Episodes 1-3

by Theron Martin,

How would you rate episode 1 of
Rewrite ?

How would you rate episode 2 of
Rewrite ?

How would you rate episode 3 of
Rewrite ?

I'll make things simple here: if you are familiar with adaptations of Key visual novels and have a general distaste for them, then you would be wasting your time to check out this series. The first three episodes adhere so slavishly to the standard Key formulas for personality types, plot progression, humor, and dialogue that any small differences aren't enough to override a normal aversion to Key storytelling. For those who are familiar with Key titles and do like them, this is mostly just more of the same, and (so far at least) not a particularly inspired batch of sameness either.

For those who might be new to the Key way of doing things, this is easily the season's most heavily moe title. It is a stylistic throwback to the mid-to-late 2000s – the heyday of moe-focused titles – which makes it feel kind of weird in a mid-2010s market which has moved beyond that style (or at least updated it). Much of the first three episodes involves main protagonist Kotarou messing with his combative male friend, as he meets and interacts with six female classmates: a violently ecchi-hating Class Rep, a redheaded tsundere with improbable strength, a twin-tailed blonde who sports an eyepatch to conceal her heterochromia, a supposed witch who claims to not believe in the occult, a childhood friend fond of shipping, and an ambitious newspaper reporter. By the end of episode 3, the first five have joined Koutarou in reconstituting the school's Occult Research Club, whose luxurious office suggests that it once held a lot of influence. Most of Kotarou's interactions with the girls are carefully calculated to either be breezy or lightly humorous, and there's a sense that at least some of these teens may have come together because they're lonely.

While some hints have already been dropped about potentially interesting backstories, the real action lies in the supernatural realm. Kotarou is haunted by the silent ghost of a pale-haired girl, who kills him by manipulating her ribbons in a dream and likes to climb into his bed at night and bite his arm for as-yet-unexplored reasons. She gets temporarily thwarted on some nights, once by Shinigami, once by Kotarou unwittingly calling out the name of his childhood friend, and once by a fart. (The latter is the series' funniest moment to date.) However, the series seems to suggest that she loses her ability to haunt him when the Occult Research Club begins coming together, perhaps because he's no longer a loner? Then there's also the giant monster and supposed garbage fairies that he encounters in an extradimensional space, along with wolves summoned by a mysterious man who accuses Kotarou of being a hunter. Kotarou also actually has the super-power that he claims to possess, and that's where the name of the series comes from: he can permanently rewrite his own physical capabilities. (I'm presuming that he can only maintain one such rewrite at a time, or else he'd be remaking himself in little ways all of the time.) But even that isn't enough to keep him out of dire supernatural trouble.

I am not familiar with the source novel and have not read spoilers about this, but my guess based on what we have seen so far is that Kotarou is just catching the edge of some greater supernatural conflict. Probably something with an environmental theme too, since the series has been none-too-casual about tossing out such references. It's also unclear at this point which girl is eventually going to be the focal point, as the story is still adapting the common-route part of the visual novel, where Kotarou splits his time about equally amongst the girls. (In other words, he hasn't triggered enough flags with any one girl yet.) However, Key personnel have stated that this anime – unlike the source material – is being written to focus on a sixth girl's path, which means that the five girls of the Occult Research Club (who are all featured in the closer) are probably out. That means either the reporter girl or the ghost girl will eventually get the focus.

But time will tell on that. At this point, the series is throwing out just enough hooks, effective humor, and Adorability Factor to sustain interest, though it still suffers from an uninspired feel. The technical merits, while not at a KyoAni level, also aren't bad. There's still plenty of time for the series to break out of its predecessors' footsteps and make its mark in anime history, but it's going to have to show more than it has so far.

Rating: C+

Rewrite is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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