They’re the best Anime that 2007 has to offer! We counts down the best anime to come out this year, including the likes of Seto no Hanayome, Eikoku Koi Monogatari Emma: Molders-hen, Saiunkoku Monogatari, and more!
10: Seto no Hanayome
English: My Bride is a Mermaid
MAL Score: 7.71
During his summer vacation, middle school student Nagasumi Michishio travels to the Seto Inland Sea. One day, while swimming at Mio Sun Beach, his leg suddenly cramps. No one is close enough to notice his desperate screams for help, and so he sinks into the ocean, where he is left to drown alone. Just as he loses consciousness, however, a mermaid appears and saves his life.
That night, Nagasumi is visited by his savior, a girl who introduces herself as Sun Seto—a mermaid from a yakuza family. As it turns out, under mermaid law, a mermaid whose identity is revealed to a human must be punished by execution. To avoid this harrowing outcome, the Seto family propose a solution: Nagasumi must marry Sun or die at the hands of Gouzaburou, Sun’s father and boss of the Seto clan. Faced with no other option, Nagasumi takes her hand in marriage.
Now, the newlyweds face the difficult task of keeping their relationship secret. Between Gouzaburou’s unending attempts on Nagasumi’s life and the eccentric antics of a slew of antagonists, a genuine and innocent love blossoms between the pair as they adapt to their new life.
This is without doubt one of the funniest animes released in the past few years, and I have never seen parody done so well since the original Jungle wa itsumo hale nochi guu (especially Michishio Nagasumi’s pardoy of Ken from Fist of the North Star, and Runa’s father as the the terminator).
The art style in this anime, like most parodies, can take a little getting used to, but it doen’t really cause headaches. The characters have all have their own quirks and foibles (San-chan’s sakura petals appearing out of nowhere for instance, and Nagasumi’s first kiss – I laughed so hard I got cramps), but these traits enhance the characters.
One of the biggest plus points for this anime is the ending. All too often in anime we see a great series end with a whimper. Not here. The ending was brilliant in both it’s seriousness and it’s humour – in other words it’s seriously funny.
I would recommend this series to anyone who likes jaw dropping, side splitting, mind boggling humour. I have laughed as much since I first watched Inukami – now there’s ashow that’s SO wrong 😀
Read the synopsis, an average student gets forcibly married to the girl. We all know how those goes, right? Yes, the plot has been done a hundred times before and its teeming with stereotypical characters. Even each individual episode is predictable, as the anime goes through any harem anime would. Throughout the anime more girls come to like the protagonist, more fan service. its all textbook execution.
Make no mistake here. Yes, the episode start out predictable at first, but you have no idea what Seto is capable of. It will go from cliche and then takes a huge step forward and jump to embellished. It has a fast paced and frankly, I liked it.
Its a nice change of pace. You get to laugh non-stop in a whole episode.
I have no qualms for the sound and animation, as it does not pursue to be anything different. The animation is what you expect it to be in an anime(gravity defying hairs, radiant character designs) and the sound does nothing to stand out for me to mention anything. But from the start of the OP, it tells you that the anime will make you laugh.
But one of the key factors of why Seto No Hanayome is so downright hilarious is its brilliant application of the K.I.S.S theory. Seto No Hanayome is by no means a laid-back anime, but at the same time, there is no dull moment here as every moment is hectic enough for you to go "lmfao!". It tries to be what it can and should be, simple and funny. Because of this, the formula works.The anime is all about comedy, nothing else. It wont throw you any cheap drama just for the hell of having it. Although because its lackluster for romance, it becomes a turn off people who hunger for something amatory. But that doesnt mean the relationship between Nagasumi and San doesnt develop, its just a little late thanks to the rest of the female cast that constantly grasps Nagasumi’s attention.
Another strong points of Seto is its parodies. Its derision ranges from Japanese Culture to American, heck, it even makes fun of itself. Who wouldve thought that they actually include a Hokuto No Ken parody here? Not to mention Terminator. Every episode will have you tapping the floor at least once because of its unrelenting low-brow humor.
The supporting characters also gives way for comedy, as each of one of them is provides comic antics albeit that all of it are horrifically trite. Whether its the over-protective father, the yandere, or the timid class president, they will all crack you up. Plus, the influence and interaction on each other have has a significance.And to my surprise, there is even character development. The typical lame protagonist not only goes through a transition, but something you can never imagine. He is able to mature, and he erase whatever bad impression you have for harem male leads.
Seto No Hanayome adds nothing new to the genre. It is another recycling of harem anime’s. But its sheer presence of comedy is outstanding that you’ll pay no attention to its unoriginal qualities. For the first time in a long time, a harem is done right.
To sum up, Seto No Hanayome is the romantic comedy that you have been looking for. Its rollicking, its over-the top and its just plain straightforward. To say its funny, would be an understatement. This is cliche at its best.
That is basically how the story begins and from that point on there really isn’t any storyline that moves the series along, but just a bunch of random cliched settings that every anime fan is familiar with. That’s not all, as this anime happens to move so fast that you can easily forget what joke was made a couple minutes ago but that is the style that works well with the show. Even though this is a romantic comedy, it is the comedy that is prominent throughout and it is the various parodies, which allows this unlikely show to rival the more popular series such as: Excel Saga and Lucky Star.
All the characters in this anime are great in their own individual way however out of all of them it is the male protagonist that truly stands out. Not only that he brings out the comedy from the characters around him but he also manages to act in a believable manner and he always ends up saying what we might be thinking, at the time.
The quality of the animation is really hard to describe, where at times it can look piss poor there are also times it looks great, but this is really just to suit the whacky nature of the show. The action parody moments are the times when the animation truly shines and it’s those moments which are to look forward to. On the other hand the music is decent, nothing amazing or special about it but good enough to gain merit.
Overall Seto no Hanayome is one of those anime series, appearing every now and again, that may seem average but manages to surpass your expectations. This proved to be one of the most enjoyable comedy anime series of the year 2007, with plenty of laughs to be had. Yet it was lacking in the story department, to allow it to reach the same level of other popular Parody Rom/Coms (Fumoffu?). Nonetheless, as a comedy, this is one you must see.
9: Eikoku Koi Monogatari Emma: Molders-hen
English: Emma: A Victorian Romance Season Two
Japanese: 英國戀物語エマ ～メルダース編～
MAL Score: 7.84
In the faraway village of Haworth, a new chapter in Emma’s life has begun. Now employed by the wealthy Molders family, Emma has resolved to put the past behind her. She’ll have to adjust to a new house, a charming (but eccentric) new mistress, and a host of fellow servants, some with buried pasts of their own.
Meanwhile, back in London, William is doing his best to uphold his father’s wishes as the Jones family heir, but try as he might, he can’t forget Emma. Yet, whenever he feels at his worst, Eleanor is always there to comfort him with a warm, shy smile. Could the answer to his broken heart be right before his eyes?
Anime: This season, the production was done by a different studio, Aija-do Animation Works (famous for work on The End of Evangelion and Here is Greenwood), but still directed by Tsuneo Kobayashi. It aired from April 16th to July 2nd, 2007, and has been licensed Stateside by The Right Stuf International (a release date has yet to be announced).
Story: The Second Act picks up a few months after the end of the first season; Emma’s working as a maid at a mansion, and trying to forget William. William’s going about his business and trying to forget about Emma, even though he pines over her. In the meantime, there’s a butler at the mansion that Emma’s working at that’s interested in her, and Eleanor’s getting ready to make her move.
I’m really happy with this second season. It’s lived up to the first season’s standard in every way. I’m not going to respell out everything here, so go see my review for the first season if you want to know what it is about this story that makes me go GAH.
There are a few coincidences I’m not all that happy with, and William acts like an insensitive ass at times, but hey, you can’t have everything.
Also, I’ve finally been able to read through the manga, and this corresponds to Volumes Three to the final Volume (Seven (the first season covered everything in volumes One and Two)). This didn’t stick so well to the manga source, but trust me, that was a good thing, especially towards the end of the series (the manga had a fairly unbelievable plot line towards its end).
Oh, and the main thing that I can tell you about the ending without spoiling things too much is that it’s a happy one this time around, and you’ll be thinking "IT’S ABOUT DAMN TIME!" when it comes around.
Art: You will notice a slight change in the art style since the studios changed between the first season and the second one. But you stop paying attention to it after a while, really. And really, it’s just as good as Pierrot’s animation, so you won’t see me complaining.
Music: I thought they couldn’t improve the OP. And then I heard this season’s Celtic Version of "Silhouette of a Breeze", and I died. I died again when I heard the new ED, "Rondo of Lily Bell", which pwns the "Minuet for EMMA", hands down.
The background music for this season isn’t quite as understated as it was last season, but it’s still good.
Seiyuu: For me, one of the real standouts is Eleanor’s seiyuu, who also did the role of both Lucy and Nyuu in Elfen Lied. Otherwise, no miserable performances, and an excellent job overall.
Length: This isn’t quite the same pacing as last season. It goes at the slower pace at some points, but then it speeds up in other parts. It gets a little jerky, but it works out just fine in the end.
Overall: This is the sequel that most everyone who watched last season wanted.
Overall: 44/50; 88% (B)
The story of Emma is simple but a classic that has been done in virtually every form of media for hundreds of years, from stories like Jane Eyre to James Cameron’s Titanic, while predictable its still a classic that has a timeless feel to it that prevent it from becoming stale no matter how often its done. Anyway at its core this is very much a tale of two people dived by class who are in love but because of the very strict social order in Victorian London are forbidden from being together, the peasant girl falling in love with the Knight in shinning armour sort of thing which while may sound cliché I can assure that Emma is anything but because this series manages to re-invigorate this theme of love transcending social barriers through its memorable characters and fantastic settings.
Emma: A Victorian Romance Second Act steps on the gas a little from the first season and really brings much more drama and emotion to the stage while introducing heaps of new characters all the while giving some much needed development to older characters, such as Williams Father and Eleanor Campbell. While this is obviously an improvement from the first season it does however create a few problems, for example the faster pace and increasing stakes bring out the blandness of Emma`s character some what, its not a serious issue but compared to the energy and passion of some of the other characters she can come off as a bit boring and bland at times. Its true that she is a very subtle character and a reserved person but it makes scenes that involve her feel very slow and can make the melodrama almost unbearable at times when you just want the plot to advance to the obvious conclusion.
But overall these problems don’t take away much from the series which is a very enjoyable watch because of two main reasons, one is the setting which while not unique among anime is certainly done in the most extraordinary detail of any anime if ever seen. The creators really did their homework on Victorian England and the detail is just amazing, no expense was spared to make this series feel authentic and the passion of the the original author who is a admitted Anglophile shines through in the detailed settings. The other thing is the themes present in Emma: a Victorian romance, in all romance stories there is always problems to overcome but one thing that many anime`s overlook is the idea of class conflicts, these class conflicts add an element to the story that is so often missing from anime romances, a realisticly insurmountable obstacle that the characters have to overcome in order to achieve their happiness that in many ways is still present in today’s world.
As I mentioned before this second series gives more time for the characters to develop, especially William who we see to have grown so much by the end of the show. I was pleased to see that other side characters such as his father were also given much needed development and it goes into great detail about why he opposes William and Emmas love so much, this sort of development goes along way to creating memorable characters and not just cardboard cut outs.
The art for this series was equally as good as the first season with the detail being just extraordinary, it obvious that the animators tried to bring the amazing detail from the manga over too the anime as best they could and for the most part they succeeded. This series is as accurate as feasible to the time period, with as many sights of the era as possible, be they, horse-drawn carriages or steam trains, furniture, clothing, or buildings. The art in the manga does give off a more artistic feel though but if this series had been made with a larger budget now then im sure it could have even outdone the manga.
Overall Eikoku Koi Monogatari Emma: Molders Hen or Emma: A Victorian Romance Second Act is a great continuation of the story of Emma and William and will not disappoint fans of the first season despite some problems here and there. However if weren’t a fan of the first season then you probably wont like this any more than that one. The story is good, the characters enjoyable and memorable while the detailed setting is just a pleasure to watch, overall a very good end to a very good series.
However I will add a few things that are pertinent to me. I began watching this because the concept (manga) is by the same person who does Otoyomegatari (which by god I hope gets an anime in the future). I watched it in rapid succession and it is truly a great show, In my opinion.
Both seasons re great and the trials faced feel real and are enforced by it actually being real not that long ago, as a viewer you can feel the pain and heartache. However, that does not mean it is an overly complicated story, it is just romeo and juliet in a sense. But I’d watch this again before going to R/J. I don’t know, there is just something about Anime that gets the classic West (ie Europe).
It is quiet, 95% of the time, even when the heavy drama is going on, as this sticks to the old upper class rules so tightly it makes it hurt. Do not get (show yourself being) upset, do not raise your voice, stay inside your caste, and marry for power.
The story does pan out as you would hope but that does not make it any less enjoyable. The only thing I can complain about is that there is not more, as the manga ends its intended story at volume 7 or 10, but the last 3 are extras… well a couple of the last chapters in volume 10 actually show their wedding and I would have loved to see that in an OVA. Unfortunately we get a decent sized time skip where they have 4 kids, cute end but again the wedding in the manga is nice.
