The only thing I knew about Abenobashi Magical Shopping District (Abenobashi from now on) before watching it was that it was done by GAINAX. Watching the episode, it occurs to me that GAINAX really has a talent for picking out the interesting shows to do. Abenobashi takes its name from the shopping district where the main characters, Sasshi and Arumi, live. I'll go ahead and explain the whole first episode because it's kind of confusing, and the whole thing seems to be an intro to the series. If you don't want to know what happens in episode 1, stop reading. ^_^
As the episode starts, Arumi tells Sasshi that her family is moving to Hokkaido so her father can work there. The shopping district seems to be disappearing over time, replaced by newer buildings. Talking on the roof of Arumi's family store, Pelican, they find a ceramic pelican that you can't see from the street, and has a pentagram on the back (and a cat sleeping in its mouth). Trying to figure out what exactly is with this pelican, they end up at a temple with inscribings of the four gods Suzaku, Seiryuu, etc, which seemingly are represented in the district by shops that have since disappeared, leaving the pelican (bird i.e. Suzaku) as the only one left. They run back to the store to ask Arumi's grandpa about it, but he falls from the roof trying to evict the cat from the pelican's mouth. The pelican shatters on the ground. Then, strange things start happening. Sasshi sees dragons at night, old people exercising in the park look like mushrooms, and suddenly Arumi and Sasshi are alone with a rainbow bridge to a strange castle.
I thought the episode really stood out from the rest of the anime this season in its style, artwork, everything. It's a kids' show, but it's really fun, and not just "another" kids' show. I can't wait for episode 2 to see what this new world they seem to have found is like. :)