Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi (アベノ橋魔法☆商店街, Abenobashi Mahō Shōtengai) is a Japanese anime television series created by Gainax. The supernatural comedy drama is directed by Hiroyuki Yamaga.

The series premiered April 4, 2002 on Kids Station. It was licensed in North America by ADV Films. A manga adaptation, authored by Satoru Akahori, was published in English by Tokyopop; the Tokyopop version of the manga is out of print as of August 31, 2009.[1]



During the Heian Era, Abe no Seimei was a close childhood friend of a noble named Masayuki, and his wife, Mune. While he was away from the palace, Masayuki often asked Seimei to stay by his wife's side, guarding her and keeping her company. However, during the time that they spent together, Mune and Seimei fell in love and became increasingly romantically involved. Unbeknownst to them, Masayuki soon learned of the affair, and became overcome with grief and jealousy. One day while Seimei was on a trip to Kyoto, Masayuki snapped, murdered Mune and committed suicide. Guided by a premonition, Seimei rushed back to his hometown to find out that he was too late. Overcome with guilt, he decided to perform a forbidden Onmyō ritual that would allow him to resurrect the dead by transferring himself and the bodies of Masayuki and Mune into a completely different world where they were still alive. In doing so, Seimei soon found himself as "Mr. Abe" in mid-20th-century Osaka, where Mune Imamiya and Masayuki Asahina were pre-existing residents of this alternate world. Now, Masayuki was an ambitious, but largely unsuccessful young man who had enlisted Mr. Abe's assistance to build the Abenobashi Shopping Arcade. He was also madly in love with Mune, a local girl whom he tried to woo (with little success) at every possible occasion. It was not long, however, before Mune fell in love with Abe, constantly pursuing him and offering him a home-made lunch. Abe tried for a time to resist her advances, but eventually he was no longer able to contain his feelings, and made love with Mune in his apartment. Unbeknownst to them, an instantly-jealous Masayuki accidentally discovered the truth. The next night he became staggeringly drunk and invited Abe to meet him at the Abeno Shrine, planning to murder him with a hidden butcher knife when he arrived. At first unsuspecting, Abe arrived on the scene, but once he saw the decrepitly drunk Masa he knew what was afoot. He promptly bid Masayuki farewell, then disappeared, going back to his job in the Heian Era, leaving a pregnant Mune behind him; her child is Sasshi's father.


Childhood friends Arumi and Sasshi are residents of the Abenobashi commercial district in Abeno-ku, Osaka. After an accident, they find themselves transported to an alternate sword and sorcery world. Their attempt to get back to reality finds them traversing a series of nonsensical worlds built on science fiction, war, fantasy, dating sim games and American movies. Each alternate Abenobashi is a surreal manifestation of Sasshi's otaku interests, populated by analogs of the protagonist's relatives and acquaintances and a blue-haired stranger known as Eutus.

Their quest to return home is at core a bildungsroman because the Abenobashi dimensions are mostly hobby worlds of increasing sophistication. Sasshi does not want to go home, and in fact is the sole force propelling them between worlds. While chasing a cat in the first episode, Arumi's grandfather fell off a roof and was hospitalized. With this new trauma pressuring him in addition to his apprehension about the eventual destruction of the shopping arcade and the Asahina's moving away, Sasshi was no longer willing or able to cope with reality, and unbeknownst to even himself, he had caused their dimension to rewrite itself into worlds echoing his escapist obsessions.


Main characters

Satoshi "Sasshi" Imamiya (今宮 聖志, Imamiya Satoshi)
A precocious, hyperactive, 12-year-old typical Osakan boy. He has a huge passion for collecting, Role-playing games, sci-fi, dinosaurs, guns and visual novels. Sasshi's family used to run the local bathhouse, the Turtle Bath, but was forced to give it up and move out due to redevelopment plans for the Abenobashi Shopping Arcade area. Sasshi spends his lazy days hanging out with his best friend Arumi. While visiting each world, Sasshi is quick to learn the gimmick behind each one, and eventually begins playing by the world's "rules". It is strongly hinted he has feelings for Arumi, and is preventing them from going back due to the fact she will leave for Hokkaido.
Voiced by: Tomo Saeki (Japanese); Luci Christian (English)
Arumi Asahina (朝比奈 あるみ, Asahina Arumi)
Sasshi's best friend and classmate, she is also 12 years old, having practically grown up together with him in the Abenobashi Shopping Arcade. A sensible and pragmatic girl who is a foil to Sasshi. Arumi's eccentric father and stubborn grandfather run a French restaurant in the Shopping Arcade known as the Grill Pelican. It appears, however, that the Asahina family will be closing up shop in the near future as part of redevelopment in the area and moving to Hokkaido, forcing Arumi to leave Sasshi behind. She expresses a strong distaste for every world that she and Sasshi visit.
Voiced by: Yuki Matsuoka (Japanese); Jessica Boone (English)

