Posts with the “romance” tag

3 Episode Taste Test: Kimi ni Todoke (Reaching You)

Understating Kimi ni Todoke would be to say that it is saccharine: one cannot help but grin moronically at the continuing quest of Sawako Kuronuma to ingratiate herself with her school mates. Afflicted with the curse of rumour, she starts the series alone and subject to spurious tales of bringing curses upon those that slight her and it is only through the attention of the affable Shota Kazehaya that she is able to propel herself from quiet and alone to quiet with friends. It's deftly done, especially in three episodes, and with at least two thirds of the series remaining the story is sure to evolve well.

The greatest problem that the series could face is becoming mired in petty backbiting

Beginning at the start of the summer holiday, the set up is perfect for a "Grease" style tale of warm-weather romance and inevitable school alienation. But the story defies expectations and skips ahead to the following term, awkward greetings and new teachers in tow. From there Sawako succeeds in making friends and, if the fourth episode preview is anything to go by, at least one enemy: gaining the affections of a popular figure was always going to raise someone's ire. It is a simple story well told and it is the pace and legitimacy of the characters, especially the painfully adorable Sawako, that shoot this otherwise slow burner well-above it's more sedate contemporaries.

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3 Episode Taste Test: Nyan Koi (Mew wuv / Cat love)

Ignoring the most obvious pussy jokes, Nyan Koi is an unabashed romantic comedy. The opening seconds are rife with familiarity: the sun streaming through classroom windows, a waif-like schoolgirl standing demurely opposite the rag-haired boy. Were it not over in a few seconds the temptation to turn it off in disgust would build to almost unbearable levels. To say the road has been well travelled would be an extreme understatement and all the kitschy hooks in the world aren't enough to save lazy writing and tired character types. Talking cats just don't provide the impetus necessary to last twelve episodes or more, especially when up occupying a genre dominated by heavyweights like the recent Toradora! and similarly veined Kannagi.

with blind faith being put into the local feline mob

The premise concerns Junpei's ability to communicate, Doctor Doolittle style, with cats after a mishap with a local feline shrine. His family's neck-scarf wearing cat speaks of a curse that can only be lifted if he helps one hundred "distressed" cats lest he turn into a cat himself - a fate he is sure would lead to his death given his allergic reaction to cats. This last fact is swiftly forgotten about by the third episode when it becomes obvious the modus operandi of the curse is to introduce and ingratiate Junpei with as many young ladies as is possible. In three episodes his skirt collection is already burgeoning and with a set of twins and an angry looking youth featured in the OP and ED still to come, the pieces are arranged for well-trodden tedium.

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ef - a tale of memories

Given such an auspicious and confusing opening three episodes, it would have been easy for ef to fall into obscurity and abstraction with deep symbolism and obscured plot; thankfully this is not the case and the series manages to make the absurdly stylistic symbolism part of itself while still a sometimes unique, not wholly original story which ends well at a petite twelve episodes.

the grayscale visions of Hiro, the stained glass technicolour of Chihiro and the sunset beaches for everyone

In between the astounding opening and changing ending are two stories: one about a high school boy trying to find colour in his world while trying to deal with the affections of two girls, one overt and another covert; the other is about a girl whose memory lasts only a scant thirteen hours before events begin slipping away and her relationship with a boy she meets at an abandoned train station. The plot may sound akin to an atypical dating-sim territory but the storytelling is first rate and deftly draws one into the world and its characters. The supernatural elements that nagged the opening episodes are present but downplayed; the ephemeral figure of a long haired woman who imparts advice to all of the central characters and then vanishes is never explained even slightly, the same with the silent, world weary caretaker of the memory-challenged protagonist. The only time these elements are brought to the fore is in the final moments of the series, hinting more at a desire for a second season rather than anything that would affect the first.

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3 Episode Taste Test: kimikiss - pure rouge

A mix of French, English and what one can only assume is Japanese in the title? It must be the school-romance genre. Kimikiss is unashamedly pedestrian in its subject matter and plants itself squarely in the mid-teen age range in both content and audience. The first three episodes do little else other than set a suitably solid foundation for future angst and trauma from the bevy of humdrum adolescents.

as unchallenging as it may be, romance aficionados may find much to get wrapped up in

Beginning inauspiciously with a returning childhood friend, a confusingly out-of-place kiss and other paraphernalia which is sure to be over-analysed as the series progresses. The characters of kimikiss, supposed to be the meat of the series, can initially be written off as typical and uninteresting; sporadically however they staunchly refuse to resort back to their obvious archetypes and plough forward giving the illusion of momentum when in fact nothing has changed. The set up of ditzy boy liking introverted girl has been recycled innumerable times before, most memorably the recent School Days, although there is little indication of murderous tendencies here; instead it is a gentle, soap-opera flow with no ideas above its station except to entertain its audience with predictable sentimentality.

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3 Episode Taste Test: Myself; Yourself

How do you rearrange the old and tired "childhood friend" romantic comedy? Fundamentally, you can't, but setting it from the perspective of the returning childhood friend is a pleasant change. Unfortunately "Myself; Yourself" is still rigidly defined by the same romantic comedy template that has been recycled again and again, in the first three of a potential thirteen episodes it explores none of the obvious avenues of character development and somehow manages to shoehorn a swimsuit episode in...

each episode is little more than straight-faced teenage drama without any form of innovation or hook

Instead of examining the shock of coming back to the place you grew up and seeing how stark the differences of then and now are, "Myself; Yourself" barrages the viewer with an instantly familiar cast of characters: the busty ditz, the flat-chested tsunderreko, the affable best-friend, the obvious ice-cold love interest and the token diversion from said love interest. If it weren't a wholly standalone project, it would be effortless to peg the series as straight out of a dating sim or ero-game. The majority of the comedy and fan-service stems from the buxom pixie, voiced by the distinctive Tomoko Kaneda, it is at first odd to hear Azumanga's Chiyo in another character, but her boundless enthusiasm and plethora of almost inaudible noises make the character, what one can only assume is, the very epitome of "moe". In contrast, the terminally bland protagonist sports an everyman personality which only makes him all the more distasteful despite his apparently dark past.

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