When one of your romantic choices is a life-sized doll that you think is talking to you, stick with that one as it's going to be the safest bet.
What They Say
A name scrawled inside a secondhand novel leads to a romantic exchange of letters, but the storybook ending takes a bizarre turn when the two star-crossed pen pals meet face-to-face.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After dealing with an episode that had our lead going down a fairly disturbing path of loving a doll, he's about to go in a different direction this time which is absolutely no surprise. The focus this time around reboots him to trying a new club called the Reading Sea Circle where it's essentially a large book club. It's not exactly the most engaging of clubs for getting together and meeting other people, especially in his pursuit of a raven haired Japanese maiden to call his own, as the club is pretty strict with everyone reading at once without saying a word to each other. Through a little bit of luck, he gets a book that has a name and address in it that he attempts to contact.
This starts a two year journey of pen pals who exchange numerous letters and get to know each other in great detail. With lots of flowers floating around the screen as he recollects all that happened, it's very girly and appropriate for this kind of story as we see Keiko going through her days, though she's an indistinct character overall. Our nameless lead romanticizes his life as he reads and writes these letters to an amusing degree, but more than anything he gets a little stressed over the entire thing as the letters continue to flow. There's a fair bit of charm as the letters go back and forth and we see how our lead is handling it, though one of his rules is that he can never, ever, meet her since that would just eliminate the entire fantasy aspect of it.
Of course, a lot of that comes from the sheer volume of lies that he's knowingly told her even though she could be the woman of his dreams. Rather than speak the truth, he's built such an elaborate tale over time. And the sudden realization that he may already know this woman only makes it worse. That this storyline occurs alongside the previous one where we see him at the end of this two year period taking care of the doll for his friend is a bit of a twist from previous episodes that have seemed fairly disconnected and completely rebooted, so that gives it a nice twist. Still, it's another instance of the lead being the main problem in his life rather than other people affecting it significantly. In fact, his main nemesis is such a minor character now for the most part that it's hard to really blame him for anything or even remember him most of the time. Everything now resides on the lead and sadly he's not enough of a character to pull it off in keeping it interesting.
While there are again some subtle differences in how this plays out, I found myself largely disinterested in what was going on. Much of it stems from the really awkward start to the series where the repetition and repeat value of things diminished the show in my eyes as it didn't seem to be getting anywhere. Now that it's starting to change and tweak itself bit by bit, getting ever closer to possibly giving us some new clues and answers, it's unfortunately lost me because I'm wary of it simply rebooting the whole thing and moving on. This episode fares a bit better overall because it's playing against the familiar backdrop of the previous episode but also because it is a fairly laid back episode overall without as much drama as we've seen in other ones. It's still not enough to save it from being fairly dull in the end though.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.