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Rewrite – 04

「いつかあの日に帰るまで」 (Itsuka Ano Hi ni Kaeru made)
“Until We Return to Those Days”

Oh joy, single episode character episode arcs. That was certainly my favourite part of Grisaia no Kajitsu. Truly, nothing enhances dramatic impact like amputating your narrative and then cramming its mangled cadaver into less than 20 minutes of episode time. They make me get so emotional—with that emotion usually being frustration and exasperation. Yes, right in the feels. I had a premonition that I would be singing such familiar praises once again, but I went ahead and signed up to blog Rewrite anyway. I do it for you, gentle readers. Also, because I hate myself.

I should make clear that this was not really the Shizuru route. In fact, technically it hasn’t even started, as this was the common route portion of her story, revealing some of her secrets and her tragedy before the reader commits to her path. But I’m assuming that this is about all we’re going to get of it, since Rewrite the anime seems to want to make a conclusion of the entire Shizuru affair. The even played her special ED theme (the soothing Koibumi) to signify that, yeah, this is it, this is her entire story. Which, of course, it actually isn’t, but for anime purposes I don’t think Rewrite intends to go down the routes, and in any case does not have time to. Obviously, the main focus is on the ghost girl and an original route but 1) the branching structure was actually fairly critical to Rewrite‘s overarching narrative in the visual novel and 2) this was a hack job even if it’s just common route material, and does the anime no favours.

It’s strange that Rewrite is already diving into these character episodes at this point, since it doesn’t feel like it’s really established itself yet. Even anime of the most complicated plots—and Rewrite is complicated like learning calculus from an ex—take some time to signpost the general direction of its story and the roles of major characters and some overarching themes. Rewrite hasn’t really done this, instead throwing a lot of imagery and information at the viewer without regard for whether any of it sticks. It would be better if Rewrite framed itself as a mystery, and letting mystique hold its pieces together, but instead of an atmosphere of mystery it’s more an atmosphere of confusion. So we’re just left to wonder why there are monsters and superpowers in this setting, to wonder about the scope of the story when a shadowy organisation suddenly appears, and what Shizuru narrating her life story has to do with anything. Sure, Shizuru’s story is nice and sad, and by itself perhaps that will be enough. But how does it connect to the greater context of Rewrite? What is the greater context of Rewrite? As she is Shizuru is just some unfortunate, cute thing who happened to have lived in interesting times. She could easily have been in a Grimms fairy tale, with her only role being to be sad and then die depressingly.

Now, the visual novel has its own set of flaws and I don’t ask the anime adaptation to sticks closely to it at all, but in the VN, at least, things were allowed time to sink in. Shizuru’s backstory was actually late in the common route, when we’ve both processed more of the information about the supernatural and blah and can look forward to the story opening up to the big picture in the character routes. Rewrite the anime drops Shizuru’s backstory on us early and suddenly, and then cuts it off in the same way. I do hope they revisit this at some later point, or else it would just not be a satisfying experience. For one, there is no catharsis—Shizuru, presumably, is just going continue with her self-flagellation (as I do with mediocre adaptations). And there’s not even a moral to the story we can take away. Was it about the nobility of poverty? About valuing family? About accepting cash from strangers? About fire safety? No, I think it’s a fantasy moral. Remember, kids, no matter how difficult adult relationships get, there’s one lesson to remember: Don’t brainwash your parents with your latent superpowers. Thanks, Aesop.

Well, the final conclusion is what you already know and have heard from me plenty already: it’s all very rushed. But hopefully this means things will fall into place retrospectively when more of the anime plays out—which is a very awkward way to do things, but can be forgiven and forgotten if a strong climax cuts clean through all these tangled knots. The plot is coming together, I suppose, now that the school-life and supernatural halves of Rewrite are merging. It is possible that Rewrite is rushing so as to fully focus on the central Moon and Terra route, as Little Busters! sort of did with Refrain, and if they can make that good then perhaps that’s enough. Perhaps they’re even going for a different kind of narrative structure and will eventually revisit Shizuru‘s story. I wouldn’t count on it though, especially not in the short term. Rewrite seems to be turning to Lucia and whatever has been curdling her milk. I’m not sure if I want to see it, actually. Would it not be better to cut these character arcs out instead, if you don’t intend to develop them fully? I much rather see a story be omitted than butchered.

Full-length images: 06.

July 24, 2016 at 12:34 pm
17 comments »
  • July 24, 2016 at 1:29 pmNaweGR

    I appreciate your blogging this as it helped me feel better about dropping it after the second episode – knowing that if it somehow figures out what it is really trying to do I’ll still hear about it. So, your suffering is not in vain!

    • July 24, 2016 at 9:18 pmPasserby

      I soldier on for readers like you! (But it’s not that bad.)

  • July 24, 2016 at 2:47 pmboingman

    The way this episode played out, I have no interst in the rest of Shizuru’s story. The animation is just as mediocre.

