13 of 13 episodes seen
Story - 8/10
Continuing the thought, if you see a romance there are usually just a few possibilities: there are two lovers, for some reason not able to be together; there are boy and girl that need 'n' episodes to confess love to each other, proceeding with kiss, and ending of the series; there's "date me" proceeded with "have sex with me"; there's some love triangle, rectangle or any other awkward polygon, where everything is about settling, who is the 'right' partner to whom.
Now, the action takes place in high school. How many of situations presented above happened to you or someone you know during that period? If at least one, you're already a rare case. Whereas thinking of romantic love or sex is common among teenagers, usually there only are pairs, that are going out together and enjoy themselves. It's just natural. So, you ask why these don't happen in any form of novels, movies, anime? Because authors know that common stories won't sell. Something unusual is just way more appealing to everyone.
Nazo Kanojo X is an anime about a boy who falls in love with a girl. The 'love' is declared already in 1st episode and the rest of the series focus on them going together, showing every situation seemingly unimportant to the observer yet vital for them. Situations that seem completely usual, but hardly seen in any kind of media at all. Why? Because, as I already said, media tend to focus on three thing in romances: Confession, Kiss and Sex. The rest in between, which doesn't lead straight to one of these 'checkpoints' is supposed to be unimportant and either missed or treated as 'additional bonus'.
The series is episodic but not to the degree where you can skip an episode by mistake and not notice that. I would still mention a negative thing here: Because of this the ending is an open one, which is annoying for most of people ("Will there be a sequel, or it'll just stay like this?")
Going back to the story itself, it mainly focuses on drool. "What." you probably just thought if you neither saw the series nor read the description. Yes, here we are proceeding into the 'weird' part. Instead of kissing, for which the main couple is "unready yet" they are exchanging saliva. It bears a role of bond between characters, and they're able to transfer their feelings through it. Well, it's said that "You don't need words to understand a person you love." Here it's interpreted a bit literally, or to be more precise, literally in strange way.
This is where originality begins and where disgusted viewers give up on watching.
The whole drool thing as well as main female character, Urabe Mikoto, are in complete contrast to the rest of the world, what makes the whole thing even better in book. Although it may be annoying as well - Depends on the person.
Characters - 9/10
As I already said, Urabe is, well, unusual. Not to mention that her drool is linking the whole story together, which is odd enough, she has remarkable scissor skills and sleeps all time during breaks in school. Despite she rather enjoy drool exchange, she thinks that she and her boyfriend aren't ready for kiss. She doesn't like hugs either. Her eyes are hidden under long fringe, she doesn't seem to have any friends either. Have you noticed that this part (since not being ready for kiss) isn't THAT unusual. So in the end she is just some lonely girl, who happened to find a boyfriend, who she can exchange drool (yay!) with. And so she begins to be likeable and we start to understand Tsubaki, who chose her over 'standard' girls.
Speaking of Tsubaki he is 'dear-japanese-virgin-watching-this-anime-you-can-personalise-yourself-with-me' type of character. And he does this job surprisingly well. Used to standard romances, he have problems with understanding unusual (or maybe not?) way of Urabe's thinking. Well, men is trying to understand women (and vice versa) since prehistory to no avail.
As of rest of the cast: Oka, Urabe's friend (and Tsubaki's friend's girlfriend), often 'test' Urabe's ideas with her boyfriend out of curiosity. Save for her and one another girl, other characters neither know about main couple's relationship nor tend to act weird.
Art & Sound - 9/10
Moving to the art. The backgrounds are well made, everything is full of details. Animation is ok, still it's not something crucial for such genre.
However, if I were to rate the character designs, they, well, aren't really pretty. Just take a look at the picture. Is it problem? Nope, it'd rather say it's even a positive aspect. Nowadays, anime creators rely hard on characters' 'moe-level'. They (obviously?) want them to appeal to audience as well as they can, not only with their character but the look. Nazo Kanojo X doesn't show us world made pretty girls and handsome boys. Why? Because real world doesn't look like this. So it makes this anime even more realistic in it's oddity. Also, it's like throwing down the gauntlet to other creators saying "We don't need pretty girls to attract people to our show, and you?". Nevertheless, it's also another way to repel potential viewers, not accepting series with non-moe characters. This may however be appreciated by fan of style from '80s and '90s.
