OP Sequence

OP: 「träumerei」 by LiSA

「太陽の黒点」 (Taiyou no kokuten)
“Dark Spot of the Sun”

Style. Miles and miles of style. And pain.

The Theme is Fortune

One of the things that most impressed me about this show so far is how thematically tight it is. Everything is wrapped around the idea of fortune, from the tarot cards to Akari’s mom to the mysterious things the most knowing characters are saying, and it’s all shot through with a sense of mysticism and mystery that goes well with the idea of fortune and fortune-telling. As a storyteller myself, trust me when I say it’s difficult to construct a story so tightly around one central idea. It makes it easy to grasp the essence of the show, even while the central plot is still being opaque (by design).

There Will Be Blood

It’s inevitable that this show will be compared to Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica, but while that one waited a few episodes before bodies started turning up, this show wasted no time. As near as I can tell, the idea is that there are corrupt tarot cards – perhaps symbolizing corrupt futures or corrupt fortunes? – which cause calamities in the real world. Enter our team of heroes, who take care of these problems whenever they arise.

That’s all well and good. What I didn’t expect was not only a corpse showing up in episode 1, but for our main character’s cousin(?) Shinzaki Fuyuna (Sakura Ayane) to be erased entirely from existence. This contributed to the acute sense of “wrongness” the show exudes, and gave the feeling that these girls are living their lives a half-step outside of reality, as Fuyuna’s body disappears without a trace and our main character Taiyou Akari (Kadowaki Mai) can run into a burning building and then be carried out straight through a crowd without anyone the wiser. It appears that theirs is a world of dreams and monsters, different from reality but constantly impinging upon it, with disastrous consequences.

Style For Days

What first drew me to this show, other than the fact that it’s an original series – and I like to think my preference for original series is well-known by now – was the art style. I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of using animation – and paintings, and music, and words, and etc. – to paint not so much the reality of the world, but the essence of it. If we want to see what something truly looks like, we have pictures and video that can do that, but a Van Gogh still holds up because it shows the world as perceived through the artist’s mind. Enzo once referred to Shinkai Makoto’s work as “more real than real”, and it certainly is in the way he meant it, but to me that phrase has always most resonated when an artist deliberately paints the world not as it appears, but how it is. The truth behind it, not just the reality that we see.

Along those lines, the style of Gen’ei is well suited to tell the story they’re trying to tell. The character designs are both cute but frail, with thin limbs that look like they could be snapped between thumb and forefinger. Their expressive faces are perfect for showing anguish and pain, and all of them can easily take on more fantastic forms without breaking immersion. In a way, the unrealistic art serves the unrealistic plot – were a live action actor to be dressed up like this and carry an unconscious girl out of a burning building unseen, it would look laughably absurd. Here it evokes wonder. The art prepares you for the world you must accept in order to take part in this story.

Looking Ahead

The plot is still well into mysteriousville, but with the introduction of the other three main characters – Hoshikawa Seira (Kitamura Eri), Shirokane Ginka (Tatsumi Yuiko), and Tsukuyomi Luna (Tokui Sora) – I expect some light to be shed on their world next episode, as Akari dives further into the rabbit hole. I don’t usually pay attention to coming episode titles, but episode 2 will be called “The Blood-Soaked Future”, so it sounds like things are going to get a lot worse for our heroes before they get better…if they ever do at all. Should be fun.

I’m not sure whether I’ll pick this up, though I’m toying with covering it for at least an episode or two more, to see how it develops. We’ll see. I’ll say something about it on my twitter either way. Until then, enjoy~

tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – Mysterious, bloody, “wrong”, painful, thematic, & stylish as hell. Potential sleeper? You have my attention, #genei

Random thoughts:

  • In case you didn’t catch it, Fuyuna was reading L’Étranger by Albert Camus, i.e. The Stranger, which is a book that explores (among other schools of thought) existentialism, determinism, nihilism, and absurdism. It’s also about a murder. That’s a sign.
  • Akari’s adopted parents are way too nice. There’s no way she can have a happy life, just no way. How twisted is that?
  • Another animation technique I really liked was how the picture kept getting staticky when the mirror world encroached upon reality. It’s a good way to illustrate the interference while also adding to that sense of wrongness.
  • Akari said that Fuyuna could do anything. You’re wrong. She couldn’t be like you. The sun is bright
  • Finally, Akari’s sun card has connotations that bring future happiness and prosperity to all, but could also bring about great calamities. I like this. She will either be the hero she’s being set up to be, or fall down to hell and take everybody with her. Excellent.

