Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
Hiiro no Kakera
Tamaki Kasuga has only vague memories of staying with her grandmother. She remembers enough to know how to get to the remote house, however, when no one is waiting to meet her bus when she arrives there to live when her parents' work takes them overseas. Unfortunately for Tamaki, this time strange monsters attack her, and though she is saved by a handsome young man, Tamaki is unprepared for what her grandmother has to tell her – that she is the heir to the family powers and must become the next Tamayori Princess in order to save the world. This position comes with five attractive male guardians, but if Tamaki doesn't awaken her power, all the pretty boys in the world will not stop the maleficent Logos from wreaking havoc.
Hiiro no Kakera might also be called “Angelique in Autumn” or “Modern Day Haruka.” It is a reverse harem show where a teenage girl must awaken and harness her spiritual powers in order to save the world from another, more sinister group of complimentary characters. Based, unsurprisingly, on an otome game, Hiiro no Kakera takes itself just a bit too seriously to rise above its origins but does still manage to be worth tuning in for every week, like the cake that isn't that tasty, but hey, it's cake, so you keep eating.
The story follows Tamaki Kasuga, a second year high school student who has to move in with her grandmother following her parents' departure for parts unknown. Tamaki doesn't seem unduly upset about it because her memories of Granny are pretty warm, so she is understandably a little put out when no one shows up at the bus stop to meet her. Showing more gumption than some other recent reverse harem heroines, Tamaki decides to just walk to Grandmother's house herself, but instead of getting there without incident or meeting the Big Bad Wolf, she meets the Big Bad Eyestalks, a group of tarry monstrosities that attack her. She is saved by Takuma Onizaki, a handsome lad with maroon hair and glowing violet eyes. It seems that these monsters are “drowned gods” and because of her family history, they want to harm or kill Tamaki. It turns out that these aren't the only creatures who have it out for her – Grandmother explains that Tamaki is slated to become the next Tamayori Princess, a spiritual guardian of the land, and protect it from harm along with her five male protectors. Oh, and she'd better start fast – a group known as “Logos” is on the move, trying to resurrect Onikirimaru and possibly destroy the world.
Within the first few episodes we have met our cast of lovely men – broody Takuma, brash Mahiro, elegant Suguru, shy Shinji, and Yuichi, whose narcolepsy is an amusing quirk rather than a serious disorder. Episode six (and the last shot of the opening theme) give a hint of a sixth young man as well. All of the boys follow the clean-cut high school heartthrob model, so the more dangerous or older looking types are covered in Logos: butler-style, bad boy with straps and buckles, and slightly scruffy, along with a turquoise haired woman who looks like she got lost on her way to the set of Brave 10. None of the characters have much personality beyond what is established by their types and there really is no mystery as to which of them Tamaki will likely end up with, making the romance plot, or even the friendship/team building plot, a bit thin. The most interesting character at this point is Grandma, who is markedly cold to her only grandchild, and seems to be deliberately withholding information. One can only hope that there is a reason behind this, because Tamaki's team shows remarkable ineptitude in all of their battles, adding a sense of frustration to the proceedings.
Visually, the animation relies on some reused shots and scenes and prefers effects to physical moves in the fight scenes. Much of each episode is spent talking, whether in Grandma's sparsely furnished house or on the rooftop at school, where our heroes have apparently placed a table. Action inevitably takes place in the woods, which have clearly been maintained by some sort of giant gardener/woodsman, because they are meticulously groomed. The color scheme is muted and dark, autumnal in its selection and brightness. Dialogue is well-delivered, but stiffly written – most conversations sound scripted rather than natural, as if the characters were all speaking lines from a play. While we know that this is in fact the case with the actors, it is the characters themselves that come off as unnatural, a result of the lines rather than the acting. Perhaps the best part of any given episode is the opening theme, “Ne” performed by Maiko Fujita. It has overtones of Himiko-Den's “Pure Snow” and nicely captures the mood that the show is attempting to create, a mixture of sad solemnity and spiritual action.
Hiiro no Kakera is by no means a terrible show...it just isn't a very good one, either. With a stilted script and a team of heroes who feel incompetent, not to mention cookie cutter characters who do little to make themselves endearing or unusual, it does nothing to elevate itself above the masses. While there are some nice touches, like Takuma's affinity for crossword puzzles and the fact that he is often shown with a book of them in hand, other moments such as the post-credits fanservice scenes when one of the male leads speaks to the viewer as if they had just been on a date throw us right back into the inescapable fact that this is a show with a very set audience it has no desire to rise above.
Overall (sub) : C
Story : C
Animation : C-
Art : C
Music : B-
+ Grandma clearly has some secrets that may move the plot along, Tamaki has more agency than some other reverse harem heroines. Takuma's crosswords make him a bit less cliched.
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