8: Saiunkoku Monogatari
English: The Story of Saiunkoku
MAL Score: 7.92
Shuurei Kou, the daughter of a noble yet impoverished family, is a clever young lady who dreams of becoming a government official and contributing toward her country. However, her dream is out of her reach as such a position is forbidden to women. While her father works a low wage job as an archivist at the palace, Shuurei has to juggle odd jobs to make ends meet. Then, one day, an unexpected visit changes her life.
Shuurei is called to assist Ryuuki Shi, the new emperor who is known for slacking on his duties and preferring the company of men. Tempted by the generous compensation, she readily accepts the chance to become the young emperor’s consort for six months. Luckily, she is not alone as Seiran Shi, her trusty friend, joins her as Ryuuki’s bodyguard. While tasked with transforming the new emperor into a responsible ruler, court life and politics prove troublesome as Shuurei faces the challenges of her new life.
Set in a fictional country, Saiunkoku Monogatari centers on the idea of meaningful leadership, its adversities and the rewards that come alongside a prospering nation.
At first glance, the plot may seem a bit shallow – a girl becomes the consort of a reluctant Emperor, let the silliness begin! – but wow does it become so much more. Essentially, Saiunkoku Monogatari is an engaging drama filled with political intrigue disguised as a simple reverse harem story. Even the simplest details connect to overall story and the plot becomes more and more developed as the show progresses.
Not much to say here other than Saiunkoku Monogatari does have an overdose of bishies. Don’t let that deter you though. None of the characters are there just for looks.
Pretty well done score. Some of the highlights include anytime Shuurei plays the erhu and the OP/ED themes.
This show has a lot of characters, but they are introduced slowly and all of the major characters have their backgrounds fleshed out enough. Shuurei is easily one of the best female protagonists I’ve come across. She has a girl power! attitude that never comes off as obnoxious. Her interactions with the rest of the cast are entertaining to watch. She has a magnetic personality, but not to the point of ridiculousness (Honda Tohru comes to mind). Though truth is, I kind of like all of the characters. Some stand outs include Seiran (one of my top ten favourite characters ever) and Ryuuren with his crazy flute.
The plot twists, the characters, the everything. I finished this show some time ago, but I wouldn’t mind rewatching it. It’s the kind of show where you miss little details the first time around.
My enjoyment of this show compels me to give it a 10. The story is just so much more than a little blurb of a summary. The characters really grew on me, the soundtrack added to the mood. The beautiful backgrounds always caught my eye. There’s just so much substance to this show – it’s not for someone looking for a simple story. Prepare to be sucked into the world of Saiunkoku Monogatari, I know I was.
The story focuses on Shuurei Kou, a resident of Saiunkoku. She dreams of becoming a government official and throughout the series, we see her chasing that dream, as well as juggling love, friendship and work at the same time.
I greatly admire Shuurei, as well as the other women characters in this series. She\’s definitely not like Miaka, personality-wise (she does look a bit like Miaka). She\’s smart, capable, and courageous; She carries with her all the virtues that women should have, and the story focused more on her qualities rather than her appearance (honestly, the boys are prettier than Shuurei). I believe that Saiunkoku Monogatari is one rare anime that portrays how women can make a huge difference in their societies. First you have Shuurei, who defied all odds and emerged superior in the end. There\’s also Sai Rin, who surpassed her male sibling and became one of the heads of the merchant alliance. There\’s Eiki, who refuses to have anyone tell her what to do.
Even with the slightly feminist theme, I do believe that Saiunkoku Monogatari can gain a male audience. The male characters are also very chivalrous and noble. My favorite would be Ensei and Seiran. Both of them are ready to give up their lives for the future of their loved ones. There\’s also Eigetsu, who is able to accomplish so much at such a young age. If you\’re not satisfied with that, there\’s always the chinese proverbs that are given in every episode (they double as episode titles).
Madhouse never fails to amuse me. I always say that anything Madhouse makes is automatically a must see for me. However, I am a bit disappointed this time. The animation for Saiunkoku Monogatari wasn\’t so impressive (but the last few episodes improved). I noticed that the movements weren\’t so smooth (Fight scenes need work), and I wasn\’t a fan of the color scheme either. It wasn\’t that bad, but it wasn\’t that good either.
Voice acting was very interesting. I actually had a chance to see clips of the voice actors working, and it was very entertaining to watch Houko Kuwashima (Shuurei) and Tomokazu Seki (Ryuuki). I think they did a very good job of portraying their respective characters\’ personalities.
The music wasn\’t that impressive at first either, but in time I started to like it. I even had the lyrics to the opening and ending themes memorized. I guess I didn\’t like it too much because I usually prefer contemporary anime music, but it did fit the theme of the series very well. I think they even used Chinese instruments to produce the music.
Truth be told, I usually prefer anime series that are set in modern time and in the real world. The fact that it\’s set in ancient China threw me off at first, but by watching it I was able to see what a gem it really is. It was very entertaining, educational and even funny at times. Saiunkoku Monogatari was able to sway my preference because it is truly an inspiring tale and it should be seen by everyone (And I can\’t wait for the second season!).
Speaking strictly about Saiunkoku Monogatari, there is an overall plot that contains many shorter stories within it. One of the best things about this series is that it seems spontaneous – one event leads directly to another. However, this shift is never fluid. There are always obstacles that the main character – Kou Shurrei – must overcome. In that sense, it’s much like real life. One of the most consistent obstacles is her being a woman in the "men’s world" of politics. Another main impediment that we can perhaps relate to better, is love. The many men that Shurrei comes across causes her to weigh the importance of work versus love. Being a 17-year-old girl, she is easily confused, and what she decides to do in terms of her relationships is quite a suspenseful part of the anime.
Saiunkoku Monogatari is hilarious, has a plot with amazing depth, components that everyone can compare to, and deals with serious issues in an entertaining way. It’s quite ingenius, and quite frankly, I can’t wait to watch the second season. ^^
7: ef: A Tale of Memories.
English: ef – a tale of memories.
Japanese: ef – a tale of memories.
MAL Score: 7.92
On Christmas Eve, Hiro Hirono runs into Miyako Miyamura, a frivolous girl who “borrows” his bicycle in order to chase down a purse thief. After Hiro finds his bicycle wrecked and Miyako unconscious, the two unexpectedly spend their Christmas Eve together, and when they discover they go to the same high school, their accidental relationship develops even further. This sparks the jealousy of Hiro’s childhood friend Kei Shindou, whose pure approach to life catches the eye of Kyosuke Tsutsumi, a womanizing photographer searching for the perfect shot.
Elsewhere, Renji Asou, a boy who dreams of being a girl’s knight in shining armor, has a chance encounter with Kei’s twin sister—the overly shy Chihiro Shindou, who spends her time reading alone—at an abandoned train station. The two quickly become friends and eventually decide to write a novel together. However, when Renji discovers Chihiro’s secret, a disability that causes her to have an eternally ephemeral memory, his childish ideals will be put to the test.
Guided by two mysterious adults, these youths’ relationships intertwine in a heart-rending tale of love, rejection, acceptance, and memories.
Love. Tragedy. Sadness. This show has all the basic ingredients that’s needed to make me cry. . However, not all shows with those basic ingredients have done so. What made this show so special then?
I guess the characters, and the way they were portrayed. They were all struggling… struggling with their dreams. What to do. Who to be with. That was portrayed in such a way that I completely fell into it, with my entire mind. It was as if I was standing next to them, having to watch them struggle through their dreams and loves… forcing me to cry, both in the good and bad times they were experiencing. Also, the animation and the way the scenes were made was really beautiful and enjoyable. It was something I’ve never seen before, and normally I’d probably say that it was weird, I guess. But with this show… it just fit in so perfectly. The ending of this show was also something that was enjoyable. When I started watching the show, I’d never think about the ending it had, and I’d definitely not like the idea of such an ending. However, after having watched it, I msut say that it was indeed the perfect way to sum it all up. It couldn’t have been done more beautifully, not the slightest inch better. Not at all.
This show is truly one of the best shows I’ve watched, and I think that anyone who enjoys a tear-jerking show will love this show. Fully and completely.
To ‘Not ‘ voters (and you ” voters too): Feedback greatly appreciated =)
Ef – a tale of memories is one of those anime that will probably stay in your memory and will be used as a standard to compare with other similar series in the future. Why in the future? Because the entire series is so beautifully made that there is only a very small handful of shows that are worth comparing it to at present time. In fact, as far as animation quality and technique are concerned Ef – a tale of memories is one of a kind and will most likely remain so for some time to come.
The unique animation style is first shown in the first OP. While colourful images and sceneries directly taken out from the anime itself often proved to be an effective foreshadowing device (and a good way to capture viewers attention), the exact opposite apparently also work! With a simple coloured background plus a bunch of text, and some occasional symbolic representation of certain character/event, the OP of Ef – a tale of memories can be quite addictive to watch. Aside from the OP, the anime itself is equally impressive (if not more impressive). Extremely high quality animation is just a standard for this show. What makes it truly unique are the camera angles used in difference scenes, or in some cases the very effective use of repetitive text on the screen. The former often give viewers a greater view of things and present some background of the setting, while the latter case, the simple words and phrases are enough to advance the plot and at the same time depicts the mental state of the characters.
Viewers will most likely find the beginning of Ef – a tale of memories hard to follow. This can be attributed to the introduction of most (if not all) of the primary casts in the first episode. However, it was necessary to introduce all the seemingly unrelated characters at once since the storyline focuses deeply on the various characters’ developments. It should also be pointed out that a few of the secondary characters will actually become the main characters of the sequel, Ef – a tale of melodies. Thus becoming familiar with the sideline characters now will serve as a good foundation for the sequel.
There are two parallel plots occurring simultaneously. The first involve a simple love triangle between a guy and two girls (somewhat similar to True Tears for those who have seen it), personally I did not find this plot particularly well written. However, the second plot is what makes Ef – a tale of memories shine like a bright star among numerous other anime of the same genre (it is also where the title of the anime came from!). The concept of the second story was designed to move ones’ heart. It was built around pity and sadness. It was written in a way such that viewers will unconsciously find the couple destined to be together, yet due to some circumstances, made it near impossible for them to stay together. Overall, the story and characters are there to evoke a mixed array of emotions from us, the viewers.
As previously mentioned, the entire show is beautifully executed. This includes the music as well. From the BGM in the prelude episode to the OP to the BGM throughout the series to the ending, they all fulfill their purpose very nicely and matches perfectly with the particularly scene at that particularly moment. Personally, it was the amazing OP (plus stunning animation from the OP) that caught my attention to this series. The music are largely composed by Tenmon who happened to be the music composer of other great shows such as 5 Centimeters per Second, Voices of a Distant Star, The Place Promised in Our Early Days, et cetera.
Ef – a tale of memories is truly a great romance anime that all romance suckers should not miss. From unbelievably stunning animation to music to characters to story, there is hardly anything to complain about this show (aside from the lack of “big name” seiyu which some people care about). On the whole, Ef – a tale of memories is, without a doubt, one of the top romance anime of the decade.
The first episode of the series may seem pretty confusing and hard to follow, as the viewer is dragged, from one situation to another. However once you’ve grasped the concept, it quickly becomes clear that this series is made up of two separate, main stories. From then on the show becomes easy to follow and to enjoy, for its uniqueness. There are so many twists and turns that are able to turn any anime cliche into a work of art.
The characters are great and very well defined, as they all developed in their own way, throughout the story. You will have some that are involved in a tangled web of romance, others with their own psychological issues and one in particular that is suffering from an illness (which I must say, has never been portrayed so well in a long time). These characters are then able to show a mixed array of emotions and in turn, makes us viewers feel a mixed array of emotions whilst watching them.
The animation and music quality are one of the best points as it illustrates scenes in such a way that you’ll forget this anime was based of a visual novel (dating sim). This is just another one of the few SHAFT works that boast superb and somewhat unique artistic animation style and quality. The music is pretty amazing in its own way, with some really catchy OP and ED themes and during the show itself; there’s also a wide collection of piano and violin melodies.
Overall ef- A Tales of Memories proved to be a truly captivating romance anime that excelled, far above expectations. Having to go up against the mighty titan that is “Clannad”, this short anime series proved to be a worthy opponent. It’s a very enjoyable series to watch, as each episode brings forth an interesting development however some of these developments can make anyone feel slightly disturbed. But it’s this that sets the anime series apart, from all else. If you have a soft spot for romance anime, then there is no chance you’ll be disappointed with this work of art.
6: Kanon (2006)
Japanese: カノン (2006)
MAL Score: 7.98
As a young child, Aizawa Yuuichi had often visited his cousin in the city; however, something drastic happened to keep him away for seven long years. Now, Yuuichi returns, his memories of those days are simply gone.
Settling into the wintry town, Yuuichi comes across several young girls, all of whom are connected to his past. As he befriends them and continues to interact with them, the long forgotten memories from his childhood begin to resurface…
Sure, the concept sounds like just about any other anime based on a visual novel would be. However, despite several other shows of that type, this actually does remarkably well.
