My body is ready.
Shake it now, baby now~
I’m actually hyped. Is it wrong that I’m looking forward to this adaptation? If it’s wrong, then I don’t think I want to be right. I don’t know whether it’s because I came into this with absolutely zero expectations, or because I was able to pick up on all the subtle foreshadowing that you only come to understand after you play the entire visual novel, but I greatly enjoyed this hour-long first episode. Yes, even the fight between Kagari and Krivoy Rog, as surprising as that was to see. That giant thing doesn’t even appear in all but one of the routes, and given how upfront Tensho and 8bit were about this being an anime-original adaptation from start to finish, I can accept their decision to demonstrate Kagari’s offensive and defensive power in this way. It also served as a convenient method of introducing Pani and Gil, alongside the eerie closed space underneath the school that may or may not have something to do with Akane, so three birds with one stone I suppose.
As you’re probably aware of by now, I did a series of posts covering the Rewrite visual novel exactly two years ago. And I repeatedly stressed during my coverage that an anime adaptation of Rewrite would be a terrible idea. I even made a separate post complaining about it when an adaptation was first announced last year. Who wouldn’t? Objectively, it is an extremely hard VN to adapt, let alone adapt well. So it’s with a bit of humble embarrassment that I admit to having liked this episode, although the fact that the adaptation as a whole faces a steep uphill climb has yet to change. It could all too easily go wrong at some point, and I can definitely see many people objecting to the scenes included in this episode alone. In fact, the general opinion on this adaptation will probably vary wildly – that will remain true regardless of whether you’ve read the VN or not, but especially so if that is the case. It’s perfectly watchable with no prior knowledge, but you understand a lot less as a result – for example, the likely reason Kotori was late for school, or odd things about Kotori’s mother and Kotarou’s physical abilities and his almost-unnaturally deep voice. And it’s not like the anime will go out of its way to eventually explain everything to you, because its aim from the very start was to adapt a sixth character route focusing on ‘that girl’ (which is very clearly Kagari, as much as I want her to be Nishikujou). It won’t tell the whole story because it was never intended to, in other words. By introducing enemies like Krivoy Rog without any warning, its target audience is very obviously fans of the VN. And for those who are unfamiliar with it, it’s supposed to be an introduction into hooking you into playing the VN, and suspiciously enough the airing of the anime coincides with the release of Rewrite+, which is a remastered version of the game with extra content.
What I’ve also been very conscious of is the fact that my enjoyment of the episode mustn’t be equated with whether it had any objective quality or not. I was less impressed in that regard, especially in light of the terrible production values (complete with the dubious use of CG). It pulled itself together for several important scenes, but by and large the animation really wasn’t great. It can only be said to have done well within its self-imposed restraints, that is, in the context of its one-cour time limit and the absolutely liability that is 8bit. I’m not sure how many episodes a good adaptation of the common route plus a Kagari route would need, but I initially felt it all but signed its own death warrant when it was announced that it had merely 13 episodes to work with. I’m now a little more optimistic given that the slice-of-life facade has quickly been stripped away to reveal the true supernatural plot line lurking underneath, but I still want to proceed with caution. My envisaged plan for a full adaptation would have had no more than 5-6 episodes for each character route, so 13 for the common route and Kagari should be feasible. Hopefully.
So what is Rewrite about? To help with that, I recently found something fun that I thought I’d share – it’s a hilariously spoiler-tastic summary of the entire game that originated from certain unmentionable origins. It’s technically all correct, and as a result it spoils practically everything in the most spiteful way possible, such that if you read it you don’t even know you’ve been spoiled unless you understand exactly what you’re reading. My sides hurt from laughing by the time I got to the end. So don’t read this if you intend to play the game afterwards. If you don’t really care, go ahead and click. It’s 100% true.
If you chose not to open that, all you can probably understand right now is that this story has Tennouji Kotarou as its main character, a sociable and physically gifted high school student who hangs out with his childhood friend Kotori, exchanges banter with his classmate Yoshino and is currently being haunted by a cute ghost girl who I’m going to tell you now is named Kagari, because there’s no point hiding it and I also wouldn’t know how to refer to her otherwise. Beyond that, the primary emotion must be confusion, right? And maybe a little surprise, since many works created by Key usually start off with a high concentration of slice-of-life before slowly having the supernatural aspects to the story gradually filter in. If you’re like me and have a love for all cute things, you must have also found Kagari extremely cute, which oddly I also did. I say oddly because I really don’t remember her being this adorable biting on Kotarou’s arm in the VN – although that might be because we only ever get these events from his perspective in the game and he was constantly scared out of his wits back then. The anime also increased the frequency of her appearances by quite a lot, including a cute anime-original one where Kotarou unwittingly gives her a can of Key-branded coffee (heh) which reminded me a lot of the ‘Three Cups of Coffee’ scene in Moon, which I really loved. If you don’t understand, don’t worry. As ever, there are small bits of foreshadowing you can pick up on – there is a specific reason Kagari always chooses his arm to bite on and not anywhere else on his body, for example.
