Don’t watch too much anime this spring, or you might warp into a fantasy action world, like the protagonist of Amatsuki (あまつき), broadcasting Fridays at 26:30 JST on KBS.
After three years and 7 volumes published, Takayama Shinobu‘s Amatsuki manga is now joined by an animated sibling, crafted by Furuhashi Kazuhiro, who’s both directing and writing the script with assistance from Suzuki Chieko. Furuhashi’s pedigree is so impressive that I can see why he’s allowed to direct both Amatsuki and Real Drive in the same season, with series like Rurouni Kenshin and Hunter x Hunter behind him.
Having managed to score only 5 points on his history test, easygoing high school freshman Rikugou Tokidoki ends up with the task to write a paper, and heads to a museum theme park displaying life in Edo era Tokyo. He meets fellow student Shinonome Kon, who’s been skipping school too much, and they wander around together. Suddenly Tokidoki notices that Kon has disappeared, and as he rushes off to look for his missing acquaintance, he comes across a bridge with a strange creature standing on guard. Perched on its back is a tiny figure who asks him “What is Lie?” Thinking it’s an event of some sort, Tokidoki ignores it and tries to walk past, but now the creature attacks him. Pinned to the bridge, he’s once again asked, “What is Truth?” Before Tokidoki has time to respond, the creature attacking him is sliced to pieces by a helpful lady. She explains the creature is a Nue, and later introduces herself as Kuchiha. In shock and confusion, Tokidoki gets up and hangs on the railing, but the struggle has left it weakened, and as it crumbles he’s dragged with the rubble into the water below. He passes out, and he dreams. “What is Death? What is Life?” Once more, the tiny figure appears and tells him how the world’s but a perception of the mind. He wakes up to the singing voices of children, and finds himself in an Edo-like environment. By his bedside is Kon, who surprises Tokidoki by explaining he’s spent two whole years in this new realm, while for Tokidoki it only felt like brief moments. Such a place is Amatsuki.
Studio DEEN is animating decently enough, but the character design feels weird with too tall eyes, and a strange palette. In combination with fairly poor broadcast quality, it’s all a bit cheap. On the upside, the music by Fukuhara Mari feels refreshing without dragging your ears away from the dialogue. The protagonist Tokidoki is played by the ubiquitous Fukuyama Jun (Lulu in Code Geass), doing a good job of acting like he doesn’t care. Meanwhile, Kon is played by Yusa Kouji (Vincent Law in Ergo Proxy), and Kuchiha by Paku Romi (Temari in Naruto). This episode also had Kitamura Eri (Saya in Blood+), but I’ll let you guess whom she plays, since I didn’t catch it.
This would be a lot more interesting if it was HD with sparkling character designs and crisply depicted battles, but as it is, I’ll just file it under “generic action show” and likely forget about it within a week. There’s also the little problem of opposing forces. Will there be interesting enemies for our great hero to fight? Or will they be faceless demons without personality? These things often make or break this genre of anime for me. Whichever way it ends up, someone’s bound to enjoy the series when the anime season has calmed down.