Other Characters

Eutus (ユータス, Yūtasu)
A recurring element of the Abenobashi dimensions who shares a bond with Sasshi, claiming to be doomed to wander dimensions until the cause of this misfortune is rectified. His real identity is the legendary onmyoji Abe no Seimei, ultimately the one who created the Abenobashi Shopping Arcade in the guise of Mr. Abe. This in turn enables the existence of Sasshi and Arumi, with Abe being the former's (illegitimate) paternal grandfather.
Voiced by: Rikiya Koyama (Japanese); Chris Patton (English)
Masayuki Asahina "Grandpa Masa" (雅ジイ, "Masa-jii")
Arumi's stubborn and willful grandfather and the founder of the Grill Pelican restaurant, Masayuki has been around since the creation of the shopping arcade and befriended its head of construction Abe. It reality, Masayuki was originally a friend of Abe in the past, committing the murder of his wife Mune out of jealously towards Abe and taking his own life. Though Abe managed to revive the two in the modern era, history nearly repeated itself and Abe is forced to leave the two to look after Abenobashi. However, Masayuki succumbs to injuries he receives in a fall from the roof of the Grille Pelican and dies. Sasshi's refusal to accept that reality is one of the reasons why he and Arumi are unable to return to their dimension, with Masayuki often depicted as a figure of high authority or importance in each parallel world.
Voiced by: Takeshi Aono (Japanese); Andy McAvin (English)
Mune-Mune (ムネムネ)
A voluptuous bespectacled redhead in the assorted Abenobashi dimensions in various roles from antagonist to comedic relief, which are always undertaken with great flair that stand her against even the surreal background of the hobby worlds. Mune-Mune is nearly always searching for Eutus, the reason tied to the fact that she is a parallel version of Sasshi's paternal grandmother Mune Imamiya in her youth, Originally, in Abe's time she was Masayuki's wife and her falling in love with Abe led to her death by her husband's hand. In his attempt to resolve this, Abe managed to revive Mune in the modern age. However, history nearly repeated itself and Abe left with Mune's heart broken. She married and started a family while running the Turtle Bath before she died of natural cases. The name Mune, literally translates to "chest" is a pun upon her parallel self's prominent breasts.
Voiced by: Aya Hisakawa (Japanese); Kaytha Coker (English)
Ms. Aki (アキ姉)
The neighborhood cross-dresser. A lifelong resident of the Abenobashi Shopping Arcade, she is quite knowledgeable about the history of the area and its people. In each parallel world, she is often depicted in various female roles.
Voiced by: Kouji Ishii (Japanese); Jason Douglas (English)
Sayaka Imamiya (今宮 沙也香・小鬼, Imamiya Sayaka)
Sasshi's older sister. A stereotypical teenage girl, she is quite intent on being cool by shying away from the family's Osaka influences. She diets and has an interest in fortune telling. Sayaka shows up within the Abenobashi dimensions accompanying Mune-mune and Ms. Aki.
Voiced by: Akemi Okamura (Japanese); Monica Rial (English)
Kouhei (幸平さん, Kōhei-san)
A shady businessman who runs a stall selling food as well as many different trinkets that may or may not be as helpful as he claims. Kouhei always seems to have a friendly aside for Sasshi and Arumi - especially when he perceives the opportunity to wring them for money. He is depicted in each parallel world as some sort of vendor.
Voiced by: Katsuyuki Konishi (Japanese); John Gremillion (English)
Arata Imamiya
Sasshi and Sayaka's father.
Voiced by: Naoki Tatsuta (Japanese); John Swasey (English)
Mitsuyo Imamiya
Sasshi and Sayaka's mother.
Voiced by: Kyoko Hikami (Japanese); Kira Vincent-Davis (English)
Tarou Imamiya
Sasshi and Sayaka's grandfather.
Voiced by: Takeshi Watabe (Japanese); Mike MacRae (English)
Tetsu "Papa" Asahina
Arumi's father.
Voiced by: Keiji Fujiwara (Japanese); Jay Hickman (English)
Ayako Asahina
Arumi's mother.
Voiced by: Mami Kingetsu (Japanese); Allison Sumrall (English)
Gin Yamamoto
Voiced by: Junko Noda (Japanese); Tiffany Grant (English)
Mune's Mother
Voiced by: Tomoko Naka (Japanese); Allison Sumrall (English)
Banker Kashiwagi
Voiced by: Kiyomitsu Mizuuchi (Japanese); Mike Vance (English)
New Bank Teller
Voiced by: Kenichi Suzumura (Japanese); John Swasey (English)