For me, my primary emotion was nostalgia. I know it’s only been two years since I finished the VN (my memory is also slightly fuzzy as a result, so I may get things wrong on occasion) but it feels like it’s been forever. No matter how bad the animation quality was, I couldn’t help smiling and whistling along whenever a soundtrack I recognised came up – which was pretty much all of them. Soft Windflower and Daisy are both really good, and of course the TV version of Philosophyz got me all hyped up. It’s the first Key adaptation I’m getting to experience while not having previously been a secondary, and the feeling of recalling all the settings and great scenes (from the park in Kazamatsuri to the Martel Group HQ and the endless hallway in the school) is amazing. Hearing Kotarou speak is weird though, as all his lines were silent in the game except for during Terra, the ‘true’ route (sort of like what Refrain was to Little Busters and After Story was to Clannad). I liked how he tends to talk to himself a lot, or say things in his head even when around other people – many VN adaptations fail to include the many important monologues the main character makes, and this loss during transition is a major weakness that really dilutes many series. So constant narration by Kotarou is a good thing. A very good thing in particular for Rewrite, as it’s important to understand his motives, point of view and personality as the story progresses not least of all because he changes so dramatically as a person in different ways depending on the story route you choose to lead him down.
Who else was really surprised that they actually started with Moon?! For those who don’t know, the anime started off with a scene from the Moon route, a very confusing acid trip ‘prelude’ to the true route Terra. I still don’t fully understand it even today, but I sure as hell could recognise it at a glance. Starting and returning to various sections of Moon was, I think, generally accepted to be the best way of handling a multi-route adaptation of the VN, but I never imagined they’d actually do it! And it was such a faithful adaptation too, with so many lines like ‘my body feels extremely light’ or ‘the deserted city stimulates my boyish sense of adventure’ that I remember. And the hill of daisies! And Kagari’s incomprehensible speech! I won’t say any more as so much of the route is a massive spoiler if you know exactly what you’re looking at, but it would be really, really wonderful if they showed a little bit of Moon at the start of each episode – a bit like how the broken robot in Clannad made repeated appearances despite not seemingly being related to the story until the very end. In fact, the entire opening montage was totally unexpected, as well as being very spoiler-heavy. The cut of Shizuru in particular in a white summer dress leaning back on a certain tree rekindled all sorts of feels. That was one of the best scenes in the entire game.
I think the general approach to this first premiere was to introduce all the main heroines and several important side characters while setting up a backdrop for the supernatural plot of the show that will later properly reveal itself. If you’d progressed an equivalent amount in the VN, getting up to the point where Kotarou meets Akane, the story would have still appeared as a normal school slice-of-life comedy – so it looks like Romeo and Tensho are aiming to accelerate things a bit to retain interest and progress with the plot. I really love Akane by the way. Kagari is cute, and Kotori is super soft and cuddly, but if you’ve read my VN coverage you’ll know that I gave my heart to Akane a long time ago. I almost felt like I could die happy when she gave an even sexier rendition of the ‘welcome gypsy’ line than she did in the game. I don’t know whether they re-dub lines for adaptations in general – they probably do, some scenes must have to be rearranged or otherwise edited. But that’s great for me, I get to hear more of Akane-sama’s wonderful sexy voice. I’m hopeful that someone at 8bit really likes her too, since the key frame for the occult club room is actually drawn in surprisingly good detail. It was one of the most beautifully-drawn scenes of the episode. Whether or not she had anything to do with Kotarou’s accidental adventure in the closed space they kind of left up to our imagination, although Akane most likely just wanted to fuck with him, really. She’s harmless, I promise. Kind of.
Other highlights included a surprise appearance by Chibimoth (the ‘mammoth’), every single Yoshino scene, every single Kotori scene, the famous bicycle scene with Chihaya and a proper design for Inoue at last! A strange roaring dinosaur and Kotarou getting his limbs torn off by Kagari while wearing a suit was also really unexpected for them to include in the very first episode, although if nothing else all this late-game material gives me a bit of comfort that 8bit won’t be ignoring Moon and Terra. Actually, it’s kind of impossible to, given that their aim is to create a Kagari route after all. What really, really pleased me was the emphasis they gave to what I’ve taken to calling the question – the ‘Key’ question (see what I did there) that every single route in the game revolves around:
You have power, and are discontent with this world. Tell me, do you wish to change this world? Or do you wish to change yourself?
Whether Kotarou chooses himself, the world or refuses to choose will essentially decide the character route he eventually goes down in the game. So this is absolutely vital. It’s a major ideological decision that will influence Kotarou’s personality and actions in the episodes to come, and if there’s anything you’re going to take away from reading this post as an anime-only viewer I want to stress that this is really important. Which one would you go for? It’s actually a great bit of directing to have Tensho deliberately not reveal the choice Kotarou ended up picking. It’s almost as if, unlike with Grisaia, he actually played the game this time before making an anime out of it! Or did so much of the episode go right because of Romeo’s influence? He’s the script writer for the adaptation, after all.
I should probably stop now, this post is getting far too long. I might have just gotten myself lost in the nostalgia, but despite having protested quite vocally at the existence of a Rewrite anime I think this could actually work. It could be much better, I’m not going to deny that – the best case scenario would be a full-length adaptation of every single route, because Rewrite deserves nothing less. And the animation is objectively shit. But other than that, for a so-called anime-only Kagari route, I really do think they pulled off the first episode surprisingly well. I’m obviously going to blog this (as this is a sixth character route it feels to me more like finishing something I started a few years ago) but I’ll be doing so with a much more optimistic outlook than I had before. Maybe, just maybe, the glass is now half-full instead of half-empty.
Possibility of Watching: Guaranteed
Possibility of Blogging: Guaranteed