The Fall 2003 Anime Preview Guideby Zac Bertschy, Oct 20th 2003
Welcome to the Fall 2003 Anime Preview Guide! It's a banner year for
anime in Japan. Increased popularity in the states has lead to ramped-up production
in the Land of the Rising Sun, so we've got a whole load of new shows
to sift through!
It's important to point out that these are reviews of the FIRST EPISODE ONLY and are not to be taken as a review of the entire series. Consider this a “first impression.” That said, it's pointless to say “well, this could get better with time” for each and every series, because that should be a given. Regardless of the first impression, something can always get better (or worse) by the middle of the series, but that's really not a good reason to excuse (or dismiss) every show, regardless of how terrible it might be. We do our best to provide an objective viewpoint and give you an idea of what each show is like, and you can then make up your own mind.
Also, due to the sheer volume of available new shows and Rebecca's work schedule, the “she said” section will unfortunately be omitted from this season's guide. Please see Rebecca's regular column, Ms. Answerman, for your recommended daily allowance of Vitamin R.
Alchemy is the age old science of using nature's most basic elements to synthesize something new. Edward Elric and his brother Al had no idea what they were getting into when they tried to used this ancient art to synthesize a human being. They broke one of the cardinal rules of alchemy, and as such, Edward has been cursed with a metal arm and leg, and his brother's entire body has been replaced with a suit of armor. Nevertheless, they have become two of the world's most famous alchemists, using their scientific magic to perform “miracles”. They now roam the countryside, traveling wherever their adventures take them.
First Episode Review:
Fullmetal Alchemist is yet another example of a brilliant premise with questionable execution. Visually, the show is your basic shonen action series; thick black lines, huge anime eyes, and simplistic faces with multicolored hair. The backgrounds and character designs are bright and vibrant. This is a colorful world. The main character, Edward Elric (one wonders if his name is inspired by the fantasy novels), is interesting enough to watch. He's cut from the same cloth as Luffy D. Monkey and Naruto, so shonen action fans will have their spunky, kick-butt main character with a heart of gold and a mouth of sass. His brother is a little less interesting, though. He looks like an evil robot, or perhaps a monster from the Dot Hack series, and he spends most of his time trying to do the “right thing.” He also seems to develop and endless sympathy for one of the random “cute and innocent” girls they meet over the course of about two minutes. The plot progression starts out OK, but quickly plunges into routine after the 15-minute mark or so. It's easy to see how they could build a formula out of this one episode (Edward and Al travel to a new town, meet some guy using alchemy for the wrong reasons, and shut him down, etc and so on), but hopefully they'll develop an arching storyline rather than submitting to the evil forces of repetitive monster-of-the-week stuff. All in all, if you're a shonen action fan, Fullmetal Alchemist is pretty much the only new game in town, so it's worth a shot if you're into the genre.
It's the year 2074, and as space travel becomes more and more important, so does the collection of space debris, tiny pieces of scrap metal that can burn through a spacecraft like a hot knife through butter if they aren't collected. Enter the Debris section, a squad of interstellar garbagemen whose job it is to clean up the cosmic trash. Tanabe Ai, an enthusiastic new recruit, has been assigned to the debris section, which is in the basement and is referred to as the “hann section” (meaning the lowest of the low). What she finds there is a team of misfits, rejects and whack-jobs, all with their own stories and problems. She also discovers how truly competent they can be, when the chips come down. Maybe the debris section isn't so bad after all!
First Episode Review:
Planetes is easily one of the best new shows of the season. Based on the popular manga by Makoto Yukimura (now available from Tokyopop), Planetes is, at its core, a dramedy. While the show focuses a bit more on the comedy aspect than the manga does, the exploits of the debris section will entertain anyone with an eye for adult humor. Beautifully animated by Production I.G, the character designs and setting instantly bring to mind the “Magnetic Rose” segment of “Memories,” minus all the death and creepiness. Amazingly enough, this first episode sets things up very well and introduces a whole bevy of interesting characters. Some of them are even given depth, specifically the cranky, straight-talking Hachimaki, easily the early standout character. They all play off of each other wonderfully, and once the episode is done with all the necessary setup, we're treated to a quick little trash-collecting adventure in space, which is a joy to watch (despite how it sounds). The music tends to be a little “wacky” at times, but the show features a gorgeous opening and closing. This one could get very serious very quickly, but the nature of the series seems very balanced; expect great things from Planetes. Definitely one to watch.
