The Futaba Detective Agency, being run by Rentarou, who has taken over the family business, after his father's death 3 weeks ago. Along w/ Sara & Souju, his live-in identical twin assistants. He ends up running afoul of the local Yakuza.
Now, to be honest, I wasn't expecting much when I first laid my eyes on this one. Futakoi didn't impress me and even though I'd heard this was a complete remake with the only similarity being the characters I was far from convinced. However, it would only take the first episode to win me over.
My biggest problem with a lot of anime is that I have to force myself not to fast forward past a lot of scenes. Only a few animes I've seen can pride themselves with having me pay full attention to every scene, and Futakoi alternative is actually one of those! The key to this is a fast paced and unique story. When watching the first episode, I really had no idea where the story was going, but believe me, I wanted to know! Not only this, but the brilliant mix of action and comedy had me wondering where those 20 minutes had gone. The first episode was funny and filled with action provided by colorful characters. Even though I was stunned after the first episode, one question had me worried, would the remaining episodes be as enjoyable?
Don't get me wrong, the first episode's mix of action and comedy was perfect, but action and comedy only goes that far. A good show needs character and story development, and I was wondering whether Futakoi Alternative would provide me with that. However, after watching a few more episodes, this no longer had me worried. The pace was slowed down but instead a solid story replaced it. Even though Futakoi Alternative starts out as a cheerful series, it develops into something deeper, more heart gripping, however, it does all this without losing it's original feel.
Even though the story is brilliant, the characters are in no way to be underestimated. Because believe me when I say this, they are simply great. The main character Rentarou really is one of my favourite anime characters. He's tough and can be hilarious, but he has his inner demons and doubts which makes him into more than a simple harem character. You understand his problems, you know they are hard to solve. I guess you could say he feels REAL. Also, without spoiling too much, it really does feel like this anime wraps things up nicely in the end, something that a lot of good animes fails with.
Futakoi Alternative is a funny action-filled series which manages to maintain a deep, gripping story despite it's unrealistic setting. Comedy, action, drama and romance all together without getting too mixed up. This anime really has it all, I highly recommend it to anyone who wishes to see 13 episodes of pure brilliance.
"It'd be tiresome to explain it all logically, but, if I were to try and sum it up with one phrase, it's probably a story about love." -Rentarou Futaba
Futakoi Alternative...what I expected was a silly, light-weight, mindless action comedy. Let me tell you now, that is NOT a good description. Futakoi Alternative tries to be something much greater than that, and, in some ways, it succeeds. In other ways, it fails. Overall, though, I think Futakoi Alternative is a pretty darn good show.
Futakoi Alternative tells the story of one Rentarou Futaba, self-employed as a detective (more-or-less), and his twin assistants, Sara and Soujyu Shirogane. The first part of the story follows excerpts from their daily lives and adventures, which range from mundane to bizarre and usually involve another pair of twins (most likely a nod to the original source material). This part of the story is mainly action-comedy. The second part of the story is a semi-continuous storyline focusing on Rentarou's relationship with Sara and Soujyu. This part of the story plays out like a romantic drama. The third part of the story details the resolution of the dramatic tension, switching back to action-comedy mode.
The first episode of Futakoi Alternative deserves special mention. It plays out kind of like one long action sequence, ridiculously (and hilariously) over-the-top. It operates on two long-standing rules of fiction: things that are incredibly awesome and things that are incredibly funny are both acceptable (even desirable) breaks from reality. Basically, anything goes, so long as it’s cool enough or funny enough. This works fantastically well, making episode 1 an example of frenetic anime action-comedy at its peak. It’s pure chaos, and it’s pure FUN.
Episode 1, somewhat unfortunately, is an outlier. The series mellows out very quickly, generally dropping the over-the-top awesomeness (but maintaining the comedy) beginning with episode 2 in favor of a more realistic feel. This is definitely not to say that Futakoi Alternative becomes bad; rather, it gains a different sort of charm. The comedy remains gut-bustingly hilarious but does not solely drive the show. It starts to focus more and more on the characters and at times lapses into a pensive melancholy that, when paired with the spectacular presentation, comes across as genuinely artistic. This loose trend from comedy to drama continues for several episodes.
Once you hit episode 5, you may start to really notice that Futakoi Alternative is not much of a comedy anymore. It still has funny moments, but they soon start feeling out of place, and perhaps disconcerting. The show morphs into an intense, character-centric drama, complete with heavy atmosphere. Again, this is definitely not to say that Futakoi Alternative becomes bad; it just becomes good for different reasons. As a drama it is entrancing, mainly due to phenomenal presentation and excellent characters.
