Oh, the things we watch when we accidentally become highly respected reviewers of anime. I assume. I wouldn’t actually know, as I’m not highly respected in any way. Probably because I use so much foul language in my reviews. Which is fine with me, as I avoid being respected like the plague.
I mean, with respect comes responsibility, and we all know, I do not do responsibility. It’s too much like work, which I also dislike. What I do like is just making shit up as I go, pizza, and kittens.
Not kittens on my pizza. That would be terrible. And hard to eat.
My apologies to the Samurai Pizza Cats.
That’s totally an an actual anime, by the way. I am not making that up. It’s awesome, too. You should go watch it.
Not now. Geeze. Finish reading this first. I need the views to sustain my fragile ego before I go on my month long sabbatical.
I plan to do a walkabout through zombie infested wilderness, just like Rick Grimes. Look how well that turned out for him.
I assume. I stopped watching the show about there. In my imagination, everything has been sunshine and rainbows since then.
Do not mess with my imaginary view, guys. Everything is great. Glen is alive. The world is a happy place, and you can shut the hell up now!
What were we doing again?
Oh, right, talking about a really generic anime. Except for the cute kitten murder.
Okay, so let’s do the thing.
Myself;Yourself is a 13 episode, 2007 series from studio Doga Kobo, a studio I haven’t had a chance to talk about since I reviewed Plastic Memories, over a year ago now. They also made Nozaki-kun, Aria the Scarlet Ammo, Love Lab, and the more recent Tada Never Falls In Love. Basically, if there’s a romance anime out there, these guys wanna be in on it.
At least they know what they want. More than I can say for most people.
Myself;Yourself, by the by, was their very first solo production, so I’m gonna try to go easy on them because of that. The studio has actually existed since 1973, kinda like me, but mostly worked helping other studios do stuff, up until 2007, when they finally got a chance to do a series themselves, again kinda like me.
Unfortunately, it was this series, which is based on a visual novel of the same name from Yeti, a studio known for their adult dating games. I will also cut them a bit of slack, as most of their work until then was cleaning up and releasing games made by other studios that had failed to get out for various reasons. This game was their first original work.
So, lot’s of studios made this their first work in a lot of ways, which means that there was a lot of room for mistakes to be made. I get that, and I can even forgive it, as both Yeti and Doga Kobo have gone on to produce some pretty good work since then.
Well, Doga Kobo has. Yeti more or less went back to what they had been doing before, but they do it well, so there ya go.
I can be reasonable. Sometimes.
Myself;Yourself follows 16 year old Sana Hidaka, as he returns to his small, rural hometown, after five years away. Hoping to reconnect with his old friends, and deal with some personal issues, he finds that his former crush, Nanaka, has become a distant, aloof, and passive aggressive ice queen, while everyone else is more or less the same, except his best pal Aoi, who now has huge honking hooters.
Milk does the body good, I guess.
From that set up, the show meanders around a lot, creating subplots, then dropping them, then finding them, only to drop them again, as the group of friends tries to deal with Sana and Nanaka’s issues. When the show remembers that this is the main plot, and doesn’t have deranged old ladies murdering kittens, or foisting a tsundere ten year old on us as a potential love interest for Sana’s friend Shuu.
The show is weird, guys. Not School Days weird, but not far from it.
There’s not a lot to say about the plot, really, as it is kind of a big mess, very little of which works. The characters are bit better, and it is through them that the show does have the few moments that do work well. It’s only a few, though, as for the most part, the characters do a lot of really dumb things, for the sake of the plot, which as I mentioned, is already a mess.
Let’s run through these guys, all the same, just so you can get a sense of how close this show comes to being good, and how it manages to snatch failure from the jaws of success.
First off, Sana is the stereotypical oblivious male lead. You know the kind. The super nice guy, who does super nice things, cause he’s super nice. Kinda makes you wanna throw up every time he’s on screen. Yeah. That guy. But, wait, cause there’s a plot twist!
A really terrible plot twist.
Turns out, while he was living elsewhere, he got bullied a lot, and tried to commit suicide. They don’t reveal this until the final episode, however, so it’s less a plot twist, and more an afterthought. It feels like a desperate, last minute attempt to give his character some context, cause God knows, he gets pretty much none through the rest of the series.
He’s dull, kinda pointless, and doesn’t really do much, except make all the girls get a bad case of wet panties, cause he’s there, being nice. That’s pretty much it. That’s his whole character. With one exception, he just wanders through the show, being oblivious to the people around him, for no reason.
Here, let me give an example. When he first comes back to his hometown, he visits a local shrine, and spots a young shrine maiden. She’s hot, and he kinda gives her the nice guy smile, but she runs away, the way any sensible girl would do when a weirdo starts giving her that kinda smile. Later, he discovers that the shrine maiden is his old crush, Nanaka.
