Another strange anime produced by Gainax, the masters of the weird, who also gave us Otaku no Video, FlCl and many other series. This series of 13 episodes was broadcast on japanese pay-TV in 2002. Directly translated the title means Abenobashi Shopping Street/District. This series is mainly directed at the hardcore anime fan, but can also be enjoyed by only casual viewers.
It begins as a seemingly stereotypical story of two children who are pulled from their world into an unending series of parallel universes, each weirder and stranger than the other. These universes all have their own version of the shopping street, so there are fantasy-versions, RPG-versions, stone-age versions, horror versions, SciFi-versions and many more. In these universes they meet their relatives, as friends, enemies or just dangerous lunatics.
And these backdrops are used by Gainax to produce an unending stream of references and parodies of movies, literary works, games and anime, thatr only the true hardcore otaku will be able to fully recognize. There are characters or creatures that seem mixed from various different sources such as the Pokemon-like creature with the panties on his head, or the sweet little girl with a slight speech-impediment, that suddenly sprouts wings, speaks of certain sweets, introduces itself as HMX-12 and disappears with an "Uguuh".
But even if you do not get any of the references, there is enough to make the series worthwhile. The story is interesting, the animation nothing short from amazing, the music excellent, the non-parody humor funny and the characters interesting. The series is not just a humorous romp through various genres, but there is actually quite a serious backplot going on, which I will not give away, though, to avoid spoiling you. All I can say is that this series is evidence of the creative genii at work at Gainax, and well worth both the money and your time.
The Opening and Ending songs are performed by Megumi Hayashibara, who, for a change, has no voice role in the series. There also is a number of manga, one of which by Kenji Tsuruta (Spirit of Wonder).