「ハルカナキオク」 (Haruka na Kioku)
Well, it looks like my question surrounding whether or not this would be a fairly clean adaptation was answered this very first episode. feel studio isn’t being shy about playing the twin incest angle, even though it’s been portrayed as something that innocently developed during childhood. They aren’t shy about playing up the excessive blushing either, as our male protagonist Kasugano Haruka (Shimono Hiro) gets absolutely every girl aroused just by being in their presence. Now that’s what you call a Mega-Playboy. It was like I was witnessing the return of Momonari Junta fifteen years later. Thus far, the nudity has been used sparingly, but the strange relationship that Haruka has with his frail, hikikomori, moody, twin sister Sora (Taguchi Hiroko) is pushing some boundaries in a different way. After seeing that incestuous kiss in the promotional video, it was actually relieving to learn that it was only a fantasy on Haruka’s part. Granted, that still doesn’t change the fact that he was thinking about locking lips with his sister and how she has no intention of letting another girl swoop in and take him. It looks like Sora doesn’t beat around the bush to make sure Haruka only has his eyes set on her, assuming that the scene at the very end wasn’t another fantasy of sorts.
For a story about twin siblings who return to their hometown after both their parents were killed in a traffic accident, this adaptation could have wound up as run-of-the-mill harem series pretty easily. However, with the inclusion of some nudity, it’s pretty difficult to perceive it as such anymore. I would have been completely fine if the drama remained the focus like it has been, but it’s hard to deny how having a bit of risqué material really spices the series up. If nothing else, it pays homage to Sphere’s adult romantic adventure game that the series is adapted from by targeting more mature audiences — a combination I’m more than happy to see every season. It’s fan-service, but story-driven, making it something similar to a sex scene that’s added to a big blockbuster movie. At this point, I’m hoping that it remains something along those lines, though I’m admittedly a bit skeptical after seeing the purely ecchi-loaded omake at the very end, featuring our junior college maid Nogisaka Motoka masturbating in bed. That scene was definitely any eyebrow raiser to say the least, but having it as a fan-service bonus at the end doesn’t terribly take away from the main storyline. Regardless, it will turn a lot of potential viewers off right away, but I actually like how there is some drama developing and embracing the fact that teenagers think about sex. As far as I’m concerned, if people want anime to start breaking free of the naive perception that they’re simply Japanese cartoons, this is definitely one way of going about it.
With the entire cast from the adult video game returning without their aliases (except for the voiceless protagonist), I’m quite curious as to the direction the writers will take with this series. The game apparently had five different endings, so the obvious candidates are Haruka’s childhood friend Amatsume Akira (Sakata Kayo), his former neighbour and older sister-like Yorihime Nao (Inokuchi Yuka), the class president Kuranaga Kozue (Minegishi Yukari), the daughter of the local politician Migiwa Kazuha (Ono Ryouko), the aforementioned clumsy maid Nogisawa Motoka (Okajima Tae), and of course his twin sister Sora. I haven’t played the game myself, but if one of the five possible endings is a bad one, it would only leave four possible girls Haruka could end up with out of six. Even if there were five, there’s still an odd girl out, leaving me wondering if Sora is only meant to serve as an incestuous tease or if the much older Motoka isn’t even in the running. Whatever the case, I want to find out and will be gluing in every week to see how the relationships develop and how far feel will push the envelope on a more or less AT-X-only broadcast. I’d even be fine with a crappy ending like School Days, provided that the series was as entertaining to watch every step of the way. People may not have liked School Days in retrospect, but it was one crazy series to watch while it was airing. Speaking of which, crazy Katsura Kotonoha’s seiyuu plays Motoka here.
* Note: In addition to a dedicated omake, there were actually two ending sequences. One is actually for the theme song of the series, “Tsunagu Kizuna”, and brings out the more drama-filled side of the story.