Kamiyama Takashi has successfully transferred into Cromartie High, a school made up entirely of the kind of potato-faced delinquents you see in old shonen comics. What follows is an amazingly bizarre series of events, including one student who turns out to be a gorilla, a quick primer on how to be a delinquent, and a competition on who's the biggest badass in the school! Can things get any stranger in Cromartie High?
First Episode Review:
Most people will tell you that Excel Saga is the funniest anime series ever made. It's good news, then, for those of you that didn't find Excel's brain-hammering, endlessly shrill comedy to your liking: your savior is here. Cromartie High is perhaps the strangest and most hilarious anime series I've ever seen. The show is nothing but a series of totally bizarre, almost non-sequitur gags. From 'Mechazawa,' the robot student who looks like a poorly-drawn tin can in a school uniform (who also smokes and has a very deep, impressive voice for a crappy looking robot), to “Freddy,” the student who looks exactly like Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, Cromartie High is, far and away, the funniest new show of the season. This series is a no-holds-barred parody of every delinquent cliché out there, and it's so strange it's hard to describe. This is one of those that you simply need to see for yourself. It's just as random as Excel Saga, although simply not as shrill or repetitive. That, and the episodes are only twelve minutes long, so they're just the right length (each episode contains a series of vignettes, so think of it as a funny version of Azumanga Daioh) and never outstay their welcome. Don't miss it!
Brandon Heat, former strong arm for the syndicate, is gunned down after betraying his evil boss. Reborn as Grave, an all-powerful gunfighter with an indestructible body and a totally incomplete memory, Grave protects Mika, a girl whose mother was killed by the murderous Syndicate and his now on the lamb.
First Episode Review:
A lot of people were expecting this anime, based on the widely disliked PS2 video game, to be their action anime Holy Grail. You have chosen poorly. This series is a total misfire (pun intended) on almost every level. Visually, the show is a bleary-eyed, blurry spattering of reds and whites. The picture never seems focused; instead, every shot is overexposed, and given a color haze, masking Yasuhiro Nightow's acclaimed character designs. The animation is little more than a slideshow, characters' mouths are constantly cropped out of the picture, and even the action scenes seem to have very little animation. The storyline makes little sense until the end of the first episode; it's clear that large portions of the story are supposed to be a mystery, but the pacing of the show is so slow that you stop caring after a while. Grave fights a series of silly and derivative enemies; first, it's a bunch of grey guys who look exactly like Incognito from Hellsing, then it's a spider version of Incognito, and then it's an Agent Smith look-alike, who turns into Incognito. To make matters worse, Grave never says anything; he just does his “badass with coat and guns” thing (anyone else a little tired of this formula?), shoots up the bad guys and takes a lot of hits without actually getting hurt. It's impossible to sympathize with someone who never speaks, has no charisma, and doesn't do anything aside from shoot things and go stalking around looking for trouble. He is, perhaps, the least interesting “badass with coat and guns” ever. His little sidekick girl is a high-pitched, flighty annoyance; I was waiting for the syndicate to shoot her down so we wouldn't have to listen to her anymore. Gungrave is a huge disappointment. I suppose this is proof that video games still don't translate into anime very well.
Kururu, Shiriri, Sarara, and Hororo are four little fairies that live inside bottles on their “Sensei”'s desk. Together, they have misadventures trying to understand the human world, seeking advice from the totally misinformed grade schooler next door.
First Episode Review:
Bottle Fairy is hard to read. If this show is intended for grade school kids, then there really isn't anything to say; you're basically watching the Japanese equivalent of Teletubbies, where nothing of consequence happens, and the proceedings are excessively light. If they're intending this as a cute little comedy for older children or teenagers (à la Tiny Snow Fairy Sugar), then Bottle Fairy is a complete mystery. There isn't anything funny about it. They spend a few seconds setting up and obvious and horrifically clichéd joke, see it through, and then move on to the next “joke.” Most of the “humor” is entirely focused on either how cute the fairies are (they use water guns and make machine gun noises instead of real guns and wear pots on their heads for helmets! Oh, the hilarity!) or how they misunderstand something in the human world and then reinterpret it, à la Bobby's World, where someone says “Banana Split” and Bobby imagines a Banana doing the splits or some other lame visual joke. There are a few old gags about war, and an extended sequence involving the fairies getting drunk, so there's a little bit of evidence that leads me to believe that this isn't for very small children. Given the quality of the show's writing (an entire gag sequence will revolve around how the different fairies eat a sandwich; the quiet one takes small bites and eats slowly, the feisty one gets excited and overeats – ba-dum-ching!), I can't see this appealing to anyone else, unless they're just so taken by how forcibly cute this show is, they're willing to overlook how completely asinine the proceedings are. If you're six years old, this might be the show for you, but your parents might not approve because of the occasional bit of questionable humor. Anyone older might want to find something else.