For more from yours truly, check out my blog on writing, art, and the book I’m working on at stiltsoutloud.com.

Full-length images: 07.


ED Sequence

ED: 「-Mirage-」 by 岡本菜摘 (Okamoto Natsumi)



  1. Honestly, the art style could keep me hooked on this series for quite a while by itself. There really wasn’t a moment where I got tired of looking at the screen; it’s just that beautiful and pair that with the tarot cards and mystery surrounding fortunes, it actually took me by surprise in a good way.

    1. Agreed. I almost called the animation some of the best I’d seen, but I’ve seen a LOT of anime, and I can pick out a few that best it. There aren’t a lot though, so while it may be in the top 90% in sheer animation prowess, in style and beauty – at least in my opinion, it’s even higher than that. There’s just something about flames that call to me, call to us all…

  2. I tried this show because the key visual looked interesting. But what really kept me going through the first half of the episode was how wrong everything felt even though there was a lot of cuteness on screen. Then of course the sister snapped and everything took a turn for the worst and I was left wondering what the hell I was watching. Well what ever it is it turned out a really good opener, here’s hoping for a good series.

  3. Line, hook and sinker. So far it’s the best first ep of the season.

    As an amateur tarot reader myself (although I stopped doing it years ago), I agree that the use of such theme is well executed here and the animation is stylish and vibrant in contrast to the dark atmosphere. Another good trait is that despite all those “Madoka vibes”, it does its best to establish its own identity.

    The OP has LiSA at her best. I can’t bear to wait for the single.

    1. Glad to hear the tarot stuff holds up to the more experienced eye. I don’t know a damn thing about them, I just know stories, and luckily that was close enough this time.

      And LiSA OPs are always good \o/

      1. Stilts, I’d like to comment a bit on your take that The Sun is a sign of great calamities as well. Yes, it’s a sign of trial, but The Sun also foretells that in the end, you will be victorious.

      2. TheMoondoggie, it all depends on your interpretation of reversed cards. Some “schools” of tarot interpretation hold that reversed cards have the exact opposite meaning to their upright orientation, and so a reversed Sun would be pretty bad news with no good outcome possible. Of course at the other extreme, some hold that the orientation of the cards has no particular significance at all.

        Anyway, I watched this only because I have to think that something is going to be really, really bad before I won’t even give it at least one episode. I was expecting cute little girls playing cute little games, but boy, was I wrong. I was completely blown away by it.

      3. I don’t know jack about tarot cards, so I just just going off of what was said on the screen. From what Angelus said, it looks like they’re following the school of thought where the orientation matters, because that part was definitely mentioned. It works for me, at least thematically.

      4. @Angelus
        Check again on the sun card. It’s not reversed. We’re seeing the card spread from the querent’s POV. Reference the candle and where the wand is in the cross to Akari’s perspective. To the reader, the sun card is not reversed. With the Sun, Moon and Fool all being right side up. I find it interesting the World card is reversed. I suspect a double cross. Also the High Priestess is reversed.

  4. Come on Randomc, at least blog this one :). Apart from Monogatari, Symphogear and Genei Wo Kakeru Taiyou had the strongest first episodes in my book, and it would be a pity if neither are covered.

    In general, why are you guys so fixed upon deciding the coverage schedule before the start of the season? I do not think most readers would mind if you finalized the schedule after the first one-two weeks…

    1. @Steelman @zztop

      I’m definitely considering it. I’m thinking of at least doing another episode or two before I decide whether I want to pick it up for the full season or not.


      We actually do only finalize the coverage a few weeks in. Some of us deliberately choose fewer shows than we’re thinking of blogging if there are other things we’re looking at but not sure if we have the time / if they’ll be any good. This show was one of those for me.

      As for the rest of the shows, often we really do just know what we want to cover before the season, so there’s no reason to wait!