Well, to be honest, this show has got to be one of the greater shows I’ve ever watched, no doubt! The story is just so good it leaves me astonished at times. It starts out as a pretty normal show of its genre. You’re also introduced to several of the girls, but it doesn’t touch upon all their stories at once. There’s some comedic moments every now and then.
At first it might seem like it’s just some slice of life series, but the story progresses a lot from its initial stages, and as you’re taken through the individual girls’ story arcs, you’ll be taken away. It has good a lot of good moments, some romantic, some dramatic. However, just about everything that happens in the story later on will base itself on supernatural elements (mostly miracles), which makes a contrast to the earlier parts of it. That’s not really a bad thing though; I at least found it most enjoyable.
The animation in the series is really awesome too; the character designs, details in environments and everything just looks awesome. The lighting which you find in many of the afternoon scenes is pure awesomeness too; it really makes the scenes moody; and very dramatic if that’s what the scene is about.
The characters of Kanon is really awesome. The girls’ stories are just awesome to behold, and Yuuichi’s own background with them is very intriguing, and it ends up making you wanting to know more about it. The main hero, Yuuichi, is also a very interesting character in his own right. To be short about it; they are awesome and you’ll love them (at least one or two of them).
The music in this anime is really great as well. There’s a lot of nice piano themes, so if you enjoy good piano themes you’ll definitely enjoy the music in this series. The show’s got some good music aside that too, and the OP and ED themes are magnificent.
There’s nothing to say on the sounds aside the music, and the seiyuu do a great job on their roles; the characters’ voices are very good.
All in all, this is a lovely anime, a true masterpiece. If you like anime series based on visual novels, you’ll enjoy this. If you haven’t watched any anime series of that kind, watch it anyway, because you’ll love it.
To ‘Not ‘ voters (and you ” voters too): Feedback greatly appreciated =)
Here is the general outline for a Key story arc. First you introduce a little girl. She is supposedly a teenager the same age as our asshole lead male character. However at every single turn we are establishing how childlike they are. They look 6 years old, they act like they’re 6 years old, the male lead constantly treats them like they’re 6 years old and outright tells them they might as well be 6 years old. Each girl has their own little quip that in one girl’s case might as well be her saying “goo goo”.
They are also depicted as fragile and weak and needing your attention. A bunch of them are in the slow process of dying, either through poorly explained illnesses or magical illnesses. They’re emotionally fragile and with each arc fall apart in their own ways. One girl in particular has her own rotary functions and general maturity, what little of it there was, stripped away from her. The reasons for this shift usually comes straight out of the writer’s backsides, such as a character’s mum getting randomly hit by a car because we needed little girls to be more emotionally unstable.
Their emotional instability and life view all appears to come from when the girls were 6 years old (as in actually on this planet for 6 years, not just emotionally 6 years old). The childhood promise is the most powerful force in the world of Kanon, capable of raising the dead and conjuring ghosts. According to the world of Kanon, all relationships are born from before the age of 6 and everyone you meet since then might as well not exist. Nearly all the girls in Kanon are desperately trying to get back to the relationship they had with the male character from when they were 6.
You get the uncomfortable feeling that the writers believe that the 6 year old mindframe for women is the ideal. Not just so you can comfort them as they slowly die, but from a romantic standpoint too, and whenever you try to strip them off this childlike state the show punishes them for it. Kanon operates on horror movie logic where as soon as a girl displays anything resembling romantic feelings it gets stripped from them. Even if their romantic feelings come from a desire to just be together with someone because they’re lonely, as soon as anything resembling romance happens is when the show starts killing them.
That is this nakige formula. Key aren’t the only people who do it, but they’re certainly the most famous. Bring in a female character. Make the male lead belittle her in s’life segments for her immaturity so he can establish his place as above her. Reveal that she may have romantic feelings for her. Then strip the girl of any independence either physically or emotionally and then usually kill her.
Normally a reviewer will say that the worst thing a piece of entertainment’s can do is be boring, but that’s not Kanon’s problem. Certainly it is mind-blowingly boring since practically all the humour and conversations consist of a girl with no mental capacity being told by the main character how stupid she is. But the real reason I hate Kanon so much is the bits after that. The rinse and repeat of taking a little girl, stripping her of all agency and then killing her in order to draw tears from the audience, who invariably fall for it each and every time.
Not that I blame you. The same way I don’t blame people for clicking on buzzfeed clickbait articles on web advertising. They are designed in that insidious way to get you to click on them, and its only once you realise that do you stop supporting this “You Won’t Believe These 8 Ways Miley Cyrus Hates Minecraft Pokemon” headlines by not clicking on them. I know you think Kanon, Clannad and Air are emotional because they made you cry, but punching you in the face and breaking your nose would probably make you cry too. That doesn’t make the punch a 10/10 emotional piece of high entertainment. All they are doing are taking weak creatures and killing them to draw a reaction from you. Stop falling for it. Please.
The development starts out rather slow and silly and can get a bit dull. I was on a hiatus with this series for almost half a year before I started watching again. It is set up like a harem series, but it is different from them, which sets it apart from other harem series. It is not a harem in a story; it is a story with a harem. There is a difference, and Kanon does it extremely well. Look at all the anime out there. Many of them have similar plots, but what makes some better than others? The execution of the story, and this is where Kanon shines. There is a constant air of mystery behind everything: the characters, the setting, the season, and so forth. The story is emotional, dramatic, and even light-hearted at times. With this nice blend, a seemingly simple story of a new boy surrounded by a group of girls becomes a unique tale. The only major problem was that when one of the girl’s arc ended, they completely disappeared in another character’s arc. This style feels way too much like a visual novel, and lacks blending and character interaction.
There is not much to say about the art and animation when it is done by Kyoto Animations because most of it is a regurgitation of what other fans have already said: absolutely amazing, gorgeous, and stunning. The setting and season of winter are extremely well drawn so that it puts the viewers into that setting. Falling snow has never look so good in an anime until now. It does not just fall; it falls in a way that I could watch it forever. The art style, though it’s very clear, colorful and crisp, is a bit generic. The designs are of the eyes, a staple in these types of stories, were a bit too large and I did not like.
Ah, canon, canon, Kanon. There are reasons why this series is called that, and one of the more obvious reasons is the presence of Pachelbel’s Canon in D Major. Such a lovely piece, especially for one who has already played it. Besides that, the music complements the mood very nicely. When things get dramatic and sad, it is the music that allows those tears to run free. Although I did not find any one track that stood out for me (except for well, the obvious one) the music was nice and fitting. It would not be a soundtrack that I would listen to without the anime playing though. The voice acting was also very good, although every time Yuuichi opened his mouth, I immediately thought of Kyon. It does not help that those two look uncannily similar.
The characters in this series were a bit generic but that’s not necessarily a bad thing with the right development and execution. They did all have their mysteries, problems and development. Every character, from the first time they appear on screen, seems to have a mysterious side. Each of them are different and stands out. And Yuuichi is such an awesome lead. He can be a bit insensitive and playful at times, but he truly is a nice guy and it’s not surprising that he’s so well liked among the girls. The major downside in this series is the lack of interaction among the girls. Once a girls’ story arc is done, they aren’t really seen all that much until the end. It would have fleshed out their characters more if they interacted more.
I enjoyed this anime all right; enjoyed it to the point I cried through episodes nonstop. It might have also been the fact that I marathoned three or four episode at once, so the water works just seemed to never stop. There were times where I laughed out loud, times where I cheered (the ending), and many times where I bawled my eyes out.
Overall, I enjoyed this series immensely. It has a touch of everything: drama, comedy, supernatural elements and so forth. I thought it was a very enjoyable series despite its flaws. 8/10
MAL Score: 8.03
Tomoya Okazaki is a delinquent who finds life dull and believes he’ll never amount to anything. Along with his friend Youhei Sunohara, he skips school and plans to waste his high school days away.
One day while walking to school, Tomoya passes a young girl muttering quietly to herself. Without warning she exclaims “Anpan!” (a popular Japanese food) which catches Tomoya’s attention. He soon discovers the girl’s name is Nagisa Furukawa and that she exclaims things she likes in order to motivate herself. Nagisa claims they are now friends, but Tomoya walks away passing the encounter off as nothing.
However, Tomoya finds he is noticing Nagisa more and more around school. Eventually he concedes and befriends her. Tomoya learns Nagisa has been held back a year due to a severe illness and that her dream is to revive the school’s drama club. Claiming he has nothing better to do, he decides to help her achieve this goal along with the help of four other girls.
As Tomoya spends more time with the girls, he learns more about them and their problems. As he attempts to help each girl overcome her respective obstacle, he begins to realize life isn’t as dull as he once thought.
This show expects us to believe that teenage girls act like five-year-olds. It expects us to care about these infantile, one-dimensional characters. It expects us to have genuine emotional reactions to the ‘blossoming relationships’ between our bland protagonist and these excuses for characters.
Is this too harsh? Let’s look at the individual components that MAL expects us to rate anime by.
STORY: To be fair, the anime didn’t have much to work with, given that it was based on the original VN plot. Still, the outlandish (one word: Fuuko) and emotionally manipulative plot elements (most of the backstories that were explored) weakened what might otherwise have been a sweet, unpretentious slice-of-life drama/romance.
I mean: a story about a girl who is shy and has trouble making friends? Yeah, cool, you can watch Kimi no Todoke or something. A story about a girl with Mysterious Anime Disease who has the intellectual capacity of a child? Sorry, it’s not working for me. [4/10]
ART: High budget, great production values and art direction. Squishy moe character designs may not be everyone’s cup of tea (Sanae looks barely older than Nagisa), but again, that comes with the territory. If anything, this aspect of Clannad makes me despair, because I can think of a lot of better anime series that deserve to have this sort of budget. [8/10]
SOUND: Evocative without being overdramatic, for the most part. Unfortunately, all the female characters sound like babies. [6/10]
CHARACTER: This is probably the greatest problem I have with Clannad, and again, it’s thanks to the source material. Few of the characters get much development. All of them (the female ones, anyway) exhibit some degree of fanboy-pandering. Kyou’s tsundere-ness, Fuuko’s quirkiness, Nagisa’s unending sweetness, etc. – not to mention the fact that Fuuko, Kotomi and Nagisa, at least, sound at least half their age. Their childish and insecure natures (especially early in the series) make for unrealistic characters – and therefore compromise this show’s unrelenting attempts at making us care about them.
It’s also hard to understand Tomoya’s motivations at the start of the series, i.e. why he even bothered with/cared about Nagisa et al. We get no insight into his motivations at all. Why would a so-called delinquent suddenly take up this project of helping a random girl he’s never met before? Why does he find her interesting? What is the point? [3/10]
ENJOYMENT: Obviously higher if you’re a moe fan, but those who derive little enjoyment from watching cute girls doing cute things might find this series rather trying.
Those who watch anime with their brain switched on will find this series trying.
Those who think that female characters should actually resemble, you know, real people… yeah, don’t watch this show, it’ll make you rage. [5/10]
If Clannad weren’t so obviously manipulative, it might be a better series. Which is not to say that the series is obviously cynical – on the contrary, I think it exhibits a genuine warmth that lesser harem-type series lack. Yet the series ultimately feels contrived and heavy-handed, and its unrealistic characters undermine its would-be heart-warming nature.
The first time I watched Clannad was back in 2008, and I just finished re-watching it for the 3rd time this past few days. Now I realize that will take years before I watch something that does the same impact on me like this anime did. I was moved by it the first time I watched, and the third as well, but surprisingly in a different way. Throughout all anime history this is one of the most notorious series in the romance/drama genre, not only for the emotional load it carries but also for the effects and different reactions it causes on the people who watched it.
The quote at the beginning of the review is from the description of the blu-ray edition. Of course they wouldn’t bad-mouth their own release on the disc cover, but it’s so honest and true that I couldn’t find a better way to introduce this review (I just removed the “and now it’s available in HD!” part, obviously.)
I’d like to start this review, if I may, going straight to the point; the main reason why some people avoid Clannad.
“It’s too cute.”
Yes man, it is. I agree with you. There were times I thought to myself “this would never happen in the real world” but what is the problem? Appreciating these beautiful moments won’t bruise you. “You’ll cry” is also a sentence often read in reviews. I admit, I wrote it on my After Story review, but it’s not mandatory! Nobody is obligated to cry or feel sad, it’s just that the anime is so strong that it makes a lot of people cry. Even if you’re not really into drama or romances, give it a try. If you dislike then drop the 2nd season, but complete this one! It’s one in a lifetime experience, I dare to say you’ll enjoy at least half of the show.
The Clannad collection is undoubtedly a well known anime. Even though, the After Story receive much more attention than the first season. Mostly because it’s more “touching” than its predecessor, but it wouldn’t be the same and wouldn’t even exist without this prequel. It’s the entire set that makes Clannad the masterpiece it is.