At no point does he apologize for not recognizing her. Ever. He doesn’t even make an attempt. He just whines about she’s cold towards him, unlike when they were kids, when she was shy, and depended on him for everything. They way girls are suppose to, ya know? She’s changed, he simpers.
Well, yeah, dude. It’s been five years, and you didn’t even recognize her. Hell, I recognized her. The very least he could have done was walk up, comment on how mature she’s become, and apologize, claiming that her more grown up appearance was why he didn’t recognize her. Does he do that? No. He does nothing, but piss and moan, until she comes around and stops being a bitch.
Which brings me to Nanaka. She’s a bitch. Until the plot needs her to be sweet, then sugar wouldn’t melt in her mouth. Until Sana does some oblivious thing to piss her off, then she’s a bitch again. This cycle continues until Sana discovers that three years after he left, Nanaka’s house burned down, and her parents were killed in the fire. It was such a traumatic event, she can’t recall anything that happened, but she was so distraught by it all, she stuffed letters into their secret mail spot begging for his help, which never came, cause he never got them, cause stuffing them in a secret mail spot isn’t the same as mailing them.
Now, Nanaka does admit that she knew the difference, cause she’s not stupid. She wanted the Sana she remembered to come save her, not whoever he had become in those years he had been gone. She also feared he had forgotten her, and was afraid of learning that to be true, so she put them where his child self would find them, as a symbolic means of crying out for help.
That makes sense, in a weird kinda way, but what doesn’t is that, once he’s back, she doesn’t just sit down and talk to him, any more than he does her. They just fumble around, him being obvious, and her being a sweetheart bitch, until they stumble into discovering their own back story.
Seriously. Just talking about things helps, ya know?
Of course, this show would have been maybe two episodes long had that happened, but still.
I admit, there are moments when their sort of relationship works, but for the most part, it’s just a thirteen episode slog to get to the point they reveal things to each other, and deal with their past trauma and grief. As soon as everything is in the open, we jump ahead ten years, and they are doing great.
You know what would have been a better show? Seeing them dealing with that trauma and grief, by leaning on each other, and their friends. Making those things the centerpiece of the story, instead of tacking them in for cheap melodrama. Which is mostly what we get. Really cheap melodrama.
Another plot that runs through the show may involve incest, by the way. It wasn’t super clear if it did or not, but it may have. Between twins Shuu, who is Sana’s best pal, and his twin sister, Shuri. Not that this is a main subplot, as it doesn’t come up until the end, after which, the two run away together, and may actually end up being incestuous.
Where the hell did that come from, you ask? Ah, well, yes, you see, this is because another friend in their group, Asami, has been in love with Shuri since middle school. She worked up the nerve to confess, and Shuri shot her down, cause she’s not gay. However, she remained friends with Asami, but this only made Asami bitter, until she faked a letter claiming to have seen them going into a sex hotel.
Cause, love makes you a bitter asshole, I guess? Not real sure what the point of that subplot was. Gay people are evil, maybe? Seems kinda half assed no matter how you look at it.
Anyway, the only reason this is ever revealed is because of the crazy cat killing granny. See, this old lady, who is in a retirement home, lost her granddaughter in a car accident, and went a little mental. She keeps thinking that this local legend of cherry trees blossoming on two hills at the same time will grant a wish, and her wish is to bring her granddaughter back.
Guess she didn’t read Pet Semetary.
Well, her long dead husband was a local historian, who found this old legend that human sacrifice use to be used to try and force the trees to all blossom at once, or something. She, she killed a pet bird, then a kitten, and when that didn’t work, she tried to kill Shuri, but Asami intervenes, and gets stabbed. After that, she confesses everything to Sana, followed soon after by Shuri.
Makes total sense, right? Yeah.
Well, with all that played out, Shuu and Shuri decide to run away from their abusive father, who is afraid that this rumor will cause damage to his political career, and wants to send Shuri to study in London. So, the twins run away, proving their are not making with the sexy times. Cause that’s totally how that works. Until the ten year after bit, when we see them show up, holding hands, like a couple.
So, yea for incest?
What does all this have to do with Sana and Nanaka’s trauma? Not a fucking thing.
If all of that wasn’t enough, we also have tsundere wanna be Hinako, who is ten years old, and has a thing for Shuu. Which he does not return, because he maybe wants to pork his sister, but a ten year old is crossing the line for him, I guess.
Yeah, no matter how you look at it, this is a messed up show.
