「君とかわした約束」 (Kimi to Kawashita Yakusoku)
“The Promise I Made With You”
So I only just found out that Key’s latest ‘kinetic novel’, Harmonia, was out on Steam (and 20% off until 29th September /unpaidplug). I really want to go off to read that, but I can’t. Instead, I’m here writing about Rewrite. Y’know, the older title. It really impresses in me how late I am with this post, and for that I apologise. Yeah, like I said last week, I had some personal things to take care of, and had to delay my anime blogging. Since we’re a bit short on time, let us roll the episode impressions and the overall final impressions for the series together and keep it snippy around here.
Speaking of short on time: Rewrite in general (how’s that for cringe-worthy segues?). I think this finale is rather demonstrative of the constraints Rewrite has been working with. This is the episode, folks. After a lengthy staring contest between Gaia and Guardian, and a lot of dilly-dallying by Kotarou & Co., the plot has now come to a head. The two sides have made full-contact collision, and the city is at war. This is supposed to be the exciting part, and in most stories like this it is. After the all the slice-of-life and comedy set in Kazamatsuri, seeing it embroiled in conflict should be a poignant juxtaposition. Let me use a Harry Potter example, even though I’m not the biggest Rowling fan, since I assume every English-literate person in the world has read it. Hogwarts is home turf, right? It’s safe and familiar to our protagonists. So when it comes under attack, that’s a big deal. It’s the same thing in Rewrite; when the peaceful city suddenly becomes the set for a disaster movie, that should be represent real upheaval to for our protagonist, and perhaps we should dwell on that a bit longer. But it seems that Rewrite can’t really find enough time to. It montages its way through much of the battles—the juicy action that could really spice up the series—and has Kotarou narrate philosophically instead of actually addressing the chaos and death around him. He simply doesn’t have the time to care; he can really only afford to care about Kagari in the limited episode time, and everything else has to be sort of background noise that we have to trust is happening off-screen.
And that’s the thing: there’s really not enough time to care. Commendation to the anime for making a good attempt at condensing so much of Rewrite into 13 episodes (well, 14 if the pilot counts for double), but the sacrifices, even if smoothed over, show. So much time is already needed just to get through the plot—and there was hardly enough time for that (look, text!). There doesn’t seem to be as much left over as one may want to actually tell the story. You know, all the extra bonus stuff that makes the watch engaging and entertaining. For example, giant monsters and showdowns and Yoshino beating on raptors with a baseball bat are hardly necessary for the plot, but they do add flavour to the story. It would have really shown off the advantages of the anime medium over a visual novel. Too bad we had to turn away so hurriedly from all of that, after which they get thrown onto the pile of little details and explorations left on the cutting floor. Had 8bit been a more skilled studio, and managed to deliver a few well-choreographed and well-animated action sequences in this finale, much could have been forgiven. Instead, everything from the depth in storytelling to the aesthetics of the show are burdened by a veneer of mediocrity (though some of the background art was pretty). It’s too bad, because this anime could have been a definitive Rewrite adaptation. The Kagari route thing was a good idea; one of the big flaws of the VN was that while Kagari turned out to be a very important character, and we were expected to care a lot for her, she didn’t get enough focus. Working her into the common route helps with that, as well as giving her a story arc of her very own before she does her big dramatic thing. And make no mistake, watching the world end was pretty cool, and this finale is definitely the strongest we’ve had so far, which is a promising sign for the future. It’s just that overall the execution was a tad lacking and the timeframe too limiting, so Rewrite, while functional, never really rises to any aspirational heights.
Still, there’s a second season, and we shouldn’t make any final judgments until then, perhaps. CLANNAD comes into its own with After Story, and Little Busters! would be nothing without Refrain. Rewrite is similarly incomplete without Moon and Terra, its linear ‘True End’ chapters. It should get better and better as the story escalates, so if you’ve enjoyed Rewrite so far or at least have found it interesting, then you should look forward to season 2 coming with Winter 2017. Oh, but hasn’t everyone gotten a face-full of Instrumentality, the world has ended, and our protagonist has become a vegetable. Where can we go from here? Well, this show is called Rewrite, after all. I know I’ve said before that adaptations don’t get second chances, but here we have a curious case. Let’s try this again.