  • July 24, 2016 at 7:00 pmSK

    Ugh. I get why they can’t actually delve into the routes yet, but this was bad. Without hitting that one event, there’s not an easy way to explore everything beyond that, but there’s no reason to include the common route events that only serve to set things up later if we never actually get into their routes. Shizuru’s route actually has a lot of stuff later on that revealed more of the big picture, though it’s generally one of the later routes since you have to finish Kotori’s to unlock it.
    If this is the way they’re gonna adapt butcher the routes, then they should just focus on the SoL hijinks mixed with some mystery supernatural stuff, do the new route, then Moon and Terra. I guess we’re getting Shizuru -> Lucia -> Chihaya -> Akane -> Kotori -> ghost girl -> Moon -> Terra?

    Omnibus probably is the best way to go in the big picture given what Passerby noted, but I’d much prefer pruning branches completely than this hackjob. Don’t just dip a toe in and say you’re done.

    There were a couple hints dropped that would be useful if this were actually trying to play up the mystery, but it is what it is.

    Re: Lucia, probably for next episode
    Show Spoiler ▼

    If they never end up explaining why she’s obsessed about recylcing, they should have just gone with more of the parfait scenes, those can stand on their own better.

    • July 24, 2016 at 9:16 pmdaikama

      @SK: “If this is the way they’re gonna adapt butcher the routes, then they should just focus on the SoL hijinks mixed with some mystery supernatural stuff…”

      As I mentioned in my comment below, that very well might work for VN readers, but personally, the SOL stuff is not working for me, and the characters are so just there. JMO, but I didn’t see this as “butchering” a route, but rather giving some depth/background to flesh out a character. From the review, this info is still in the common route – right?

      But yeah, there’s definitely a potential time concern/adaptation risk if they are going to flesh out a bunch of other characters on top of presenting some mystery with the “Ribbon Girl”.

      • July 24, 2016 at 11:31 pmSK

        @daikama
        In that vein, you are probably correct. They do need to flesh out these characters so that viewers, especially new ones, feel some attachment to them. I just feel like there are other scenes they could use throughout the common route to develop them, without leaving as many threads hanging. Also, as far as common route goes; yes, these events are all technically in the common route, as Passerby stated. However, the biggest branch point occurs pretty early on, with that survey Kotarou filled out for Akane (The question about “would you change yourself, or the world”). While the individual routes do not technically start until after a specific event (which hasn’t occurred yet), I consider these scenes effectively as a part of Shizuru’s route, since you see them if and only if you are locked into her route.

        I guess I didn’t word my frustration as clearly as I should have. If the goal is to get through the main story arc in only one cour, then I’d rather they spend their time building for that than cramming an episode for the common route portion of each girl and ending up with a rushed mess when all is said and done. Honestly, I was worried when I heard one cour, since that didn’t seem like enough time to flesh out characters while still getting through the plot. This is all kinda dependent on how the new sixth route involving ghost girl will work, but I don’t see a way to actually wrap things up in this season. I can only hope there’s a second season like After Story or Refrain for Moon + Terra, otherwise this could get real ugly.

        Each of the individual routes provides a piece of the bigger picture; if we never actually get into the routes, then we’re gonna end up with infodumps or deus ex machina later on. There are reasons why I would prefer this had been in omnibus format, not the least of which is that what you learn in one route wouldn’t make sense in another. I find it hard to believe that mashing the routes into one would make any sense.

        If I’m correct about what Lucia’s episode will be about, then her recycling scene earlier won’t be explored at all. Connecting that to Lucia requires going deeper into her character than what we saw for Shizuru here. I’m not sure how much anime-only viewers will get to know about her; if we never get into why she cares so much about recycling, then why show that scene at all? I get that cutting content is necessary for an adaptation, I’d just hope that they mostly only keep stuff they’ll touch on later, rather than just throwing a nod at everything and not delving deeper.

        I guess my biggest complaint is that I’d be disappointed if that’s as far as we delve into Shizuru or any of the other heroines, it just feels too shallow to actually do much with. If you, as an anime-only viewer, felt that this episode served its purpose, fair enough.

      • July 25, 2016 at 5:06 pmdaikama

        @SK: No worries. :D I do get your point. I’m just offering another perspective because I didn’t see it as cherry picking a bit of “xyz’s route”, but rather giving a bit of background/depth to a character. Unless some part just strikes me as “VN-ish”, I approach this as your usual anime story, and inserting character background is nothing new and has some meirt IMO.

        That being said, I can also see your point about whether there is sufficient time to give depth to other characters (it would be odd and seem to indicate a focal point of the anime’s story if it’s just Shizuru) and also sufficiently deal with whatever is the main plot. Don’t know. Just have to see how it goes.

  • July 24, 2016 at 8:17 pmCroos

  • July 24, 2016 at 9:09 pmdaikama

    Hmm… I have a different take on this than the review and some of the comments because as an anime-only viewer, I didn’t hate this nearly as much. That’s not the say I can’t understand the point being made. I can certainly empathize with the frustration and disappointment that comes when one feels that an anime is doing a poor job of adaptation. Been there, done that.