Some people end up watching After Story before the first series. The storyline is set in a way it’s not necessary watch the first season to understand what is going on, the characters are introduced again and it’s a different theme. However, I cannot guarantee that you will enjoy the show as much as someone who watched the 1st season before.
Clannad is something I would recommend even to a friend who have never watched any kind of anime. There is no need to have a “anime background” in order to enjoy it, it’s something everyone, without exceptions, can watch. Despite the genre, age, tastes… There is no gore, violence, profanity, battles… it’s just the classical slice-of-life humor mixed with a lovely romance, that proves how strong some stories can be by themselves without any kind of “attractive” or fan-service.
Do you know anyone who’s a little depressed and is now reading some kind of self-help book trying to see the “beauty of life”? Recommend to him/her this anime.
If I were to define this series with one word, I’d say it’s “charming”. It’s an anime to be enjoyed, appreciated. All the aspects of it, including art, soundtrack, characters but specially story.
When we were little, we used to find everything amazing, even the most stupid and simple thing was something amusing. We had a hell of a time with friends, laughing for no reason… But, suddenly it’s all gone.
All those great mementos are now just vague memories and you’re stuck in a boring and endless routine. This are the thoughts of our male protagonist, Tomoya Okazaki. And this little fragment from the first scene gives you already an idea of how the story will progress. However these are also thoughts we all have inside of us, and that’s why Clannad’s story becomes so realistic at some point, because it’s close to reality, a reality some people have experienced themselves.
Don’t worry, this sadness isn’t the main focus of the story. Clannad is a heartwarming tale. Our protagonist will make many friends along the way, and with them new situations will appear, turning his lonely days into something much more enjoyable, happy, and also mysterious.
Jun Maeda and the screenwriters from Key did a marvelous job with the development of some points from the story, keeping some surprises hidden until the very end.
Clannad is a character-driven anime. Since it’s based in a Visual Novel by Key, KyoAni decided to maintain the same setting, that’s why it is divided into “arcs”, each one focusing in a specific character.
When you say on a review that one series has these arcs, a lot of people usually interprets it with a prejudgment that it’s bad because they think it will completely focus in one character during some episodes and leave the rest like if they were in “standby”. This is not how it works with this series. Clannad was divided into arcs because that’s how the Visual Novel was done, it was already like this, KyoAni just decided to follow the order. Even though, these arcs are all tight together and some ‘themes’ are continuously being developed, sometimes on the background but also taking the main stage at some episodes.
While talking about characters, I must praise those who imagined and designed them. From my standpoint, they’re original, unique.
Nagisa, for example, has a strong personality but is easily turned down, she’s caring but also very naive. It must seems incoherent but this is where things gets interesting. These characters’ personalities aren’t “fixed”, and just like us, they change as the time passes by. Watching a character that’s plain and you can predict its next action is boring. Stereotypes like the “tsundere friend” will always be present because in a way or another they’re trademarks of slice-of-life. Even though, the way they’re interpreted and the actions these characters take is what makes the difference between the average and the outstanding.
Kyoto Animation has always impressed me with the visuals and the details you can get from their animes. As expected from a high budget company they have in their hands the most recent software. That said, the artwork was also a joy. It’s common to see wallpapers of Clannad around the internet, just another proof of it.
The placement and setting for the story was really well done, all the buildings and alleys seemed like a small countryside city. Same goes for the characters, they all have a clean and careful outline with that “moe” style KyoAni has. Like said before, KyoAni did an adaptation of the original story, so it means they had almost everything of the storyline done, this way they could focus on improving and include minor “spoilers” and visual jokes from the later chapters into the very first episodes which is great because when you finally get to those episodes, you have that déjà vu kind of feeling and remember they did hint you about that.
The soundtrack chosen and created for this series is something to give praise. I was astonished with the OST. They included some really emotional piano pieces for the strong scenes but also relaxing songs for the happy moments.
Although, they did a huge mistake with the ED. Not that it was the wrong song, Dango Daikazoku is addictive and a cute melody, however, there were lots of emotional endings throughout the anime, but after that heartbreaking scene, they throw the usual ending theme. Ok, Dango is a great melody but it isn’t perfect for every moment. You can’t have a happy and a sad ending with the same song! In some scenes, it ruined the entire emotional atmosphere that was built up. This would be one of the few reasons for me to remove some points from Clannad score.
I once read this marvelous anonymous quote:
-“Oh, now I understand why there are few doujinshi of this anime”
and a caption followed: “otaku after watching the complete Clannad series.”
It’s true! The story is perfect the way it is, nobody wants to mess with it.
It’s a complicated thing to say “that series is the best anime of all times”, this is something too relative. Even rankings like the one here on MAL aren’t trustful. I’m not saying that it’s wrong! It’s just that these things are extremely relative since each website of anime has it own community and, as well, some differences in the rankings. Even though, there’s one thing you can take as “absolute”. If an anime is acclaimed by the majority of the critic during years it must mean it’s good. I hope I was able to make a point, and at least convince some of you to watch it.
[…] adfghkjgfdssSorry, just sweeping my tears of the keyboard.
That word is “moe”. I’d never come across the word before “Clannad”, but I sure as hell knew its meaning afterwards. The word categorises a feeling that originates from the sweetness of the female characters, a sweetness that oozes from their character designs to their voices to the way they behave. But it’s not a charming kind of sweetness that you get from, say, “Aria” or “Usagi Drop”. Rather, it’s a cloying kind of sweetness, the kind that makes my tooth ache and my stomach churn. I can’t stand this kind of sweetness because it feels so artificial, arising from a cynical, carefully engineered attempt to portray the girls as cutely as possible. Taken to this extreme, it’s the anime equivalent of junk food – all empty calories and no real substance or nutrition, serving only to obstruct good characterisation.
You can tell pretty quickly that “Clannad” originates from a harem visual novel or a dating sim. The main protagonist doesn’t waste much time hooking up with most of the girls within his field of view. What’s more, the character designs, with their hair colours extracted from almost all major parts of the visible spectrum, are exactly what you’d expect from that kind of source material. There’s the Brown-Haired Girl, the Blue Haired Girl (they don’t even need names, and to be honest they don’t deserve them), the Grey-Haired Girl, and even a pair of Purple-Haired Twins. In fact I’m surprised to see the roster missing a Pink-Haired Girl.
Predictably a generically distinct personality is assigned to each girl. Now, “generically distinct” may sound like an oxymoron, but let me elaborate. The girls’ personalities are all distinct from one another, but they all conform to a generic archetype that can be readily identified within about 20 seconds of their introduction. There’s the Moronically-Childish Girl (aka Green-Haired Girl), the Shy Girl (aka one half of the Purple-Haired Twins), the Tsundere Girl (aka the other half of the Purple-Haired Twins) etc etc. Again, I’m surprised to see the roster missing a Ditzy Girl – maybe the writers deliberately missed one out in order to prevent the whole thing from becoming even more painfully transparent. It also soon becomes obvious that, though all the girls show interest in the protagonist, for the purpose of this playthrough-, er, I mean, storyline, the player- I mean, protagonist, has targeted Generically Sweet Girl (aka Brown-Haired Girl) to woo.
Though I guess “Clannad” is technically not quite a harem since the show contains another guy besides the main character, it may as well be one. The other guy in question qualifies as a guy only on technicalities. In practice, he more closely resembles some sub-human creature roughly on the level of a worm, and is suitably treated like one too. Most of the girls treat him with disdain, and none of them is interested in him in the slightest. To be fair, the main character himself isn’t quite your average harem lead, and for this reason, I have decided to give him the courtesy of actually using his name in this review: he’s called Okazaki Tomoya. What makes Tomoya different from a typical harem lead is that although he’s a bit of a good for nothing, he at least possesses more charisma and confidence than the typical loser-but-nice stereotypical lead that’s recycled through most harems, and so you can at least kind of get why he’s able to attract a harem, especially when displayed next to the worm-like-lowlife.
Other than the insane amount of moe, “Clannad” distinguishes itself by the insane amount of heavy-handed manipulation of emotions. The show has more of it than “Saikano”, and that is saying something. I bristle at the sight of the slice-of-life tag attached to the show because it completely sacrifices any sort of realism associated with that genre in favour of trying to force more emotions out of the viewer with unbelievably melodramatic storylines. The “tragic” stories from the various characters’ pasts feel so contrived that at times it seems like a competition to see which one can be more ridiculous. It’s a competition won by Blue Haired Girl’s backstory involving a teddy bear. The punchline to the story proved so “moving” it had everyone at my anime society showing bursting into tears. Tears of laughter that is.
Moreover, most of the girls – Blue Haired girl being a prime example – disappears into the background as soon as their part of the story is over. The shift in focus from one girl to the next is so swift and ruthless that I found it rather off-putting. What’s the point of spending an arc fleshing out these characters if they’re shelved as soon as their arc is over? Given the source material, I can guess why: the anime probably pulled together storylines from multiple playthroughs focusing on different characters, but couldn’t assemble them into a single, coherent storyline. Brown Haired Girl stands out as the only girl who’s a constant presence throughout, and that’s only because she’s the girl destined to hook up with Tomoya (but don’t worry, if you don’t like the Tomoyo x Brown Haired Girl pairing, Kyoto Animation has rather helpfully made several special episodes which are in essence alternative playthroughs where Tomoya picks someone else).
Just one of the tragic character situations did not come off as overly melodramatic – the one involving Tomoya’s relationship with his dad. However, that one felt like a tacked-on side story that was jarringly integrated into the show. The side story comes into focus randomly with little apparent purpose, and also feels out of place when placed alongside the cheesily cheerful parts. It’s almost as though when given a piece of material with genuine potential, the makers of “Clannad” didn’t quite know what to do with it.
In the end, I’m grateful I watched “Clannad” with others at my anime society, because watching the whole thing by myself would have been an ordeal more harrowing than any of the forced drama the show could conjure up. During the weeks when I couldn’t attend the society showings and had to catch up on the show by myself, it literally took me two or three sittings to grind through each episode because I couldn’t stomach more than a few minutes of “Clannad” at a time. And no wonder – with its sickeningly sweet stench of moe, ludicrously contrived stories and array of cardboard template cut-outs masquerading as female characters, just what is there to like for someone who’s not into moe or extremely sappy melodrama?
Personal rating: -2.0 (terribad)
English: Lovely Complex
MAL Score: 8.04
Love is unusual for Koizumi Risa and Ootani Atsushi, who are both striving to find their ideal partner in high school—172 cm tall Koizumi is much taller than the average girl, and Ootani is much shorter than the average guy at 156 cm. To add to their plights, their crushes fall in love with each other, leaving Koizumi and Ootani comically flustered and heartbroken. To make matters worse, they’re even labeled as a comedy duo by their homeroom teacher due to their personalities and the stark difference in their heights, and their classmates even think of their arguments as sketches.
Lovely★Complex follows Koizumi and Ootani as they encourage each other in finding love and become close friends. Apart from their ridiculous antics, they soon find out an unexpected similarity in their music and fashion tastes. Maybe they possess a chemistry yet unknown, but could love ever bloom between the mismatched pair?
It was cute, insightful, hilarious and endearing. It was my most anticipated episode every week. I always wanted more. I want more now even though I know it’s over!
The story is about the tallest girl and the shortest boy in class and their search for love in high school. It turns out they’re both kooky, funny and energetic. They’re also perfect for each other… too bad they don’t see that. The story isn’t complicated or new, but it was told so well that it crawled into right into that soft spot in my heart.
The romance is built slowly over time and by the end, you’re head over heels for them because the creators did such a great job of laying down the foundation and actually showing you how their feelings grow over time. It’s not like a lot of shows where all of a sudden in a haze of fuzzy lighting and rose petals, love magically sprouts out of nowhere. Instead, you see a friendship begin, a moment happens, interest blossoms, awareness grows… the whole nine yards. You really get to know Koizumi and Otani over the course of the show and I was rooting like crazy for them.
The characters are so over the top and out of control that it’s hard not to laugh. They exaggerate, make ridiculous faces and they over-react to everything. It’s really kind of hammy, but that’s part of the fun. And it’s refreshing to see a female lead who isn’t some stereotype of a dominatrix-in-training or a weak, helpless nitwit. She seems like a real human being with strong points and weak points. She isn’t afraid to get ugly and imperfect sometimes and I think it’s really great that they made her (and, really, him too) full of all these flaws and not-so-attractive traits… and yet so completely charming and loveable. It makes them really… human. I would say that if you like the relationship (without the music and with a lot more actual focus on romance) of Nodame and Chiaki from Nodame Cantabile, you might like this too because there’s a similarity in the way that the relationships go both ways and the strength that each of them brings to the relationship.
The art is great too. First of all, they took the time and effort to change the characters appearances day to day and give them all a sense of their own style, which I really appreciate. It’s just really thorough and well-executed. I completely agree with YoshikoHatake, there is something about the style that brings Bokura Ga Ita to mind, even though the tone of the story is completely different (BGI felt a lot more serious and the colors and style reflect that somewhat, I think). Music-wise, it’s also nice. I don’t normally notice the openings and endings that much (I’ve always hated credits), but LoveCom’s are really good in a perky, energetic kind of way, which suits the show perfectly, and I find myself singing along w/ the karaoke. 😉
P.S. I really haven’t seen very many romances that do this good of a job at being funny and sweet and tender and honest. If you have, I’d love suggestions!
