Nov 19, 2009
Tokyo Daigaku Monogatari is a short anime adaptation of the long running manga of the same title. Now since I haven’t read the original source material I cannot comment on its accuracy or faithfulness. However it’s obvious that a story that spanned 34 volumes cannot possibly be given justice in a two episode OVA. All of that being said, I can’t say that this program has inspired me to rush out and find any of the manga volumes.
The story starts off fairly interesting enough. The smart but shy high school student Naoki becomes smitten with the beautiful Haruka when attending a
tennis match she was playing in. He asks her out and she surprisingly agrees. The romance that immediately follows is kind of sweet even though it’s really shallow. The couple promises to share their university life together and resolve to get into the prestigious Tokyo University. Naoki as a top student seems all but guaranteed to get in, while Haruka works hard to bring up her grades and test scores.
Very quickly though the wheels start to come off. As mentioned, it’s really impossible to do the story any justice in barely an hour of film. While the first episode is pretty good, the second is confusing and baffling and a complete train wreck. The most notable change is the evolution of the main character into a complete douchebag and waste of skin. Despite Haruka's faithful devotion to him, Naoki continues to cheat on her. The way he acts, particularly over the second episode makes the eventual ending not all that satisfying.
The lead characters do little to enhance this series. Naoki and Haruka for leads are horribly developed by the story. The romance between them is sweet at times but you don’t feel anything for them because the groundwork for the relationship is never laid. Naoki starts out as a likeable and amusing character, switching between this serious thoughtful character and a raging pervert and lunatic. However he inexplicably becomes a ladies man, seemingly bedding down with every other female character that shows up. Haruka, I suppose plays the silently suffering Japanese woman who is accepting of her boyfriend’s infidelity and is unwavering in her devotion for him. She also doesn’t have any substance to her; she exists, is cute, and has huge tits and a nice ass. That really is the only thing you can say about her.
Tons of supporting characters are crammed into the story that were probably very important in the manga but to someone with no familiarity with them they are completely shallow and uninteresting. None of them are developed, explained, or even likeable and they will pop up out of nowhere and vanish just as mysteriously.
Artistically I felt it was inconsistent. Some of the art is very nicely done but the characters themselves often look crude. Naoki's various facial expressions are hilarious at times and I felt were the strongest point of the artwork. The style reminded me of GTO. The acting is decent overall and the ending theme song is very strong.
I think that really all but the most diehard fans of the manga need to bother with this. I didn’t get much out of it; perhaps I would feel differently with more familiarity with the story. Either way the plot and the characters just aren’t that good for me to even bother with and my recommendation would be to not waste your time with this title.
Reviewer’s Rating: 4
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