What Is It?
Omishi Magical Theater: Risky Safety is a 24-episode comedy series by Rei Omishi (Sorcerer Hunters, Maze: The Mega-Burst Space). The series was produced by Studio A.P.P.P. and directed by Koji Masunari (Magi – The Kingdom of Magic, R.O.D – The TV). In North America, the series was released by AN Entertainment in 2003, and was the first of three titles to be released by the company.
Risky Safety revolves around Moe Katsuragi, a girl with a heart of glass. After catching her boyfriend with another girl, Moe has pretty much given up on life. Her mind’s going to dark places, and the thought that just ending everything would solve all of her problems.
Before we go any further, I’d like to state this bluntly. This is a kid’s show. We’re not going to catch Moe downing a bottle of ZzzQuil, nor will we see her dangling from a light fixture. That would be morbid and therefore horrifying.
That said, Moe’s despair summons the very metaphor for death in the form of a spunky apprentice shinigami named Risky. Risky is a girl on a mission, as she’s been tasked with taking Moe’s soul to the not-so-peaceful hereafter. She’s fierce, and she’s ready to do anything to drive Moe to the brink.
Did I mention that Risky’s six inches tall and adorable? It throws a bit of a damper on the whole “spooky spirit of death” thing, but she makes it work. Kind of. Well, she would, if she weren’t sharing a body with a pesky apprentice angel.
That’s right, much like Birdy the Mighty or Maze, Risky shares her body with a kind-hearted apprentice angel named Safety. Whenever there is positive energy in the air, it’s Safety’s turn to make the world a more sunshiny place overall.
Safety’s the polar opposite of Risky in every regard. She’s honest, sweet, and willing to do whatever she can to show people that the world is amazing, life is worth living, and unicorns fart out rainbows. Well, maybe not the last one.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.
Anyway, since the two don’t exactly have an assignment and Moe is well taken care of, the two opt to keep an eye on the girl as she goes about her daily life. With the angel and death goddess in tow, Moe slowly learns about the little joys and sadnesses in life, and how they tie into the true meaning of happiness.
Why Was It Passed Up?
I’m not going to say that this was a show that flew under the radar. On the contrary, AN Entertainment pushed it heavily. The show was featured heavily on AnimeNation’s news blog and web store, and the show was covered by a large amount of the “staple” anime fan sites in the day.
It should also be noted that, about a month before the first DVD shipped to retailers, AN Entertainment placed the entire first episode of Risky Safety online for viewing in both dubbed and subbed formats.
Mind you, this was at a time when YouTube didn’t exist, Bittorrent was just starting to become a thing, and broadband was available in just shy of 26.2 homes. Fansubs were still being traded in .rm format, in some places!
It was a very forward-thinking thing to do, in retrospect. Still, it wasn’t enough to save the show.
Risky Safety‘s first volume hit stores in July 2003. This was a period when the anime bubble was really starting to grow, and dozens of titles were hitting store shelves every week. In its début month, 93 titles hit store shelves, averaging about 23 releases per week. This included a ton of heavy hitters, including the following:
- .hack//SIGN DVD 3 (Standard & Limited Edition)
- Cardcaptor Sakura DVD 16
- Chobits DVD 3
- Dragon Ball Piccolo Jr. Set 1
- Dragon Ball Z Majin Buu Boxed Set (DVD & VHS)
- FLCL DVD 3 (Standard & Limited Edition)
- Revolutionary Girl Utena DVD 7 (Standard & Limited Editions)
- Sailor Moon Season 1 Uncut (DVD)
- You’re Under Arrest DVDs 7, 8, & 9 (Also Boxed Set)
It was a stacked month. And, let’s be real. When given a choice between the very first uncut release of the original Sailor Moon in the west ever and a prototypical moe show, most people were going to go for Sailor Moon. Even if it looked like butt and sounded like it was being played through a tin can.
The show just didn’t have a chance. the releases didn’t get better as time went on, either. AN Entertainment printed 2,500 limited edition art boxes for the show, which were bundled with volume 3. By 2007, when AnimeNation lost the license to the show, stock of this limited release was still plentiful to the point that Right Stuf was selling complete series sets with the box for $14.99. Even then, it took at least a month and a half to sell through the remaining inventory.
Why this show?
Omishi Magical Theater: Risky Safety was a truly groundbreaking series for its time. It was an early stab at what we now recognize as moe anime, and introduced a number of tropes that are still present in shows of its ilk today.
Aside from that, though, the show is just fun. The characters are wonderfully written and exhibit a fantastic overall chemistry. In particular, the interplay between Risky and Safety is just priceless as they argue and bicker with one another, often poofing back and forth as they try to traverse the length of Moe’s bedroom, if not less. The visual humor, while offbeat, is peppered with countless genuinely funny visual gags and nods that will have keen observers hunting.
The show’s animation is particularly nice, given the show’s age. It’s an early digital production, which means that there are a few cases where the immersion is broken by an awkward cut, or an object that seem sto move a bit too smoothly in comparison to the rest of the items onscreen. These are rare, though, and tend to be offset by truly gorgeous backgrounds and little animation flourishes that will help make certain scenes just pop for the viewer.
Risky Safety is a charming, cute show that seems to hit all of the right notes. It’s adorable when it needs to be, but also manages to tug at the heart-strings. It’s silly and funny, though there’s a gravity to a lot of the show as a whole.
If it were to hit in today’s market, Risky Safety would probably be seen as a decent entry into the vast library of moe shows. It wouldn’t be hailed on the level of, say, K-On or Haruhi, but it would find its niche as a solid series. Today, though, the show sits, forgotten and ignored.
It’s a shame. The show is an underloved gem that’s truly fun to watch, with fantastic characters and a playful sense of whimsy that will endear even the most jaded fan.