STORY- 2 (Dreadful)
Lovely Complex is about two high school kids, Risa and Otani. They are a comedy duo because whever they’re together they fight, argue, make fun of each other, and cause a scene, which makes bystanders laugh. Risa is taller than most guys and that’s a problem for her because she’s desperately searching for a boyfriend. Otani is sort of a dumb jock/trouble maker. He’s shorter than almost all the girls and he’s also self-conscious about it. So two people with height complexes.
Well the first 5 or so episodes of this are just filler-type comedy episodes which is pretty nice. Then Risa starts to like Otani for who knows what reason. He picks on her, argues with her, but the creators expect us to believe they’re a match made in heaven because they both like this one rap group, Umibouzu.
For the next handful of episodes Risa tries to confess her love to Otani but Otani is just SO DENSE he thinks it’s a joke when she confesses to him. This is where the show takes a nose-dive in quality. Lovely Complex starts going in circles. Something along the lines of this: Risa confesses, Otani rejects her, Risa cries, Risa beats him up. Risa stops crying and says she gives up on Otani, but then Otani does something Risa finds sweet, so Risa cries, and beats him up. She says she’s going to keep loving Otani. Does it sound stupid? Yes it does! It’s very long-winded, it goes in circles, Risa must’ve cried 30 times in this show. The show also shifts from comedy to drama around this point. You may or may not like this, depending on your preference, but you sure as hell don’t want to see Risa cry again. Episodes 1-5 were okay, but around episode 6 it was a steady decline to the awful, unbearable, disgusting episodes 8-12. The show became a chore to watch because everytime I finished an episode I was so frustrated, and multiple times I logged into MAL and almost clicked “Dropped”. I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I would have rather never laid eyes on Lovely Complex then drop it at 12 episodes. I will explain why later in this review.
Episodes 13 on were watchable to my relief. Not as good as the first five but no where near as awful as 8-12. There is still the cycle of crying, beatings, motivations and what not, but their romance progresses slightly and new characters are added to the mix (which I will talk about later). I’m not going to dwell on the story any longer since I will spoil it for you.
So you may be asking, looks like you hated the plot…why not give it a 1? 1 is what Lovely Complex would be if it weren’t for some great moments later in the series that just made me go “Awwwwwwwwww :3”. They weren’t anything worthy of bringing my score up past 5 but they were cute sweet shojo moments, and I was happy Lovely Complex included them. But the story is still a horribly low 2, and that’s fair. The last episode, though I won’t spoil it for you, is horribly contrived and way too unrealistic and convenient for the main characters.
All in all, Lovely Complex’s story is a frustrating, long-winded, tedious, and boring one with not enough good humour for a romantic comedy. All of it is slapstick which isn’t even funny. Risa kicks Otani probably as much as she cries her eyes out. It’s a crappy story.
CHARACTER- 1 (Pathetic!)
Characters are unlikable and underdeveloped. The main characters…okay let’s discuss them. Risa, awful as stated before. No redeeming qualities, just an all around annoying person. Otani, he’s probably the best in the whole show, and that’s actually sad. He’s underdeveloped, stereotypical and dense. Side characters…well the main one here in Nobu-chan who is Risa’s best friend and side kick. She’s alright, nothing really irked me about her. She had no personality, she just loved her boyfriend and provided motivation and chances for Risa to meet alone with Otani. She wasn’t awful but nothing was good about her. I’m not even going to talk about her boyfriend he’s so underdeveloped and useless to the story.
Also on the topic of side characters, Chiharu was friends with Risa in the beginning but never mentioned past the first episode. She’s just a shy girl.
The biggest problem, bigger than the character’s being flat, is that they weren’t put to good use. These names may mean nothing to people who haven’t seen the show, but to those of you who have, Maity-sensei, Haruka, that blonde transvestite, Mimi, the red and black haired kid, and Otani’s ex-girlfriend recieved no character developement and were brought into the series only to be forgotten. Ok, Mimi, red head kid, and Otani’s ex weren’t that important to the story, but all the other side characters were! Haruka most particularly, had brought a bunch of drama in the series and created tension between Risa and Otani in the beginning, only to be forgotten and useless to the plot, and never developed. He could’ve had a story arc about him but the creators didn’t choose to go that route which was dissapointing. In the end, no side characters got any actual closure.
Character in this show is pathetic, Risa is the worst mainly because she cries too much.
Sound- 5 (Meh.)
The “sad moment” music just made the scenes too melodramatic. The “happy, funny moment” music did it’s job and fit in well with the scenes. The “good moment” music (ie, when something romantic happens between Risa and Otani) is probably the best. It makes the seens just that much sweeter and it puts a smile on my face. The OPs and EDs were forgettable and just not special. That’s all I reall have to say.
Art- 8 (Nothing to complain about here)
The art I actually quite liked. The character designs were nice, the colour palette was bright and colourful, sometimes Risa’s fish-face bothered me but overall I liked the art in Lovely Complex. It was nice to look at, I would probably call it unique but from what pictures I’ve seen from Kimi ni Todoke and Bokura ga Ita, the art is all the same. But still, it’s good.
Had some sweet moments but in the end this frustrating tedious mess of a romantic “comedy” made me want to bang my head against the wall and had little to no redeeming values. A MAJOR dissapointment.
Lovely Complex was a terrible, horrible, nauseating show that I wouldn’t recommend to anyone. Unless you have a strong fetish for slapstick humour, you won’t be able to sit through half of this. Anybody who actually enjoyed this has a remarkably high pain tolerance.
But seriously, it’s a bad show.
S T O R Y – I don’t read/watch a lot of shoujo, but from the start, I figured it was a pretty basic plot and as a result, probably a pretty generic story. I was right — it’s a lot of what you would typically expect from shoujo: lots of silly romantic drama, lots of hilarious shenanigans, and the your handful of cute, fluffy moments scattered throughout that always feel like an shot of diabetic sweetness straight to your black, black heart. And it was wonderfully done for the most part. As predictable as the overarching story can be, it was still very engaging and fun to watch. The slice of life approach makes the episode-to-episode drama slightly less obvious, and I really loved that time actually moves throughout the series.
I suppose time progression would logically be more common in slice of life and shoujo series, but since I don’t dabble into the genre much, it was very refreshing for me to experience. The series begins as the characters start high school and ends neatly as they graduate. Time moves at a pretty fixed pace, so there’s no awkwardness in transitions. I was also really happy to see the beginning, creation, and progression of a relationship — the series doesn’t just end when they get together (I refuse to count that as a spoiler; I mean, c’mon. Did you ever have any doubts?), it keeps going and explores some of their problems and potential future. All in all, it’s wrapped up pretty nicely. The story, while fairly generic, is solid, well told, and just silly and fun. The pacing is steady, and though things do feel like they’re being dragged along occasionally, the feeling never lasts long. It’s a good thing to watch after a shitty day. I’m actually really sad it’s over for that very reason.
C H A R A C T E R – Risa Koizumi is a very dramatic girl. It’s fun at first; after a while it got a little tiring. But then I came to realize that wait. Girls really ARE like this! They ARE overdramatic and hysterical and crazy and thoroughly ridiculous. After realizing that amazing truth, I didn’t mind so much anymore. Risa is just a girl. And that’s how they are. Honestly, I can’t call her unrealistic in good conscience because everything she does, every over-the-top reaction she has, I can imagine someone I know in real life doing the same. Considering that, I think Risa’s actually a pretty damn well done character. She’s very sympathetic and easy to relate to, even when she’s crying for the fifth time in five episodes. And she grows — her feelings for Otani evolve and mature a lot throughout the series, and through you’re constantly reminded of this progression through three-second flashbacks, it is something that’s nice to look back on.
Atsushi Otani is an idiot. It’s fun at first; after a while, it gets a little frustrating. But then I came to realize that wait! Boys really ARE like this! They’re retarded and stupid and dense and miss all the obvious signs and are super awkward when they do finally get it! Amazing. Once again, I found Otani’s depiction to be hilariously accurate on many levels. He does tend to be much less dramatic than Risa, but that’s not surprising considering the male stereotype and the fact that his point of view isn’t focused on as much until the second half of the series. Though both Risa’s and Otani’s feelings are undoubtedly romanticized greatly, I found the slower development of Otani’s feelings a lot more interesting — you know what’s going to happen, but watching everything unfold is still interesting.
The supporting cast of friends do a great job of contrasting their lovey-dovey relationships with the irregular, often immature, and haphazard relationship of our protagonists. This makes them all noticeably idealized to the point where they’re more roles than in-depth characters, but I guess that’s all they really needed to be. Seiko and Haruka were fun gimmicks as well. Still, Nobuko was a pretty convincing best friend for Risa, likely because she had the most screentime of the supporting cast.
A R T S T Y L E & A N I M A T I O N – The animation and art jump around a lot in this series, so there’s a bit of bad and a bit of good. The opening and end themes had a lot of fun variation to them, though all seemed pretty typical of shoujo, especially in the sense that they played around with the characters’ fashion and style a lot. In the episodes themselves, the characters jumped back and forth from a pretty lazy and generic style to a really hilarious caricature style to a super, sparkle-filled, shiny, pretty shoujo style. The first of those three was the most common and got annoying sometimes because there would be strange discrepancies in how certain things (people, buildings, objects) look and I noticed some variations in height differences and proportions, especially for Risa whose lanky shape stands out a lot when the proportions change. The second was really amusing, especially since many of the SD faces are uniquely and hilariously grotesque and the characters don’t hesitate to point this out themselves. The final style naturally showed up in all the super romanticized and climatic scenes — its those scenes they saved their animation budget on, I’m sure — making everything that much sweeter. It’s predictable, but hey, it’s gorgeous and cute and it works, dammit.
Another thing I’m sure is pretty common in shoujo, but that I appreciated all the same, was the fact that fashions changed from scene to scene, episode to episode. I loved that characters changed their clothes every day and had a lot of seasonal fashions; they would also be scene shopping occasionally and the clothes they buy would show up later, etc. I also loved that Risa’s hair was constantly changing — sometimes it coincided with her mood and emotions; sometimes it coincided with events or the weather; sometimes it was just different. It’s not that big a deal, really, but it makes the characters that much more real and easier to relate to.
Overall, Love★Com’s animation is just average, but it’s good enough and the style definitely suits the series.
M U S I C – The first time I heard the first opening theme, “Kimi + Boku = Love?” by Tegomass, it confirmed all the stereotypical expectations I had for the series. It’s upbeat and cheerful-hopeful, the vocalist’s voice has an endearing, dorky quality to it, and the even the name of the song is corny as hell. It felt very right. End themes are generally slower, more somber, and more thoughtful compared to opening themes, and the first end theme, also by Tegomass, was no different. It kind of struck me how different the vocalist sounded. It also felt very right, and both songs really grew on me during the first half of the series.
Surprisingly though, the second pair of themes for the series are even better! I absolutely adore how the second opening, “Hey! Say!” by Hey!Say! 7 starts. In conjunction with the colorful animation sequence, it suits the series perfectly. It’s the kind of music that I imagine Risa and Otani would listen to in addition to Umibouzu, and the lyrics are adorable. The same can be said for the second end theme, “BON BON,” also by Hey!Say! 7 — it’s much more upbeat than the first end theme (though still reasonably thoughtful and kind of reminiscent) and once again, just adorable.
Love★Com also surprised me by having a really nice general soundtrack. The theme that played for all of the more depressing scenes was especially pretty and sweet to listen to. For other series of Love★Com’s technical quality, I usually don’t notice the soundtracks because they’re generic and bland, so it’s definitely worth noting that the music in this actually stood out. It’s one of those soundtracks I wouldn’t mind listening to outside of watching the actual series.
V O I C E A C T I N G – If you actually know Japanese or if you are just a gigantic dork, you might notice that pretty much all of the characters in this series speak in a Kansai dialect, which makes sense since the story takes place in Osaka. I found this pretty awesome because while a lot of series will have one or two characters that speak in the dialect, few have the full cast speaking in it. The last time I heard so many “aho”s instead of “baka” was in BECK. It’s really interesting and neat to hear because even if you don’t understand the language that well or realize that it’s a different dialect, if you’ve seen a lot of subbed anime, you’ll be able to pick up on slight changes in pronunciation and vocabulary (the most obvious things that I caught were “na” instead of “ne” and “chau” instead of “chigau”). For Risa, I also found her pronunciation of “Otani” to be occasionally distracting because she stresses the “o” a lot more than I would normally expect.