Then, after establishing a realistic and solidly depressing mood, Futakoi Alternative suddenly (and I mean SUDDENLY) switches back to its original state. Unfortunately, it does this by tossing its sense of realism out the window. I cannot emphasize enough how sudden this shift is. The show resumes its original attitude that anything goes, so long as it’s cool enough or funny enough. And yet, in spite of all the ridiculous action sequences this generates, the show keeps bouncing back and forth between that and the dramatic melancholy it established earlier. This whole set of mood-swings is jarring, so much so that it threatens suspension of disbelief. Luckily, if you can weather the storm of episode 11, the mood stabilizes to a reasonable degree. Whether or not you can take Futakoi Alternative seriously enough to care about anything after the Squid Nazis (I am not making this up) and their utterly absurd diabolical plot is an entirely different issue.
Overall, the story is really only strong enough to maintain interest. It is never complex or even very creative. Actually, I would go so far as to say that the plot is downright stupid in the last episodes (even ignoring all the problems with the biplane flight). However, Futakoi Alternative is genuinely funny at the beginning; it does drama really well; and it transitions impressively smoothly from comedy to drama (just not vice-versa). It is really effective at establishing strong moods, even if they do bounce around like manic-depressive ping-pong balls on crack. And, if you can manage to stop banging your head against the wall long enough to watch the final episodes, the finale of Futakoi Alternative is pretty awesome, and the final conclusion is somehow satisfying and maybe even beautiful.
STORY SCORE: 5.5/10 - AVERAGE
At first glance, the art style of Futakoi Alternative seems, in a word, generic. When it comes to the main character designs, I can’t disagree. This does not mean that the show’s design style is bad; the main cast looks quite nice; Sara and Soujyu are cute, and Rentarou is actually rather handsome. Furthermore, the supporting cast has more diverse designs, often fitting for their roles. The art and designs are consistent throughout the show, except for intentional art-shifts. With regard to the art itself, the line-work is crisp, and the color palette is wide and excellently used. The background art is good but generally nothing special. The animation, however, is surprisingly fluid.
Where Futakoi Alternative really shines is its style. Think Gainax crossed with Shaft. The action sequences are slick. The camera angles are dynamic. The comedic art-shifts and sight-gags are successful. The scenes of madcap mayhem are composed wonderfully and are full of energy. The cinematography is brilliant, and this extends to the more tranquil scenes as well. The more down-to-earth the show is, the more traditional the camera work and animation style. The more melancholic the show is, the darker the color palette. The more pensive and thoughtful the show is, the more experimental and artistic the animation direction. The use of lighting in this show to enhance or distill the mood is amazing. At times, Futakoi Alternative borders on cinematic in its scene composition, direction, and animation quality.
The unfortunate flip-side to this is that all these extraordinary touches can produce heightened expectations for the show. Indeed, at times I began to think I was watching a rare, triumphant example of anime as true art. As strong as Futakoi Alternative’s presentation is, it doesn’t take long with a “true art” mindset for it to remind you that it’s not fundamentally different from other anime series. In the end, Futakoi Alternative isn’t a high-budget anime; there is plenty of typical shortcutting and standard camera-work mixed in with the clever bits of cinematography. The animation studio just took what little it had and made the best of it. And, through their own skill, they turned it into something that is, at the very least, respectable. At the very most, it’s nearly a masterpiece.
ART SCORE: 9.0/10 - EXCELLENT
The background music of Futakoi Alternative varies a great deal in terms of both style and quality. We have groovy breakbeats, light orchestral themes, big band numbers, mellow solo pianos, whistling, acoustic guitar pieces, rock ‘n’ roll riffs, and obviously-synthesized orchestral pieces with little nuance to them. Despite that the composition and production are often below top-tier, the BGM is quite effective in both setting and supporting the mood, whatever it may be at any given moment (an impressive feat, considering how volatile the show’s mood is). Futakoi Alternative also demonstrates that silence can be just as expressive as a symphony. Sound effects are very well-used, but I don’t recall anything extraordinary other than the disk-scratches in episode 1.