As of music, it's hardly noticeable during the show. Opening is very optimistic, motivating to watch the series, whereas ending is more nostalgic and calm.
Enjoyment and other aspects - 8/10
I can easily tell that the series is enjoyable as long as you don't mind seeing saliva every now and then, don't mind the fact the characters don't look like taken from K-On or IM@S and aren't too sceptic about romances overall.
If I could speak of other flaws, it would be a little bit of fanservice. However it's not provided in a form of just another ecchi comedy, but more to emphasize the sexuality appearing in every love affair, even these without any kisses.
To me, this anime is really realistic in its complete absurdity. It shows love as it is in completely unusual way. This "way" may be both good or bad. In my opinion, it's great one, but even so it'll be best for you to just watch it and decide about it yourself.
Final grade: 9 of 10 read more
1 of 1 episodes seen
Story - 9/10
As it is not written in Anime description, Korekuraide Utau ("Singing my own way") show us what could be an answer to the question I mentioned earlier. It's really original trick - we are told 6 (or even more!) alternate stories in what seems to be a single one. However, alternate "universes" merge in the end creating chaos similar to one seen in "The TV Show".
Anime shows now quite an optimistic or pessimistic vision - all the stories have a common ending. So no matter what would we do, we'll eventually end up with the same final (or our day will suck anyway, not to think too positively).
I should also mention that the video contains some nice background bonuses - there's even one whole story shown in backgrounds only. It makes more attentive viewers watch it many times to notice everything. That makes 6 min video a fun to spend a hour on it (or even more - especially if you like the music).
The final is, in my book, quite funny and unexpected as well. Just as it was meant to be.
Characters - 8/10
Despite having only these 6 minutes of screen time and no dialogues the main character can define "multi-layered personality". Why? It's simple - because each story shows him making various choices in various situations. So that we can see geek, romanticist, sanguine, melancholic, an impatient and an unlucky guy etc. The main ones (except for the very main character) also play various instruments used in the song, which is nice thing considering the fact they somehow mirror their personalities.
The other characters aren't that good however, but I don't think they have to be. They are just to act they respective roles, not make the story a play of one actor.
Art & Sound - 9/10
Well, Korekuraide Utau is in fact a music video to begin with, so it's hard to expect more or less from BGM than to exist and be played all the way long. Nevertheless, it should be mentioned, that it's almost completely unrelated to the video itself. There is only a few connections, but still not direct, and, as far as I'm concerned, not essential.
The song itself is not very amusing, but not bad either, piece by Handsome Kenya under the same title as anime, of course.
Speaking of art, we can see unusual style here, resembling pure hand drawing.
Also, as I mentioned before backgrounds are full of details and hidden secrets such as other stories characters. They are really well-drawn too. Sugimoto definitely did a great job here.
Enjoyment & Other Aspects - 8/10
Moving to next aspect I definitely enjoyed it. The humour is fairly good and there's something that holds you before screen.
Since the whole thing is really short you won't waste too much of your time if you don't like it, and if you do, you can rewatch it as many times as you wish, and it will be interesting. You may already expect me to mention backgrounds again, but these aren't only things that make you rewatch. You may, and probably will, enjoy rewatching the very combination of stories, following each of protagonist's alter egos.
However, if you are expecting something deep, with meaning or philosophy, you'd better look for it somewhere else.
This anime is only 6 minutes long, so if you haven't seen it yet, why not give it a try? I can assure you won't be dissatisfied.
Final Grade: 8.5 => 9 of 10 read more
12 of 12 episodes seen
First of all, if you:
a) automatically mark every anime similar to K-On! as moeblob crap, without even bothering about things like story or characters;
b) don't like slow-paced shows that, unlike mentioned above K-On!, mainly focus on drama than on comedy;
just give up already. You will not like Tamayura either.
Tamayura ~Hitotose~ is a sequel to OVAs (which take place in between 1st and 2nd Hitotose episodes on the timeline, however) and should be watched after them. Otherwise you'll not recognise some gags, and start without knowing most of main cast.