Hobby World characters

Voiced by: Mike Yantosca (English)
Voiced by: Satomi Koorogi (Japanese); Hilary Haag (English)
Voiced by: Yui Horie (Japanese); Tiffany Grant (English)
Voiced by: Mami Kingetsu (Japanese); Kira Vincent-Davis (English)
Voiced by: Kira Vincent-Davis (English)


The series is replete with cultural allusions to Japanese media, pop culture, dialects, stereotypes, businesses, games, anime, and even puns and train routes, so much so that the American DVD release includes a special feature which enables pop-up glosses: AD Vid-Notes. The distinctive Osaka dialect is put to comic use throughout the series.[citation needed]

The English dub for the series equates the Osaka dialect with Southern American English. A pamphlet included in the first DVD volume of the series states that a Texan English accent was determined to be the English equivalent of Kansai-ben because of the similarities shared by both districts in terms of cultural significance and portrayal in the media. Further supporting this decision is the "cowboy"-style appearance of Sasshi's hat, as well as the frequent use of banjo music in the soundtrack - all things that Western viewers would, incidentally, associate with Texas.[citation needed]


The manga of the same name was created after the anime was developed, and while the major characters and plot elements remain the same, the overall story arc was (according to the production notes in the first volume) changed to fit the medium better, and a few new characters and subplots are added (i.e. Ochi, a manga only character, is a young landlady who is very taken with Sasshi that receives multiple incarnations throughout the different worlds. Also, Sasshi's feelings for Arumi are much stronger and less ambiguous than they are portrayed in the anime). Furthermore, the manga features more frontal nudity than the anime.


Every Abenobashi episode after the first takes place in an alternate Shopping Arcade:

No. Title Original air date
01 "Mystery! Abenobashi Shopping Arcade"
"Fushigi! Abenobashi☆Shoutengai" (不思議!アベノ橋☆商店街) 
04 April 2002
Many of the local shops are going out of business and a new shopping area is coming. And now Sasshi and Arumi soon find that they aren’t in Osaka anymore, and instead, have suddenly been transported to a strange and magical world. 
02 "Adventure! Abenobashi Sword and Sorcery Shopping Arcade (RPG world)"
"Bouken! Abenobashi☆Ken to mahou shoutengai" (冒険!アベノ橋☆剣と魔法商店) 
11 April 2002
Osaka is gone, Arumi and Sasshi find themselves in a world full of dragons and strange mythical creatures. All the familiar faces from back home are here, but with completely different personalities, and the two are suddenly enlisted to conquer an evil force. 
03 "Hook Up! Abenobashi Great Milky Way Shopping Arcade (Science fiction world)"
"Gattai! Abenobashi☆Daiginga shoutengai" (合体!アベノ橋☆大銀河商店街) 
18 April 2002
Sasshi and Arumi believed that a strange goblin they encountered when they first arrived in the Middle Ages would have the power to send them home. Now they are stuck in a futuristic version of their home, and mecha combat may be their only means of escape. 
04 "Fire It Up! Abenobashi Hong Kong Combat Shopping Arcade (Martial arts world)"
"Moeyo! Abenobashi☆Hon Kon kakutou shoutengai" (燃えよ!アベノ橋☆香港格闘商店街) 
25 April 2002
It seems that the goblin just can’t get things right. Another attempt to send Arumi and Sasshi back home finds them now in Hong Kong, and Sasshi is enlisted to train and be a part of an upcoming tournament. 
05 "Extinction! Abenobashi Ancient Dinosaur Shopping Arcade (Prehistoric world)"
"Zetsumetsu! Abenobashi☆Kodai kyouryuu shoutengai" (絶滅!アベノ橋☆古代恐竜商店街) 
02 May 2002
Sasshi and Arumi thought for sure that they were going back home this time. Instead, they find themselves in a prehistoric version of their home, complete with the usual cast of strange relatives that they have grown accustomed to seeing. 
06 "In the Night Fog! Abenobashi Hard Boiled Shopping Arcade (Hardboiled world)"
"Yogirino! Abenobashi☆Haado boirudo shoutengai" (夜霧の!アベノ橋☆ハードボイルド商店街) 
09 May 2002
Now, Sasshi and Arumi are in a new version of their home that has a vibe very similar to 1930’s gangster films, but they both end up working on opposite sides, unintentionally of course. 
07 "Flashback! Magical Shopping Arcade (Abenobashi during the late 1950s during the Allied occupation)"
"Kaisou! Mahou shoutengai☆Tanjou" (回想!魔法商店街☆誕生) 
16 May 2002
A more somber look at the magical shopping arcade as told from those that were there some 50 years ago. 
08 "Set Your Heart Aflutter! Abenobashi Campus Shopping Arcade (Dating sim world)"
"Tokimeke! Abenobashi☆Gakuen shoutengai" (ときめけ!アベノ橋☆学園商店街) 
23 May 2002
Sasshi thinks that he and Arumi might have made it back to their world until he notices all of the cute high school girls wandering around in droves. It's at that point he realizes that they have found their way into a dating simulation video game. 
09 "It Cries! The Bush Warbler Heiankyo (Abenobashi during the Heian period)"
"Nakuyo! Uguisu☆Heiankyou" (泣くよ!うぐいす☆平安京) 
30 May 2002
Arumi has left Sasshi out of pure frustration, and probably because she looks like a goblin, and also probably due to the fact that she's grown over 50 feet high. Eutus has agreed to help Sasshi get back home and reveals the truth to him, as well as their karmic connection. 
10 "Fluffy, Bubbly! Abenobashi Fairy Tale Shopping Arcade (Fairy tale world)"
"Pawapawa! Abenobashi☆Meruhen shoutengai" (ぽわぽわ!アベノ橋☆メルヘン商店街) 
06 June 2002
Determined to find the perfect place that will make Arumi happy, and where he won't have to deal with her grandfather's death, Sasshi puts the two of them in a fairy tale world. But Arumi isn't happy at all. 
11 "Resolution!! Abenobashi Battlefield Shopping Arcade (War world)"
"Ketsudan!! Abenobashi☆Senjou shoutengai" (決断!!アベノ橋☆戦場商店街) 
13 June 2002
After the troubles of the amusement park, Sasshi and Arumi are now at war. 
12 "Huge Reversal?! Abenobashi Hollywood Shopping Arcade (Hollywood world)"
"Taigyakuten!? Abenobashi☆Hariuudo shoutengai" (大逆転!?アベノ橋☆ハリウッド商店街) 
20 June 2002
The two now find themselves in a world of Sasshi’s favorite movies. 
13 "Return To Life! The Legendary Onmyou Mystic"
"Yomigaere! Maboroshi no omyouji☆" (甦れ!まぼろしの陰陽師☆) 
27 June 2002
Arumi and Sasshi are finally making their way home. But Arumi's grandfather will still be dead. Sasshi refuses to let that happen, so he jumps again into another world. But in the end he cannot dream away reality...unless he can dream away the mistakes of the past. 


Magical☆Shopping Arcade Abenobashi received an Excellence Award for animation at the 2002 Japan Media Arts Festival.[2]


  1. ^ "TOKYOPOP Inc. Out of Print Titles." Tokyopop. 1 Archived October 13, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.." Retrieved on September 10, 2009.
  2. ^ Archive, Japan Media Arts Festival. "Excellence Award - Abenobashi Maho Shotengai Award Animation Division 2002 [6th] Japan Media Arts Festival Archive". Japan Media Arts Festival Archive. Retrieved 2017-03-30. 

External links