Tetsunosuke Ichimura has a score to settle with the Choshu gang. The place is Japan; the time, 1864. His brother Tatsu has been accepted as an accountant for the rival peacekeeping force, the Shinsengumi, who have a reputation for being cold-blooded murderers. Despite being only fifteen, Tetsunosuke shows some amazing skill when put up against the legendary Shinsengumi swordsman Okita as part of his initiation. Determined to bring down the Choshu member who killed his father, Tetsu puts himself – and his sanity – to the test, finally being accepted into the Shinsengumi, damning himself to a future soaked in the blood of the fallen.
First Episode Review:
Peacemaker Kurogane is, far and away, the bright spot in this season's lineup. Based on the popular manga, Peace Maker takes us back to that all-too-familiar time fictionalized in the Rurouni Kenshin OVA series. Animated with amazing flair and beauty by Gonzo Digimation, this series gets high marks in all aspects of design and execution; distinctive character designs, beautiful backgrounds, wonderful atmosphere and fluid, crisp animation. As it stands, the storyline can't be beat either. What starts out sounding like every other shonen anime out there right now (“I'll become the greatest pirate ever!” followed by “I'll become the greatest ninja ever!” followed by “I'll become the best Shinsengumi swordsman ever!”) quickly reveals itself as a blood-spattered, engrossing drama, showing the truly dark side of the Shinsengumi. The main character is determined to bring his father's killer down, and while this leads to some decidedly cliché moments, the series as a whole seems to have solid plot construction, decent dialogue, and several exciting moments. This is a show where each episode will be highly anticipated, because the characters are that interesting and the storyline moves along at a nice, quick pace. The comic relief character (a cartoonish-looking pig that follows the somewhat fruity master swordsman Okina around) is a little out of place, and the music leaves something to be desired, but other than that, nobody has any reason to skip this one. Hands down, this is the best show of the new season.
The youkai threat has once again reared its ugly head, and it's up to Sanzo and his band of ass-kicking bishounen to take 'em down! Dogged at their every step by teeming hordes of youkai trying to get the chain-smoking, bitter priest Sanzo's holy scriptures, the gang travels from town to town, looking for good food, good women, and a good fight.
First Episode Review:
Much to my dismay, Sanzo was not The One, nor did he fight a hundred Agent Smiths. Instead, he mostly said and did the same things he did in the first Saiyuki series. Simply put, if you loved the first show, this is more of the same and you'll love this too. As with the first series, the show's decidedly innovative and detailed character designs are marred by sub-par animation (although, to Reload's credit, the animation is much better here than it was in the first series). The storyline is your average monster-of-the-week thing that eventually turns into some arching plot about saving the world from some greater evil (invariably convincing many people that somehow Saiyuki isn't your average run-of-the-mill pretty boy action show, when in fact it's practically the model on which other generic pretty boy action shows are based); you can tell all of this by the first episode. This is a direct sequel to the first Saiyuki show, and nothing more. It's as if the first series never ended. If you liked it, then you'll be in heaven. If you didn't, don't watch this. Not much more to say, except to once again ask the eternal question: why the hell don't they just ride the dragon around instead of taking that infernal jeep everywhere? Furthermore, why aren't the townspeople awestruck by the jeep, since it's light years ahead of their technology? Unless Saiyuki Reload answers some of these questions, it's safe to assume that there's nothing here for non-fans. Move along.
R.O.D The TV
Michelle, Maggie and Anita are three private detectives whose client roster runs the gamut from kidnappings to theft to burglary to murder. Michelle is the airheaded, enthusiastic one, Maggie is the quiet, shy type, and Anita is a little pistol, full of piss and vinegar. They also happen to be gifted with an amazing control of paper, able to turn it into bulletproof shields, razor-sharp knives, and even huge flying birds and ferocious beasts!
