Kazamatsuri, a modern, well-developed city renowned for its burgeoning greenery and rich Japanese culture, is home to Kotarou Tennouji, a high schooler least privy to the place's shared values. Content to fill his pockets with frivolity, the proud and nosey boy whiles away his time pestering the self-proclaimed delinquent Haruhiko, and indulging in his amorous feelings toward the oddball Kotori.
Equipped with the superhuman ability to permanently rewrite any part of his body to multiply his strength or speed, Kotarou is naturally drawn to the supernatural. One special meeting with the lone member and president of the Occult Research Club, the "Witch" Akane Senri, leads to Kotarou reviving the Occult Club by recruiting Kotori and three other members: the clumsy transfer student Chihaya, the strict class representative Lucia, and the unassuming Shizuru. As Kotarou unveils hidden secrets of each member of the Occult Club through their shared adventures, he will inevitably encounter a fate that only he might be able to rewrite.
Rewrite is a Japanese visual novel developed by Key, a brand of VisualArt's. It was released on June 24, 2011 for Windows PCs and is rated for all ages. Rewrite is Key's ninth game, along with other titles such as Kanon, Air, Little Busters!, and Clannad.
The game ranked as the best-selling PC game sold in Japan for the time of its release, and charted in the national top 50 twice more afterwards. There have been four manga adaptations based on Rewrite published by ASCII Media Works and Ichijinsha. Comic anthologies, light novels and an art book were also published, as were several music albums.
#1: "Sasayaka na Hajimari (ささやかなはじまり)" by Runa Mizutani (eps 2-3, 6-7) #2: "Koibumi (恋文)" by Nagi Yanagi (ep 4) #3: "Sunbright (サンブライト)" by Ayaka Kitazawa (ep 5) #4: "Word of Dawn" by Aoi Tada (eps 8-9, 11-12) #5: "Itsuwaranai Kimi e (偽らない君へ)" by Nagi Yanagi (ep 10) #6: "Yami no Kanata e (闇の彼方へ)" by Runa Mizutani (ep 13)
You know what could have saved this series? A “Rewrite”.
… Yeah, I know, lame joke. Plus it's not like it's true either. After all, this project was without a doubt doomed from the very beginning.
So, here's the deal: Adaptations are made with different goals in mind. Sometimes, when light shines down from the heavens, the creators of the original work get together with a crew of talented animators and a passionate production team (writer, director, sound director etc.) that have a vision in mind of what the project should be like in order for us to end up with the best animated version that is
humanly possible. We call that the best case scenario, it's what gave us shining examples such as Monster, Fullmetal Alchemist, Mushishi, Ping Pong The Animation or, to name a Key adaptation, Clannad (no, not the movie). All shows that managed to match or even exceed the quality of their source material. Yet other (or, to put it more accurately, most) times adaptations are just a tool to make a quick buck off an already popular name for a studio and get some cheap advertisement for the original creator. Which is what happened with the Anime we're talking about today, „Rewrite“ or, as I like to call it, „why I sometimes hate capitalism“.
Disclaimer: I can not guarantee that this will be a completely unbiased review. I do consider myself a fan of the original visual novel and while I will mainly be looking at this show in regards to how it manages to stand on its own, I will also be addressing the issue of it completely failing from an adaptation stand point, as you could probably tell from the intro. I am in no way a source material purist. Changes need to be made in order to properly adapt a story from one medium to another. You could add dancing reindeer, as long as it is for the benefit of the anime I wouldn't care one bit. This is not about the adaptation being different from the visual novel, which is by no means perfect, just so we are perfectly clear here. I will also be going easy on spoilers for anything beyond episode one, so don't be afraid to read this, even if you haven't seen the show yet, which I strongly advise against anyway. If you are however afraid of long walls of text (no idea what kind of illness that would qualify as), then I recommend that you skip to the bottom of the page for a summary of my thoughts. Because it's going to be a long one.
So, what is Rewrite?
Rewrite is a blatantly cheap and lazy cash-in on the popularity of its brand name. Wait, no, that isn't right.
Rewrite is an insult to both fans of the visual novel and people who enjoy decently structured stories alike. Still not quite what I wanted to say.
Rewrite is produced by 8-bit, a studio full of talentless hacks who'd be better off cleaning toilets for a living. Ah, just screw it.
Rewrite is a piece of shit. There you go.
