The fall of 2006 was an interesting season. Visual novel adaptations had never really worked out in practice, but yet this season they truly piled them up. There were a couple of shows which attracted massive numbers of fans. I would lean toward this being one of the better seasons of the decade even with the amount of crap I watched.
First up is the OVA _Summer, of which the underscore to lead off the title may be the most interesting aspect. It’s yet another one of these classic harem set ups set amongst a group of friends in high school. The lead in this case had not noticed that he had feelings for the group of girls around him until the the last summer of his high school life. So he goes through the motions of doing something with each one, and in typical fashion there is no decision at the end. Kind of makes me wonder what the point was then.
Next is the Spring OVA for Negima!, which really does nothing more than provide more screen time to all of the characters. It begins with reckless jumping out of a plane before groups of characters go off to do their own things in short time frames. I suppose it does what it is supposed to do, but I still find these ever increasing one-shot filler OVAs to be troubling.
That was accompanied by a remake of the first Negima series this time called Negima!?. It is very much a Shinbo piece in the number of surreal events happening in the background of the show. The story itself is a bit weak for my taste, sort of like the director realizing there was not that much to work with. So they main emphasis seems to be on forcing the viewer to re-watch scenes to see what is hidden in the background when there may not actually be much happening at the front. I guess it serves as a way to make it interesting, though horribly misleading.
Otome wa Boku ni Koishiteru is actually a pretty good story for a visual novel adaptation. It’s the story of a son who is willing to disguise himself as a girl in order to fulfill the wish of his mother to attend the girl’s school she went to when she was young. It’s a pretty poor setup to be fair, but it never tries to do too much. There’s a balance between the internal politics of an elite girls school and of the protagonist Mizuho’s continuous efforts to hide his gender. It does that pretty well, though I could have done without the ghost character.
Code Geass will at the very least break up the flow of similar shows at the start of this post. Code Geass is basically a revenge story told on a grand scale. I think almost everyone would know the story by now, so I won’t go into that part of it. Essentially, I think that the series tries to take on too much with its numerous plot twists, repeated emphasis on national identity and blatantly ripping off an episode of Gundam Seed. This has become the standard of modern robot anime, but is that a good thing?
Normal service resumes with Happiness!, which is yet another visual novel adaptation with typical quality. It’s set in a school with a magic section, where the main girl Haruhi is the best magician in her class. She comes across the male lead Yuuma, who hates the use of magic with a passion. The actual conflict which really serves as the only development in the series is pretty contrived, while the slice-of-life character introduction episodes can pretty much be skipped without missing anything. Which leaves almost nothing left of real value.
The Kyoto Animation take on Kanon is next. In pretty much any measurable way, this version is better than the the original series. At 24 episodes, it tries to cram in much more from the visual novels than the other series had. I think it probably could have been just 20 episodes and worked fine though. The characters and story are pretty much the same, so the fact that it didn’t really make any sort of impact on me was not that much of a surprise. If I had seen this first, though, I would probably say this was good instead of calling it passable now.
Finally, Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge is the most unique of shows featured today. It’s a romantic comedy about a group of 4 high school boys, who have been exploited by society for their looks, and their quest to make a girl deemed by society to be ugly presentable to society in exchange for free rent. The show does a very good job in creating a group of jaded teenagers who are believable characters. The setting around them may be unrealistic for comedic purposes, but it manages that well. This was probably my favorite of the season out of this lot.
Highlights from Unseen or Unfinished Items
D.Gray-man lost me pretty quickly. The potential length continues to put me off watching it since it seems too highly rated. Tokimeki Memorial ~Only Love~ really had no chance of ever being good, which is why I dropped this amidst all the other similar stories. Ah Death Note! Where else would I have found something that would have inspired discussion on the morality of killing off law-enforcement officers for the sake of making everyone safe from themselves. I’m sure it’s like that episode of The Twilight Zone where everyone is forced to pretend to be happy though they wish in their minds they could kill the one making them do it, but I digress. I was pretty much falling asleep just a few episodes in, so I quit never to return. Red Garden seems like something that would work better as a live-action series. I stopped watching Busou Renkin at the halfway point as it got ever more silly. And finally there’s Bartender which tries to prove that all of life’s problems can be solved by mankind’s eternal friend, alcohol.