I apologize for the lack of screen captures. I marathoned through this anime online, and I did not get to take any screen caps. I downloaded the first episode just to take some screencaps just for you guys. I am so nice.
Boy moves back to childhood town. Girls start falling in love with him. Bonus twist: Girls happen to come in pairs.
Disclaimer: I know very little about good or bad animation. This section is mostly here to make me seem smarter than I actually am.
There was nothing extraordinary about the animation, but for the year this anime was released in (2004), the animation was good.
The characters are decently well animated, their movements didn’t feel whacky and for the most part, things worked quite well. Most importantly though, the animation was quite consistent and there were few if any hijinks that I recall.
At the beginning
I went into this anime thinking that people liked it, thinking that this was one of the great harems of our time. Unfortunately, that praise belonged to the spin-off Futakoi Alternate and not the original series.
Nonetheless, I went in with high hopes and I wasn’t disappointed…at first. I knew deep down that a harem with twins would never work out that well. There are too many choices and more importantly, it becomes very hard to choose one between a pair.
It might not be difficult for the main character to identify his favorite girl, but neglecting one twin in favor of the other is always going to cause drama. This disaster waiting to happen did not bother me too much because the anime had heart…at first anyway.
I don’t think I have ever properly defined what I mean by heart, nor have I talked about why it is important to me. Someday, I will write a full post on the topic, but for now, let’s just say that “heart” and “effort” are synonymous. By effort, I mean the hard work the creators put into the anime. So, this anime had some hard work put into it.
There was almost no fanservice (the obvious kind), no random chest grabs, few if any perverted thoughts, no yells of “HENTAI-SAN” and in general, the anime felt great. It felt very slice-of-life-like in a good way. On top of that, or perhaps as a compliment to all of that, one of my favorite things about this anime’s beginning was that there was almost no drama.
These girls clearly liked MC-tan, but they didn’t raise a fuss over any misunderstandings. The anime kept on running into cliche scenarios (like shopping with 2 different pairs of twins) and at first, the cliches always ended cleanly and drama free. This lighthearted approach to romance and high school relationships pleased me and made me happy. Unfortunately, all good things have to come to an end.
The girls and their carefree attitudes might have toned down any potential drama, but it was only a matter of time before MC-tans constant insecurities, fake kindness and general incompetence lead to drama of the worst kind.
The last couple of episodes: Drama in 6th gear
Earlier I said that a harem with twins could not end well because the MC would have to pick between sisters and that is always troublesome. This anime, however did not really dive into that region. There was one inter-sibling fight and that fight barely lasted less than 10 minutes.
In an anime that had at least 2 pairs of twins and at one point 4 (5 if you include the kids), that is a rather remarkable thing. The thing is, there was no need to fight amongst twins, no need to chose amongst twins because MC-tan was pathetic and could not even narrow down his choices.
Perhaps, I should use his own words and claim that MC-tan could not figure out his feelings, but that is a lie. You see, the romance in this anime had little to do with MC-tans feelings.
You might have noticed that I have been using words like “choice” and “pick” in order to describe the romance in this anime. You might have found my use of such words to be derogatory and offensive. I apologize. I assure you that my choice of words were not intended to be offensive, but they were picked because that is precisely how this anime approaches romance and that upsets me quite a bit.
When it comes to harems, there are stereotypically two different approaches to romance.
The first approach involves an ordinary (maybe a bit too nice) main character. He moves homes, goes to a new school or does something else that provides the backdrop for encounters with girls. The girls all fall in love with him. Then, when all the girls are going gaga over him, he must pick his favorite and go out with her or play the neutral card and end with a stable harem.
The first approach involves an ordinary (maybe a bit too nice) main character. He moves homes, goes to a new school or does something else that provides the backdrop for encounters with girls. The girls all fall in love with him. Then, when all the girls are going gaga over him, for one reason or another, he falls in love with one of the girls. The two then start going out and all is well.
I hope my earlier paragraphs made it obvious which approach this anime attempts. If they didn’t, then I apologize. This anime went for approach number 2.
I find approach #2 to be shallow and stupid. Yes, I know studios want the MC to be relatable, so, us dweebs can pick our own favorite waifu, but they really shouldn’t. Even in a harem, a good romance can never be built by catering to the desires of readers. It must be built by the development and interactions of the parties involved. No romance is a one person affair. As the old saying goes: “It takes two to tango”.