Anyway, Hinako gets to be the center of attention for several episodes, then vanishes, then returns to be the center of attention as we learn she just has abandonment issues, with her mother never being home, and forgetting her birthday. Then she vanishes again, until the story needs an extra character, remembers she exists, then she vanishes once more until the ten year after bit, when she gets a few lines.
What’s the point of her being in the story? Beats the hell out of me. She doesn’t add anything, doesn’t help anyone, doesn’t do anything, and then just… goes away. Like all ten year old stalkers should.
There’s a lot of things here that bug me. Let me run them for you, before we get to the one character in this show I actually liked.
First off, where the hell does Sana get off acting like him being bullied is on the same level as Nanaka losing her parents in a fire, which she later remembers, was set by her father, after he killed her mother, and he was the center piece of the fire, cause he doused himself in gasoline before hitting the old flick my bic.
Why, you ask? Cause he found out Nanaka wasn’t actually his daughter. His wife got knocked up by a close friend of theirs, who she later hired to be Nanaka’s violin teacher. He died, of something, and on his death bed, confessed everything to Not Dad, who went apeshit, and thought murder-suicide was the logical option.
Could have always just gotten a divorce, like a sane person, but then Nanaka wouldn’t have TRAUMA!!!!!!!
Yeah. That’s totally the same as getting bullied at school. Good on you, Sana. You helped put that stupid girl’s trauma in perspective. Way to fucking go there, champ.
Holy shit. I can’t even begin to describe how much I wanted to slap the fuck out of him.
Second thing. What the fuck happens to crazy old kitten murdering lady? We are never told. It isn’t like she killed her own pets, either, but pets at the retirement home, that brought other senior citizens joy. Then she tried to murder a teenager. Does she pay for this? Who the hell knows, cause after it happens, the whole story then revolves around Asami’s issues, and the psycho old bat is just plain forgotten.
Kinda feels like a plot hole, ya know?
Speaking of Asamai, that’s issue number three. Shuu and Shuri didn’t need to run away, as she could have just confessed everything to everyone. She does not. In fact, she suffers no consequences at all for her actions. In the ten year after bit, she’s all but praised as a hero for saving a park, and nobody ever mentions the horrible shit she did to her fucking friends.
Yeah, no. Sorry. Bullshit! That girl needed to face the consequences of her actions.
Last thing. Hinako. The whole thing about her character arc has to do with having a crush on Shuu, who then runs away, and we never see how this affects her. Just Sana and Nanaka, and their friend Aoi, who I will get to in a minute. We spend more time how their homeroom teacher is affected by it, but not the girl who actually had a crush on Shuu.
For that matter, we are never shown how the twins running away affected Asamai, either. They just get left out, completely, even though the twins are the centerpiece of their character arc. It’s like the show just forgot that.
I’m shocked. Just shocked, that this fine program would drop the ball on so many plot elements, so severely.
Okay, I’m not that shocked.
Okay, so what did I like about the show? I liked Aoi. She’s a friend of the whole group, and the girl with the mighty morphin power cleavage. She’s also the only character who does not have some kind of trauma, actively helps her friends deal with theirs, instead of being a self absorbed twit, and actually contributes something to the show besides moping, angst, and longing stares.
Sure, her voice is like a chipmunk got high of speed in a helium factory, but the voice actress, Tomoko Kaneda (Calumon in Digimon, Potclean in Hunter x Hunter, Chiyo in Azumanga Daioh, and Gretel in Black Lagoon) does a lot to compensate for this by doing some really amazing things with her voice. Seriously. her ability to spew gibberish is amazing.
Mostly, though, Aoi is just the only stable member of the group. She’s a bit clumsy, and a total book nerd, but she’s the only person here who is emotionally stable, actually mature, and capable of accomplishing anything without someone explaining to her using small words that she should do something.
So, yeah, I actually liked Aoi, despite her irritating voice, cause she was the unsung hero of this band of losers.
Hell of a looker, too, if I must say so.
There is one strong emotional moment when Shuu and Shuri run away, and a few others peppered here and there, but for the most part, these are far and few between. The rest of the time, it’s just melodrama, topped with melodrama, with melodrama sprinkles, for the shittiest ice cream cone ever.
Now, I’m sure your wondering why I’m beating the crap out of this show in such extravagant detail. That’s because everything here could have been resolved by people just talking things over. Instead, we get a string of idiotic misunderstandings, leading to excessive melodrama, rather than young adults actually going, whoa, wait, let’s talk about this.
The entire plot, and most of the character arcs, are built on stupidity, and stupidity follows after, making it impossible to take any of these people seriously. Even their trauma is only given a cursory exploration, before we’re off to the next bit of melodrama. It’s vapid, pointless, and meanders through so many subplots, I’m surprised it managed to complete any of them.
