Is Spirit of Wonder worth watching? (Streaming info included)

cover of Spirit of Wonder

Remember that feeling of curling up with a well-worn book, one that transports you to a place both familiar and fantastical? Spirit of Wonder is the anime equivalent of that treasured novel. It’s a hidden gem, waiting to be discovered by viewers yearning for something fresh and heart-warming.

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Spirit of Wonder is a Forgotten Classic Filled with Hope

young Gordon, Cooper, and Shepherd in Spirit of Wonder
Spirit of Wonder | Image courtesy of Bandai Namco Filmworks

Imagine a quaint town called Bristol, where the aroma of freshly baked bread mingles with the whirring of eccentric inventions. This is the world of Spirit of Wonder, a place reminiscent of literary havens like Steinbeck’s Pastures of Heaven, but with a whimsical twist. Unlike its literary counterparts, Spirit of Wonder shuns darkness and mischief. Instead, it embraces a light-hearted spirit, celebrating the “miracles” of science with a touch of endearing romanticism.

Each story within the Spirit of Wonder universe is a delightful vignette, with characters that feel like they could be your next-door neighbors (if your neighbors happened to be a Kung Fu master landlady and a wacky inventor). The show revolves around two main groups: the spunky Miss China, who runs a Chinese restaurant and secretly harbors a crush on her perpetually broke inventor tenant, Mr. Breckenridge, and their watchmaker friend Jim. Then there’s the Scientific Boys Club, a group of childhood friends with a lifelong dream of reaching Mars, fueled by childhood dreams and a shared love of astronomy.

Miss China’s Ring

miss china and jim in Spirit of Wonder
Spirit of Wonder | Image courtesy of Bandai Namco Filmworks

“Miss China’s Ring” introduces us to the spirited Miss China, a Kung Fu master who runs a bustling Chinese restaurant called Tenkai. Her life takes a turn for the wacky when her perpetually broke tenant, Mr. Breckenridge hatches a plan to win her affection. Breckenridge, an eccentric inventor with a penchant for outlandish contraptions, decides to use one of his latest creations – a device capable of replicating any object – to craft the perfect present for Miss China.

Miss china, Mr. Breckenridge and Jim in Spirit of Wonder
Spirit of Wonder | Image courtesy of Bandai Namco Filmworks

However, things go hilariously wrong when Jim, a watchmaker friend of Miss China and Breckenridge, accidentally sets the device to “shrink” instead of “replicate.” The ensuing chaos sees Miss China miniaturized, leading to a frantic scramble by Jim and Breckenridge to invent a reverse shrinking machine before Miss China becomes permanently tiny.

The Scientific Boys Club (Shounen Kagaku Club)

Gordon, Cooper, and Shepherd in Spirit of Wonder
Spirit of Wonder | Image courtesy of Bandai Namco Filmworks

The “Scientific Boys Club” arc follows a group of childhood friends – Gordon, Cooper, and Shepherd – who have been fixated on Mars ever since their youthful days reading about the writings of astronomer Percival Lowell. Now, fifty years later, their childhood dream of reaching the red planet remains undimmed.

an invention in Spirit of Wonder
Spirit of Wonder | Image courtesy of Bandai Namco Filmworks

With the help of Gordon’s daughter Windy, a level-headed woman initially sceptical of their outlandish plan, the boys finally manage to construct a rudimentary spaceship fuelled by sheer enthusiasm and Breckenridge’s tinkering skills. Their audacious journey to Mars, filled with mishaps and fuelled by nostalgia, forms the crux of this heart-warming story. Windy’s grounded perspective provides a humorous counterpoint to the boys’ unwavering idealism, making their adventure all the more endearing.

Why You Should Watch It 

Gordon, Cooper, and Shepherd in Spirit of Wonder
Spirit of Wonder | Image courtesy of Bandai Namco Filmworks
  • Spirit of Wonder offers a breath of fresh air, whisking you away from overused and typical anime tropes of the current time. It seamlessly blends science fiction, adventure, and fantasy, keeping you guessing and engaged throughout. The show’s retro animation and relatable characters evoke a sense of nostalgia, reminiscent of the steampunk genre in all its glory.
  • More importantly, “Spirit of Wonder” offers heart-warming messages about pursuing dreams and the power of unwavering belief. It reminds us that anything is possible, even when faced with the most absurd inventions and theories.
  • Personally, it reminded me of the Back to the Future movies that I watched way back in my childhood, with similar themes of science fiction revolving around connected characters, loosely joined with slapstick humor and never-ending twists. Honestly, it makes up for a lot of nostalgia in a lot of different ways. Or if you speak anime, then this was Dr. Stone on crack. 

Where to Watch Spirit of Wonder

miss china in Spirit of Wonder
Spirit of Wonder | Image courtesy of Bandai Namco Filmworks

There are three ways to watch Spirit of Wonder-

1. “Spirit of Wonder” is currently available for free on the Dailymotion website, a perfect way to dip your toes into this whimsical world.

2. For a more complete experience, Bandai Namco Filmworks will release a Blu-ray box set in Japan on March 27, 2024, containing all five OVA episodes and a treasure trove of bonus content for dedicated fans. This collector’s edition is priced at 26,400 yen (approximately $182.24 USD). Here’s a breakdown of the goodies you’ll find inside:

  • All Five OVA Episodes: Relive the complete “Spirit of Wonder” experience, including “Miss China’s Melancholy” (1992), “Scientific Boys Club” (2001), “Miss China’s Shrinking” (2001), “Miss China’s Planet” (2001), and “Miss China’s Sakazuki” (2003).
  • 1993 Miss China’s Strikes Back Drama CD: Written and directed by the legendary Hideaki Anno (creator of Evangelion!), this drama CD offers a unique audio experience that expands on the Miss China universe.
  • New Illustration and Short Comic by Kenji Tsuruta: The original creator himself has blessed the box set with a brand new illustration to grace the storage box, along with a short comic to further delve into the world of “Spirit of Wonder.”

3. For a more readily available option, you can grab the “Spirit of Wonder: The Movie” DVD on Amazon for around $18.55. This DVD compiles the two Miss China stories (“Miss China’s Melancholy” and “Miss China’s Shrinking”) into a feature-length experience.

 A Final Farewell 

a glass raised to the moon in Spirit of Wonder
Spirit of Wonder | Image courtesy of Bandai Namco Filmworks

Spirit of Wonder might not be an action-packed spectacle, but it offers a unique and heart-warming experience. If you’re looking for an anime that celebrates science, dreams, and the power of friendship, all wrapped in a charming and nostalgic package, then Spirit of Wonder deserves a spot on your watchlist. It’s a show that will leave you smiling long after the credits roll, reminding you of the magic that happens when we hold onto a sense of wonder, even as we grow older.

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