First Episode Review:
Highly anticipated due to its connection to the popular Read or Die OAV series, Read or Die TV has some pretty big shoes to fill. If you're looking for more library-based action with cool music and fluid animation, then Read or Die TV pretty much fits the bill. They're using the same basic soundtrack and the show has excellent animation; it's clear that they spared no expense. The action scenes are competently directed and there's plenty of tension, and fun to be had. Unfortunately, there's one major, glaring problem here: characters. The screenwriters here basically tossed out all of the main characters (aside from a few passing references to Yomiko Readman) and replaced them with three archetypal girls who all have the same power. Basically what you get is Read or Die, except with three different Yomiko Readmans instead of other interesting characters like Miss Deep. This is a big problem because it saps a lot of what made the original OVA so much fun; add in a healthy dose of fan service and you've got something that might only appeal to hardcore Read or Die fans, and even then, they might realize, as I did, that the charm of the original show resided in the characters, not the action. The pacing is also a little off-kilter; here we're presented with half of a slow-moving drama with too many female characters, and the other half, an action movie. It's literally separated by the commercial break, and the result is a jarring sort of mess that has two different climaxes and a rushed resolution. It's not that Read or Die TV is bad, not by a long shot; it just lacks a lot of the things that made the original OVA so endearing. This might pull in a lot of new Read or Die fans, but it risks alienating the old ones. Watch at your own risk.
YORI AOSHI: ENISHI
Kaoru and Aoi have been together for two whole years now, their romance endlessly stretched to its limits by the bevy of love-starved eccentrics that make their home in Kaoru's boarding house. Can their love survive another year of endless advances from other females?
First Episode Review:
Buried somewhere beneath the unending fan service shots in Ai Yori Aoshi ~Enishi~ is a very sweet romance between two uneasy people. This is the second season, a sequel to the smash hit original, which found many fans both in Japan and America, and it goes down a little easier this time. It's much more satisfying to see Kaoru and Aoi act like a real couple, rather than an overzealous girl and a milquetoast guy. As usual with harem shows like this, Kaoru is a blank slate, given very little personality; thankfully, the writers this time saw fit to gift Kaoru with just enough character depth to make his relationship with Aoi convincing. Seeing the two together, holding hands and doing all the things couples do is refreshing, especially in a harem show where typically thousands of big-breasted anime girls fling themselves with full force at the hero. That isn't to say that Enishi doesn't have its fair share of cleavage shots; indeed, there's plenty of service to be had. It simply seems like there's less of it this time around, and they're focusing on the maturing serious relationship between Kaoru and Aoi, who seem to have a genuinely mutual and caring thing going on. There's one problem: the basic premise of this series remains unchanged, so we're expected to endure another frustrating season watching Aoi put up with a house full of girls who are blind to the fact that Kaoru is very obviously taken. I'm waiting for the episode where she cracks and slices them all to pieces with a kitchen knife for constantly trying to move in on her man. Until that happens, if you liked the first one, you'll love this one. If the first one frustrated you, you might like this one more; it seems a little less juvenile (key phrase “a little”).
In the distant future, a post-apocalyptic colonized mars is home to a series of domed cities. On the rugged martian landscape, people can only survive in these cities, and it's a warrior's culture. One warrior, an angst-ridden red-haired woman by the name of Leila, fights with unstoppable power, seeking a lost “doll” named Nei, a kind of servant android. Soft-spoken and deadly, Leila is reunited with Nei, and wins possession of him in a fight to the death with a combatant from beyond the city walls. What is Leila's attachment to Nei? Who runs the domed cities? It's an enigma inside a mystery!
First Episode Review:
The first thing that comes to mind during Avenger is, surprisingly, Bee Train's hit series Noir. It's not that the two share anything superficial in common beyond mild character design similarities, but these two shows are very alike in tone and execution. Avenger is set in an original science fiction world about which very little is explained in the first episode; we only know what's shown to us, and we aren't shown much. Basically, we get introduced to a whole slew of new characters, a few vague pointers as to where the story is going, and zero background. The point is, they'll show you what's really happening much later in the series, and each layer is peeled off slowly throughout the show, revealing the truth behind it all towards the end. If you con tolerate that sort of thing, Avenger is right up your alley. Design-wise, it's a little generic; the character designs are highly reminiscent of .hack//SIGN, and the world itself is fairly dull to look at. The characters don't really say much, but they do brood and fight a lot. It's not to say that Avenger is a bad show by any stretch of the imagination; it just doesn't make a whole lot of sense early on, and we are left without a compelling reason to care about the proceedings, given absolutely zero background information about what's happening on screen. This is one that will probably get much better as more episodes come out, but it might be a little frustrating dealing with the slow pace of the show.