  5. realy want to give this anime more info here , they are many reason why this anime will be amazing : Keizō Kusakawa the director , other work from him = Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha
    so that clearly the reason you got the vibe from the other anime , that the same guy .

    other notable anime from him : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keiz%C5%8D_Kusakawa

    and im going say something else , the studio behind this anime AIC : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anime_International_Company
    my favorite from them : ga rei zero
    but the most important part here is that this anime a joint project from AIC and aniplex
    and if you look at aniplex anime…….

    OMG OMG OMG , ANIPLEX SAVING ANIME SINCE ALOT OF TIME ??????? they are involved in almost all my favorite anime ….. and you can look that even A-1 Pictures are a subs division from them….

    THX ANIPLEX FOR SAVE ANIME in this sea of harem , moe anime , anime for girl
    ( looking at you free…KyoAni ….. you used to make amazing anime before… how you have fallen for get the easy money … )


  6. To be honest, Stilts, I thought the episode seemed to lose its way at times with attempts at being grandiose but always coming out as slightly absurd. The first half was pretty low-key when it’s the necessary intro, but as soon as I saw the dead kid part I knew the director was going for the Urobutcher route+stylistic flair. The latter isn’t surprising given his years working under Shinbou, but I felt it went from relaxed to depressing way too damn fast, but YMMV.

    When I saw the truck heading backwards downhill and into the house, my first thought was “This is totally going for the Another-route with misfortune/accidents as the driving motive behind everything“—and then they overtly confirm it in the scene immediately after.

    And the conspiracy at the end isn’t bad storytelling or anything, but it was shoved down my throat in what I felt was the director’s hasty attempt at fitting all the hooks within the first episode. It all made me think this is a slightly confused show that’s trying to fit in everything: is it a mahou shoujo, a final destination, a shock story, a Kill ‘Em All? If it’s all of them and more, I think we have a very thematically crowded cour ahead of us.

    1. I can see that, but I actually thought it was paced quite well. Yes, they didn’t explain a lot, but while I thought that was to the detriment of the episode in KamiNai, this one was largely fast-paced enough that it didn’t bother me. Plus, when destiny, conspiracies, fortunes, and alternate realities are on the table, I’m a bit more allowing of mystery than I would be otherwise – in fact, I welcome it.

      Basically, I felt this was more of an emotional ride, and they did the right things to evoke emotions and keep me swept up in the action until the end. I can see where you’re coming from, though.

  7. I see a lot of people compare this with Madoka Magica like it was Madoka that first killed girls in their shows(LOL no: Otome, HiME, Sailor Moon and Rayearth(OVA) are examples predating Madoka and had dead girls inside).

    Genei seems to have it’s own identity by mixing up a number of tropes already found in pre-existing MS shows. I know the parts isn’t original, but at least the premise of the show and it’s own MS mechanics are different. Also even with the parts being unoriginal I just can’t think of anything to compare with this show. None of the MS shows I have watched before had blatantly told me in episode 1 that “Warning: this show isn’t gonna end well.”

    I’ll definitely keep this in my list.

    1. Oh, I agree TheMoondoggie. That said, Madoka is the most recent example, so the comparisons are inevitable. And to be fair, so far it feels like this will be more similar to Madoka than, say, Sailor Moon.

      That’s not bad, though. Something doesn’t need to be wholly originally to be good, its creators just have to take the best parts they see in other things they like and reassemble them in a new and interesting way. So goes that old saying: steal like an artist.

  8. You know what Genei reminded me of more than Madoka? Well, if we ignored the plot for a bit and just focused on some of the visuals and elements, it reminds me a lot of Cardcaptors.

    Other than that, loving the visual quality of the animation plus some of the screen effects used. I would stay with this series just for that.

    I will be honest, this first episode did feel a bit rushed, only because they threw in two monster fights. The first one was great and justified, but the other guy was kinda just… there…

    Other than that, I have very high hopes for this series (I wouldn’t be surprised if it flops, I’m use to disappointments) but nyeah, it will make killer AMV material.

    1. If the visuals are Cardcaptor style, then I guess the battle style and MS mechanics seems to had its roots from BRS(going to alternate dimensions and fight there with your alter-form).