I'm not going to bother with a summary since you can find that sort of thing anywhere else. What I should mention though is that the anime is based on the visual novel of the same name, released in 2011 and dubbed the „flagship title“ for Key, the video game studio that perfected the art of tempting you with cute and obviously mentally retarded children before killing them off in cold blood. Interesting to note is that Mr. Key, Jun Maeda, the man with which I assume has to be the largest anus in Japan, considering all the things he managed to pull from there, was not involved with the writing of the story whatsoever. Instead the head writer of the project was one Romeo Tanaka, who you may or may not remember as the creative mind behind works such as „Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita“ or „Cross*Channel“. Rewrite is, putting it simply, a massive project, consisting of one of the largest common routes I have ever played, five individual girl specific routes and two more that go into depth about our main character, all adding up to over 50 hours of play/read time. Adapting such a huge project is no small task. You'd have to pick the perfect studio, one with a lot of credentials. Maybe White Fox, who worked on the visual novel and have proven to be successful at adapting such projects in the past? How about Kyoto Animation, the former go-to studio for Key adaptations? P.A. Works? Madhouse?
No, none of the above, the obvious choice is of course 8-bit, creators of such highly acclaimed (wait, I don't think that's the right word) Visual Novel adaptations as Grisaia no Kajitsu.
Yes, 8-bit, a studio which, like few others, stands for astonishingly disappointing mediocrity. The only reason why I can see somebody thinking that 8-bit may be a good choice is if they wanted to highlight the harem aspect of Rewrite. I have no idea why anybody would want to do that in this particular case, but if we were to look at things the adaptation succeeded at doing, making it more heavy on the fanservice and, for the lack of a better word, harem-y is certainly one of them. Little surprising since sub par harem shows are more or less 8-bit's calling card. I personally struggle to think of an 8-bit series that was significantly better than “meh”. Still, I'm by no means one of their biggest critics. While the studio gets a lot of criticism for their poor adaptation of the Grisaia series, I never really joined the hate wagon on it, taking more of an indifferent stance along the lines of „Hey, at least they sort of tried?“ (I should probably mention that I'm not a big Grisaia fan). Which is unfortunately not something you can say about Rewrite's production. This is about as effortless as you can get without being accused of ripping off Toei Animation (which, I am pretty sure, is what Studio Deen have been trying to do for the last 15 years or so). Okay, that might be a little harsh, but the point is that this is a lazy and unpolished product that looks like something that could have easily been produced several years ago.
The art lacks detail and looks cheap as a result, especially by 2016 standards. There is absolutely nothing appealing about it. The CG elements, which are nowhere near the level they should be considering the year we are in (especially the “monsters” are complete eye-sores), are integrated horribly and serve more to irritate than anything else. The 3D and 2D models don't mesh at all and both stick out like a sore thumb when looked at in front of the rather pretty backgrounds. Furthermore, the 2D models aren't consistent, especially when shown in wide shots, the facial expressions look bad and sometimes objects just disappear between cuts. The series also never managed to stabilize in regards to animation, like some shows do, but instead got worse with time. It seems pretty clear that the people involved either didn't really give a fuck or couldn't afford to do so.
The direction is just plain bad. Rewrite lacks any sense of scale, though it's still far from the level that Little Busters! was on. Seriously, what's with all the space? Why are there so many wide shots? If there was any intention behind this other than making it easier for animators, then I obviously didn't get it, since the purpose is clearly not to create a feeling of isolation. It seems like the director knew that wide shots are something that competent directors use, but not why. And it's not like the environments are pretty to look at either. Most of them are rather empty and if they're not then they usually „compensate“ for that by having ugly CG character models walking around the backgrounds. Add to that the often obnoxious editing where scenes of very different tone are just hard cut into one another and you get a cluster fuck of impressive proportions. The show never manages to create any kind of flow. Events just sort of happen one after another with little context or set up, which serves to make the story seem even more confusing than it had been without the abrupt shifts.
