…can change your entire perception of the show. Higurashi played this trick, as did School Days. All it takes is one menacing moment to make you realize that not all is as it seems. That’s how much of a jolt that one moment in Myself; Yourself episode 3 was to me.
Oh, there were some strange hints before to be sure. Those awkward conversations Sana had with his mother, filled with patented Japanese emotional repression. The unexplained reasons why he returned to his hometown by himself. I figured it was regular angst of the sort we see in the worse Key dramas. But the moment I saw a bloodier-than-average fish gutting I knew something was up. And then this.
And then the wristwatch he wears even when he swims. It’s very transparent. I just know he slit his wrists at some point and he’s hiding the scars.
Shades again of School Days? (Oh, dear, how that show has corrupted our perceptions of harem anime forever!) Are Nice Boats coming soon? Or maybe Nice Fishes? Well, considering that there do seem to be more male characters of note than just Sana, and the girls seem (note: seem) somewhat more well-adjusted than the psychos of School Days, probably not. Then again, had one no knowledge of what School Days was really about, it would probably be hard to guess the bloodbath to come by episode 3 either. But it made all the traditional slapstick and romance stuff that followed seem false indeed, in the same way that knowing the ending of School Days changes the way you watch everything else that came before it.
Instead, we are seeing something of a traditional love triangle, of the Kimagure Orange Road sort rather than the harem sort. In fact, at first, Nanaka strongly reminded me of Madoka from that 80s classic. She’s a lot easier to impress at the end of the day though; all you have to do is remember her childhood days (her music, her cookies), and she’s on her way to blushing and cooing over how sweet Sana is for remembering her. This, admittedly, brings her coolness factor down several notches; what made Madoka cool was how hard she was to get. I have to admit though that I found the end of episode 2, where Sana plays the only song he remembers on the piano, to be slightly touching, but only because I used to write about music and romance together all the time and am a sentimental sucker for that sort of thing. If I were Nanaka, I’d be impressed. <–no comments about my confused gender identity issues here please
So far I’d say the most interesting characters are actually the twins. They do seem to be the comic relief duo, and they steal almost every scene they’re in; every other character seems bland by comparison. Aoi-chan is even worse after I discovered that it’s Chiyo-chan’s seiyuu who’s voicing her, and with the same voice too. Get it in the head, creators: helium voices are hilarious on cute 10 year old geniuses who milk their adorableness like no tomorrow. They are really annoying on a theoretically older girl with huge boobs. I now can’t hear Aoi’s voice without thinking of that scene in Azumanga Daioh where Chiyo-chan has all of Yukari-sensei’s books fall on top of her.
This is an odd duck of a show. It has lots of the cliches of the harem/game genre, but it is not really a harem show. It has a sudden note of ominousness which makes watching all the frentic slapstick seem desperate and tinged with falseness, which is an interesting tension. A lot of the humor falls flat, much like the humor in much of the first season of Higurashi, and that may even be intentional. Now I’m not quite sure what they’re trying to do here. Most likely they just want to give Sana a tragic past so we can sympathize with him, and most likely it will help make Nanaka his girlfriend somehow. But if that doesn’t happen, and they do something more original…well, then. My snarky first review, which I still somewhat stand by, is going to join the ranks of “Mike’s total misjudgment of Fall 2007 romance shows because he usually can’t stand moe or harem” reviews.
What a weird season this is turning out to be!