OP: 「Authentic symphony」 by ちょうちょ (Choucho)
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「ましろ色の出会い」 (Mashiro-iro no Deai)
“Pure White Encounter”
Well, it sure didn’t take long for me to get an answer about whether Manglobe would make a difference in an adult visual novel adaptation. The short answer is yes they do, at least visually. I actually forgot that Manglobe’s behind this production and had to check my own Fall 2011 Preview for the studio after I found the artwork and character designs a lot better looking than I anticipated. The opening theme by Niconico singer Choucho also caught my attention right away, as I really liked her song in last season’s Kami-sama no Memo-chou. What really impressed me though was how the complete first half of this premiere was devoted to our main protagonist Uryuu Shingo (Mizushima Takahiro) searching for his stepsister Sakuno (Gotou Mai) and it wasn’t the least bit dull.
I kid you not, I kept checking how much time had passed in the episode and didn’t find myself bored by the lack of progression. The reason being? I was mesmerized by the soft-spoken Sakuno and the picture she took of herself so that Shingo could find her. I thought to myself how they should really get hooked up with Google Latitude and save themselves a lot of grief in the future, but god damn, I was so intrigued by Sakuno’s character that I don’t think I would’ve minded even if Uryuu spent the entire episode looking for her. Things got even better with the introduction of the “main” heroine, Sena Airi (Ono Ryouko), who was not only friends with Sakuno but also on surprisingly polite terms with Shingo. Evidently, I never came across that important detail when I researched into the premise for Mashiro-iro, so this “starting on good terms” immediately changed my view on this show (…in a very good way).
At no point did I write off this adaptation back in the season preview; however, I did come in with very low expectations and admittedly, a bit of a “poncy” attitude where I thought I had a pretty good idea of what it would entail. Suffice to say, Manglobe gets the last laugh in this case, as Mashiro-iro still feels very much like a generic romantic comedy, but has something different about it. At first, I wasn’t even sure what it is, but the more I thought about it, it ultimately came down to the characters themselves. In this first episode, there were absolutely no cheap slapstick moments where our male protagonist gets beaten for reasons beyond his control. He’s not stumbling onto girls and accidentally groping or kissing them and instead, just searching for his stepsister whom he has a very close and normal relationship with. It’s all very very untypical for an anime — especially an eroge adaptation — and I dare say seeing Sakuno hug Shingo was a series-defining moment. Not only that, it was a series-defining moment in the very first episode. From that point on, I was convinced that there’s something unique about Mashiro-iro, which was quickly reiterated by a bath scene where Sakuno walks in on Shingo and nobody got hit. (I can see romantic comedy purists screaming blasphemy now.)
Does this make Mashiro-iro a godsend as far as adult VN adaptations go? Hell if I know — I’ve only seen a single episode. What I can tell you is that this first episode has single-handedly convinced me to continue watching this all-too common scenario where an all-girls school — a prestigious one in this case — suddenly turns co-ed and our male protagonist finds himself surrounded by beautiful girls. In all fairness, I can’t really generalize the plot like that, since the story revolves around a group of students from Shingo’s school — both male and female — who have been invited over for a test phase in preparation for Kagamidai Academy merging with Yuihime Academy (a.k.a. Yuijo). I don’t want to fumble around too much trying to describe this show, but I do feel it has a refreshing edge compared to other anime of the same kind. This first episode also ended on a really interesting note, where Airi drags her school principal mother, Sena Ranka (Sakurai Harumi, Yuri from Angel Beats), to try prevent the merger, only to find out that Sakuno and Shingo are among the students from Kagamidai. Airi hesitates at first, but goes ahead and tells the guys to screw off — a subtle complication, but a noteworthy one.
Rounding out the support cast is our self-style “Wild Maid” Angelina Nanatsu Sewell (Ichimura Oma), male-hater Inui Sana (Yoshida Mayumi), strange pet owner Amaha Miu (Rikumaru Noriko), and our staple male support character Mukunashi Hayata (Suzuki Tatsuhisa, Yuuji from Bakatest). I make no claims about Mashiro-iro turning out to be a romantic comedy above romantic comedies, but the material so far and Manglobe’s involvement make me want to find out if it does.
ED: 「水彩キャンディ」 (Suisai Candy) by marble
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