Other than fun dialect stuff, the voices themselves were pretty average. Risa’s isn’t that memorable, but it works well enough for her role. I was more impressed by Otani’s voice because I found that he had a wider range of emotions and a much more recognizable tone overall — his voice has a really unique inflection when he’s upset or surprised, but it’s also very charming when he’s being serious. Other notable roles: Nakao was surprisingly soft-spoken, which goes great with his character, but was still surprising to hear because few people ever speak that quietly. Seiko’s voice was obnoxiously high-pitched, which also went great with his/her character, but it also made me really glad s/he wasn’t in too many scenes…
O V E R A L L – Lovely Complex was a much more enjoyable series than I thought it would be, but I’m always happy to see cliches work out. It’s very true — there are no original ideas left, so all there is to do is write good stories. They don’t need to be original stories, just good stories, solid stories, fun stories. Lovely Complex fullfills all of above, so even though you know they’re going to live happily ever after, you can still enjoy watching it for what it is. As I mentioned earlier, I watched episodes of Love★Com at the end of bad days. They’re a shot of sugar and laughs, straight to the vein: adorably effective. Now I need to find another drug.
3: Saiunkoku Monogatari 2nd Season
English: Tales of Saiunkoku
Japanese: 彩雲国物語 第2シリーズ
MAL Score: 8.05
Shuurei Kou and her friend Eigetsu To, a boy prodigy of humble origins, have been appointed co-governors of the Sa province, one of the eight provinces in Saiunkoku. Together, they decide to make the province an academic research center in the hopes of bringing a long overdue prosperity to the region.
However, while Shuurei goes to the capital to obtain approvals for the ambitious project, the Sa province’s recently established tranquility is threatened by a pandemic that brings both death and turmoil as it begins to spread among the people. Counting on Eigetsu to monitor the situation until her return, Shuurei seeks support from her allies to find a suitable treatment. Yet, Eigetsu’s past personal conflicts distract him, providing an opportunity for opponents of Shuurei’s position to take advantage of the troubles and undermine her authority.
Becoming a government official has been Shuurei’s lifelong dream, but it is no easy task for the first woman undertaking such a position. Will she step up and overcome this great challenge or give in to the looming adversities?
Story – 10
The second season starts off around where the last one ends, so I recommend you watch the first season before you tackle this one. Anyway, the second season is easily even more intricate than the first, with Ryuuki finally taking charge as emperor, something not all members of government appreciates. New enemies appear, and the clans continue to feud as always. Every detail in the story is important, something viewers should be used to by now.
Animation – 9
I really appreciated all the costumes this time around. Everyone’s hair, the jewelery, and building designs, all of it is so wonderfully done. Actions scenes could be a bit better, but that’s not really what the story is about.
Sound – 9
It’s the same, top-quality sounds as the first season. The OP/ED haven’t changed, which makes me glad. They’re really fitting. The seiyūs are kind of awesome and wonderfully casted. Some standouts include: Serian, played by the same seiyu as Xingke from Code Geass (ironic since they’re both very similar characters) and Ran Ryuuren (Hei from Darker than BLACK). Okay, the whole cast is amazing.
Character – 10
All the characters from the previous season appear once again, gaining even more development. Kourin and Eigetsu get a particularity epic storyline, something I did not expect, but ended up loving. Shuurei is as motivated as before, trying her hardest to succeed. Ryuuki is also doing his best, and slowly building a group of loyal supporters. Seiran has found a place for himself in the royal guard, and is finally allowing his true personality to show through. Everyone is wonderfully written as usual, probably thanks to Saiunkoku Monogatari being based off a series of novels.
Enjoyment – 10
The second season takes everything I love about this series and adds even more. All my favourite secondary characters get their chances to shine, and some new characters bring fresh life to the show (Go Jyūsan-hime!). I was impressed by the costumes and soothed by the sounds of the erhu. Usually, second seasons aren’t as good as their firsts, but Saiunkoku Monogatari does not stick to this norm.
You know that series that you obsess over continuously like some druggie? The series that makes you even risk staying up at night and pretending to be asleep when your parents check on you but you have to watch it? It was that sort of series for me.
The thing about this anime is that it completely sucks you in. At first I was very reluctant to watch it because of the whole ‘harem’ thing which really annoys me but I decided to give it a shot when the “ohmygosh exams are coming” craze hit my head. And then I couldn’t stop watching.
I watched both seasons in a week. I sacrificed a lot to finish it. AND I DON’T REGRET ANYTHING. The characters are all so different and they feel so real, it feels good to be able to distinguish between them. In season two the story just got better and there were times I bit my pillow in frustration or to simply stop myself from screaming. My family caught me talking and gushing while pointing at the laptop screen but they decided to leave me alone. I would like to thank them for that.
Then there were the new costumes and Shuurie got some new hairstyles. Good for her. BY THE WAY, Shuurie (am I spelling her name right? I can’t tell. I feel like a mindless zombie because I just finished watching the last episode) is my all time favorite heroine now! I rarely get to see such a strong female lead who doesn’t annoy me and, for some funny reason, in my eyes she just got prettier and prettier after every episode. And I was like, have you ever met such a beautiful character, both inside and out?
New characters were introduced and some older characters’ background details were explored. Very touching stuff, actually. These people feel real to me. I’m glad Ryuuki became stronger in the end and found his resolve and learned to be a better emperor.
There’s so much going on inside my head right now. It’s a jumbled mess. But, the most important question is, WHERE IS SEASON THREE? Breaks my heart. honestly.
Excuse me while I go look for the novels online. Goodbye (^_^)/
2: Nodame Cantabile
English: Nodame Cantabile
MAL Score: 8.30
Shinichi Chiaki is a first class musician whose dream is to play among the elites in Europe. Coming from a distinguished family, he is an infamous perfectionist—not only is he highly critical of himself, but of others as well. The only thing stopping Shinichi from leaving for Europe is his fear of flying. As a result, he’s grounded in Japan.
During his fourth year at Japan’s top music university, Shinichi happens to meet Megumi Noda or, as she refers to herself, Nodame. On the surface, she seems to be an unkempt girl with no direction in life. However, when Shinichi hears Nodame play the piano for the first time, he is in awe of the kind of music she creates. Nevertheless, Shinichi is dismayed to discover that Nodame is his neighbor, and worse, she ends up falling head over heels in love with him.
I’m not sure why, but for some reason I’ve found myself reviewing certain franchises in reverse order. Then again, given the nature of Nodame Cantabile and its heroine Noda Megumi, maybe doing things in a not so normal manner is the way to go.
For those of you who don’t know the series, Nodame Cantabile is based on the bestselling manga of the same name by Ninomiya Tomoko, and while I do like that particular work, the anime is a little bit special in that it’s one of the rare occasions where the adaptation is as good as, or in this case better than, the original.
We’ll talk about that in a moment though.
Now, many people have been raving about the current Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood series because of how faithful it is to the manga, but what many people seem to have forgotten is that there were already a few shows around that were almost completely true to their manga counterparts (and that didn’t include much in the way of filler episodes) – Genshiken, Air Gear, History’s Strongest Disciple and Nodame Cantabile to name but a few. In addition to this, many of the long running shounen franchises like Bleach, Naruto, One Piece, etc, generally stay true to the manga for much of the main story, but have a tendency to provide “anime original” tales and filler episodes too.
Regardless of what one may think of a given show though, the surprising thing is that many faithful reproductions of the original manga are pretty decent, especially if the source material is good. When the tale is something like Nodame Cantabile though, then something special happens, something that doesn’t happen very often in anime.
As with the manga, the story follows the “adventures” of the eccentric musical genius Noda Megumi, and her love interest, the handsome Chiaki Shinichi. The two meet by complete accident and Nodame quickly falls in love.
What follows is, well, a roller coaster of laughs, many of which you won’t see coming.
Unlike many other romantic comedy anime, the action in Nodame Cantabile doesn’t take place in a high school but instead centres around Momogaoka College of Music, and the difference in not only the mentality and personality of the characters, but the overall approach to the story and plot, is actually quite telling. When one watches the series, it becomes obvious that the characters are no longer children, and while they may not yet be out of full time education, their attitudes to life, the world, and to other people, are actually very different from what one encounters in the hordes of high school romantic comedies around.
Now one of the main issues when it comes to adapting a manga is that of pacing, in particular how the plot flows from one episode to the next, and from one story arc to the next. With manga, as with anything written, the pacing is dictated by the reader, whereas with anime the pacing is already there, and it’s up to the director to find the balance so that viewers and fans of the original work will warm to the adaptation. Thankfully, Kasai Kenichi (Honey & Clover, KimiKiss Pure Rouge, Major), managed to get the formula very close to what many viewers find acceptable.
Okay, some of you may be confused by all this talk about pacing issues, but there’s actually a good reason for bringing it up. Many shows can get by when the pacing is a little bit off from what you would prefer (Bleach, for example, with it’s annoying recaps at the beginning of each episode), however Nodame Cantabile is a special case as problems with pacing and timing would have had disastrous effects on one’s enjoyment of the show, and the reason for this is because the series lives, and dies, by its music.
Earlier I mentioned that this anime is one of the rare occasions where the adaptation is better than the mange, and the reason for this is because of the music. Where the manga made do with track names and examples of written scores, actually hearing the music played in the anime brings the whole series to a new level. While there are a number of thematic tracks on offer, the heart and soul of Nodame Cantabile are the various pieces of classical music that are played throughout the series, whether it be solo or with an orchestra. In addition to this, unlike other classical music based anime like La Corda D’Oro ~Primo Passo~ and Piano no Mori, as well as the more pop/rock style shows like K-On, Beck, etc, one of the things that sets this series, indeed the whole franchise, apart is the aspect of musical appreciation.
Confused? Well it’s fairly easy to explain. One of the aspects of Nodame Cantabile that can heavily influence whether one enjoys the series or not is whether you, the viewer, actually listen to, and appreciate, the music itself. People may find that in order to better understand the character’s passion for music, they will in turn listen to the track in a way that they may not have done with other shows, and while this may not seem obvious to most at first, a good question to ask come the end of the series is whether your opinion of classical music has improved over the course of the series. Nodame’s antics may help things along with a good dose of comic relief, but the music is the glue that holds everything together.
Given the heavy musical emphasis, one would be forgiven for thinking that something was sacrificed in order for the whole thing to work. It’s surprising then that Nodame Cantabile is actually pretty close to the manga in terms of plot and story, and although some alterations to the tale do occur, these are barely noticeable as they don’t really contribute to any major changes in the plot or characters.
Now, while the music is a hugely important factor when deciding if one will enjoy Nodame Cantabile, one other aspect will determine whether you love the series or not – the characters.
Unlike many other romantic comedies the show has opted for a slightly more whimsical approach to love, life and relationships, and the characters are generally the epitome of this ethos. Noda Megumi (the titular Nodame), is not simply an eccentric musical genius, she is also thoroughly otaku, has a tendency to stalk her love interest, and hates cleaning. Chiaki, on the other hand, is a talented but arrogant musician who is widely regarded as the “prince” of the college.
What sets this series apart from other romantic comedies is the manner in which the characters are used. While the two leads may be the focus of the show, there is considerable development on the part of several other supporting characters as they strive to become better musicians, and in keeping with the sentiments of the franchise, this never really occurs in the way one expects.
Actually, at heart Nodame Cantabile is simply a different take on the “Beauty and the Beast” format, with classical music and a bit of role reversal thrown in for good measure.
That said, there’s nothing beastly about the looks, although there is a slight “cartoon” element to the facial features of the characters, something which is used to good effect during the funny moments. The overall design of the characters however, errs on the side of realism in respect of their movements, and while there’s an over-the-top element to the actual animation of their movements during certain scenes, the majority of the time the characters move how one would expect a normal person to move.
The backdrops and settings are pretty well realised for the most part, although there is a watercolour feel to some of the scenery, and the colour palette seems more understated than in most other anime. The combination is strangely elegant in its own way, and makes the visual comedy and parodies of typical shoujo manga scenes funnier for some reason (but that may just be me).
The one issue I do have with the animation is this – why on earth choose such bad CG for the orchestrral scenes. Granted the animation is technically astute when it comes to finger movements and hand positions, but the overall execution is poor, and does not mesh well with the general feel of the show.
One of the reasons why I was attracted to this series is because I like classical music, however even I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Nodame Cantabile. The series plays fast and loose with the typical perception that such music is staid and proper, and the comedy is often surprising in both its accuracy and its execution. Much of the humour is easily accessible to those with no knowledge of music, especially Nodame’s notorious “Fart Song” and “Moja Moja Suite”. This strange but well executed combination of classical music and comedy is a far cry from other shows, and the approach is far more tongue in cheek than one might initially expect.
In addition to this, the depiction of student life is easily on a par with the like of Moyashimon and Genshiken, with everything that entails too. It’s nice to see students doing things that students would actually do (like going out as a group and getting hammered).
Given the current glut of high school romantic comedies, Nodame Cantabile is a breath of fresh air because of its more mature yet whimsical take on love and life.
Nodame Cantabile follows the lives of Chiaki, Nodame and an assortment of other musically talented characters attending Japan’s top music university. Throughout their studies they encounter any number of trials and tribulations as their undying passion for the art grows evermore, and through each other they learn to appreciate music and performance in a whole different light, while also discovering true romance and what it is they want out of life.
