OP: 「ソラネタリウム」 (Soranetarium) by MICHI
「4時44分の儀式」 (4 Ji 44 Pun no Gishiki)
“Ritual at 4:44 “
And the race is on as Akanesasu Shoujo makes its way out of the gate for Fall 2018. The set-up starts out strong with its focus on using radio frequencies to reach out towards parallel universes with alternate versions of people you know in your own circle. With Steins;Gate 0 wrapped up, Akanesasu Shoujo aims to explore a somewhat similar idea of finding a form of yourself that underwent different experiences and futures. However, is it as satisfying or well-crafted?
For the most part, Akanesasu Shoujo‘s universe is presented in a way that opens up questions about the nature of different frequencies in the universe. With different radio frequencies lies a different reality and the world line that the Akeyuki Academy Broadcasting Club stumbles across after finding a mysterious gold fragment is a post-apocalyptic wasteland covered in yellow snow and inhabited by CGI bunny creatures that can shapeshift into sky serpents. In this universe, the one confirmed human inhabitant is an alternative version of Asuka, the leader of the Broadcasting Club. This version of Asuka, however, has a sword and mechanical parts to fly about in CGI battles against the snow serpents. It places itself more firmly in the sci-fi action territory with the desolate world that is painted in the frequency that the girls stumble upon, and could be what throws viewers off from the premise. With concepts like these, it can be hard to dive into a show like this expecting any of the twists to follow to be as promising in explaining how the universe changed this drastically in the parallel frequency or what happened in this iteration of Asuka’s life. However, this is a risk that viewers can also be willing to take to see if it ends up being a pleasant surprise.
What also makes its case on whether Akanesasu Shoujo will be your go-to science fiction mystery is how invested you are in Asuka. As the one member of the Broadcasting Club with the most attention brought to her, the personality she brings to the show can make or break your enthusiasm for it. She is a charming character with an enthusiastic disposition, a rebellious streak that leads her to broadcast pop music over the morning announcements and bribing a teacher with his favorite food, and the investment she has in finding out how the other world’s Asuka got to where she ended up. Although she has a ton of personality, a bulk of the quirkiness attached to her character lies heavily in her obsession with chikuwa, and your mileage may vary on whether food-related character traits are something you fancy.
The show also positions her friends as part of the ensemble cast, and they all work together very well. Nana is the popular girl who embraces Asuka’s craziness all the while feeding into her rebellion against authority. Mia encapsulates the cheery optimism of the group with how gung-ho she is with their findings and rituals afterschool. Yuu is the studious and no-nonsense member who right off the cuff is terrified of the implications of discovering the occult as quickly as they did with their Walkmen. To round out the group, Chloe is the most attentive of the logistical side of their findings, discovering the potential the fragment has in contacting a frequency outside of their own. The cast is defined by what makes them tick, and even though it might operate off of your standard archetypes, it shows promise on how their interaction can lead to different ways of interacting with the mysterious frequency that they end up traveling into.
Akanesasu Shoujo is a good start to the season with the intrigue that the concept holds in having the Broadcasting Club get further enveloped in the new frequency that they discovered. The risks that the show takes regarding its action sequences, the questions it poses, and character personalities might end up too bold, but the fun behind the cast and the mysteries they find should make it a unique choice if you’re looking for a sci-fi anime to scratch the itch you have in alternate dimensions, radio waves, and doppelgangers.