Reviewby Theron Martin,
Haruka has finally awoken, but her memory problems and the infirm state of her psyche have left her unaware that three years have past. Her doctor cautions against revealing the truth to her yet, so an elaborate deception is played out for Haruka. Despite Akane's initial vehement disapproval of Takiyuki's visits, Haruka responds well enough to them Takiyuki feels obligated to visit her daily and act as if they are still a couple. His visits put a great strain on his relationship with Mitsuki, who sees and feels him slipping away from her and back towards her best friend from high school. Though an opportunity for advancement at work presents itself to Takiyuki, his personal life is more troubled as he increasingly finds himself being pulled in two different directions by the girl he thought he was finally over and the woman he claims he now loves.
Such a fragile state of affairs cannot remain stable forever, though. Eventually Haruka starts to notice inconsistencies and question the truth of her circumstances. But can she handle the real truth?
The second five-episode installment of KimiNozo is likely to draw one of two reactions: great sympathy or at least mild annoyance, and quite possibly both. Unquestionably most of the main characters are deserving of a great deal of sympathy, as circumstances have trapped them in emotionally difficult situations. Takiyuki's case is the most extreme, as he faces the impossible predicament of trying to continue his relationship with Mitsuki while also trying to be supportive of a former love so great that her accident left him out of sorts for more than a year. As much as he claims that he is now in love with Mitsuki and is only visiting Haruka out of a sense of obligation, the mixed signals he gives off are not lost on Mitsuki, who becomes increasingly desperate as she sees the world she tried to build around Takiyuki starting to crash in around her. Unjustified guilt and more justified regret weigh as heavily on her as anger does on Akane. And naturally Haruka, who is the cause of everything but completely innocent of blame because of how it happened, is pitiable for the state she's in and the dependence she has on Takiyuki that both Akane and the viewer know is probably misplaced.
All the heavy drama can also aggravate, too. Akane's incessant vitriol towards Mitsuki and dislike for Takiyuki can easily annoy, although her view does gradually change over the course of the volume. The story does move along a bit slowly, and at times viewers may be tempted to reach into the screen and try to shake some sense into one character or another. The writing remains dedicated to letting things play out gradually, however, and none of the characters' actions are out of line for the circumstances. Ayu and Mayu also continue to pop up with their idiotic antics as comic relief and side distraction, although they are used better – and are more effectively funny – in this volume than in the first one. Also used well is the restaurant manager that Takiyuki and Ayu-Mayu work for, who has a bit more personality than such a minor character normally has.
The character artistry looks good enough to support the story and offers a wide variety of physical appearances for its female characters, but often isn't fully integrated with the backgrounds and has a not-completely-refined quality about it in many scenes. Its best aspect is the way it makes some characters – especially Mitsuki – look appealing and sexy without resorting to normal cutesy gimmicks, and the way it ages characters from purely cute to more sexy looks in the jumps between high school and present-time shots. It also offers a bit more nudity in episode 8. The animation is not adequate, however, and its deficiencies show with surprising frequency for a series so limited in active movements. It is, without a doubt, the series' biggest weakness.
The quality soundtrack balances out the problems with the animation. Though saddled with pedestrian opening and closing numbers, the piano and string-dominated background music handles all the tones of the series – whether dramatic, melancholy, or lightly comedic – with equal skill. It does edge towards being too melodramatic in a couple of places, but otherwise does its job very well.
Also handled well is the English dub, which sounds remarkably natural, especially in its adaptations of familiar addresses like “hey, babe.” Kevin Connelly continues to justify his casting with a perfectly on-target performance in the critical role of Takiyuki, while Colleen Clinkenbeard's interpretation of Mitsuki makes her sound older and more mature but is no less effective at evoking her character's emotions. Supporting roles are also consistently done well, with Luci Christian and Monica Rial hamming it up as Ayu and Mayu; those scenes play out best in the useless but quite funny Next Episode bits. If the dub is to be criticized, its most vulnerable point is the extremely interpretive English script, which in many places completely reworks scenes while only generally keeps to the intent of the original scene. Whether or not the script is better for the tweaks is debatable.
Extras are once again a weak point, as only clean opener and closer accompany the company trailers. Both language tracks use only basic 2.0, but the serious sounds too sedate to properly exploit surround sound effects anyway. At least FUNi did choose the perfect place in the series to put a volume break.
It still tells a good story and features great character development, but the second volume is ultimately a bit less compelling than the first, perhaps because it shows more of its origins as a dating sim game. (Notice how the female characters far outnumber the male characters and appear in a great variety of different looks?) It has plenty enough romantic complications to keep the interest of fans of serious romances and perhaps draw a few others in, but it currently falls shy of the top tier of anime romances.
Overall (dub) : B+
Overall (sub) : B+
Story : B+
Animation : C
Art : B
Music : A-
+ Musical score, character development, capable English dub.
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