Long before superheroes, there were legends. One of them begins with Shaka Nyorai, whose bravery and enlightenment once saved humanity forever. But forever is fleeting because Mara, the personification of Earthly desires, forges a corrupt coalition with the devil to again visit wrath and vengeance upon humankind. To counter Mara's cruel attack, Taishakuten and Bonten, divine beings, must join forces with the Thirteen Buddhas. Can the allied powers of light defeat the vicious onslaught and save humankind in their darkest hour? (Source: sentai filmworks)
Anime adaptations of mobile games tend to fall in the less impressive end of the seasonal harvest for understandable reasons. Whether they’re based around ships as girls, swords as boys, or whatever other conceit, the appeal of the source material tends to lean heavily on “there are a million characters and you get to pick your own favorites.” In light of that appeal, adaptations of these games often concern themselves less with crafting a satisfying narrative and more with making sure all of the original game’s fan favorites are represented. It’s a natural recipe for disappointment to those not familiar with the source material, but fortunately, Namuamibutsu does a commendable job of enhancing its source for TV. This show may be kinda aimless and clearly filled with far too many characters, but it has one major thing going for it: it’s pretty darn funny.
Instead of anthropomorphic swords or guns, Namuamibutsu’s gimmick is that all of its characters are actually Buddhist deities, who dispel earthly vices in order to preserve the mortal world. Or at least, that’s their job description—in practice, they mostly lounge around a random mortal temple. This episode focuses on the arrival of Taishakuten and Bonten, two committed vice-hunters who find themselves having difficulty adjusting to this lackadaisical life.
The two main jokes of this episode are “stalwart Buddhist warriors versus the modern world” and “stalwart Buddhist warriors versus the slice-of-life genre,” and the show iterates on both those gags to terrific effect. Early scenes are stuffed with simple but effective concepts like “our leads discover modern washing machines” and “our leads discover the microwave,” with our heroes’ bafflement and frustration coming across like a gently meta protest at being stuck in a slice-of-life show. Some jokes lean on simple but effective culture shock beats, like being dazzled by a grocery store’s selection of milk, and gags that other shows would likely turn into too-loud slapstick are rushed through with confidence, letting the deadpan tone enhance the comedy. If this episode actually has a plot, it’s “Lord Shaka Norai sucks at cooking because he’s so holy that everything tastes great to him, please make him stop.”
Namuamibutsu also looks pretty good, boasting generally above-average production values, some evocative lighting effects, and a wide array of distinctive character designs. It seems like the show will go in a more focused and dramatically urgent direction from here, but personally, I wouldn’t mind if it keeps messing around with slice-of-life shenanigans. A strong sense of comedic timing and structure is a priceless asset, and regardless of its other qualities, Namuamibutsu gets that just right. You can also free Namu Amida Butsu!: Rendai Utena anime watch online and free anime download.