What’s it about ?
The anime adaptation of a cult videogame… which I’ve never played (I don’t own a PS2).
The plot, as much as I can discern so far : a few high-schoolers living in a little town in the middle of nowhere discover they can enter TVs into a parallel world where they fight monsters (the game’s a RPG with heavy visual-novel/dating-sim overtones, from what I’ve understood).
Narukami, the player character. As such, he has no personality whatsoever and speaks as little as possible. He’s going to live in Littletown for a year with his uncle (conveniently a senior detective, thank you conservation of cast !) because his parents are busy abroad. He gets weird dreams and voices talking to him, eventually leading him to walk into a giant-screen TV in the local mall. There, a passing friendly monster helpfully gives him glasses that allow him to summon a giant avatar to fight nasty beasties. It has to be said that the glasses make him look 200% more badass.
Hanamura, the token perverted best friend. Son of the mall’s owner, and only here for six months. Part of the initial party, although all he’s done so far is freak out and piss himself.
Chie, the tomboy. You can tell she’s important because she wears a bright green sweater instead of the dull grey school uniforms of nearly everyone else in the class. Also part of the initial party.
Konishi, a quiet girl who seems as the center of things : she discovered the corpse of a gory murder, and the “girl in the haunted TV channel” urban legend looks a lot like her.
This series has one of the best opening sequences of the year… despite having spent no budget on it whatsoever (it’s just geometrical shapes intercut with snippets of the prologue -our protagonist coming to Littletown in train). But the tune is very catchy indeed. (Same deal with the ED.)
I’d love to say that the same sense of style permeates the episode… but alas, no. The soundtrack alternates between the quite good and the ill-timed ; and there’s something slightly off with the rhythm of most scenes. It feels… very visual-novelly, for lack of better term ; characters exchange dialogue in a slightly disjointed fashion that makes it look like a direct adaptation of the original game’s VN scenes (although I have no clue whether the game was actually like that).
I love a lot of the stylistic quirks here (such as the calendar shots to mark the passage of time), but it doesn’t quite click.
What did I think of it ?
Well, it’s more than a bit rough, but I can’t quite fault a show for trying to be a bit stylish and falling slightly short of the mark. It’s certainly got atmosphere, and I’m interested in where the dating-sim-meets-dungeon-crawl story is going.
We’ll see how it goes from here.