A high school dormitory with only 6 students, 5 girls and one guy, and one female teacher, relatively young. Living together. And none of the girls are unattractive. And they all get along so well. Very realistic. But of course.
What They Say
In an isolated island south of the Japanese mainland, a school is located on the top of a hill, from where the town and sea can be seen. On the top of another hill lies girls dormitory, a place where many girls have grown up.
One day, a transfer student moves to town. Though sometimes arguing against each other, the students come to enjoy their slices of life on the island, filled with wholesome moments against a calm and beautiful countryside.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The full title "Kono Aozora ni Yakusoku wo – Youkoso Tsugumi Ryou e" roughly translates to "The Promise I made over this Blue Sky – Welcome to the Tsugumi Dorm" (thank you, Wikipedia). Kono Aozora, which is how I will refer to it for short, is based upon an adult game by Giga, which later had a Playstation 2 all-ages version (they removed the sex scenes) made by Alchemist. The latter version is what has been adapted here into a 13-episode TV series. In recent years, there has been a marked increase in the number of adult games and visual novels that have seen non-hentai adaptations made. Some, such as the Kyoto Animation adaptations of Key/Visual Art's Air and Kanon have been of a high quality. Others have not managed to make themselves into interesting anime. Kono Aozora is one of these latter.
March 21st. The Promised Day. The Day when everything will come to an end. Or so the opening narration ominously (and ponderously) intones. Okay, we get it. There's going to be an end point to all of the silliness that will follow. Let us be thankful for that. Flashback one year earlier: The Tsugumi Dormitory. Our main character, Wataru Hoshino, a second-year student, is sitting in his room alone, being pestered by a girl who has inhaled helium outside his door. He doesn't want her to come into the room, since he's already in there with another girl who is clad only in her underwear. Of course, the girl outside comes in and starts screaming her head off. Misunderstanding follows. Embarrassing Situations for Male Protagonists in Anime #1. I think I've seen this one before, and it has not improved with repetition.
It is revealed that our story centers on the students living in a dorm up on a hill. They all attend Minami-Sakojima Island's high school, Takamizuka Academy. There's some exposition about why this island has so many people on it to begin with, but I'll just skip past that, since it's not really that interesting. At school, Wataru meets up with friends, meets the new transfer student (which is unusual on this island, as it's more common for students to leave than to come), and then heads to the Student Council Office. It turns out, all of the characters we see briefly before in the dormitory are basically the Student Council. After which, we launch into the first story arc in this show. As it is based on a visual novel, where the male protagonist has the chance to follow branching paths in order to bed each one of the girls, ahem, I mean gain their affections and pure, undying love, so the anime divides itself into two episode arcs recording Wataru's attempts to bed each one of the girls…okay, maybe not. But that might have made for a better show.
Truthfully, the show is divided into two episode arcs, each focused on a single girl and her interaction with Wataru, though the other girls are always present in the background. The first arc is devoted to the second new transfer student who appears, Rinna Sawaki. Rinna also happens to be the girl who was in Wataru's room at the beginning. Rinna causes a stir when she refuses to play nice and introduce herself to the class. There's a further wrinkle, when Ms. Kirishima, the homeroom teacher for Class 2-A (where Wataru is) and the resident advisor for the Tsugumi Dormitory, reveals that Rinna will be the newest resident of the dorm. Of course, there is friction when Rinna makes it clear that she wants nothing to do with the people in the dorm, since most of them will be leaving the island in March, as the local company, Demizugawa Heavy Industries, that employed almost everyone has decided to close up operations there, and the families that work for the company, including the parents of four of the main girls in the show, will all have to relocate.
The second episode sees Wataru try to break through to Rinna by using the one thing they have in common: running. Rinna is apparently a top-class runner, while Wataru is the school's defending marathon running champ. So, he makes a wager with Rinna. If he wins the school marathon, she will eat with everyone at the dorm. If she wins, he will leave the dorm. Predictably, Wataru is prevented from being at his best by a stupid complication (yet another ugly cliche rears its ugly head), and he can't keep up with Rinna. When Rinna realizes that Wataru has fallen behind somewhere because of his condition, she suddenly has an emotional breakdown, showing a soft side that had been hidden before. What a surprise. I'll leave the actual result of the wager for you to see yourselves, but at the end of this two-episode opening arc everyone is suddenly friends and the artificially engineered conflict is resolved. What a surprise.
