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From Yuu Watase, mangaka of Fushigi Yuugi, Alice 19th, and Absolute Boyfriend, comes Arata Kangatari; the story of two young men from different worlds who end up trading places.

The premise is simple. Two young men, both named Arata, switch places. Arata Hinohara from modern-day Japan and ends up in a strange, magical world where he finds out that he has just been accused of a murder neither he nor the original Arata committed. One thing that I always loved about Yuu Watase’s work was its world building. (Incidentally, one of the reasons why I love 12 Kingdoms so much, and I recommend everyone to check out that series too.) I absolutely love the pseudo-Japanese, fantasy setting here. The power system and political system are really intriguing and as the series progresses we’ll be treated to more glimpses into the world.

The “young hero who falls into another world” trope certainly isn’t new. See Kyou Kara Maou, of even Watase’s own Fushigi Yuugi for other such occurances. However, the use of two parallel storylines is interesting. A bit of a juggling act, but if this series can pull it off and share the screen time while keeping both stories equally interesting then it will be another plus point.

At this point I want to refrain from talking about characters because, while none of them really stand out, it’s only the first episode. I do have some sympathy for Hinohara Arata, however. Being bulled, being betrayed by your only friend, only to end up in some crazy world where people shoot arrows at you...that’s one sucky day.

The real mystery, of course, is the Twelve Shinsho. Judging from their character designs, they’ll probably have character-defining powers. It will either be interesting or tedious to be introduced to all twelve. At the same time, there’s Hinohara Arata’s past. They were hinting something that happened in middle school, probably including his old school mate. Well, I will be tuning into the next episode...