The Galaxy Express serves as a passenger train service through the vast sea of stars. Not everyone in space is friendly, though, and when marauding aliens attack a passing train, it's up to the brave Captain Yuuki to take his Big One combat vessel out there, retrieve the passengers, and escape. Unfortunately, his eager sons, Mamoru and Manabu, have stowed away... a mistake which forces them to watch their father's death as he sacrifices himself to save the endangered passengers. Four years later, eldest son Mamoru follows in his father's footsteps and joins the Space Railways Force... and a year after that, he dies. All that remains is plucky young Manabu... can he overcome the odds? His fate is in the stars!
First Episode Synopsis:
Galaxy Railways is about as old-school as you're going to get for 2003. This is a first-class space opera, steeped in tradition. The character designs, by Leiji Matsumoto, are at this point a refreshing and interesting departure from the standard everyday fare that shows up in nearly all of the other anime series. His designs are a little more understated here, looking solid, well-drawn and distinctive rather than bizarre and alien. They've been brought to picture-perfect life in Galaxy Railways; it's clear that not a single dime was spared bringing this thing to life. The animation is fluid, skilled and lovely, and takes the top spot this season in terms of animation quality. While I suppose it was a bit much to hope for that Matsumoto's newest show would be scored by everyone's favorite French scene band Daft Punk (Given their involvement with the auteur in the past), what we get instead is a series of somewhat lame-sounding, melodramatic synthesizer pieces and a warbling male singing the closing theme. The storyline is suitably epic and could run for a good long time, provided the audience is there. The thing is, this is very old school, meaning it's also slowly paced and relies more on emotions and “astounding feats of epic bravery” than fast-paced fight scenes or showy special effects. Don't walk in to this expecting another Full Metal Panic; this IS your father's anime, updated visually for the new century. They seem to have tweaked the formula, however, just enough to make this title a little more interesting than the others that have come before it. This show is more about personal feelings and family ties rather than big, overblown space politics and endless battles of million-ship fleets. If you're in the mood for something a little slower and a little more traditional (not to mention a string of references to Matsumoto's other works), Galaxy Railways will quench your thirst.
A terrorist attack initiated by someone calling himself Inkydoo has rendered all the world's computers unusable and has turned the sky to a permanent aurora borealis show. Several years later, two siblings are on the run from a band of street toughs, troubled by a post-apocalyptic world where nobody is safe. They take haven in an abandoned mansion and run in to a mysterious society of people wearing strange clothing, who handle their assailants.
First Episode Review:
Gilgamesh seems like a failed experiment in post-apocalyptic storytelling. The show starts off in Babylon, where someone calling himself Inkydoo (let's shoehorn in a few more references to Babylonian culture, folks) releases a deadly.. er.. wave of.. color.. stuff that covers the sky and takes out all of earth's electronics. Cut to a few years later, where we see two kids who look a lot like Inkydoo (and who in the preview say that they'll be chased because of “who their father is”... you do the math) running from some poorly-drawn guys in street clothes. Then they run in to the mystical bishounen society, who seem to have an endless supply of candles. Then they show this woman in black who says, “Gilgamesh will rise again!” or some such nonsense. That's about it. Gilgamesh is obviously a slow-starting cyberpunk type of series, one obviously made on the cheapest of the cheap. The character designs are ugly as heck, with twisted, disproportionate lips and strange-looking hair on literally every character. The animation is ridiculously bad and makes bad designs look worse by being off-model all the time. The music is nonexistent. The storyline has some minor potential to be interesting, but mostly, this thing is a lost cause. Move along, people, nothing to see here.
There's a secret task force in Italy that uses traumatized little girls as tools of combat, training them specifically on different types of firearms to become the ultimate killing machines. Henrietta, one especially gifted warrior, was victim to endless abuse, having had to watch her entire family get gunned down. Now, she is a ruthless gunfighter, mowing down criminals in the name of justice... but can she keep it together?
First Episode Review:
Let's not fool ourselves about this one. Noir was a success, and so Gunslinger Girl was made. This show is, at its core, the same basic premise as Noir: constantly sad girl with no remorseful feelings is an expert killer. The show is drab, washed in blacks and grays, and it always seems to be overcast outside. The main character, Henrietta, runs around in a school uniform with a guitar case that holds all of her various firearms. Is anyone else a smidgen tired of the little-girl-as-ultimate-weapon formula? Saishuuheiki Kanojo succeeded on the strength of its writing and emotion, but these new series seem to rely solely on the novelty of having little girls in school uniforms with guns (not to mention, given the show's timeslot, it's very clear who this show is aimed at, which makes it a bit creepier). That said, Gunslinger Girl does manage to maintain a somber and dark atmosphere and avoids sexualizing the little girl characters, which a refreshing change of pace for a series like this one. Henrietta spends most of her time acting like a coma patient, and doesn't seem to have any emotion other than 'sad.' She isn't very interesting to watch, and neither is her endlessly-worrying partner, or any of the other characters in the show. Gunslinger Girl is gifted with exceptional animation, however; the bullets fly fast and furious, and people die with fluid, full motion. The characters are always on model, and despite the generic character designs, it's easy to tell the girls apart. Basically, if you aren't sick of this genre yet, you should probably check out this series. It avoids some of the pitfalls that the others do, and is beautifully animated. Unfortunately, it's also incredibly generic, and will turn off anyone (myself included) sick and tired of seeing little girls with huge guns and short skirts.