The third and fourth episodes are devoted to Miyaho Rokujou (who is often just called Miya), who seemed a little slow on the uptake during the Girl In The Room Incident at the very beginning. It turns out that Miyaho is the granddaughter of the previous caretaker of the dormitory. Of course, what's odd about all this is that it turns out the Rokujou family are the founders of Demizugawa Heavy Industries and she is thus akin to island royalty. And the previous dorm caretaker, whose original name was William Elgar (he married a Rokujou, was naturalized as a Japanese citizen, and took his wife's family name), was actually the director of Demizugawa Heavy Industries' branch on the island, and on top of that was the Chairman of Takamizuka Academy. The first episode of her arc seems to be primarily taken up with Miya's quest to find out more about her grandfather's life, intending to turn what she learns into a display exhibit for the School Festival which is coming up. She decides that Wataru must be dragged around to help her in her investigation, and he does not seem to mind too much. After interviewing several people who knew her grandfather and learning a few interesting details, Miya drags Wataru off to the nearby deserted island, where she seems to want to recreate the little adventure her grandparents had there during their courtship days, only to be disappointed when it turns out the cave on the island was well known to the local kids, who even made a makeshift campsite in the cave which had special meaning to her grandparents. It then gets worse when it turns out that there's one of those Japanese "love umbrellas" there (the equivalent in America of placing two people's names inside a heart outline, to show they're in love) with Wataru and Umi's (Umi Hayami, the girl who barged into Wataru's room at the beginning of the show, causing him much embarrassment) names written there. Which enrages Miya, who seems to have been under the delusion that she and Wataru were a couple.
In the next episode, Miya has left the dorm and shut herself up in her room at the Rokujou mansion. The girls blame Wataru, of course. Never fear, however. As you could have guessed it, Wataru finds a way to soothe Miya's feelings and they reconcile, to the delight of the entire dorm. Wow, what a surprise.
I hope you are as bored now as I was writing that summary.
The show deals in broad, common stereotypes, the usual array of "desirable" girls who inhabit the worlds of ero-games and visual novels. There is Umi Hayami, the dumb one, who is stupid but nice; Rinna Sawaki, the sporty one who acts all tough but is actually very soft inside (tsundere alert); Miyaho (Miya) Rokujou, the slow, klutzy, wealthy one, with a foreigner grandfather, who happened to have been the school's chairman; Shizu Fujimura, the quiet one who is slightly standoffish and with her short hair seems to be yet another Rei Ayanami clone; and finally Naoko Asakura, the Student Council President, who seems rather proud and authoritative. Add to the mixture the allure of the slightly older Saeri Kirishima, the dorm resident advisor and teacher who is about as flaky as they come, and you have the usual mix of simpering stereotypes that apparently every male in a visual novel is pining after.
The characters and the character designs are bland. The animation is only okay: your usual bright shiny surfaces and predictable fanservice (bloomer shots of Rinna in her arc, swimsuits for Miya in hers), but nothing remarkable. The plot is insipid. The hero is not someone you are really going to care about. I'll stop there.
Note: Crunchyroll is only streaming this show in h264 and 480p.
While we've been fortunate to get some of the better visual novel to anime adaptations to come out in Japan in the past several years, this is not one of them. The characters are not particularly noteworthy, and if it wasn't for the use of different hair colors on the girls and their formulaic personality differences, it might be hard to tell the objects of our hero's affection apart. The hero himself, while not objectionable, is also not very interesting. If you are a great fan of this particular game, you'll probably like seeing the characters move about in full glorious animation (minus the scenes you probably really want to see but never will in this format). If you are looking for a good drama, with more interesting story and development, go and watch Air TV, Kanon, Clannad, perhaps Rumbling Hearts or even Shuffle. Don't waste your time with this one.
Japanese 2.0 Language; English subtitles.
Apple Mac Mini with 1GB RAM, Mac OS 10.5 Leopard.