What’s it about? Chuta Kokonose is a middle school boy who has always had a voice in his head. It talks over the voices around him, and he inadvertently replies to it, meaning he often appears to be distracted or talking to himself. He lives in a muffin shop with his aunt since his parents died and tries not to interact too much with other people – not difficult as he has a reputation for being a bit weird. One day he’s helping out at the shop when he’s surrounded by a beam of light. The light transports him to a spaceship housing the space police elDLIVE, where they ask him to join the force and help capture bad aliens.
First off, it’s ‘ELDLIVE’, not ‘eidlive’ like I thought for days. It still feels like it should have been something like ‘L-DRIVE’, and only time will tell whether that romanisation choice has a reason.
I started off really impressed with elDLIVE for its portrayal of a ‘weird’ kid experiencing auditory hallucinations. I have no frame of reference to know how accurate this is (and unsurprisingly it turns out it’s not because of mental illness anyway so accuracy is a moot point) but I can feel for a kid who gets labelled weird for reacting to something that’s outside his control. I was so invested in this side of his character that I was almost disappointed when it slipped into its real story of space crime-fighting with aliens. This probably won’t be the response from most viewers!
They’re going full Men in Black with the variety of alien lifeforms, except for the major elDLIVE officers he will interact with, who are more humanoid. (My film studies education finally paid off when this kid ended up in space next to a talking moon called Méliès.) It’s a cute monster-of-the-week premise which feels like the kind of Saturday morning cartoons I grew up with. Kids will enjoy it as it stands, but I hope has some substance to it.
What substance there is will come from his own increased confidence and his relationship with unreasonably harsh classmate Misuzu Sonokata. He’s thought she was cute for some time and was content for his interest to stay one-sided, but unintentionally catches her attention at a bad moment and receives acknowledgement via a crushing put-down. She is likely to change her opinion of him as his character develops, and hopefully some of her severity will be softened as we learn more about her.
There is a Fanservice-sensei, and her introduction is pretty unpleasant. She walks down the school hallway with almost-exposed breasts bouncing to ridiculous levels, a male student pressed cheek-first into each one. Close-ups of her lips, breasts and crotch are cut in, just in case you weren’t sure how to view this teacher. Thankfully she’s a minor character; introducing a major character in this way probably would have been a dealbreaker for me.
For my part, Chuta’s character is the biggest positive of the show. I find him likeable, and even moments where his eyes settled on a woman’s breasts or skirt didn’t bother me that much because they were infrequent and low key, a plausible teenager’s wandering eye. If you like Chuta less, they will bother you more.
Other than that, there’s not a lot to say about this show from a feminist perspective just yet. Probably the most noteworthy aspect of this show is its unusual visual direction, with interesting choices made with colours and transitions. It’s worth another episode, if you like the premise and can make it past Fanservice-sensei – episode two is all about Chuta’s classmate Misuzu, and should give a better idea of how feminist-friendly this show is likely to be.