「玉衣の姫」 (Tamayori no Hime)
When I first caught wind of the adaptation of Otomate’s (the game studio behind Hakuouki as well as other otome games) Hiiro no Kakera, I thought: sign me up. I don’t mind the prospect of watching one lucky heroine be surrounded by a bunch of eligible pretty boys. This was a pre-air, with the next episode airing on April 9th.
It’s always a challenge to adapt video games – much less dating sims – into anime, so here’s the million dollar question: how does Hiiro no Kakera measure up?
As an introductory episode, the pacing is inevitably slow (or break-neck pace, depending on how you look at it); the premise needs to be introduced, the necessary characters established. The first episode does a fair job of doing this, by giving the heroine Kasuga Tamaki (Miyake Marie) a solid reason for her harem: she is the next ‘Tamayori Princess’. Tamaki’s grandmother (Kubota Tamie – Hanasaku Iroha’s Okami-san!) gives a fairly succinct explanation of the role – she has to seal the Onikirimaru, which I’m assuming is some kind of evil spirit. Not much has been revealed about it though, so anything I say at this point is pure speculation. Gods and ‘ghosts’ seem to factor in heavily into this, and apparently it’s a pretty dangerous role overall, since it requires a gaggle of pretty boys to guard her.
Of the guardians that have been assigned to guard her, we’re introduced to Onizaki Takuma (Sugita Tomokazu), Atori Mahiro (Okano Kousuke), Komura Yuichi (Namikawa Daisuke) and Oomi Suguru (Hirakawa Daisuke). Thankfully they all have distinct personalities/quirks, while managing to fit the mold of typical otome game characters – the oji-san, tsundere, shota, etc. Character-wise that bodes pretty well for the show, as the absolute worst that can happen with an ensemble cast is having utterly forgettable characters. It’s too early to tell what their chemistry with Tamaki is like, but they seem to have pretty good rapport with each other, and I’m always up for some bromance.
Plot-wise, I’m afraid it’s a little hard to say at this point. The premise is pretty straight-forward, and I assume since this is an otome game, the show will be more romance-oriented. But I recall that Hakuouki was pretty plot-heavy and drier on romance, so I could be wrong. It’s a pretty dangerous move taking Hiiro no Kakera in a plot-oriented direction though because that could potentially expose a lot of weaknesses in the show; not saying otome games have no plot, but their plots aren’t necessarily… the most complicated things in the world. With no preview to go on for the next episode, it’s hard to tell. The mysterious characters at the end look like they’re here to stir things up a bit though, so I guess we’ll have to wait and see how the plot pans out.
The atmosphere is another wild card, as from this episode, it seems like Studio DEEN is going for an eerie vibe. I’m not sure how that’s going to blend with the lighter moments in the series, but the transitions in this episode weren’t too bad, and it is still too early to make any judgments!
Animation held its own, which is pretty commendable since Kazuki Yone’s art is pretty hard to top. While I find the game’s art to be more appealing, it’s definitely unfair to be comparing it against the show’s animation since the source material contains a lot of minute details that the animators can’t copy. That said, the characters at least resemble their game counterparts, and Studio DEEN even managed to replicate some of the opening CG’s – that’s more than enough to keep me happy for now.
So tl;dr: likeable characters, decent plot – sign me up.
Just a note – NO OP/ED/Previews for this episode. Just a little short with two of the seiyuus promoting the show.