「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.