Go West [1940]

After Keitaro and Naru fail the entrance exam for prestigious Tokyo University--she for the first time, he for the third--they set off independently for Kyoto to think about life. They meet on the train after breaking their glasses, fail to recognize each other, and become fast friends--until an optometrist resets their lenses. The recognition scene feels improbable, even by cartoon standards, but their new friendship suggests future complications for this popular romantic comedy. The stand-out episode on the collection is the very funny "Kendo Girl": man-hating martial artist Motoko dreams herself into an old video game that spoofs Sailor Moon, El Hazard, and other anime series. The Dragon Palace and giant turtle are references to the Japanese folk tale "Urashima Taro," which plays off Keitaro's last name, Urashima--jokes American viewers may not catch. Rated 13 Up: Comic violence, risqué humor, tobacco use. --Charles Solomon

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