      1. Yeah, guess you’re right, but the whole alternate dimension thing is just a reconstruction on the convenience barrier if you ask me. Not like that is a bad thing. It allows the animators to be much more constructive and to give viewers something different to look at.

    2. On your flop comment, I wouldn’t be surprised either. Well, a little surprised since this first episode was strong, but not that much. But that’s the great part!! With original material, we have no idea how it will end, so we could be in for AOTY or a glorious mess. Either way, it should be fun 😀

  9. Despair-ridden lolis with magic powers and gorgeous hair lapping like waves in the air? Color me entranced. 😉

    Anyways, been too much comparing to Madoka as it is, so I shan’t go there. Could, but won’t. Wouldn’t do any good anyhow. Nope nope. -Nod nod-

    So, will nameless cousin-whose-name-I-just-can’t-seem-to-remember be brought back somehow? Hope so, and… oh, I don’t know, mayhaps her power will be along the lines of a black hole? ‘Cause, y’know… swallowing up light and what not. (SYMBOLISM!)

    All in all, a good first episode, IMHO. Decent mystery, good fights and what looks like plenty of emotionally heavy story that can only build from here on out. Looking forward to the next ep.

  10. I really only got into this because Kiritani Hana/Tanezaki Atsumi is voicing the triplets. Then I realize they only appear in the preview. OTL
    I’m not yet sold on the story and the art style bugs me. Akari is thinner than CLAMP characters, and that’s saying something.

  11. I got serious issues with that tarot reading, although it might sound minor to non tarot readers.

    Now I understand the Celtic Cross layout being in reverse, the wand on the left side instead of the right since it’s in Japan. It’s just how they read in general right to left. The one thing I don’t understand is she’s reading the cross portion in the traditional way of left to right But showing the layout from the querent’s (querent=person being read) pov is misleading especially since the layout is reversed. Now the major issue is the hand they used to cover the cards. The girls used their right hands. It’s supposed to be the left hand because it’s linked to the right hemisphere of the brain which relies on the intuitive side. The querent doesn’t know better, but the reader should definitely know and guide the querent in the right direction.

    They also use cards from the majar arcanna which is highly unlikely that all cards in a spread. Although for use for story telling it does make sense. The majar arcanna from 0-21 can tell a story from the Fool going on a journey to reach the final card of either becoming one with the World or finding his place in it.

    When I first saw the moon and sun have a picture of a person on it I found it strange, traditionally they don’t. At the end, it made complete sense. Each one of those cards in that spread represents a person in the show.

    Now the one thing they did right was covering the tarot cards in a dark cloth. It’s meant to keep the reader’s energy contained in the cards. If it wasn’t in covered in a dark cloth, the reader would have to keep recharging the cards with their energy on a timely basis.

    Now I would love to see a complete set of this tarot cards because I love analyzing different sets. Each card has it’s own underlining premise to what it means but memorization isn’t reading. Reading is reading the actual card as a stand alone card by analyzing the images, symbols and colors on it to determine what that card means in relationship to other cards in the spread.

    For some analyzing of the anime in relationship to the tarot cards.

    Akari is obviously the sun and it’s pretty clear on that.

    What’s interesting is her room is filled with plants representing the World card. Now the idea of the World card tangling her up in the beginning could mean Akari doesn’t have control of the world around her or she gets tangled up in it.

    At first glance Death card would be represented by the Akari’s mom, but that’s a very literal interpretation of the card. I suspect the Death card goes to the guy at the end. In it’s normal position Death means to let go of things that become meaningless. In reverse it’s trouble letting go. My money is on there’s more to his story.

    My guess on Fuyuna is she represents the High Priestess (2) which knows things other people don’t know but also doesn’t share them with the world around her. She keeps what she knows hidden from other people, not to be superior, but to protect them. I suspect she’s coming back around.

    For for the girls

    Akari being the Sun (19)
    The purple hair girl is Star (17).
    The green haired one is Moon (18).
    The blonde represents the coin suit.

    From the PV The red head is Judgement (20) and light blue hair woman is the World (21). Props goes to the writer for Judgement crossing over the World card in the initial card spread.

