyond ‘teenage orphan with superpowers.’

Some brief but effective flashbacks also communicate why his past misadventures with the voice in his head affect his reluctance to communicate with others. Watching Chuta sort out his interpersonal communication shortcomings and work with Misuzu as an ēlDLIVE officer to fight aliens can’t be anything but a ton of fun.

ēlDLIVE is streaming on Crunchyroll.

3 comments on “Winter 2017 Anime Preview: ēlDLIVE

  1. Karandi says:

    There’s certainly a lot of growth potential in the concept of this show but the first episode was very rough. I’m hoping it manages to pull itself together.

    • Rough in terms of animation? pacing? I easily agree with your growth point, but I didn’t have any major gripes with the production. I’m always learning, so I’d love to hear what you saw.

      • Karandi says:

        Mostly just story. Too many standard introductions and jokes that didn’t quite land while setting up the characters and the plot. The second half of the episode got better but it still wasn’t quite hitting the mark. Still, it was a first episode so I’m hoping it finds its feet. There was nothing really bad about the first episode but it also wasn’t an instant must watch. At least not for me.

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