What does the future hold for a young girl in a fantastical city of fortune tellers?
Urara Maze Town Book (Urara Meirochō) is the heartwarming story of a young girl in a city of fortune tellers on a quest to find her mother. That is really the most concise description I can give without spoiling things or giving hints to conclusions that educated anime viewers will be able to easily reach. That said, from the initial two episodes I watched at a special preview screening, the series offers a rather fascinating world with its own set of rules as well as a compelling protagonist all wrapped in a lighthearted and warm narrative.
Urara Meirochō takes place in a world where fortunetellers–called Ura–are widely accepted and respected. People travel from far and wide to Meirochō, a city purely devoted to Ura and their apprentices (the Urara), as they seek guidance and answers. At the age of fifteen, young girls with the potential to be fortune tellers make a pilgrimage to the city to seek apprenticeship.
Raised in a mountain by a foster parent, Chiya has no memory of her mother, but has been told that once she is fifteen, she should go to Meirochō where her mother is. Chiya is given a letter of recommendation to become an Urara at a small shop in District 10 where she and three other girls are quickly accepted. Unfortunately, when she asks the Ura who owns the shop to tell her where her mother is through her divination skills, Chiya learns that without knowledge of her mother’s name or what she looks like, locating her within the city would be an impossibility for even the most skilled Ura.
Her only hope is to find a legendary Ura who is said to be able to divine anything and resides somewhere in District 1. Unfortunately, as an Urara who has been given the default designated rank of 10 and only allowed free passage inside districts of the same number as her rank, Chiya’s only hope to enter District 1 is to train as an Urara to eventually achieve rank 1.
Right off the bat, Urara Maze Town Book comes at you with clear-cut rules to its world. There are Ura and Urara, the city is divided into 10 districts, Chiya needs to get to District 1, but the only legitimate way is to earn a pass there by increasing her rank as an Urara. It’s entertaining world-building. Add to that a colorful cast of charming characters and some casual comedy, and you have the recipe for an affectionate, smile-inducing story.
Obviously, not everything is butterflies and rainbows. There are strict rules over the city and for the Ura and Urara themselves–of which the consequences for breaking can be disastrous for any aspiring fortune teller. The individual characters themselves also have brief moments where the fuzzy curtain is pulled aside to reveal some heavy emotions. Yet despite such moments of seriousness, the series maintains an overall upbeat tone.
From the two episodes I watched, the series is definitely more balanced towards a fluffy atmosphere with hints of emotion-tugging moments to come. I don’t exactly have to recite a lesson on Chekhov’s gun for it to be rather clear that certain elements that are introduced early on are probably going to be playing an important role later on. That said, the anime has an overall soothing feel to it which reassures you that, despite any hardships or emotional moments that may come up, everything’s going to be all right.
Urara Maze Town Book will begin airing in Japan on January 5, 2017. No simulcast information has been announced at this time.
Image copyright: ©HARIKAMO, Houbunsha/Urara Committee