Well, this is probably gonna be a short review.
Usually, when I sit down to watch an anime for review, I try to pick things that look like they’ll give me something to talk about. Time being limited the way it is, I don’t really have much chance to feel something out, so I just sort of go with the description, and see where it takes me.
Yes, a foolproof plan, I know. Thankfully, I’m a big enough fool to get around that.
In the four years now I’ve been reviewing anime, I’ve been pretty fortunate. Good or bad, pretty much every show I’ve watched has given me something to talk about. Anime being what it is, I often get to discuss themes, and metaphors, and other interesting stuff to me as a writer.
Which is kind of what I do here, really. I review anime from the perspective of a writer, and as such, generally dwell on the thematic nature of the story, and the characters more heavily than I do the general entertainment value, at least for me. Though, I am pretty easy to please, so most of the time, I do enjoy what I watch.
It helps that I’m not overly critical for the sake of calling myself a critic. I may be a cynical ass, but at least I’m not one of those fucking jerks.
Every now and then, though, I hit on a show that just kind of leaves me with very little to say. I don’t review those shows, obviously, but my lack of time being what it is, I’m kind of stuck, and don’t have much choice this week.
Granted, I could simply state a show as being cool, or fun, or terrible, but that wouldn’t be very interesting for you to read. So, despite not really having a lot to say about this one, I’m going to try and make this somewhat entertaining through my overflowing sarcasm.
That’ll be fun, won’t it?
Yes, it will.
In Search of the Lost Future is a 12 episode, 2014 series from studio Feel, who also made This Art Club Has A Problem, a show I rather enjoyed, as well as a bunch of other, rather ecchi, shows, many of which were adaptations of adult visual novels. They’ve also done some second seasons of other franchises, and been second string animators for bigger studios.
Naturally, this is an adaptation of an adult visual novel of the same name by studio Trumple, which I can’t find anything about, cause every time I search for them, I just get lots and lots of results for Trump. I don’t want to know more about that fucking nitwit, so after a couple pages of trying to find the game maker, I gave up.
The story largely revolves around a high school dude named Sou, who is part of the Astronomy Club, and the only member actually interested in astronomy. The rest of the club is the usual assortment of weirdos, who are always getting in trouble, and getting chastised by the teachers for their various shenanigans.
Sou’s parents are big shot engineers or something, and while they are working abroad, he’s staying with the family of his childhood friend, Kaori, who is also in the Astronomy Club, and doesn’t care about astronomy much. She’s just there cause she’s got a crush on Sou, who is too oblivious to notice.
Yes, it’s one of those sorts of shows.
Kaori finally works up the nerve to confess to Sou, and in a massive plot twist, he reciprocates her feelings. Which is great, cause now we don’t have to sit through twelve episodes of them hedging around to that. Except that while on the way home from school, Kaori is hit by a bus, and falls into a coma.
At least she went out on a high note. That’s something.
We then back up to the start of the first episode again, as the gang is trying to figure out what to do for the upcoming school festival, which is where everything takes a left turn, as the school is rocked by an earthquake. Heading out to see what’s going on, the club splits up, and Sou soon encounters a totally naked, and wet, girl laying on the floor,unconscious. She briefly wakes up, and seems to know him, making Kaori super jealous for no damn good reason.
Gathering everyone together again, they get her dressed, and learn her name is Yui, and she’s a transfer student with no memories. They take her under their wing, and soon after, are approached by the student council to investigate a ghost sighting, cause that’s what an Astronomy Club would naturally be there for.
From there, the show meanders around a lot, dealing with awkward teenage romance, as the change in events that Yui’s arrival creates changes how events play out from the first episode, including Kaori not confessing to Sou, because Sou now seems to be crushing on Yui.
I have no idea why, but he is, cause drama.
Anyway, we get all the usual cliches, before finally nearing the end of the show, when it finally does something sort of interesting. Kaori still meets with her fate, after which Yui falls into a coma as well. We fast forward several years as Sou enters the field of medicine, and eventually, discovers that one his former club embers has Yui, who it has been found, is actually an artificial life form.
At first thinking the technology that was used to make Yui could make a new body for Kaori, they soon find that isn’t possible, so Sou comes up with a plan to send Yui back in time to prevent the accident, which is how she came to be on the floor naked.
Yui is also the ghost people keep encountering. Her constant failures to save Kaori from her fate keep creating new timelines, as she gets snet back over and over again from each new future she creates. Eventually, quantum echoes appear, spawning the ghost stories.
Now, a lot of what they do in the final few episodes is actually pretty interesting, because it’s all based on actual theoretical physics. However, while it is pretty interesting, it’s also pretty frustrating, as we could have been watching Yui changing the past over and over, instead of watching the Astronomy Club sew maid outfits, and bake cookies.
While dealing with teen hormone drama.
The implications of Yui’s constant tampering with the timeline, and the innumerable futures she creates, resulting in her being sent back, over and over, are a much more interesting story, as she is basically stuck in a closed loop. She can’t escape it without saving Kaori, but in saving Kaori, she will erase her own existence, as she will have created a future in which she never gets sent back in time.
She is also creating alternate futures, some of which involve Sou not being with Kaori at all, but developing feelings for someone else, including Yui herself. This is a neat nod to the game, which had multiple endings, depending on which of the female characters you pursued, but it also makes the ending of the anime rather strange, as it jumps around different timelines, giving pretty much everyone a happy ending in some alternate future or the other.