Oh, right, it didn’t. It just left everything hanging, and jumped ahead to let us know Sana and Nanaka were getting married. Fuck everyone else.
Awesome. Great way to waste six and half hours.
Huh? Didn’t I say I was gonna go easy on this show? Yeah. I did. This is me going easy on it.
You shoulda seen my first draft. Way more cussing.
In terms of animation, this show was released in 2007, but it looks like it was animated in the mid 90’s. Honestly, most of the key frames look like they were done by a drunken chimpanzee who needed his coke fix. The quality is sub par, and frequently dips even lower. There’s a couple moments where it goes up, and looks great, but not many, and most of those are for Sana when he’s being super emotional, which can be hard to discern, cause he kind looks constipated.
Emotion is not something this show manages to convey well.
The backgrounds are often pretty well done, and there’s a lot of good work on the lighting, but the character designs are super generic, and the motion is often poorly done. Seriously, Sana looks a lot like Makoto from School Days, and I think I’ve seen most of these people in other anime at some point.
Or it could just be how frequently they reuse animation here. There’s one scene of students walking up to the school that gets replayed a ton. Some of the character action is recycled, and in general, the overall animation quality is just poor.
That said, I do want to repeat that this was Doga Kobo’s first solo production, so I guess they did the best they could. Most of the character designs are from the game, so that’s not entirely their fault. Budget restrictions were likely an issue, and with this being their first big solo project, I can imagine all kinds of things went wrong behind the scenes, so with that in mind, the animation is still just really shit.
Sorry, it is. It’s shit.
The series was directed by Yasuhrio Kuroda, who has also done stuff like Angel’s Feather, Chocotto Sister, and Kampfer, which sucked so hard it isn’t even funny. He directed Guardian Hearts, as well, and honestly, outside Kampfer, I’ve never heard of any of these.
Which isn’t a surprise, as in general, I have to admit, he’s a crappy director. This show has all the subtlety and grace of an elephant on roller skates fucking it’s twin sister. It’s just a mess. While there is some good work done with lighting, that does not make up for all the other terrible choices made in framing, scene composition, and pretty much everything else.
It’s just a mess. A big, dumb, mess. It isn’t even that pretty to look at, and the only times it does elevate, it’s more the work of the voice actors than it is anything else.
Speaking of which, the show was written by Go Zappa, which has to be an alias, and I can’t say I’m surprised, as this is the guy who wrote the light novels for the Please franchise. He also adapts a lot of adult visual noels, like Koihime Muso, and Hoshizora e Kakaru Hashi.
He writes like he has one hand under the desk, jerking off, by the way. His dialogue is awful, the pacing, which is something he shares blame for with Kuroda, is crap, and his inability to follow a single storyline, much less several, is just woeful.
Seriously, though. That dialogue. It’s just bad. It’s like listening to two beavers argue about sex. It’s painful at times, and while the VA’s do their best, they have so little to work with, I feel sorry for them having to list this on their resume.
The music is from 5zizz, who also did the music for a show called Happiness, and this is probably the only good thing about this show besides Aoi. The music is actually pretty darn good. A bit generic, but not overly so, and it really tries to highlight the emotional moments, and almost does. There’s a lot of good, strong melodies, and recurring themes, that carry through the show, and tie things together in ways the writing and direction sure as shit don’t.
The OP is… I forget. Seriously. I do not remember a single damn thing about the OP. I think the characters were staging a rock show, or something? Ah well. I’m not forgetting anything important.
The ED was mostly just fan service of the female characters. Long, lingering shots meant to tease. That’s pretty much the whole ED. The show itself avoided too much fan service, despite their require swimsuit episode, but the ED makes up for it.
Overall, this is a shit show. I’m sorry. I know there’s people who love it, but this show really is just shit. 13 episodes of angsty teens, angsting over their angst, then angsting over each others angst. It’s just a chore to get through, and offers nothing that you won’t find done a ton better elsewhere.
Hell, the amnesia aspect was handled better in One Week Friends, and it was just a damn plot device there. Here’s it’s even less, and Nanaka gets over it by seeing a fucking sunset. I guess she’d never seen one before, cause it snapped her right the fuck out of it.
That, and the show was getting close to the end, and they needed her to have the big strong man help her get the fuck over her whiny ass girl shit.
God, I hated this show. I really did. Everything about it, except Aoi, was just crap, and frankly, she couldn’t save this ship from sinking, no matter how hard she tried to be adorable.
Normally, I say watch it for yourself, but in this case, I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. Skip it. It’s not worth your time.
Hell, wasn’t worth mine, either, but here I fucking am. God, I need a drink to wash the taste of this out of my mouth. Anybody got some gasoline?
Too soon? Yeah, too soon.