Pretear, Koi Kaze & Kanon – My Thoughts

Nope, I’m not quite dead yet. 😛

At the end of May I posted a poll asking readers to choose which series (out of a shortlist of six) I should watch next. When the poll ended with two shows tied for first place, and a third series close behind, I decided I’d watch all three. Well, it took the best part of two months, but as I finished Kanon a few days ago, I thought I’d share my thoughts on them all. 🙂

Pretear:

It was clear very early on that Pretear wasn’t going to be the most serious of series. The protagonist Himeno had recently joined an impossibly wealthy family after her father remarried, and with it come all the usual anime stereotypes (huge house with infinite, unexplored land; older stepsister with the Noblewoman’s Laugh; butler called Tanaka etc), so her life was already pretty chaotic. Then, all of a sudden, she found herself surrounded by a selection of bishies and shotas calling themselves ‘Leafe Knights’, who turned her into a magical girl (or Pretear in this series) to save the world from Fenrir the ‘Princess of Destruction’.

Early episodes pretty much consisted of Himeno’s father and stepsister’s crazy hijinks, and battles against monsters of the week using her power of the week (each of the Knights represented a different elemental, so the power varied depending on which one she merged with). Although the enemies were supposedly sucking the life force out of the Earth, which is probably very bad, the show still managed to feel lighthearted and comedic overall.

However, the second half of the series took a darker turn. The comedy was still there, but the plot became the main focus, which in my opinion was very well done. Without going into spoilers, we were shown the motives behind Fenrir’s actions, and how she came to be the Princess of Destruction in the first place. Plenty of romance, betrayal and drama ensued. As for the ending itself… a bit of a cop out maybe, but Pretear is the kind of series that could only ever end happily, so it’s forgivable. 😛

The animation wasn’t bad, but was nothing to shout about either. Character designs were nice, bright, and everyone had different coloured hair! Himeno’s clothes when transformed into a magical girl are worth mention – unlike many examples of the genre, her costume changed almost every episode, depending on which of the knights’ powers she was borrowing (Hal Film Maker also used the same idea in their later series, Uta Kata). A nice touch! Music was there… but not particularly memorable.

Overall, not the best or the most original magical girl series I ever watched, but it was fun to watch. I gave it 3.5/5

Koi Kaze

So, Koi Kaze. A series about a brother and sister who fall in love with each other. And not in the usual non-blood-related, ecchi harem romcom way either. I’d heard mixed things about the series in the past, but most of the negative reviews seemed to be based purely on the opinion that anything to do with incest = eww… which makes me wonder why those people watched it in the first place. Myself, I have siblings, and don’t feel that way about them, but I consider myself quite open minded, and just wanted to see how such a controversial subject was approached in my favourite medium.

At the start of the series, Koshiro and Nanoka didn’t know each other – their parents divorced when they were very young, the brother staying with the father and the sister going to live with their mother. So it’s only after the two met by chance and fell for each other almost instantly that they learned they were related. To make matters even more complicated, Nanoka’s new school is nearer to her father’s house than to her mother’s, so she moves in with him and Koshiro.

The character development was probably the series’ strongest point, as it should always be in this type of series. We see the two main characters go through very difficult times throughout the series, unsure exactly what or how they should feel about each other. They know deep down that even if they do share the same feelings for each other, they could never act on those feelings without hurting their family, not to mention society’s views on the subject. I think the series did a brilliant job considering it had only 13 episodes to play with, as the relationship seemed realistic, and the characters seemed to grow.

As much as I’d like to keep talking about the characters, the fourth paragraphs are meant to be about animation and music, so just go watch the show yourself. 😛 The colours were much more realistic and less bright than those used in Pretear, to suit the serious tone. The character designs were also fairly detailed. Music-wise, the OP and ED were catchy – I particularly liked the ED by Masumi Ito, who also sings the ED for this season’s Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita.

Koi Kaze obviously won’t be for everyone. But if you’re not put off by the premise, the series is very good, if a little slow in places. 4/5

Kanon

I had already watched the Kyoto Animation remake of Kanon, but that was years ago, so it was nice to revisit the story by watching the original Toei adaptation. For those who’re unfamiliar with the franchise, the story focuses on protagonist Yuuichi as he returns to the Northern town where he spent his childhood. He can’t remember much about his time there, and for some reason is reluctant to try and get those memories back (probably because his past life as a baker on an island of brain dead bread addicts has left him mentally scarred). While there, he manages to acquire a harem of weird and wonderful girls, because it’s an eroge visual novel adaptation.

The series played out much like the KyoAni version as far as I can remember: introductory episodes where the various characters get a roughly equal amount of attention, followed by story arcs focusing on a specific character. The only real difference between both adaptations is that I felt these arcs were too rushed in Toei’s version, which had half the number of episodes to develop plot and characters. Mai’s arc was a bit confusing as a result, and while the others made sense, they still weren’t quite as good.

I think the hardest part of rating Kanon fairly is the fact I’ve already watched the remake. How much of my enjoyment of this series was due to feelings of nostalgia towards the other? Would I still have felt that the arcs were rushed if I’d watched this first? Hard to tell, but I still enjoyed watching it. The story is still good, even if it’s pretty much exactly the same as every other Key adaptation. 😛

One area where Toei’s Kanon fails miserably is in the animation department. The character designs and overall animation quality weren’t pretty, not compared to Pretear or Koi Kaze, nor to most anime that came out in the same year (barring Tenshi na Konamaiki, which I’m currently watching), and certainly not compared to the remake. The music was nice though.

To conclude, Toei’s effort isn’t bad. However, if you’re only going to watch one adaptation of Kanon, I’d strongly recommend the remake over this one. 3/5

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