Allison & Lillia: Generation 1 had potential. The show was set in a fictional Germanic country and was based on the light novels of a noted author. The two main characters, Allison and Will, explore a pastoral world with WW1 era propeller planes. Their country is in a constant state of conflict with a neighboring country, but the characters never seem seriously at risk. The setting is so happy and carefree that it’s hard to imagine that this series is based on a novel by Keiichi Sigsawa, the author of Kino’s Journey. The connection to Kino’s Journey and the possibility that behind the ordinary adventure story lay a deeper plot is what made this show so alluring to me. At the end of 13 episodes I’m still waiting.
The show’s beginning spares little time for exposition. In episode 1, Allison pulls Will into a hunt for an object that they believe will end the war with their neighboring country. Allison is excited by the opportunity, Will looks like he doesn’t know what hit him. What hit him is Allison, a tornado with a headstrong nature that keeps the show fun. She doesn’t hesitate to steal a plane or cross into forbidden territory when necessary. She’s a breath of fresh air compared with female main characters of popular shows like Bleach. Allison would never rely on the male lead to save the day. The first 13 episodes contain three separate adventures, each with a mystery that unfolds episode by episode. The villain in each story is sometimes not obvious, although the show drops enough clues that you can figure things out long before the episode ends. As the brains of the duo, Will tends to put the clues together at the end of each story. This can get tedious, it feels like the end of a Scooby Doo episode where the ghost is unmasked.
The simple resolution at the end of each episode is disappointing in comparison to the ambiguity in Keiichi Sigsawa’s earlier work, Kino’s Journey. That show followed a traveler (Kino) who visits a new land each episode and stays for no more than three days. Kino doesn’t pass judgment during these visits, preferring only to observe. The show presented sad situations, like a town choosing to die in a natural disaster, and did not dull the effect by resolving the problems it showed. The moral relativism at the heart of each episode of Kino’s Journey is what made it special. I came into Allison and Lillia hoping for a show that was as deep and unique as Keiichi Sigsawa’s prior work.
Where Kino’s Journey showcased moral relativism, Allison & Lillia sticks to traditional notions of good verses evil. The three vignettes told by the first 13 episodes each have a good guy and a bad guy. Good guys win, bad guys lose. The show tried to keep the stories interesting by structuring them as detective thrillers and in that sense it succeeded. I got wrapped up in the show and would go through several episodes each sitting. I enjoyed the show while I was watching it but in the end I felt wistful for the complexity of Sigsawa’s previous work.
My lackluster opinion of the first half of the show leaves me hesitant about watching part two. I am certainly happy that the author has found happier subjects to write about, since just watching Kino’s Journey left me feeling melancholy sometimes. In the end, just as Allison wouldn’t relish an adventure where she knew the outcome in advance, it’s hard for me to get excited about a show this predictable.