Rewrite First Impressions
“What? Wh-What the hell am I watching?”
Sometimes you encounter a show that just leaves you baffled. I’m talking about the kind of show where a number of disparate elements are shoved together, and as the viewer you’re left with the unfortunate task of piecing those elements together in such a way that you can make logical sense of them. Except that you can’t. The pieces refuse to come together in such a way that you can wrap your mind around what you saw. I had a similar reaction to watching BrainDead’s pilot a few weeks ago, and as a result the feeling that came with watching Rewrite’s first episode was all too familiar. I can’t honestly say that I was looking forward to watching Rewrite that much, not because I had heard anything about it or anything, but because I have a history of failing to properly finish Key series until they’ve been completed or not at all. I never did finish watching Little Busters! or Charlotte and I actually dropped both Angel Beats! and Clannad back when they were first airing. So my main hangup was with the idea of starting a series that I was relatively sure, if history was any indication, that I would be setting aside. So yeah, we have a strange supernatural, slice-of-life, possibly sci-fi, romantic dramedy based on a visual novel by Key. Joy.
For those who are unfamiliar with Key, they are the video game production company responsible for a number of successful visual novels, many of which have been adapted into anime. I had previously watched both seasons of Clannad, the 2006 version of Kanon, and Angel Beats!, so I have some experience with their works. I even consider Clannad to be one of my favorite anime, but the start of Rewrite is a jumbled mess. Our main character is Kotarou Tennouji, a high school student who appears to have some kind of as of yet undefined superpower. As is typical of Key protagonists he interacts with a number of peculiar female characters who display varying levels of quirkiness. There are about a half dozen that get introduced in this first double length episode, so you’ll forgive me if I fail to list them. However, he is getting haunted by some form of spirit that comes to him at night and bites on his arm. After this occurs several times, he attempts to track down the so called “witch” of the school whom one of his friends suggest might be able to help. The witch ends up sending him a message telling him to come into the school at night, and then proceeds to send him, via messages left on chalkboards, back and forth across the school. He eventually encounters the spirit… and then some pixie things… and then there is a gigantic bug or something. And that it roughly the jist of the first episode.
I don’t even know. Kotarou never really makes too much of an impact as a main character. He’s not bad, but when this much weirdness is occurring on screen, we could really use a good strong pillar of characterization to help guide us through this, and he’s not really up to the task. The animation is fine. It isn’t really anything to write home about, there is some pretty bad CG animation towards the last 10 minutes, and I have some issues with the uniforms, but it’s certainly serviceable. I like the environments at least, as the backgrounds are often colorful and pleasant. But I have no idea what this story is. I’m curious where the blame for this lies. Since this is the first Key adaptation to be handled by 8-Bit once could theorize that perhaps they weren’t up to the challenge, but, from what I’ve heard, Charlotte and Little Busters! weren’t all that great either and those were handled by J.C. Staff and P.A. Works respectively. A large part of my problem with this show isn’t that it’s weird, but rather that I can’t get a handle on how weird it is or where it is going with this strangeness. It kicks off with a strange dream sequence and clearly has a few supernatural elements, but, then again, so did Clannad. However, by the time we get to the end of the episode, Kotarou is apparently falling through dimensions or something, and none of the lead up to this had suggested that things could get this weird. Hell, Angel Beats! wasn’t half as strange as this, and that show took place in purgatory! Ultimately, I can’t help but call this opening episode a failure if only for the fact that I still can’t determine what exactly it is even about.
Before I wrap up, a few Notes and Nitpicks:
- It is rather odd to say this, but I don’t think the soundtrack really left much of an impact on me. Key series generally know how to have at least a couple tracks that they can use to play with your emotions such as with Nagisa’s Theme from Clannad or My Song from Angel Beats!. It’s possible that if I stick with the show those sorts of tracks will start to show up, but it seems like an odd omission at the moment.
- And now I’m just listening to My Song and Nagisa’s Theme on repeat… Why don’t I just throw that one Adventure Time song that shall not be named on top of those to have a trifecta of depression?
- I think this is the first work by 8-Bit that I’ve seen. I’ve actually heard surprisingly good things about last season’s Shonen Maid though. I’m not kidding.
Even if Rewrite turns out to be the surprise hit of this season, I can't think of a way that it could justify this thoroughly lackluster and confusing first episode. Even going in with few expectations, I still found myself disappointed and annoyed. I was completely disengaged by the proceedings, and having the first episode be double the standard length wasn't doing anyone any favors.