The opening theme starts off as a sort of synth-pop-orchestral piece, but quickly switches to hard rock. It is very fast and energetic, which captures the spirit of Futakoi Alternative’s action-comedy aspect rather well. The accompanying animation parallels the style of the song perfectly; it starts with a cheesy scrolling view of some of the cast, which gives off an unoriginal harem anime feel, and then it bursts out into a continuous action sequence starring the female cast members and a whole lot of firepower. It’s pretty cool, but, as Futakoi Alternative shifts genres and tonality, it starts seeming more and more out of place, only serving as a reminder of what the show no longer is.
The ending theme is more remarkable for its animation than for its music. The song itself is a wistful pop ballad. It consists of an acoustic guitar, a four-piece string ensemble, some very light drumwork, and the singer. The vocals have a breathy quality to them, but it contributes to the relaxing feel of the song. Overall, it’s rather pleasant, but it’s really nothing you haven’t heard before. The accompanying animation is notable in that it uses stop-motion animation with figurines, which is certainly creative.
The ending theme changes briefly about two-thirds of the way into the show to a different arrangement of the same song with just piano and vocals. It gives off a different feel from the original. The vocalist drops some of her breathiness, grounding it a bit more in reality. The lyrics also change, as does the accompanying animation, although it is still stop-motion.
I just have to mention the music that plays during the preview segment at the very end of each episode. It’s a lilting, hauntingly hopeful piece for woodwind and music box, with intentionally degraded audio, as if it were an old record. I really, really like it. In fact, the overall style for the previews is inexplicably enjoyable. In general, I do not watch episode previews, but I watched every single one in Futakoi Alternative. For some reason, they fill me with nostalgia…
Last on the list of things to discuss about the sound is the voice acting. Considering that the mood of Futakoi Alternative swings around like a chimpanzee on a jungle gym mounted on a colossal playground swing set, and considering that the show can be very intense with any given mood, this is a difficult show to act. That said, the voice actors perform wonderfully in roles that require a large amount of versatility. It feels like a lot of passion went into the voice-work. Mizuhashi Kaori and Kadowaki Mai do fantastic jobs bringing to life both the subtle and not-so-subtle aspects of Sara and Soujyu. Seki Tomokazu does a good job modulating his voice to give Rentarou depth, occasionally even giving deliberately flat delivery of lines for optimal effect (one priceless instance is his “scream” in episode 1). Unfortunately, he occasionally comes across as more hot-blooded (excited or agitated) than is appropriate. The supporting cast is also pretty strong, with fitting voices and at least solid acting. The one thing that really bothers me about the voice acting is the annoying polyphony generated by Rara and Ruru. Their voices are already annoyingly high; adding unison to that borders on painful. Thankfully, they don’t have many lines.
SOUND SCORE: 7.5/10 – PRETTY GOOD
Futakoi Alternative manages to work some amazing magic in the realm of characterization. The main characters are very likable (and well-characterized), and the side characters, though not particularly well-characterized, range from unobtrusive to downright fun to watch.
Sara and Soujyu are certainly based on the tsundere and yamato nadeshiko archetypes, but they are never slaves to them. Sara is impulsive, aggressive, and standoffish, but she is also playful, affectionate, and sometimes even reserved; Soujyu is kind, calm, and accepting, but she is also playful, determined, and sometimes even uncontrolled. The twins somehow manage to really come alive. It helps, more than one could possibly expect, to see that they have hobbies utterly unrelated to the plot. Both their personalities are multifaceted, and they are often influenced by the people around them. The obvious example is Rentarou, who frees the inner child in each and allows them to drop the barriers that the harsh, uncaring world forced them to erect.
Rentarou is likewise affected by the twins; their dependence and love brings out the father in him (his competence and reliability), which allows him to finally respect himself; their frolicsomeness and immaturity bring out his own childishness (playfulness, happiness) which allows him to finally like himself. Without them - without those aspects of himself that the twins enable - he is but an angsty teenager forever trapped, living in his father's shadow. Sara and Soujyu complete him, and he completes them. They love him and make him capable of loving them back. However, the nature of this love is complex (and confusing to him), as he is both a father and a peer to them.
Precisely WHY the twins and Rentarou happen to interact in this mutually-self-actualizing way is unclear, but this complaint is inane. Real life is rarely clearer, and real life gives us far more than 13 episodes to figure out our relationships. All you have to do is watch, and Futakoi Alternative will let you bask in it until you simply FEEL that it's right.
Getting over the possible twincest vibes is something entirely different. I somehow managed to get through Futakoi Alternative without really thinking about it, thus avoiding the problem. I'm sure I could discuss the issue in further detail...but this is hardly the right place.
