First Look Fair: True Tears

They even put it in the production company name!
They even put it in the production company name!

The creators of this anime have gone beyond just wanting to make you cry: they put (the product of) crying in the title and promise us it will be genuine! Whether this show lives up to that title remains to be seen, but so far, I’m surprised by how good it is in spite of itself.

Noe: two chickens short of a McNugget
Noe: two chickens short of a McNugget

Let’s get this out of the way first: the plot, thus far, seems ridiculous. The show does a great job hiding its ridiculousness because of how accomplished everything else is, but stated baldly, it goes like this: guy lives with a pretty, normal-if-introverted girl at home along with his parents, and she takes no notice of him despite living under the same roof. Said guy meets another cute girl who has a thing for blessings, curses, and an affinity for poultry and associated paraphernalia like bird feed. She is saddened only by the sudden death of a beloved chicken, and makes a grave out of his cage. She claims to have given her tears away and keeps a bottle around her neck to retrieve those tears back. Meanwhile, a beginning of a love triangle between resolutely normal girl and weird girl. Protagonist is like most male anime romantic leads, hapless.

Read that again. Look at how disjointed and strange it sounds. Why the heck does this actually, kind of, work?

Now this was sly, and funny given the rest of this show’s mood.
Now this was sly, and funny given the rest of this show’s mood.

First is the show’s mood, which is strikingly subdued. I must admit a weakness in my reviewing here: I have been known to confuse a subdued or quiet mood with realism. The plot kind of killed the “realism” aspect, especially in episode 1, though episode 2 did go some way in immersing myself into the show’s “world.” Music, which is tasteful and melodic, is used sparingly. Combined with a penchant for occasional flights of fancy (especially since our protagonist is a budding manga artist–shades of ef here anyone?) and for Noe to spout quasi-poetic passages, it sets a somewhat more elevated tone than most shows of this type. When we are given a brief bit of Noe fanservice in episode 2, it actually comes somewhat of a shock: it doesn’t quite seem like that kind of show, unlike the Rosario + Vampires of the world. The show is even intelligent enough to comment on that fact; the “walking into the bathtub” scene in episode 1, for instance, has Shinichiro musing that Hiromi acted just the opposite from what a standard anime/manga heroine would do (“kyaaa! ecchi!”). Most self-aware types of jokes and references are done in the context of heavy comedy like Abenobashi or Hayate no Gotoku; this is how it’s done relatively subtly.

Wait. Did some random passerby guy just call Shinichiro a “pimp”? I’ve been waiting forever for someone in a harem show to tell that to the wimpy lead!

They say the outsiders always tell the truth better
They say the outsiders always tell the truth better

Noe is the latest in another line of anime girls who have Asperger’s or some other social deficiency that makes them strange, devoid of typical human responses, but still somehow incredibly cute and moe. She’s better than a lot of such characters, granted–her oddness comes off as genuine oddness rather than contrivance, like in movies where putting on frumpy clothes and glasses can’t hide the fact that the actress is still really hot. A parallel would be Eriko in Kimikiss, who came off as genuinely antisocial and unfriendly at first. Noe seems genuinely uninterested in “normal” things. That she is in a show with a “realistic” mood though suggests either the writers intend to do something serious with her or they messed up somehow. I have to admit her presence really threw me off in the first episode, but it’s a testament to the skills of the creators that by episode 2, I was being sucked into her world in a way; I was beginning to accept the “rules” that her presence brings into the lives of these characters.

First one’s always free
First one’s always free

Other aspects of the show that I find intriguing include Shinichiro’s continuing attempts to come up with an idea for a manga after being rejected by a publisher (dude, I know that feeling)–the scene where he takes the bottle that Noe showed him and turns it into a metaphor for imprisonment is particularly good. It almost reminded me of Chihiro’s image of the circular pen in ef. Noe and Shinichiro are thus an interesting pair–one is trying to create worlds through his pen, one may or may not be in another world altogether, and the two worlds are beginning to intersect. Naturally, there will be obstacles, and it looks like Hiromi will be the main one, turning this into yet another love triangle story. (We’ve already been given hints of her sad past, and I’m sure Noe will have something like that too. It always happens in these sorts of anime.)

It could actually work as a decent love triangle story, though. Code-E, before it was unceremoniously cut in half, was such. So I’m hoping no more major female rivals/harem members show up soon. There is already the beginning of a good character dynamic here and I’m looking forward to see how the stranger elements of the show play out amidst the more “normal,” school life ones. It’s not ef nor is it groundbreaking, but so far the most intriguing straight “drama” so far this season. I’m very likely to keep blogging this one.

5 thoughts on “First Look Fair: True Tears”

  1. I didn’t love anyone (yet). But I’m very impressed about the colours, the care with the design, the good edition, the music (and personaly with the ending – Kawaii!!). I think that will be the best anime of this new season (ef and Clannad doesn’t count). About the story, well, it’s a restrict harem, so why expect so much about? There’s a story behind Hiromi. There’s a conflict between friends announced in the bar’s scene. There’s fantasy in the story of Noe. So, that’s more than enough to me to think that it will be the best serie of the new season (Ef and Clannad didn’t count). And the ending is so KAWAII!!!!

  2. Oh, and it’s not a triangle story. Look again at the bar’s scene. The tipical harem: three girls! The ending, too. The first three are the girls. Shinichiro follows them.

  3. I’m back after the second episode… Man, I sincerily think that you will swallow your words… There’s nothing ridiculous in the argument. People like pets (eventually, even chickens…, specially if you are 13 or 14 years old..). And, of course, there’s a mistery about a girl that talk about “give her tears alway”. But it is more reasonable than people that desapear (Ef, you like that, no?). Or girls in coma that distribues starseas in the middle of the day… (Clannad, you like that also, no?). About the relationship between Shinichiro and Hinari, well, who knows what happens so far? She is a orphan… There’s a mistery about her past… And, after the 2nd episode, this clearly involves Shinichiro. And I repare that you rush with the first episode: you haven’t notice the third girl, and the future conflict between friends… A TRIANGLE? One boy and two girls!? See the two episodes again, and wait before writing another commentary, ok?

    If my english could be better, I will pull your ears…

  4. @Joe: calm down, man. :) Did you notice that my opinion of the show is, on the whole, positive? But yeah, I did overlook the barmaid girl, thinking for a while that she was actually an adult (though I noticed she wore a high school uniform in the ED credits). However, the implicit competition between Noe and Hiromi stuck out to me far more. There’s definitely room for further growth in other characters and other conflicts; that’s why this is called a “First Look Fair” after all. :)

    And I’d be the first to admit that I’ve misjudged shows at first and have had to eat crow. That was definitely the case with Kimikiss Pure Rouge. In fact, I misjudged both ef and Clannad initially, partly on the very elements that you point out that seem objectively ridiculous. (Fuko annoyed me mightily at first with the stars. ef seemed needlessly artsy and Chihiro whiny and melodramatic. I’d point out, though, that Chihiro’s memory condition in fact exists in real life: see “anterograde amnesia.”) In fact the thrust of this article is that they are already making me overlook what seems weird and unbelievable, which is a good thing, not bad. The mood and pacing of the show are much more to my liking than I’d thought. And if they can do what Clannad did with the stars and make good on the collecting the tears bits and even the chicken–then that’s excellent. I’ll praise it. This is a business where I’m happy to be proven wrong!

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