The Spring 2015 Anime Preview Guide
How would you rate episode 1 of
Hibiki Amami is cursed with a sixth sense. Wherever she goes, she sees the spirits of those who have shed this mortal coil, and even though she's clumsy and faint of heart--ugh, wait a minute...something about this show looks weird, but I can't put my finger on it. Anyway, most of her friends have accepted her power to interact with ghosts, but the jumpy Narumi still isn't comfortable with all this occult stuff popping up in her daily life and--gah, I can't ignore this anymore, what is wrong with this art?
So, nobody at Pierrot+ told the director that these backgrounds were an absolutely terrible idea? I guess not. For some reason, the all-girl cast of Re-Kan! has been animated against jarring hybrid CG backgrounds that seem perpetually out of scale and off-lighting from the character models. Bad integration aside, they also look cheap all by themselves, like backgrounds you would see in a mid-budget visual novel with a freshly graduated CG modeler on staff. You can't really stop noticing the ugly things either, because the episode insists on showing them off. Characters are usually placed very small in the frame, with no props or other integrated elements to compensate, and your eyes are filled with mildly blurred and incorrectly lit CG TEXTURE BUILDINGS scene after scene. Yuck. Maybe it's beautiful or shiny-looking to somebody, but it looks extremely cheap to me, and the conservative 2-D character animation betrays cheapness across the production too.
Outside of this failed visual experiment, there's not much to say about Re-Kan! It's a 4-koma comedy adaptation, but in the trend of the worst among these, you don't have to look up that it's based off a 4-koma series to know. The show jumps from punchline to punchline about how weird it is that Amami can see ghosts with no sense of flow or cohesion between jokes. The gags are more cute than funny to begin with, sweet and silly but completely lacking in bite, but the jarring and jumping edits between them ruin what could be a tender and endearing mood. Unless you find its cutesy humor engrossing despite the poor timing and lackluster visuals, there's no point in hanging around for this one. Most of these ghost jokes have been made better in series that aren't even comedies, and the awkward pacing, barely competent animation, and awful-looking background art just serves to cut the legs out from under the show's potential charm.
There's just not anything unique or intriguing about this one. Its specific brand of gooey humor might work for you so there's no harm in trying it out, but there are too many roadblocks in the way to really recommend the experience over the dozens of better all-girl 4-koma series or ghost comedies out there.
Review: The premise here is very basic: teenage Hibiki Amami, who has just transferred to a new school, has a sixth sense that allows her to perceive (and interact with) spirits and understand what animals are saying. No one else at her new school can, but after a few days that ceases to bother three girls Amami befriends, who just accept it as a matter of course. It really irritates class rep Narumi Inoue, though, as she hates anything related to the occult and refuses to accept it. Eventually Amami's spacy, good-natured antics and sincere attitude about the bonds that can form even with sprits win her over.
The sincerity and sweetness the episode shows towards its end nicely rounds out what had, to that point, largely been a slapstick comedy. The series is (not surprisingly) based on a 4-koma manga, and that shows in that a good chunk of the episode is made up of brief vignettes, some of which play on common Japanese ghost stories like the toilet-haunting girl Hanako. All manner of goofiness is in play whenever Amami is around, and some of it leads to some really funny moments; eating or drinking while watching the episode is not recommended, as it has several potentially sputter-worthy scenes. Not all of the humor is ghost-related, either, as a cat which turns out to be quite the pervert is also good for a couple of jokes. Production values aren't particularly high beyond the background art (which seems dedicated to showing off in great detail whatever the setting is for the series) but they don't need to be to get the humor across, either. One common feature of it are characters – both living and dead – who keep popping in and out of the background, though how significant any of them may be is yet to be determined.
The opener shows that Inoue is going to be the veritable co-star with Amami, presumably playing mostly as the straight woman to Amami's spirit-based antics. If the series continues in that vein, that will be perfectly fine. It is a light-hearted, sweet-natured distraction amongst the more serious fare you might watch this season.
Rating: 2.5 (out of 5)
I think I changed my mind about the rating for this show about four times as I was watching it, no small feat in what is basically a ghost story slice-of-life comedy. The story follows Hibiki Amami, a high school student who has a very strong sixth sense – she can see, talk to, and interact with ghosts, as well as talk to cats. (A reference to the old superstition that if you look between a cat's ears you can see ghosts?) She's about to start a new school and her dad is clearly worried that she's going to weird everyone out, a fear that's proven almost immediately when she meets future classmate Inoue on her way to school. The ghost of a little boy makes her bunny hop across the street before tripping her, and Inoue helps her out...until she catches a glimpse of the ghost's hand-prints on Hibiki's legs followed by the ghost himself and freaks out.
At this point I very much liked the show. The ghost boy is drawn as if he came from a horror manga and completely in grays, which made an interesting visual contrast to the brightness of the rest of the show, especially the sort of glowing outlines on the girls' hair. If the rest of the episode had followed this format – creepy ghosts on an otherwise perky background – it would have been both effective and unusual. Unfortunately there's an abrupt shift as we jump ahead a week and we see the other girls at school musing about how strange Hibiki is while she engages in goofy antics in the school hallway, emitting a constant stream of “ararara!” The tonal shift is further compounded by Inoue's re-entry on the scene as a screeching lunatic, vehemently denying the existence of ghosts. Now I really disliked the show and was ready to write it off.
The third shift involves Hibiki trying to get Inoue to walk home with her while Inoue tries not to walk home with the other girl. They go through West Gate Park where a group of ghost children want to play with Hibiki. When she leaves, they approach Inoue, who doesn't realize that they are ghosts, probably on purpose. Now the show is bittersweet, since we the viewers do know that these are dead children just looking for some attention, and the episode becomes touching in a yearning sort of way...until Inoue freaks out again at the reminder that Hibiki can talk to cats, bringing us right back to “annoying.”
So I suppose my feeling after this first episode is that Re-Kan is a very uneven show. It can't, in its introduction, decide if it wants to be supernatural slice-of-life or supernatural comedy, and the comedic portion relies far too much on Inoue screaming all of her lines. (And the pervert cat. I love the pervert cat.) In its more thoughtful moments, and when Hibiki talks about her relationships with spirits, it's almost beautiful and quite touching, but the two modes don't really mix well. I hope that it irons itself out in the coming episodes, or at least has Inoue tone it down a bit. There's a good story here underneath the schlock if the anime can bring itself to trust us to appreciate it.
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