August 5th, 2008

azumanga

Finished series: True Tears

We've finished watching True Tears. My first episode review is here.

Shinichiro is dreaming of becoming a writer of picture books, much to his mother's dismay. Another thing that his mother dislikes is the fact that Hiromi is living with them. Hiromi is the daughter of the best friend of Shinichiro's father, and when both her parents died, she was taken in by the Nakagami family. Shinichiro's mother doesn't consider Hiromi her child, and treats her quite badly in a passive-agressive way. Hiromi has become distant and withdrawn, which pains Shinichiro, because he quite likes her.
At school, Shinichiro meets Noe, the weird girl who looks after the chickens. She likes only one of the two chickens, thinking that it wants to fly, while the other is content to stay on the ground forever. Shinichiro teases her a bit, and then she 'curses' him, and he appeases her with a model of a chicken, made out of a tissue box. This convinces Noe that Shinichiro could actually fly if he tried hard enough.
The chicken that supposedly wants to fly is killed in a raccoon attack, but Noe can't cry because she has given away her tears, and she is searching for someone who can give her their True Tears. With the chicken gone, Noe turns her attention to Shinichiro, and starts giving him the seeds that were supposed to make the chicken fly.

Collapse )

A lot of stuff happens in the thirteen episodes. The relationships between the characters are complex and dynamic. There is no single agitator: Shinichiro's meeting with Noe changes him, which in turn affects his relationship with Hiromi, which in turn affects her relationship to Noe's brother, etcetera. There are believable reasons why the characters act the way they do, and why they change.
This is no harem anime that plays it by the book -- this is a complex love story, which makes it very interesting.

Visually, the series is very good. The character designs are very detailed, with believable proportions (which is quite the exception to the rule, unfortunately...). There aren't many action sequences, but the animation that is there is quite fluid.
The voice acting is very good as well. None of the females has that weird sqeaky voice-thing going on. Noe sounds a bit childish, Hiromi is soft-spoken but determined when she needs to be, etcetera. The voice actors have really used the whole range of emotions.
I really loved the music, especially the opening sequence by eufonius, with its upbeat tempo and the beautiful singing voice of Riya.

It is unfortunate that I have to praise this series by pointing out what it is not: it is not a standard harem anime (it isn't even a harem anime, period), it is not some vehicle for massive amounts of fanservice (I will say one thing: "Kyaaa! Ecchi!" Viewers of the series will know of what I speak...), it is not some sort of male fantasy moe-fest. It is a rich, dynamic and complex coming-of-age story about a boy who is inspired to chase after his dreams, and what that does to him and those around him.

Good points:
- Excellent story-telling;
- Believable characters and relationships;
- Great visuals and voice acting.
I can't really think of any bad points. Sure, I have my personal preference as to the ending, but that's not to say that the ending is bad or stupid -- the series reaches a logical conclusion.

I will give this a high recommendation: a 9. Even if you're not a fan of bishoujo series, you might want to check this out.