    The brunette is the Fool (0).
    The pink haired one is the Magician (1).
    If Fuyuna returns my money is she’ll be High Priestess (2)

      1. Tarot Basics and let’s see if any of this plays through the anime. Needless to say, the Tarot is extremely well designed considering how old it is. The depth to it extensive and that’s why it’s still in use today. I’m sure hundreds of years layering different meaning attribute to the depth.

        A tarot deck consists of 78 cards, between the major arcana and minor arcana. If the reverse meaning is factored in, there are a total of 158 meanings to a deck of cards.

        Major arcana consists of 22 cards beginning with the Fool (0) and ends with the World (21). These are the cards mostly referenced in a tarot reading. I can go more in depth but just think of them as special cards. Think back to every movie/show that has a stupid tarot reading and the cliche Death card showing up. Each one has more or less a unique meaning that doesn’t belong to any particular element. There is an astrology connection to them but I won’t go into that.

        The minor arcana is represented by four suits, fourteen cards each, each one representing an element. In fact each of the cards can be directly related to each of the suites of a playing card deck, except there are four royal suits instead of three. The extra royal card are pages. Now with each element there is a entity representing each suite. Kudos to anyone that knows the anime uses the governing bodies of the elements I’m about to describe.

        Air (swords/spades) is governed by slyphs. They represent reason and logic as if a sword is cutting through the confusion to reveal the truth.

        Fire (wands/clubs) is governed by salamanders. They represent passion and creativity. Passion connotation in this sense is to be passionate towards something. e.g. We’re all passionate about anime on this site. My own personal tarot deck has a flame at the end the wand and looks more like a paint brush. So a painter is passionate about painting.

        Earth (coins/diamonds) is governed by gnomes. They represent being materialistic in the world like being wanting to gain wealth ie coins.

        Water(cups)is governed by UNDINES. (There’s a bit of help to the anime.) They govern emotions like a tidal wave of emotions overpowering a person.

        For those that studied the tarot will probably understand this next bit hopefully I’ll make it clear. You can also use the tarot as a personality test. Each person has dominance in one of these elements. They also have a have a firm understanding or grasp to two elements. The fourth is a total weakness. I won’t go into details but there is a specific order.

  12. It also looks like the writer was playing around with elements associated with the cards but abandoned it. When it comes down to storytelling and character design it does make sense.

    For reference:
    Element = Tarot Card Suit
    Earth = Coin
    Fire = Wands
    Air = Swords
    Water = Cups

    Akari is Fire although she wields a sword which is the air element. She would look pretty stupid wielding a wand. Plus the Magician girl has a wand.
    Green haired girl is Earth pretty cut and dry there. From what we’ve seen she has a lot of control of plants.
    Purple haired girl is Air or Water. The bow would belong to the air element but Akari already wields the air element. Imagine her running around yelling, “I GOT A CUP.”
    Blonde is coin suite but also the earth element. Why she wields an ax? /shrug

  13. Come on, why’s everyone gotta pull the Madoka card? (Yay puns.) If anything, this show reminds me a lot of UtaKata.

    Not sure if I want to recommend it, since it did have wonky pacing near the end. But it’s got a centralized theme and hugs it to the bitter end, instead of abandoning early for an easy out. UtaKata also does the “looks nice, transition to grim later” thing.

    Then again, that’s probably why it has wonky pacing, now that I think about it.

  14. Great, there’s at least one sane person who doesn’t consider this a “grimdark Madoka ripoff” (even though it’s been in the works even before Madoka was announced) and appreciates the show for its own merits. For that reason alone, I’d be very happy to read more every week from now on.

  15. I liked that RPG style Encounter.

    I’ll add this to my watch list, if not just to have more stuff to watch throughout the week. Is the audience sure that Fuyuna’s existance was erased? They visited Hinata’s grave again for the anniversary so I assumed they did a timeskip and I don’t think a “week” or less than a year counts as an “anniversary”.

  16. does someone know something about the background OST that plays in the opening sequence before the actual intro starts? I dont mean the name of the intro song but the name of the OST that plays from 00:00 up to ca 01:10~01:15(just before the actual intro music starts)??

  17. I’m a student of Tarot as well but let’s not read too much into this anime. Loads of creative license has to be evoked in order to make this show entertaining.

    I’m interested in seeing how they play the Tarot theme here, and hopefully a different treatment compared to Cardcaptor.


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