More interesting is that, in the future, Sou occasionally ponders who originally created Yui. The version he sends back each time is based on what is learned from studying the one who was in his own past. Where she first came from remains unknown, as does who originally created her. This is a type of paradox, not dissimilar to a bootstrap paradox, which is a thing that you can only explore in a show that involves time travel, using actual theoretical physics, rather than a magic DeLoren, or some kind of phone booth.
My only problem with this aspect of the show is that in order to send Yui back, they must do so by connecting to a quantum computing device that exists within the time loop as well. A little black box that does a neat light show now and then. Where that came from is barely even touched on, and given a very hand wave excuse.
I dislike when that happens a great deal. Yui’s time loop is interesting, and has a lot of potential the show fails to explore in favor of playing with the same tired cliches we see in pretty much any romantic anime. That black box, however, really kind of needed some kind of an explanation, as it breaks the rules the show itself is following. It had to come from somewhere, and it is an integral part of the time loop. Just handwaving it away more or less destroys any credibility the real world theoretical physics used would establish.
I mean, they may as well have used a phone booth, at that point.
Outside of the interesting use of theoretical physics, time travel, and Yui’s strange bootstrap paradox existence, however, the show offers very little that hasn’t been seen elsewhere.
All the female characters have a crush on Sou, who doesn’t notice that any of them have feelings for him, cause he’s an idiot, and has no ability to read subtext, much less overt text. We spend a lot of time on picnics, preparing for the school festival, and basically, much of the show is just wheel spinning, until they get to the final few episodes, where something interesting happens.
Even then, it’s only interesting if you have an interest in time loops, quantum computing, theoretical physics, and the like. I do, so I kind of enjoyed that, but the rest of the show was just a drag to get through.
Even the rest of the cast is just plain generic. You’ve got the short, aloof, super smart girl, who hides her own difficulties, while acting above everyone elses. I hate that that is even a type of anime character, just because it’s so absurdly specific, but we all know it is. It’s not even tsundere, it’s just this incredibly specific niche thing.
There’s the tomboy character, and lots of jokes about how her boobs aren’t very big. There’s the best friend character, and they do kind of step out of bounds a little here, by having him be Japanese American, and occasionally breaking out into English, though it’s very bad English, and I have a hard time buying the guy lived in America for years before coming to Japan, for some reason.
Oh, but he does have a girlfriend, who we never see, so there’s the Mavis Factor at play. It was kind of funny on Fraiser, but here, it’s just dumb.
Other characters kind of orbit them, like the teen idol who they go to school with, cause we gotta have one of them, and the student council president and vice president, that are always forcing them into things that having nothing to do with astronomy, for some reason. The usual collection of character types you see in these sorts of shows.
Really, outside of the time travel gimmick, this show literally has nothing that hasn’t been seen elsewhere a hundred times, and most of those were done better than here. It’s not the worst I’ve ever seen, mind you, but it isn’t all the interesting. It’s just kind of mediocre.
Even the animation is mediocre. It’s not terrible, but it isn’t great, and with this show being made in 2014, I kind of expect better. Instead, it’s just there, and while it certainly isn’t going to make your eyes bleed, it doesn’t do anything interesting, either.
Hell, even the character designs are generic. I swear, Kaori looks just like Kaede from Shuffle! They just don’t stand out as anything more than ordinary, and even then, it’s not an interesting kind of ordinary. It’s just kind of blah.
The backdrops are kind of pretty, but also very generic, and that sort of sums up the whole look and feel of this show. It’s very hum drum. There’s nothing to visually grab you, to make up for the lack of anything interesting happening for episode after episode.
The series was directed by Naoto Hosoda, who also directed The Future Diary, Juuni Taisen, and Shuffle!, all shows I either really liked as visual pieces, or for the overall composition of the direction. I have no idea what the hell happened here, as this show isn’t even interesting to look at. There’s none of the clever framing, camera angles, or anything that I am use to seeing from Hosoda’s other work.
It all just sort of rolls along, doing very little of interest, as if he himself was bored with the whole thing. I dunno. It’s weird. Knowing he was the director, I kind of expected this to at least have some good, eye catching stuff going on, and it just doesn’t.
The series was written by Rei Kawamata, which must be a pseudonym, as this is the only anime writing credit I can find for them. Seriously. I can’t find a single other credit, anywhere. Odds are, somebody didn’t want their real name attached to this, and I can’t blame them. The dialogue is more or less okay, but the characters are largely under developed, and so much of the show revolves around nothing, I wouldn’t want to attach my name to this mess, either.
The music is from Fuga Hitori, who’s done a few other shows, though honestly, none I’ve ever heard of. Stuff like Military, and My Wife is the Student Council President. I’d like to say the music for this show redeems it somewhat, but honestly, I can’t remember a single piece from it now. I know there was music, but it left absolutely zero impression on me, which pretty much seems to fit the bill with this show so far.
It does not leave much of an impression.
There’s an OP that’s sort of okay, I guess. It’s not actively terrible, anyway. Same goes for the ED. It didn’t suck, but again, I can’t really recall much about it now, other than it tried hard to be Eden of the East in feel, and failed terribly.
Overall, the couple of interesting things this show actually manages to do are drowned under a torrent of bland and generic mediocrity. By the time you get to them, you can’t bring yourself to care about any of it, due to extreme boredom.
It’s not a terrible show. It just isn’t a good show, either. It’s there, like wallpaper. It’s kind of okay to look at for a bit, but eventually, you stop noticing it.
Kinda sad that that is the nicest thing I can think to say about it.
Well, that, and it does end after twelve episodes. That as kind of a blessing.