    Still, for me there was merit to including Shizuru’s background even if her story (“route”) is not the focal point going forward. Up until now, for me these characters were just there. Not much to them other than perhaps some trope/cliché aspects. Sometimes that might be enough for viewers, but with this show, personally I had no affinity with any of the characters. This helped. Yes, a scripted, sad “feels” background, but eh, it did give me some sympathy for her character and some substance to latch onto. So even if there’s no resolution to her story, IMO it’s something vs. nothing. Won’t lie, like Shizuru better than I did before this episode (and I don’t expect a little girl to do everything correctly. What is she, like 10 when she uses her powers on her parents? Best I can tell she’s 14-15 now, and that happened a few years ago).

    There was some story advancement as well. Not much with the Ribbon Girl (she barely made it on screen), but in terms of confirming there are indeed others with superpowers. Looks like Incho (class rep) is next in line for Ep. 05. Pretty clear tip-off that she has some sort of superpower as well (why she wears gloves). Oh, thanks again to LN reader who filled in gaps about ML & his situation in last episode,s comments. That did help.

    There was one moderately funny line and +1 point to the ML for his quick witted reply “she means in a romantic sense”, but have to say that, as usual, the rest of the comedy antics are not working for me (e.g. antiques seller). :/

    Going forward, I’m still in, but a fair point has been made regarding what the show will try to accomplish. Indeed, a lot of things to cover it’s going to do some sort of background episodes for multiple characters on top of whatever mystery there is regarding Ribbon Girl. Double length opening episode notwithstanding, one cour isn’t all that much time. Yeah, it does seem rushed at times.

    IDK. Personally, I don’t think the show has done a very good job from an anime-only perspective. Maybe given one-cour time limit, it would have been better if the adaptation had fully embraced making the anime for the franchise core audience (i.e. those who played/read the VN). I wouldn’t begrudge the adaptation for doing so (certainly reasonable IMO), but as someone not in that group, I have some doubts whether I’d stay with the show in that case. As it is, it’s still fairly borderline for me.

  • July 24, 2016 at 10:14 pmBirdGang

    That mediocre/generic as fuck OP in the second episode made me drop it hard.

    I see that I am not missing much.

  • July 25, 2016 at 6:31 amJeffers

    looks like kotarou plans to make a harem at the end because he keeps trippin those flags. hahahaha

    but seriously, this is to me, the best episode so far. that BGM played during the narration of shizuru’s story is perfect for that scene. shizuru arc to me is the most Show Spoiler ▼

    so i can really sympathize with her.

  • July 25, 2016 at 8:08 pmJohn Hein

    I’ll make a counterpoint that as a VN reader I’m actually happy with the adaptation so far, considering the studio and staff involved. The strength of Rewrite, similar to Little Busters!, is focusing on the protagonist and the true route and not the side characters. Just like in LB! where the original gang is the core of the story, the kawaii girls with side routes in Rewrite are for the most part extra fluff to satisfy the bishoujo game fans. Yes, the gyaru routes do some world building but most of the important stuff is covered in Moon and Terra anyways. If they are working within a one-cour time frame, then there is no need to provide elaborate development for characters who, frankly, Show Spoiler ▼

    So I’m totally fine if they drop some quick development for the rest of the gang in the next few episodes to wrap up the common route.

    • July 26, 2016 at 5:11 pmultrahyperyoshino

      Yeah, I’m going to have to disagree with you in regards to both Litbus and Rewrite. The greatest strength of both series are the characters, and I mean all of the characters.

      Then again, that tends to be my opinion on the vast majority of stories.

  • July 26, 2016 at 4:30 pmruicarlov

    I do feel some dejá vu with Grisaia, although that was far more guilty of cramming backstory than this show (so far). Furthermore, at the end of the extremely compressed arcs there was the great Angelic Howl arc. If this show compresses stuff now so that it can leave awesome stuff for later, then I guess I would be okay with it. If you’ve got time constraints, better end it on a strong note.

  • July 26, 2016 at 6:59 pmsealouse

    I blame Kyoto Animation. I always wonder what it would have been like if they would have continued adapting these Key works.

  • July 27, 2016 at 9:02 amiron2000

    Suzumiya Haruhi would love this world :P

    All the mysteries hidden underneath the daily school life.
    Just hope that everything will be explained in this adaptation.

  • July 28, 2016 at 10:21 amBreedo

    Air is the only Key vn that i’ve seen so far that was good at one cour. I think the other short ones could be remade like Kanon with extra episodes and it would benefit from it, Angel Beats would be the exception but even then characters were skipped over. I tend to agree with Passerby because of that. I would have liked to have seen other Angel Beats characters get more screen time but it would have ended up like this and that wouldn’t have helped much and wrecked the story overall. It doesn’t help that some of the animation is a little off either. I know nothing of Rewrite and as an anime only viewer I am confused. The only takeaway for me was mentioning Shizuru’s healing power. It would be relevant from a game perspective if you were teaming up against creatures. That’s her role. Maybe that’a the directors goal to set up the “party members” as support for whatever it is Kotaro may have to face so they don’t just start using magic out of left field. If they didn’t explain this much i’d just think Shizuru was the “Flash”. haha Catch her if she lets you sensei.