Making the girls fall in love with the MC is not enough. The MC MUST fall in love with one of them, or if he doesn’t, then he must reject all of them, for anything less is rude and disrespectful to the spirit of love.
Yes, at the end of the anime, the MC realizes that his indecision has hurt people and the landlady basically tells him that he is an idiot, but nothing comes from this revelation. The MC feels better, rides his bike for a bit, convinces Kenmochi (the butler of the Sakuratsuki twins) that the twins should not transfer schools and that’s that.
There is no resolution to the love polygon, no rejection and no tears. No, MC-tan still has a choice to make, but he will leave that for later because the writers felt that the viewer should be making that choice, not them.
To serve as a contrast of sorts, Clannad (another harem anime based on a visual novel) is a decent illustration of the second approach.
Clannad has many faults, yeah, the romance might not be totally believable, but at the very least, the anime did not line up the female cast in front of Tomoya and tell him to pick one. I don’ t know if the love between Tomoya and Nagisa is terribly genuine or not, but at least, there is love, goddamit! At least, Tomoya fell for her in some way. That is more than what I can say about MC-tan.
Yeah, the anime strongly suggested that MC-tan had feelings for Kaoruko Ichijō, but it did nothing to cement that notion. When, Kaoruko was being wooed by that Yuya guy, MC-tan was distressed. That distress however, was clearly not enough for him to think: “Stop this nonsense; you like Kaoruko. Reject all the other girls now and ask her out.” No, he kept on accepting the kindness of the other girls and increasing their love points.
It was almost like he only had feelings for Kaoruko because another guy started flirting with her! In other words, those feelings could have been for any girl, but Yuuya asked her out, so, clearly, securing her took priority at that moment. Uggh. Anyway, I will talk a little bit the characters and then we will wrap this up.
I hated on MC-tan quite a bit earlier, but truth be told, he didn’t really start that badly.
At the beginning, he was just an overly nice middle school brat who liked cute girls. As a former middle school brat, I could relate to liking nice girls.
Unfortunately, towards the second half of the anime, he fell into the stereotypical MC tropes. Yelling at the person he supposedly likes, not being able to figure out his feelings, being jealous of the smart kid in his age group were all tropes he fell head first into.
Yeah, he was a fourteen year old, so, maybe, I should cut him some slack, but I don’t feel like it, so, I won’t.
Sumireko Ichijō and Kaoruko Ichijō
This pair was arguably the cutest pair. By cute, I don’t mean the “I am going to jail” cute, but rather the “I want to pat their heads and pinch their cheeks” cute. Out of the two, I liked Kaoruko a bit more, not so much because of her personality (which was almost the same as her sisters), but because of her ponytail.
Yura Sakurazuki and Kira Sakurazuki
Both of them were boring. I could not care less about these two.
Rara Hinagiku and Ruru Hinagiku
These two were meant to be entertaining, cute little kids, but I found them neither cute, nor entertaining.
Ui Chigusa and Koi Chigusa
Another boring pair. Yayn~
Ai Momoi and Mai Momoi
I couldn’t care less about these teachers.
Sara Shirogane and Sōju Shirogane
These was my favorite pair. I felt that while Sōju played the cliche “sick” girl, her act was not done badly whatsoever. Sara’s tsundereness was also mildy amusing. I was happy to find out that these two are the main female leads of Futakoi Alternate (though with significantly different, likely better, personalities).
He liked building rockets and wanted to be an astrophysicist. I can respect him for that. Other than that though, he did nothing more to interest me in the least.
Billy the goat
The goat was not terribly interesting, but he made a few good faces. What an awesome name for a goat though, eh?
The other characters like Kenmochi and Miyabi were boring templates that we have seen far too much of anyway.
All in all, this anime was not totally terrible. The first couple of episodes were nice, laid-back and pretty much stress-free. Marothing those was not hard, but trudging through the last couple of episodes took a good deal of will power on my part.
Baka-Raptor-esque Rating: ~~
(to be honest, I wanted to give it 1.5 ~’s, but we can’t cheat like that, so, yeah, 2 ~’s it is!)
Oh and the opening song grows on you. It is pretty nice actually.
I have watched one episode of Futakoi Alternate so far and it looks really promising for various reasons. Hopefully the spin-off will please me more than the vanilla version. Thanks for reading.