The story is handled in such a mature, hard-hitting, ever so relatable way. A romantic, musically-focused plot about ardour in and outside of a relationship, Nodame Cantabile is not just for instrumentalists, romantics and music fans, but for doubters, dramatics and anyone who has ever had a passion. It’s a relatable series with realistic characters, thoughtful dialogue and worldly themes of uncertainty, struggle and infatuation; as enjoyable and funny as it is heartbreaking and frank. It’s well structured, wonderfully written and superbly developed. The plot has a real sense of purpose, there’s genuine progress in the characters and just as many light-hearted, warm, fuzzy, humorous and loveable moments to be had as there is dramatic twists, heart-wrenching drama and eye-popping musical set pieces.
As with the plot, this exceptional quality and superb writing – which I should attribute a great deal to Tomoko Ninomiya as the author of the source material, along with the anime staff – is ever-present in the characters. The main characters – Chiaki and Nodame – are an always-interesting duo, and certain members of the supporting cast are extremely well matured; there’s large amounts of progression not only in terms of their personality, but also in their actions and motivations. The characters feel very ‘real’ – even Nodame’s sometimes outlandish behaviour never wears thin – they’re down-to-earth, relatable, likeable and memorable creations, flawlessly complementing the story.
As a series focused on classical music, the sound department utulise many of the famous maestros, from Rachmaninoff to Bach. When the characters aren’t performing or practicing, Matsutani Suguru provides the score, which blends seamlessly with the vintage classical tone of the famous compositions, while also adding a variety of more up-tempo, lighthearted tracks for comedic scenes. It’s of particular note that, as the series progresses and introduces orchestras and large scale performances, the staff don’t shy away from committing lengthy compositions to the screen. An episode of Nodame Cantabile has a run-time of twenty-two minutes, but during episodes which feature an orchestral performance, often nearly half or a third of that time the backing track will consist solely of a single arrangement. The staffs dedication and reluctance to cut corners with the music is admirable. Allowing the compositions to play for so long offers audiences a beauty and experience a sample would fail to execute. The music is Nodame Cantabile is handled with care and executed to perfection.
One of the series’ only let-downs is in the animation. Despite committing to such lengthy compositions that beautifully eat away at a large portion of an episodes run-time, the animation becomes very stagnant and disappointing during the performance sequences. An orchestra is usually extremely lively, the conductor is filled with energy and there are constant bursts of movement, but this is often not depicted in Nodame Cantabile. Instead, audiences are presented with many panning shots of still frames, with only a small number of animated sequences in-between; this sadly sucks much of the life and excitement out of the performances. The rest of the animation is generally very fluid, however, and the sequences that do depict the motions of an instrument are beautifully done. The art style evokes well Niniomiya’s manga; it has a very soft tone, pleasing to the eye.
Nodame Cantabile is a sensational, all-around compelling watch, not only for its masterful depictions of love, life and the beauty of music, but also for its comedic aspects. It’s at times a lighthearted series, full of laughs and humour with precise comedic timing and intelligent punchlines. The hilarity never overstays its welcome, however, as the drama often takes the reins with full force, creating an abundance of memorable, affecting and emotive television. Nodame Cantabile is an ultimately moving series, with a completely fascinating story and spellbinding characters, depicting romance – in more ways than one – as beautiful as the classics themselves. It’s an extremely admirable creation; certainly one of the genres best and an absolutely outstanding anime production.
STORY – "Work hard and you’ll achieve your dream!" It’s a very cliche and often-used storyline, right? Well, yes. Yes, it is, but that hardly means that the subsequent series has to be old and tiresome. I’ve said before that the best stories take something that’s been done a thousand times already and somehow manage to tell it in a way that’s better and more interesting. In a genre dominated by high school drama, Nodame Cantabile steps it up and uses college students, something I’d love to see happen more often. The storytelling happens in a mostly slice-of-life format, but it doesn’t shy away from progressing significantly in time — weeks pass, months pass, whole seasons and school years pass, and it’s great to be able to follow the characters for these longer periods of time, especially since it emphasizes the fact that change and progress take both hard work and time.
Nodame Cantabile is very focused for a slice-of-life series in that almost all of the characters are very serious and motivated by their goals; there are notably few subplots that veer away from the main points. I think this can make it a bit more attractive to people that are generally bored by a wandering plotline, but it’s pretty easy to get engaged in this series regardless. Reading summaries for Nodame Cantabile can only bring skepticism and doubt considering the frequency of the main plot, but watching it? I was charmed by episode one.
CHARACTER – Without a doubt, most of Nodame Cantabile’s appeal is in its characters. Though it feels a little odd to use the adjective on him, Shinichi Chiaki is definitely gar: all the girls want him, and all the guys want to be him (actually, wait, some of the guys want him too). This most likely includes the members of the audience! He’s a genius at what he does and furiously motivated; everywhere he goes, people throw themselves at his feet and do everything in their power to push him forward. You’re compelled to cheer for him every step of the way. It’s funny sometimes how that much charisma can make it through the screen, but it’s there, and it’s because despite Chiaki’s exceeding excellence at everything, he remains a very accessible character. His weaknesses are just as glaring and significant as his strengths, and they’re what balance him out. It’s easy to imagine yourself in Chiaki’s shoes.
Nodame, strangely enough, is very much the same. She’s crazy, quirky, wild, and questionable, but once again, she’s very human. Her antics are never so over-the-top that they’re utterly unbelievable, and her hopes and dreams are notably muddled alongside her classmates’ — something a lot of people can also relate to. The differences between Nodame and Chiaki made them perfect foils, and it was really fun watching all the drama and interaction between the two. Despite the frequency of Nodame’s claims on Chiaki, I really felt like this was one of the least forced-feeling romances I’ve ever seen. At no point did their relationship feel cheap, contrived, or overly convenient. Because so much time passes during the series, the relationship felt like it progressed at a much more natural place; it was great (and adorable).
All of the support characters are nice in their own way, and I don’t think there was a single one I disliked. One of the reasons I loved that this series features college-aged students is the fact that they can all drink, smoke, and have sex and it isn’t shocking or scandalous! It also added a nice bit of insight into the lives of Japanese college students and their hilarious nightlifes (clubs, arcades, and karaoke!) when they aren’t busy studying.
ARTSTYLE & ANIMATION – Nodame Cantabile has a pretty damn simple and generic art style, but in that simplicity, it’s hard to find anything to pick at. The only thing that stands out for me in the character design is that many characters look like they’re perpetually blushing, which is a little confusing at times — once I got used to it though, it really wasn’t that big of a deal.
The most obvious critique of the animation in this series comes from the numerous still-frames used in the dozens of playing and concert montages. As an anime about music, there’s obviously a lot of music-playing involved. Especially in scenes involving entire orchestras, the animation is minimal to none — nine out of ten times you see a flute, a clarinet, an oboe, a french horn, or a cello, the players’ arms and fingers aren’t moving. The ratio is slightly improved for violin, and the piano gets the most attention with moving fingers maybe 40% of the time. It’s understandable though; after all, animating individual fingers playing instruments with many keys is incredibly difficult, especially for the piano, when they make a huge effort to animate the actual notes that are being played.
Aside from piano, where we’re sometimes lucky enough to get ten to twenty measures of music at a time, most instruments are only shown being played for seconds at a time, and it’s often CG. This makes the rendering of the instrument perfectly accurate and shiny (especially the clarinets and oboes), and I loved catching those sniplets of action in between the panning shots. There are a lot of still shots, but I do think what they do show us is worth it. There is one concert near the beginning of the series that’s about half an episode’s worth of still montages, but that’s the worst of it — as the series progresses, there’s gradually more and more actual playing. :3
MUSIC – Ah, classical music! And of such a nice variety too! I was happy to see that the selection of music in Nodame Cantabile represented more than just the select few scores and piano pieces known by the general public. Most of the composers are still familiar, but there are also lesser-known names such as Debussy, Ravel and Sarasate. Unfortunately, as much as I do love classical music, I don’t have a trained enough ear to be able to tell whether or not the music played in the series was tailored specifically for it — for example, when characters supposedly play a piece poorly, I really can’t tell. When characters supposedly improvise and don’t play exactly what the piece dictates, I can’t tell.
I would think that a vast majority of the pieces would be professionally recorded pieces borrowed for the series though, and that they’re all free of glaring errors. (I just can’t imagine that they’d budget the money required to hire an entire orchestra to mess up.) Still, at least some of the piano solos (the Moja Moja Suite? The improvised piano version of some made-up show?) had to have been recorded for the show. Overall, all of the music is very pleasing to listen to and well-performed. Maybe you don’t be moved to tears like the characters are, but if you’re even a mild fan of classical music, you’ll be fine. 🙂
VOICE ACTING – Seki Tomokazu and Ayako Kawasumi both do a great job with their leads. As both characters go through a full range of emotions, their voices had to match up appropriately, and they did! Especially for a character like Nodame, who habitually puts up one front while fostering other thoughts and feelings inside, it was really important that she have a good voice. The rest of the characters all had pretty nice voices as well, though no others really stood out to me as being particularly notable.
OVERALL – As a longtime fan of classical music, an amateur pianist, and a former clarinetist, Nodame Cantabile was both inspiring and nostalgic. It made me want to play more piano, and it made me really miss playing the school band or orchestra. It was educational, giving insight into the world and careers of classical musicians, and it was touching, allowing for a window in the lives of some very believable characters. It was hilarious and very silly at times, but I don’t think it ever crossed the line into over-the-top territory. Even for those who aren’t huge, huge fans of classical music, I think this series has enough merit to warrant a taste, and for those who are fans, you definitely don’t want to miss this series. I already can’t wait to move onto the sequel. :3
Japanese: NANA [ナナ]
MAL Score: 8.49
Nana Komatsu is a helpless, na?ve 20-year-old who easily falls in love and becomes dependent and clingy to those around her. Even though she nurses ambitious dreams of removing herself from her provincial roots and finding her true calling, she ends up traveling to Tokyo with the humble reason of chasing her current boyfriend Shouji Endo.
Nana Osaki, on the other hand, is a proud, enigmatic punk rock vocalist from a similarly rural background, who nurtures the desire to become a professional singer. Putting her career with a fairly popular band (and her passionate romance with one of its former members) firmly behind her, she boards the same train to Tokyo as Nana Komatsu.
Through a fateful encounter in their journey toward the metropolis, the young women with the same given name are brought together, sparking a chain of events which eventually result in them sharing an apartment. As their friendship deepens, the two attempt to support each other through thick and thin, their deeply intertwined lives filled with romance, music, challenges, and heartbreaks that will ultimately test their seemingly unbreakable bond.
These words are the introduction of the beautiful world of “Nana”. Ai Yazawa is probably the most convincing shoujo manga writer ever. With colourful, realistic characters, breathtaking events and just a pinch of music she creates a world in witch every girl can forget about reality and fall into the embrace of romantic fantasies.
One of the best things about “Nana” are the characters – we can actually see the reflection of ourselves in some of them and believe, that someone like that can really exist. This is proof that you can make a good anime without the conventional tsundere, moe or annoying childhood friend.
One thing I didn’t like though is Hachi’s personality. Her behaviour at times is despicable. Mainly because she has no ideals or dreams (except getting married witch is pretty boring compared to the rest of the characters).
The story is also one of Nana’s strong points. Ai Yazawa worked really hard on it, and did her best to create a realistic world so that the reader can almost become part of it and experience it emotionaly.
Even though the plot is a typical shoujo tearjerker (with a bit of music) it has that magical something that makes you cheer unconsciously for some characters and experience emotionally some events almost as strongly as the characters themselves. Another good thing about the story is that it exposes the hard, cruel reality, which has no happy endings and pure loves. Yazawa-sensei gives her characters a big imagination (especially Hachi) But the world they live in is just like ours.
As for the art, it wasn’t that impressive. It annoys me how all the characters are so thin and tall. Other that that I think the art matched the story pretty well. There were lots of details regarding shadows and highlights. That’s in order to underline the mood of certain moments, mainly in room 707.
Nana has one of the best soundtracks I’ve ever heard. The openings and endings were songs by the 2 fictional bands in the show, witch was a brilliant idea imo. Olivia Lufkin and Anna Tsuchiya fit the characters perfectly. Nothing much to add here: the music in Nana is brilliant. Period.
Overall, Nana is a must-see position for shoujo-fans. It tells us a lot about life, it’s hardships and also teaches us an important lesson about the mistakes, that we shouldn’t make.
This is my first review, so please don’t be hard on me 😉
For those of you who have watched your share of anime about love/relationships, I bet you could identify somehow with “Bokura ga Ita”, “Kimi ga Nozomu Eien” or “Kare Kano”. Or at least you felt connected with its characters. I have watched them all and know what I’m talking about.
Recently, I finally sat down and watched “Paradise Kiss”. It’s a short (12 episodes) anime that, to make it short, is about relationships and growing up. I was impressed by its maturity. The art style took a while to get used to, but afterwards I loved it. After watching it, I decided to watch “Nana”, which is by the same author and deals with similar issues.
