“The Blooming of the Cherry Blossoms”
The “Official” Newspaper Club has taken up a challenge against the “Unofficial” (yet more popular) Newspaper Club: explain and investigate the sudden blooming of the sakura trees, which haven’t bloomed in decades. Shrouded in mystery to most of Hatsunejima’s youthful population, the Official Newspaper Club, whose charge is lead by their leader Morizono Rikka (Nitta Emi), seeks to unravel the mysteries that surround the undying sakura trees. From text messages dated in the past to mysterious legends of wish-granting that no one wishes to divulge information about, the newest generation of Hatsunejima will soon find out the mysteries they investigate are much deeper and dangerous than they initially thought.
Under Rikka, Yoshino Kiyotaka (Ono Yuuki), who is bound by the red string of fate, seeks to decipher the mystery together, though less to beat out a fellow club and more for the actual mystery. Yoshino’s relative and roommate Charles (Miyazaki Ui) also joins in on the fun as a fellow club member. When not stripping or sleeping by accident, Hinomoto Aoi (Kaiho Erika) also joins in on the fun, as well as the osananajimi of Kiyo, Katsuragi Himeno (Sasaki Mikoi) and the hard-working genius Rukawa Sara (Ousaki Chiyo).
Da Capo stays true to its VN nature, for better or worse, holding firm to the formula it’s adopted for five seasons. The animation, no longer produced by feel, is acceptable and an improvement after five years, but is lagging behind current animation standards. Nothing really stands out in terms of the animation design other than the pretty portrayal (and quite damn pretty, I’ll admit) of the magical sakura trees. The cinematography and view angles lacking (though the pans make for many full lengths). The color scheme isn’t much, though the faded memory scenes are a nice touch. Primarily the scenes in the first episode tended to focus either on full-length pans, random shots of the girls’ hair accessories, or random shots of their breasts. While this may be in good taste with other shows, here the constant reminder the show has well-endowed girls who tie their hair up is jarring.
The quirks of each character and their dialogue don’t really stand out, leaving the story and fanservice so far to carry most of the interest. The main protagonist is absolutely plain, an unfortunate VN stereotype, while the females all have their standard cute flaws that no one could ever truly dislike them for. I mean, I like how Aoi randomly strips as much as the next guy, but that was practically it for anything interesting the characters had to offer this episode, other than the mysterious “red string of fate” that connects Rikka and Kiyotaka together.
Now, don’t get me wrong Da Capo fans, I’m not saying this is anywhere near bad, but the 5th iteration so far hasn’t much to offer that’s good or a hook. If you’ve followed this series all the way up to the 5th season, then you should definitely see how Sakura will affect the new generation (and how she’s still possibly alive) and the tragedies that will undoubtedly fall these naive students due to the curse. However, for those who are looking for a new romantic comedy drama to follow…keep in mind that this series was designed to continue the story for Da Capo fans and not attract new people. While you don’t necessarily need to know much backstory from the other iterations, much of the significance of certain scenes will be lost, and the value of the series apart from the continuing story.
However, if you happen to have a guilty pleasure for wish fulfillment where all the girls already have a hankering for you, then maybe give this a try. Already have the girls all wished for the protagonist to be with them in some shape or form (it was heavily implied), with Charles already trying to make a move! If you’re a fan of this traditional formula of a bunch of girls chasing after a clueless male and you’re willing to put up with the above mentioned traits, go ahead! As I say though, you’d probably be better off quickly reviewing the lore of Hatsunejima so that the story has more meaning.
I apologize if I came off a bit rough, but Da Capo is a series that was truly meant for its existing fans. While the mystery could come off as something good, since that requires a long-term investment without much in terms of short-term enjoyment, I would say that interested parties not already acquainted with the series should hold off for now, until reviews of how the story is received comes out.
ED: 「会いたいよ」 (Aitai yo)
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