Story - 8/10
Tamayura is, just as the MAL description for OVAs says, some kind of "healing anime". It makes viewers be able to unwind a bit. The main plot is very simple. It resolves around a girl, Fu, who's interested in photography. It's somehow similar to Aria in many aspects (not to mention they share the same director).
However, unlike Aria, which shows an idealised vision of future, Tamayura takes place in our times. It doesn't show how the world could be beautiful, but how it actually is.
Also, in contrast to other shows focusing on everyday life of groups of friends (eg. A-Channel, Yuru Yuri, Lucky Star, Kimi to Boku or mentioned above: K-On! and Aria) Tamayura: Hitotose doesn't contain any completely filler episodes, which don't advance the story at all. Almost every single one either develop characters a bit or shows some of the backstory, which explains their current behaviours. The OVAs hadn't so well-thought story, so it's already the first thing, that shows that Hitotose is better.
Nevertheless, even through everything seem to form a coherent whole, the show is still episodic and not really ambitious in comparison to more complex stories we can see in other series.
Characters - 9/10
Characters are definitely strong point of Tamayura ~Hitotose~. Like I've already stated before, characters are somehow developed in almost every single episode. They backstories are very well-presented, too. As the characters develop, we can also see that they have more depth than it was shown in OVAs.
Every girl has a bit different personality and different interests as well. Yes, different hobbies. You won't see anything like light music clubs or gondola companies here. Photography could be the core of story here, like mahjong in Saki or drawing in Hidamari Sketch. However, not focusing on only one thing makes Tamayura somewhat more universal.
These two things also makes them seem more realistic. Probably no one wonders why Azusa Nakano started to play guitar, or why Akari Mizunashi decided to become undine in Neo Venezia, leaving her family behind on another planet. Such information usually aren't considered as important, but in fact they are essential for the most of the story to take place. And they are provided in Tamayura.
Art & Sound - 10/10
As far as I'm concerned, only average thing here is design of characters. Sceneries are really wonderful, they just make you want to take a photo of them (oh, well, you can still take a screenshot).
Taking into account, that the production hasn't very high budget and its studio is almost unknown, backgrounds in urban areas have really many details such as irregular bricks in the old pavement. So do many objects such as Fu's camera.
The animation is fine, however unlike in fantasy or shounen shows, in slice of life anime it isn't something you pay much attention to.
Music fits very well, at least if you don't find singing in BGM annoying. The opening and ending both fit in climate of the series, whereas the second one is quite meaningful, especially if you connect lyrics, story of Tamayura and photos shown in it.
Enjoyment and Other Aspects - 7/10
The sole purpose of this series is to relax viewers, allow them to chill out after rough day and forget about the shadows of everyday life. In this aspect, Tamayura is almost perfect - it has calm slow-paced story, sympathetic characters and pretty sceneries, it also has some kind of 'warm feeling'. OVAs, with duration of only 2 regular anime episodes couldn't do that better than TV series, cause there wasn't enough of them and viewer, who happened to like it, was left with deficiency, wanting for more.
It also has an ability to show how beautiful the world is. For me, who live in industrial region, chimneys of factories, power plants or ironworks doesn't beautify the surroundings. Nay, it even makes them uglier. Therefore, it was quite shocking for me, when Noire and Maon looked at a red-and-white-painted factory chimney and said that it was... beautiful. It made me come to conclusion, that maybe they really aren't that bad as I always thought. It forces to think, if it is Tamayura's reality being idealized, or it is just our view of the real world as something vile, foul.
It is also really good, that they resigned from fanservice that appeared once in OVAs. In my book, such series shouldn't have any, really.
It seems everything is fine, but... you wonder, why I gave enjoyment only seven points of ten? Well... Despite all the relaxation and manifestation of world's beauty, the humour in this series is just average. In combination with really slow-paced story the whole thing can be really boring for everyone, who is expecting comedy, action, or just isn't in mood to watch something like that. Enough boring to quickly give up on it.
Tamayura is an anime about world around us. However, it shows everything around in way more positive, yet gentle way If you are in mood to spend your fabulous time on watching something peaceful and optimistic, something without overcomplicated story, deaths, sex or shocking plot twists, I can highly recommend Tamayura to you.
Final grade: (8+9+10+7)/4 = 8.5 => 9 of 10 read more