「またあえたねあなたと」 (Mata Aeta ne Anata to)
“We Meet Again”
Island tried out all kinds of things, and turned out to be a mixed bag. Not everything was good, not everything was bad, but I’ll probably be coming back for more after all is said and done. Here are some of my impressions and personal opinions regarding how I felt about Island’s first episode.
The Dude Who Leapt Through Time:
Setsuna Sanzenkai (Suzuki Tatsuhisa) is quite the likeable derp, and his introduction to the story is odd, yet simultaneously compelling. He is an individual who has allegedly travelled through time to kill someone, in order to avert a disastrous future, a classical storyline which can result in a masterpiece if correctly carried out. Additionally, his dreams within the episode tell him ‘Setsuna must die‘, and this is actually reaffirmed through the message he found in the history book while browsing through the library. So what exactly is going on here – does our main character have to die, or has he mistaken himself to be Setsuna? If I were him, I’d feel reluctant to go through with a task that would result in my own death, even if it was for a greater good. That said, I don’t think we have the full picture, and have something of an idea as to what might be going on.
So, imagine if Okabe lost most of his memories when Reading Steiner activated, and was only left with the crucial details of why he travelled back in time. For me, such an event would unequivocally raise the stakes in Steins;Gate. And equally, I feel that this is where we find ourselves in Island. Only the story begins right after the time travel takes place, without the context as to why it happened. For now, I’ll assume there’s much more than meets the eye, and will withhold judgement until things become clearer. As such this feels pretty unique as far as story-telling goes, and I find this different approach to be quite refreshing, though whether it amounts to anything will be another question.
However, while there’s an interesting premise to be had, Island has struggled to establish anything from Setsuna’s perspective. It feels like a lot of his character construction got left out, as he seemingly goofs around without a care in the world, making it difficult to take him seriously. Hopefully, they will start including more personable moments, that help us relate with his bizarre situation.
The Female Ensemble:
The female character designs are all pretty great, so what about their personalities? While Karen (Asumi Kana) seems like the typical tsundere, which I’d describe as rather generic, we have some really interesting female characters in Rinne (Tamura Yukari) and Sara (Yamamura Hibiku). Those two really brought differing dynamics to the episode, particularly Sara with her failed assassination attempts. Though I quite like Rinne’s personality, I was slightly jarred by the way in which the screen lit up in a purple tinge whenever she started singing. Do her songs have magical abilities or is this simply for atmospheric effect? And that goes back to a primary issue I had with the execution overall. While I understand that the lack of explanation is meant to drive the mysterious narrative, I feel like they left too many holes behind. I was left left pondering over fundamental questions in terms of how the in-universe mechanics are meant to work, as opposed to feeling engaged with the actual mysteries at hand revolving around Urashima itself. Also, there might be a problem with welding a cohesive storyline, since plot threads seem mostly disjointed.
Regardless, I am extremely curious to see how Setsuna’s relationship with the three girls will develop. He seemed to receive randomly fragmented flashes, pertaining to past memories or visions of the future, hinting that these girls are important figures that could prove central to changing the future. What are these girls supposed to mean to Setsuna? I guess we’ll probably find out and plot elements will continue unravelling, provided we keep on watching.
Amidst the shimmering sunlight, Island presents a tantalising premise (probably involving time travel) that is bound to generate widespread interest. However, is the incorporation of time travel actually substantive or a false mirage – a red herring so to speak? I cannot answer conclusively on that matter, because there’s been a lot of smoke but no definitive fire or lack thereof. And that is something Island has frequently done so far – dropping little hints all over the place as to what future events may entail. Though many would allude to the bog standard cliches that are commonplace in the modern anime industry, there are a couple of them that strike me as extremely odd, potentially promising much more depth than can be gleaned from the surface.
For example, I looked into the etymology behind ‘Urashima’, and might have stumbled across an interesting tidbit. Namely the legendary folklore surrounding a fisherman named Urashima Taro, and his tango with timey wimey shenanigans. If you want to read up on it, and draw some connections with the direction Island may progress in, feel free to click on the link I just provided. However, ignore it if you feel like its implications might ruin your further viewing experience for Island, since this may come up later on.
Either ways, I’m finding myself increasingly curious about the mysteries that Island is establishing, even if I have some qualms with the general execution, because frankly there’s room for improvement. Yet this combo of mystery requiring refinement has actually been a feature with some of the shows I’ve enjoyed the most in recent years (Occultic;Nine and Sakurada Reset), which makes me quite optimistic going forwards. While allegations of excessive tampering with the source material sound likely, and put a damper on things, I can’t help but feel absolutely intrigued by this upcoming storm. The episode count isn’t set in stone yet, so hope still exists for a 24 episode adaptation, which should allow for a more comprehensive adaptation of the visual novel. Thanks for reading my post, and let me know what your thoughts are down below in the comment section!
ED: 「永遠のひとつ」 (Eien no Hitotsu) by 田村ゆかり (Tamura Yukari)