Yesterday I repented of my initial thoughts about ef~a tale of memories. Today I repent in dust and ashes for my initial review of Kimikiss Pure Rouge. You are all right: this is a different show altogether than what I thought. It is still slightly grating to see some cliches but it is already coming to be an above average high school romance. It’s certainly better than Myself; Yourself, though even that one is showing some promising signs (more to come in another review soon).
Even shortly after I wrote my diss of episode 1, I kept coming back to all the scenes with Mao-neechan. She is actually one of the most likable female characters I’ve come across in romance anime in a while. She has all of Sekai’s good qualities in School Days (without the emotional dishonesty), the capacity to stand up for herself, and genuine, lively affection for her childhood friends that is still believably platonic. There is very good reason to believe that her promise to “train” Kouichi to be a cool guy is not going to be the disaster that the initial School Days-induced shudder I felt portended. For one thing, she has a real love interest already, Kai the cool unsocial bishie sax player who inexplicably hasn’t figured out that musicians get all the girls. That really, really helps, even if he’s a shoujo manga stereotype. I wouldn’t be surprised if some Honey and Clover-style drama starts up later on, though it would probably be considerably lighter; this is not a heavy show as of yet, no reflective monologues, and so far at least there aren’t any complicated love triangles, squares, pentagons, octagons, or harems. Thankfully. Man, I was so unfair to judge the show as such. I let the opening sequence fool me. It’s clear now that not every meeting of a guy and a girl in this anime is a harem intro, like even with Clannad. Rewatching episode 1 with that in mind clears a lot of things up for me.
In fact it seems the way the romance is headed is that each guy will have a girl, and the main girl will have her guy. And just one; there may be rivals along the way but the focus is going to be sharper than I initially imagined. Though I wonder if the film club president is going to have one, since, in a somewhat groan-worthy hearkening back to the game roots of the show, he turns out to be the “data keeper” guy that every dating sim has. Having no experience with such games, is it usual for such characters to have a girl, or do they serve a purely informational role? He sure uses the goofiest DVD to promote his film club, though. I’m part of the church film team where I am and we tend to have slightly more dignity. 🙂
Other reviewers have noted the art style’s affinity to both Honey and Clover and Nodame, and I see it now; it’s the faded, watercolor look of some of the backgrounds. The writing is neither as sharp or insightful yet, sure, but blame that on the quality of their original mangas, especially H&C‘s. The character designs are strikingly attractive, though, especially for the girls–Mao looks like a chirpier, curly-haired version of Ayumi from H&C–all without succumbing to moe cliches (ahoy, Key). Only Nana, the obligatory little sister character, is rather annoying with her voice and her affinity for frog dolls–then again, little sisters are annoying. 🙂 (For once they actually show this as being true.) And what’s the deal with
Mawari from Seto no Hanayome Megumi being transplanted into this show? Is this a new type, the busybody hall monitor/”Public Morals Committee” type? Must be a variant of the tsundere type or something. They would be much more fun decked out with a paper fan like Mawari was.
I’m actually excited to see what happens to Kouichi’s surely comically awful attempts to be cool and Mao-neechan pushing him forward. The fact that he wanted to be a novelist, and Mao remembered it, is even better. I want to see him write a really sappy short story dedicated to Yuumi and have her cry and then they would kiss and then he’d sell the story to Harper’s magazine and win the National Book Award and–
–oops. Wrong fantasy. Um, why are you looking at me like that? I didn’t say nothin’. [shuffles away guiltily at having given away his own dreams]
75% Recommended for your Anime Diet. An increasingly solid romance that I sorely misjudged even more than I misjudged ef. Likable core set of characters. Mao the kind of girl I fantasized about when I was that age.