Photo Kano on first glance doesn’t appear to have much in the way of substance. In many ways, it looks just like an adaptation of a console dating simulation would expect to look. There’s a bunch of girls at a school who all have a connection to the main character that happens to be key to solving their individual personal issues. In that sense, there isn’t much in the way of wiggle room in telling the adapted story. In the case of Photo Kano, that’s nowhere near the truth.
The basic series format of Photo Kano is this: the first 5 episodes are what could be referred to as main story. The series director Yokoyama Akitoshi also wrote the scripts for these episodes. This is where the real meat of the story was established. The characters had to be introduced and given enough time to get to know them for what would come afterward. Also, basic details had to be dropped in to establish a storyline for each character that had to be resolved. Those first five episodes could also be considered to be doing the most thankless job of all; completing the story and character development for Kazuya, Photo Kano‘s male protagonist.
The series’s final seven episodes, which make up the resolution to each girl’s “route”, have had a different make up entirely. Take episode 7 as an example. The directorial reigns for the episode were turned over to a debutant director, but the storyboard was done by Yuasa Masaaki, which must have been as he was finishing up directing the crowdfunded Kickheart. The result was the story of a girl named Hikari who only took scenery pictures transformed into a vivid recollection of how she came to distrust other people and the light-hearted way Kazuya entered into her heart.
Then, in episode 8 the student council president’s story of wanting to be freed from the expectation of being the perfect student had it’s own. Aki’s story was storyboard-ed by Shibata Katsunori, whose previous done episodes of Mawaru Penguindrum and Sengoku Collection with the episode being directed by someone whose lone directorial effort is terribad’s Iron Virgin Jun would seem odd enough. Then, throw in some of Madhouse’s animation directors with credits as wide ranging as Aku no Hana to Legend of the Galactic Heroes and you have a compelling story of Aki finding a partner that allowed her to relax and have fun.
What exactly is the reason for pointing this out? It’s actually about talent development. Photo Kano is the safe way to partner established talent at Madhouse with those who may want to take on new and more advanced roles in the industry. It’s a venue that allows those who want to be creative with telling a story to do so without fear of failure. This series may not go on to be the best selling series of the year, and its appeal may be limited to fans of the game on which it is based, but that would hardly be down to a failure on the part of the new talent.