Miracle Train: miraculous anime or train wreck?

NB: Some of my earliest blogs no longer have their accompanying images but enjoy the copy!

It’s time for another anime review! The focus this week is on Miracle Train -Ōedo-sen e Yōkoso, a 13-episode series from 2009. The formula is relatively simple: ‘troubled ladies’ unwittingly board a magic train running through the Oedo line on the Tokyo Underground, where personified versions of some of your favourite tube stops have to solve their problems.

Just your average day in Tokyo, right?

So, the verdict: is the Miracle Train actually miraculous or is it a horrible train-wreck of an anime series?

The train stations are entertaining but two-dimensional

Alright, so this anime falls into the bishounen/reverseharem category, so I shouldn’t have expected much else. For those of you who don’t know, reverse harem are basically shows where there are basically lots of handsome young men and the female character flits from one personality to the other because she can’t decide who she likes most. (Worst definition ever, but it gives you the basic idea).

So, from left to right we have:

Shinjuku- OK, everyone’s heard of Shinjuku, so of course he’s the popular ladiesman.

Shiodome- The youngest station of the group (this station actually opened later than the others).

Roppongi- General all-round nice guy, although the Roppongi station is actually famous for its rich folk and night life.

Tocho-mae- The serious bossman. This district is actually most famous for its administrative offices.

Tsukishima- Basically, this guy’s quiet and likes cooking. Tsukishima is famous for the dish ‘monjayaki’.

Ryogoku- hot-headed history nut, named after the district which is home to the Edo-Tokyo Museum and sumo wrestling sites.

The little dog there is called Tokugawa. He talks, which is pretty standard in anime. The only other recurring characters are the child-like guide Akari and mysterious masked conductor. Why the Oedo line needs either of these things is a mystery…

The personification of the underground stations is a nice touch and gives the show its overly-stereotyped yet well-rounded male cast. I found them funny, which distracted me from the non-existent character development or conflict.

The ‘troubled ladies’ are hardly troubled

I think this is probably the most diappointing aspect of the show. I was expecting some serious problems such as ‘my parents kicked me out of the house’ or ‘I’m addicted to drugs’ . Instead they rolled onto the train with problems such as ‘I fancy a guy but he really likes trains and I only pretend to like trains and he still doesn’t fancy me and life is so hard’! Then again, I suppose the more convoluted problems can’t be resolved within a 25 minute episode.

The Miracle Train needs some screening criteria for its passengers…

That’s not to say that none of the female passengers were likeable or have actual problems, although there were only one or two who I couldn’t wait to see step of the train by the end of the episode. I did tear up at one point. I won’t spoil which ones these are though – you’ll just have to watch the show if you’re really curious.

As a result, I’ve nicknamed this show ‘First World Problems on the Miracle Train’.

Wibbly-wobbly timey wimey stuff

Fortunately, not every single episode follows the recycled ‘girl gets on train, girl gets off train’ format. You at least get some insight into why the train exists and who the stations really are, although its not brilliant explained. Halfway through the series, the Miracle Train goes into overdrive (with psychedelic rainbow effects) but it’s back to normal by the end of the episode and then you have to wait until the last two episodes for an answer. It’s not much of a plot point but, minor spoiler ahead…


I like trains…

One of the things that makes this anime different is its ‘trivia’. You actually learn things in this show! Admittedly, the Tokyo Underground might not sound like the sexiest of subjects but it’s certainly an interesting one. Are you curious about the history of the Oedo line or the mechanics of the carriages? No? Well, perhaps the animated tour around certain districts in Tokyo will give you ideas for your next holiday.

Watch if you like..

Doctor Who, Ouran High School Host Club, learning things..

Marks out of ten?

This show gets a solid 6 from me. It’s not bad but it’s not great either. It doesn’t take long to watch with just 13 episodes so, if you’re looking for something easy on the brain and the eyes, it’s worth checking out. My favourite thing about the show was its trivia because I just like learning, even if it’s something as abstract as the Oedo line. You never know when you’ll need to recall that knowledge in the future. Probably never, unless you go to Tokyo, but what’s the harm in watching some handsome men and discovering something about trains?

Image sources:

1) zerochan

2) meikai-animes

3) alphacoders

3) thenullset

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