Level E was one of the biggest anime titles during the winter 2011 anime season, but was it a good series or did it ultimately flop? Being a huge fan of Yu Yu Hakusho and Hunter x Hunter I was excited to see this manga get turned into an anime, but I honestly knew nothing about the manga. The only thing I truly knew about the series was that it was a sci-fi comedy, something that is rare to find. After watching it I can firmly say that this series has a lot to offer, but it is not one with out its faults.
The strangest part about the series is how it is structured. The anime is unique because it has a very arc-type story structure. Every few episodes the story and main characters change. The arcs are the weakest part about the anime. The first arc is great, so good in fact that all of the following arcs just don’t live up to it. I won’t say that I didn’t enjoy the arcs, while some of them ran long or just didn’t hit all the right notes as the first arc did, they still are enjoyable. It is just harder to watch them because of the dramatic drop in comedy that the first arc had. This creates a disappointing atmosphere that makes Level E lose a lot of quality.
The comedy in Level E is very hit and miss, however, because it is a sci-fi comedy it is a very unique anime. It is very important however that you like the comedy. If you find yourself not enjoying the comedy in episode 1, you should stop watching because that is what Level E is all about. Now one thing that I can guarantee you, which might be a bit of a spoiler, is that every arc ends in a gag. Think of the story of each arc as one big joke and the punchline is at the end. That is the bread and butter of Level E or the core essence if you will. Personally, I only found one of the punchlines weak, while the rest did a good job of ending the arc. Even the weaker arcs where better when they ended and not to say that I was glad they ended, but that the endings are particularly hilarious.
The biggest strength of this anime is unquestionably the characters. The main character, Prince Baka, is the biggest troll to ever hit the anime scene. He is all about playing tricks, gags, and pranks on everyone around him. If there is one reason to watch Level E, it would be to see this character. He might not ever be as famous as some characters, but after watching Level E he will always be one to remember. There are other characters that support him very well too. The first character you meet in the anime is Yukitaka Tsutsui, the aspiring baseball player who was recruited to a small town to play for the high school. He provides a great counter weight for the Princes gags since he is a down to earth kind of guy. My personal favorite is Captain Kraft. Kraft is the poor individual that is forced to protect the Prince, but is always subjected to his tricks and is constantly being torchered by the Prince. This turns Kraft into a very cynical character, who is constantly wanting the Prince to suffer.
Ultimately you have to take Level E for what it is, a non-serious gag anime. The manga was cancelled after a year, which is why I never should have had such high expectations, but even with all of its weaknesses it still managed to be funny and have a strong cast. This might sound bad, but being that it is only 13 episodes it also makes it much easier to watch. It is a great series to either marathon entirely or just watch each arc in one sitting. I admit that the middle arcs aren’t as good, but the beginning and end are fantastically brilliant.