“On board the train to Tokyo to meet her boyfriend Shoji, Nana Komatsu ("Hachi") happened to sit beside Nana Osaki who was traveling to Tokyo to fulfill her dreams of becoming a musician. The vocalist for her punk band "Blast", Nana aims for a major debut for "Blast" in Tokyo where her boyfriend, Ren, is the guitarist for a popular band "Trapnest". Sharing the same name "Nana", both girls quickly form a bond of friendship. Their paths cross again when they encounter each other while searching for accommodation in Tokyo. Eventually they decide to live together in the same unit and this further strengthens their bond as the two "Nana(s)" go through their love lives and career.” – AnimeNewsNetwork
I almost have no words to express how it made me feel. It’s amazing. Incredibly realistic and moving. I started watching it without knowing a thing about it (not even synopsis), though the title “Nana” sounded familiar as something popular among anime fans. The anime was broadcasted in 2006, lasting 47 episodes, but the manga first came out in Japan in 2000 and is still ongoing.
The concept itself isn’t anything too extraordinary. People living together, people falling in and out of love, people trying to make it in showbiz and other stuff. You could say it blends many overused ideas, then twists them around and reinvents them, transforming itself into a completely original and brilliant idea. And it contains romance, drama and comedy, but the transition between them is really well done, so it doesn’t feel weird.
What really makes “Nana” shine is the incredible character development. The evolution of each character’s personality and relationships with other characters. The things we watch them go through seem so real, like we’d probably make the same mistakes and choices as they did. No one is perfect – that’s a fact. We often think to ourselves “If I was [him], I wouldn’t have made that choice”, but the truth is we are lying to ourselves. We are insecure, emotional beings, that often ignore rational thought and make reckless decisions. “Nana” is so realistic that it’ll blow your mind away.
This is a long series, but it’s not hard to watch. In the first episodes, the action often switches between the actual time and many flashbacks, but they really are important to understand a character’s background. At some point you might get the feeling that they’re repeating the flashbacks, but don’t worry. This isn’t a filler-filled series.
In the end I felt that the story was really well told. But they leave you in a sort of cliffhanger… because the manga isn’t finished yet. But they made it more than obvious that at some point there’ll be a second season of Nana, so don’t worry. In fact, I loved watching this and the way it ended wasn’t too frustrating because I’d just experienced an awesome series.
The way the characters look might be a little hard to get used to (at least imo), but I really like the art style. I don’t think there’s anything too impressive or revolutionary about the visuals here… which is a good thing. I think the plot alone would be enough to hold the audience and maybe if they’d done something too extravagant visually (*cough* Air *cough*) the viewer would get sidetracked from the story itself. I think the animation was very fitting for the anime.
The animation studio is Madhouse, which was also responsible for “Beck”, “CardCaptor Sakura”, “Paradise Kiss”, “Death Note” and a bunch of others.
I watched the episodes with the original Japanese voice actors and English subtitles. As for the actors, I think they were perfect for their roles. KAORI gave her voice to Nana “Hachi”, which suited the character perfectly with the childish and girlish tone (but thankfully not an annoying high-pitched voice). For the tough rock singer Nana Osaki we have Romi Paku, who also voiced Edward Elric in Full Metal Alchemist. They knew that “Nana” would be an instant success, so they gave it a cast of famous actors and spared no expense.
At first this seems like an anime about music, but it doesn’t play that much of a part here. I mean, we hear lots of songs, but the story isn’t focused on showing us the making of the songs in detail. Compared to “Gravitation” or “Full Moon wo Sagashite”, music wasn’t as important here.
I loved the songs. The fictional bands’ songs are used as openings and endings. OLIVIA is the singing voice of Reira, and we hear many songs from her. My favourite was “A little pain”. It was the first Ending, and since each episode ended on a relatively sad tone, the song fit perfectly. When I heard the first words of the lyrics (“Travel to the moon…”) it almost made me want to cry.
As I’ve mentioned, the characters are the best thing about the anime. We get the chance to know a bit about each character’s history, motivations, thoughts and desires. They are so realistic that we just can’t help but being sucked in by them.
As the anime progresses, the characters gradually grow. This is a very “slice of life” genre of anime, so we watch them growing up. I love how they all interact and deal with their decisions. I love how they aren’t perfect… but as flawed as humans should be.
I loved this anime and it will definitely become one of my favorite series of all time. I feel like watching it again and again, but since it is 47 episodes long and makes me very emotional, maybe it’ll have to wait until I have more time.
I don’t feel like reading the manga for the sole reason that it is too damn long. If it weren’t for that, I would have already ordered all the volumes. But I gained new respect for the mangaka Ai Yazawa.
There are 2 live-action movies for “Nana”. I haven’t watched them yet, but will soon. I’m curious as to how they squeezed all that plot into 2 movies (I’d say they have enough material to make a whole 11 episode drama or maybe something even longer).
The anime will have a second season… I’m sure of that. But for that to happen, we’ll have to wait until the manga is finished. Hurry up!
Said lack of enthusiasm along with the fact that it’s a relatively long show directed by Morio Asaka aka that flowery director who’s so slow-paced in his storytelling that even the stuff of his I’ve actually liked ended up feeling underwhelming in the end, is the main reason I never watched Nana. But part of said reason was just that I wasn’t interested. I never even cared enough to learn what happens in the show other than the fact that it was about two women named Nana who become friends and deal with relationship issues. And as much as I like the Paradise Kiss anime, part of its appeal was that it was really short. Eleven episodes, which admittedly made manga fans a bit grumpy considering an important male character and some story details got shortchanged as a result, but if it meant less boredom caused by dead space, than I was all for it.
But even with the huge amount of summer anime I keep up with riding my ass like a sexual metaphor that I’m not going to elaborate on because it would be too nasty even for me, I had free time to surf Netflix for new shows to get into. And after my failure to get into the Netflix originals that I tried, along with browsing the anime selection and noticing Nana was on there, I decided it was as good a time as any to watch it and ended up finishing the show in less than two weeks. You have no idea how much free time I sacrificed regarding other activities I could have been doing – like finally playing Bioshock Infinite for one – to accomplish that, especially since I don’t actually love Nana. Not that I don’t think it’s good. It is. But if you were to ask me if I wanted to rewatch in the future, I’d just shove my Paradise Kiss DVDs in your face, and not because I managed to get those really hard-to-find DVDs for a relatively cheap price and want to brag about it. Not just because of that, anyways.
And yes, it is the pacing that’s the problem. I’m okay with taking a break in-between dramatic moments in order to set them up so that they’d actually have some impact, but not breaks that go on this long. The very first episode of the anime introduces our two twenty-year old protagonists, a happy go-lucky idiot named Nana Komatsu and a rock punk chick named Nana Osaki, by having them meet on a train during their move to Tokyo and end up becoming roommates due to various circumstances. I was expecting the next episode to showcase the two getting to know each other whilst revealing their motivations for moving to Tokyo in the first place, until I read the Netflix summaries and discovered that the next five episodes would flashback to their pasts in a “how we got here” sort of way meaning we wouldn’t get any meaningful interaction between them until half a one-cour series has passed. And to top it all off, they rehash the opening episode in Episode 6, which makes me wonder why you needed a prologue to begin with. I mean there’s hooking the audience and then there’s just baiting them with cookies for breakfast. It’s an extreme, but by no means the only example of this sort of pacing dragging the show down. Certainly not the worst example from the show either.
Not that the downtime is dull. It’s just pretty average. If you’ve seen one story about a quirky female trying to make friends and ends meet, then you’ve seen Nana’s light-hearted stretch of episodes. The only thing that makes it tolerable compared to most go-nowhere shoujo series is how despite Nana K trying her hardest to be independent, she’s completely dependent on others, which becomes increasingly problematic on the people surrounding her as well as herself throughout the series. This leads to a decently engaging climax ⅓ of the way through the series when said hypocrisy pushes her boyfriend towards another woman, but I couldn’t quite shake the feeling that I had just watched a romance movie that was the first part of a trilogy and stretched out to three times the length it needed to be.
It wasn’t until Nana O’s circle of friends, including the band of which her former boyfriend is a member of, shows up that the average-to-engaging ratio started to tip more towards the latter. But even then, it has its slow moments. Whilst I appreciate Nana for having buildup so that I could actually care for the “will they or won’t they” part of the story rather than act like a man in his forties who’s desperate to lose his virginity, I could have completed an entire workout routine in the time it took for the buildup to go somewhere whilst still having enough time to cook some meat afterwards.
The absolute nadir of the experience was with the story’s final arc, where after Nana K makes a mistake that causes her and everyone to face their own demons in a heart-wrenching string of episodes that rivals Kids on the Slope’s final stretch in terms of emotional intensity, the show then spends the next ten episodes trying to have the characters go on with their lives with each episode having about 3-5 minutes of compelling drama and 17-20 minutes of “whilst I like these characters, this doesn’t further the story in any real way” I know a bunch of people were sour on Kids on the Slope for skipping an entire volume of the manga – amongst other things – but please explain to me what showcasing the actual process of Kaoru moving on from wrecking his entire life would actually add. Sometimes, some things are best left to the imagination and you just need to end the thing right then and there.
And just to make things worse, nothing even comes out of all that buildup other than a reaffirmation and closure of old plot threads that whilst engaging, don’t really lend any sort finality to the show as a whole. Without giving too much away, there’s this weird and unnecessary use of time skip before it cuts back to the present with the characters just acting like they usually do, even when major events occur. And whilst a hard decision is made in said finale, said decision is undercut by the timeskip showing that everything is going to be alright in the future, rendering it completely pointless. It feels like the anime ended right in the middle of the story, and whilst I understand that Nana’s source material hasn’t concluded even to this day – although the chances we’ll ever get a conclusion from the author at this point are about as likely as Iggy Azalea ever being relevant again after her breakdown – you could have at least had made some sort of big deal out of things. At least achieve a small last-minute accomplishment? No? Alright then, but don’t expect me to read your manga in order to find out what happens next. Especially since there’s a certain car crash that happens later on that I think I’m better off pretending doesn’t exist.
Am I banging too much on how unnecessarily long I found this series? Well it’s the most unique thing I can say about it, because like me, even if you don’t know what happens plot-wise, I’d be very surprised if you didn’t have any idea what Nana was actually about. The whole story is somewhere between Beck Mongolian Chop Squad and a Seo Kouji manga in that the majority of the characters are working towards making it as a punk band whilst dealing with all sorts of heartbreak and truths regarding how complicated relationships can get. All the characters are adults and even the more assholish members of the cast are likable, which automatically makes Nana better than those works. And it doesn’t hurt that it focuses more on the latter than the former, which I prefer because my interest in the inner workings of how a band operates is virtually nil whilst my interest in the inner workings of how a relationship works is higher than the peak of Mount Olympus.
Whilst there are some weird plot contrivances to further the story along, complaining about that in a drama is like complaining they’re emotionally manipulative or comedies are funny. If you don’t like the very idea of them, then you shouldn’t be watching anything from the genre to begin with. You don’t see me watching Bollywood movies for a reason you know. And whilst some of the plot points are eerily reminiscent of Suzuka, they work here because the drama fires in all cylinders rather than play favoritism towards one weak direction. Everything that happens is a result of the characters’ personalities. Events that happen to one character also affects those around them, causing all involved parties to face themselves along with their circumstances. Nobody is a true bad guy, even when it’s clear that one side is more wrong than the other. Even the high school kid who demands money from the girls he sleeps with is a lot nicer in practice than he sounds right no–get out of that chat room! I swear he’s a decent guy…sort of.
And most of all, the romance and relationship stuff is ultimately just a tool for larger issues. Sure we’ve seen said issues addressed before: responsibility, personal luck, inner demons, etc. But those sorts of issues are never going to stop being relevant anytime soon, no matter what your age is. And as long as that remains true and they’re explored in a way that reminds us of said truth, I’m always going to find the stuff that Nana represents intriguing. That is why Nana continues to be remembered as one of the anime greats despite not being popular in this current generation of anime fans. Which makes it all the more frustrating that the show is to romance stories what Monster (sans conclusive ending despite the ambiguity of it all) is to crime stories.
As well-written, decent-looking (although Nana’s actual animation is pretty terrible), nicely dubbed, and overall enjoyable both Madhouse productions are, my desire to ever revisit them is severely tempered by their long lengths and the inevitable dead space and repetition that comes from this sort of serialized storytelling “should have been a movie” format. Maybe if the comedy during Nana’s lower-quality stretches was funny, the pacing wouldn’t have been so much of a problem. But all the jokes come from “How to write shoujo comedy 101”, which is about as funny as a kid from a PBS show throwing a tantrum during the middle of a Lifetime drama. Sure it sounds like a good laugh on paper, but so does page 67 of the Kama Sutra. And don’t blame me if your partner never wants to sleep with you again after that experience.
Did YOUR favorite anime make the cut? Let us know in the comments below!
2. Nodame Cantabile
3. Saiunkoku Monogatari 2nd Season
6. Kanon (2006)
7. Saiunkoku Monogatari
8. ef: A Tale of Memories.
9. Eikoku Koi Monogatari Emma: Molders-hen
10. Seto no Hanayome