Apparently, crying instantly makes you moe. I guess.
What They Say
Episode 1 - Flower Tale
Kamakura all-girl high school's newest student is this little crybaby Fumi Manjoume. In the morning of the school's welcome ceremony while on the train in a chance encounter she meets a girl from a different high school, named Akira Okudaira. As it just so happens, these two girls were childhood friends who had not seen each other for 10 years until now. This meeting at the station on the way to school, brought tears to Fumi's eyes. Akira saying that Fumi hasn't changed much since they were kids softly handed her a hanerchief to wipe away the tears...
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Apparently, this is the first unabashedly yuri (girl/girl relationship—yes, I know it can mean more than that, but let us just leave things there for the moment, and this fits more closely with the Japanese usage of the term) anime to be streamed by Crunchyroll, which has made a small segment of fans who really like this particular genre very happy. I am not one of them (though I do not dislike it either, I personally just do not care either way), but I decided that it would be interesting to check out this show and see what it has to offer.
The story revolves around the intended pairing of Fumi Manjome, a tall, beautiful, glasses-wearing girl who also happens to be self-effacing to the point of vanishing into the background, except for her propensity to cry at the drop of a hat; and Akira Okudaira, a much more active and stronger personality. 10 years before the present, the two girls were inseparable friends at elementary school, where the weak Fumi would inevitably cry for some reason, and Akira would come to the rescue.
Fast forward to the present. The girls through pure chance meet without recognizing each other at a train station platform. They do not recognize each other since they had not actually seen each other in 10 years, as Fumi's family had moved away, and the girls did not keep in contact. On the train, Akira notices Fumi crying (she was being attacked by that "charming" denizen of the Japanese rail system, a train molester), at which point, you guess it, Akira comes to her rescue by stomping on the molester (literally).
After that chance encounter, we learn that the girls are headed on different paths. Akira is starting at the prestigious Fujigaya Girls' Academy, where the women are prim and proper and taught by the nuns (umm…yeah). Fumi, on the other hand, is headed to the more down to earth Matsuoka Secondary School for Girls (that is what the subtitles say, regardless of what the official episode description above states), the local state run high school. At school, Akira is befriended by a proper oujo-sama (a rich girl with good manners and upbringing); Fumi, on the other hand, falls in with a trio of friends who intend to join their school's Drama Club, and look at Fumi as a potential fourth member.
The turn occurs later when Akira and Fumi's mothers arrange a reunion between the girls. When they see each other again, it comes as a total surprise, heightened by their chance encounter at Kamakura Station earlier in the day. This reunion proves to be slightly awkward for both, however. In the years that have passed, Fumi has grown from a little crybaby into a tall, stately, beautiful…crybaby, while Akira has not quite reached the same height, though she is much more confident (though not without her own insecurities). Akira also notes that what Fumi has achieved in height, she has not quite achieved in brea…dth.
The next day, however, when Akira meets up with Fumi again at the train station and sees her crying, she walks up to Fumi and delivers the line that she always said to Fumi when they were kids: "You're always so quick to cry, Fumi-chan." This seems to bridge the gap of years and restore them to their old friendship.
We will see.
So, this is what a girl-girl relationship anime drama is like? It does not seem terribly different from any other relationship drama anime, generally of the sort that seems aimed at a female demographic. If you were to replace Akira with a boy named…hmm…let us see…how about Akira?, you would hardly notice too strong a difference, except that the boy Akira would have to be taller than Fumi, since boys being taller than girls is almost a law in anime, the exceptions being specific, plot-driven necessities that prove the rule. Granted, this is just the first episode, so it remains to be seen what, exactly, this show will try to offer that will differentiate it from the million-or-so other anime dramas involving potential love relationships that take them somewhat seriously.
Fumi at this point is little better than a cipher, a not particularly interesting one at that, but the "weak" parter in every pairing often gets alloted that fate, unless there is some sort of secret strength to the character that will be revealed later on in the show, thus providing material for the writers when they have run out of gas writing the same relationship drivel for the fifteenth episode in a row.
Akira is the more interesting of the pair, if for no other reason than by default at this point, since she seems to have some self-esteem and does not cry a river at the latest little setback in life.
It is average, at best. The animation is average (the colors look very washed out; deliberate, I am sure, but it is not particularly eye-catching). The dialogue is average. Only the voice acting is perhaps a little better, as the voices for Fumi (Ai Takabe) and Akira (Yuko Gibu) are well cast and appropriate for their roles, Fumi having a rather soft delivery that runs contrary to her physical appearance, while Akira is voiced with gusto and confidence.
Relationship dramas have their usual conventions that must be followed: the strong and weak partners in the pair; the "obstacles" that stand in the way of their love; the rivals for their affections; the little misunderstandings that temporarily part them; the cruel hand of fate; yeah, whatever. Since this is only the first episode we have not gotten to all of these things yet, but from the initial set up, I feel fairly confident we will. As far as relationship dramas go, this is merely average so far, with nothing to distinguish it from any other. Paint by numbers in its predictability. Even the fact that the couple in question are both girls does little to make this any different. At best, I can recommend this for free viewing, if you do not really have anything too much better to do at the time. Otherwise, it will not make much difference if you miss it. If you are a yuri fan, however, I am sure that you will make this a regular Wednesday afternoon appointment.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Apple Mac Mini with 1GB RAM, Mac OS 10.5 Leopard.