It is said that if you tell a hundred Ghost Stories, on the hundredth story, you yourself will experience something supernatural. Enter a novice writer, determined to collect 100 stories. The problem is, he's lost in the rain and can't find his way to shelter. He is confronted by a strange looking man covered in bandages, who directs him to a bizarre shelter, inhabited by some eccentric denizens and a wandering monk who's just as scared by all the creepy goings-on. It's discovered that the inn is haunted by the spirit of an Azuki bean washer, a kind of ghost that warns against oncoming peril. It turns out to be the first supernatural experience for the writer, and his first encounter with Mataichi and his strange gang of enigmatic supernatural beings.
First Episode Review:
Hundred Stories has the distinct honor of being the most unique show this season, but whether or not it appeals to you will be a matter of your tolerance for strangeness. Drawn in a similar visual style to Nintendo's video game Viewtiful Joe, Hundred Stories is anything but your average anime show. This is a twisted, refreshing take on the horror genre and will please fans to no end. Granted, some of the scenes look as though they were taken straight from Pink Floyd's animated film The Wall, but for the most part, what we have here is a visual style heavily influenced by manga (not that that isn't usually the case, but this is practically a moving comic, and has more in common with old EC horror titles than today's crop of manga). The characters are all drawn with thick black lines and colored in contrasting hues, and the backgrounds look like they were ripped from the pages of old underground comics, with writhing lines and grotesque imagery. The story itself is creepy and somewhat disturbing, and although it's still a mystery as to the true nature of Mataichi and his gang, the storytelling and plot composition are compelling enough to make you want more almost instantly. The hapless main character is interesting enough to watch, but in short, he's audience identification for this totally foreign roller coaster ride through the supernatural. The music is suitably creepy and unique; there simply isn't anything routine about this show. If you're a horror fan, get it. If not, try it out anyway, you might like what you see.
GA NOZOMU EIEN
Shy and antisocial Suzumiya has liked Takayuki since she was a freshman, but Takayuki had no idea until Suzumiya's fiery friend Hayase decided to become friends with him and his best friend Shinji. Suzumiya finally works up the courage to ask Takayuki out, and they date for a while, but Takayuki can't decide if he actually likes Suzumiya or not. They break up. Hayase gives Takayuki a pep talk, alluding to her own growing feelings for him, but causes Takayuki to go back to Suzumiya and admit his love for her. Slowly the triangle forms...
First Episode Review:
Kimi ga Nozomu Eien is based on a hentai dating sim. Hentai dating sims usually have bare-bones romantic storylines intended to do nothing more than give some reason for two characters to start having sex. The anime version leaves out the hentai part and sticks with the shallow romance, and the result is a well-animated and watchable if completely unfulfilling romantic drama. The characters are standard hentai game archetypes; hapless guy, hapless best friend, energetic girl, and shy girl. The shy girl in this instance wants to date the hapless guy, who in turn finds out that she has no hobbies, doesn't seem to do anything interesting with her life, frequently has nothing to say and can't seem to conjure any emotions other than sadness and self-pity (her melodramatic “I don't want to be hurt anymore!” after her oh-so-turbulent three day romance with Takayuki ends is especially hilarious). Regardless, Takayuki falls for her (for unknown, unexplained reasons... frequently in shows like this, being cute is more than enough to have every guy in the world fawn over you even though you have the personality of an uninflated balloon) and even more drama starts up, since Suzumiya's “energetic” friend also seems to like him. It's all been done before, and we've seen these exact same characters (with different names and perhaps different coquettish school uniforms) do the exact same things. If you're a sucker for idealized, totally shallow “romance,” Kimi go Nozomu Eien will probably be right up your alley. Those of us who like our emotion with a little more depth than your average rain puddle will probably be uninspired.