CHARACTER SCORE: 9.5/10 – FANTASTIC
Futakoi Alternative is immensely (and surprisingly) enjoyable to watch, although for different reasons at different points in the series. Notably, the first episode is one of the best single episodes in all of anime. As for the remainder of the series, it excels as an action-comedy in the early and the later episodes, and it excels as an artistic drama in the middle episodes. However, the transition from the latter to the former is unpleasantly jarring, making it a bit misleading to call the series, as a whole, enjoyable. This transition really is bad enough to endanger enjoyment of the entire series, and, as such, a lot depends on any given viewer’s ability to cope with sudden genre shifts and mood whiplash.
If you can tolerate that structural problem, Futakoi Alternative has some extraordinary qualities. The presentation of the series is downright impressive; whether the style is experimental or traditional, the cinematography ranks among the best of the best in terms of scene composition and directing. More importantly, though, the main cast is truly top-tier; rarely does a character come alive to the same extent that Rentarou, Sara, and Soujyu do. The bottom line is that they are simply a joy to watch, and the series does an outstanding job telling their stories.
ENJOYMENT SCORE: 8.0/10 – GREAT
Futakoi Alternative is a diamond in the rough. Although it appears generic on the surface, it quickly proves itself to be anything but. This does not, however, mean it is a flawless production. The story itself is most certainly not a work of brilliance, and one of the genre/mood shifts near the end is so awful that it threatens the quality of the entire series. However, these weaknesses are far outweighed by its strengths: remarkably powerful characterization and superb artistic direction. These qualities earn Futakoi Alternative a place in my heart, and I think they should earn it a place in your “Plan to Watch” lists.
the first 4 episodes or so, are a bit confusing but after that you start getting the hang of the story. i liked this anime because its got a good amount of comedy, action and romance (*it centers around romance tho*). the story doesnt progress fast rather, it follows a monotonous synopsis and unlike naruto and other anime that has some random episodes that seem to come out of nowhere this one is really focused (w the exception of the squid i dont know why it had to be a squid lol) watching the anime Futakoi before watching this one might be a good idea.
_Futakoi Alternative_ pairs two plots: a screwball action-comedy (a loser detective and his cute assistants saving the world from a Nazi-zaibatsu secret society of squid) and the sort of tragic dating-sim story Key made famous (two twins fall in love with a detective before a forced-marriage tears the trio apart); the abrupt switches between the parallel plots (crudely brought together at the end) account for its reputation of mood-swings.
I really wanted to like this show: it has claymation eyecatches and EDs! How can any anime which uses claymation be bad? And it quotes _His and Her Circumstances_, the last episodes heavily homages _End of Evangelion_ & _Castle of Cagliostro_, there are clever touches like Rentaro's hair gradually growing and looking more like his fathers, there's interesting background artwork, the cinematography is often great and felt like I was watching a film or at least a much better show, the twin characters are much better than one might expect and genuinely likable (not something VN adaptations always manage). After watching the first episode, which was a very fun action-comedy episode (think shows like _Excel Saga_), I thought that all it had to do was keep that up and FA would rank as an unjustly forgotten show.
But there are too many drawbacks. Character design is a bit formulaic. The romance plot is slow and mopey, with endless foreshadowing. Some episodes make no sense, like the one with the twin teachers (what on earth was that about). There's definite fetishization of being a twin, and undertones of twincest. It gets worse when the foreshadowing materializes, as Rentaro keeps asking himself whether having sex with both of the twins before one left would have been a solution, which is a view of sex and virginity that is... more than a little problematic. The plot twist is epicly bad; it's the forced-marriage trope except the man forcing the marriage doesn't care which *completely defeats the point and destroys any pathos* because even if the premise (a will) were granted, they could simply do a sham marriage, not 'leave the man they love and cut off ties forever'. The action plot may be worse; at first I thought it was supposed to be some sort of hyper-dramatic fantasy rendering of some minor detective incidents because there was no overlap between the two plots and the world-building seemed competent, but then I realized no, it was serious, the strange super-powered squid was actually the action plot and then the plots *merge* upon ludicrous fiat. The problem is that the realistic romance plot seriously stumbled, and then was compromised further by connecting to the action plot, which is ultimately not dynamic or funny enough to work: protagonists hopping in a biplane to Germany is not cool, it is stupid. (This is the problem with Rule of Cool: are events or characters or items cool or funny enough to excuse how stupid/unrealistic they are? If it is, you get successes like _Hellsing_ or _Kill La Kill_ or _Tengen Toppen Gurren Lagann_; if it isn't...)read more