I mean it should go without saying that the show is rushed. Again: So many hours of story and only 13 episodes, how could it not be? Still it seems to me like they had a lot more scenes planed than they ended up using. Of course this is little more than conjecture, but the very hard turns the show takes make me think that it's true nonetheless. Even if you have to go through source material at a fast pace, you can still achieve smooth story progression, which is far from being the case here. If I had to point out one thing Rewrite desperately needs, then I would go with transitional scenes. What I mean by that is that we often just go from one story point to the next, even if the feel and tone of the scenes is a very different one. This, by the way, stands in stark contrast to some of the rather lengthy slice of life sections the show has. Now, it would have been difficult to handle this properly, no doubt, but that doesn't really count as an excuse. Especially if you consider the number of side plots that were introduced without getting any pay-off in the end (I'll get to this later) and thus could have easily been cut. The way the show turned out it's not only rather hard to follow and confusing in regards to things like character motivations (hell, I don't even know why some people act the way they do and I have read through the source material more than once), but it seems pretty clear that the director isn't a big fan of “show – don't tell”. So while story and character definitely got streamlined quite a bit, they would have profited from being simplified even more since what we got was just more and more pieces of exposition being thrown at the viewer that not only made for a rather unpleasant watching experience, but also left the picture incomplete in a lot of places, resulting in plenty of plot holes.
Oh, and the music, the god damn music … Okay, I don't think that Rewrite has the most amazing score to begin with. While there are some really good pieces like „Scene shifts there“ or the different versions of „Philosophy“, plus even a few that manage to perfectly convey the tone of the action scenes („Toxoplasma“/„Scene of carnage“), which I personally wasn't expecting from a Key score, it still doesn't come close to the level of quality that Little Busters! or Clannad had. While I may hate Jun Maeda's style of writing with a fiery passion, there is little point in denying that he is a genius composer. But that's not to say that Rewrite's music is bad, after all it still has Shinji Orito on board. The sound track works just fine in the context of the visual novel. It's the way it was integrated into the anime adaptation which is the obvious problem here. Visual novels have a ton of different tracks as they are long reads with a lot of different scenes that are almost all considerable in length and have different tones to convey. Thus having a small number of pieces to choose from would make it seem repetitive rather quickly. Giving all the scenes different tracks to accompany them is fine here, because they are all considerable in length, the transitions are mostly smooth with silence in between and the songs get to play out before a new one starts up. This is not the case when it comes to anime, especially when the show in question is as fast-paced as this one. Yet they still decided to keep basically every piece of music with the scenes it originally belonged to. This is one of the times where a faithful adaptation isn't necessarily a good one. Because the scenes are mostly brief we constantly have one piece of music starting up only to be interrupted by a hard cut into another one that is completely unrelated to the former. The best way I can possibly describe it is that it feels like holding CTRL to skip ahead in a visual novel, in which case you always get to hear the first few notes of every piece before moving on to the next scene and thus the next track on the list. It's absolutely atrocious to have to listen to someone doing such an amateurish job with a more than decent OST, I actually find it kind of insulting. Then again, it does get better during later episodes and I am obligated to mention that some of the covers were actually pretty damn good (that “Rewrite” piano version during episode eleven in particular), so there's at least that.
Still, there are also quite a few positive points to be found in the sound department. At least the voice acting is pretty good, which is to be expected considering the involvement of prolific voice actresses like Chiwa Saito, Eri Kitamura and Kana Hanazawa. There are also some relative new comers who do a good job with their respective roles, resulting in the voice cast being all in all one of the shows stronger points. The (first) OP is good as well, but it lacks the impact the same song had in the visual novel. This is due to the song being used as sort of a leitmotiv in the original material (with the core conflict being all about differing philosophies) and getting multiple reprises through different versions over the course of the story. These just aren't as present in the adaptation, so the OP lacks meaning. Also, considering that they decided to use two different OPs, how dare they not include the visual novel's badass second opening and instead use one that leaves no impression whatsoever? Oh yeah, there were also two regular ending themes. They were, in my opinion, completely forgettable. To make up for that they decided to include some of the visual novel's ending songs, which they play at the end of each “character arc” (imagine massive quotation marks around that term). A fine idea in concept, but it backfires seeing how they just lack the build up to have any meaning here. I do appreciate that they gave a good song like “Koibumi” its spotlight, but do they really expect me to get emotional when the show has done nothing to earn such feelings? This is comparable to being served a steak at McDonald's Drive-Thru, it just feels like a waste.
I think I have now spent enough time explaining why the show's production is absolutely terrible. I'd really like to end this review here, but production quality is unfortunately not Rewrite's only failure. Both story layout and characterization are equally, if not more, disappointing.
When adapting a visual novel with multiple routes you have a couple of different options in regards to how you're going to put the non-linear source material into a linear format. They include: Just adapting the main route, putting the different routes into individual arcs that end with the respective girl being friendzoned, going Omnibus (needs more use) or just hitting the key points of the material in the context of an anime original story, which means blending the routes completely and usually results in disaster. Guess which one Rewrite falls under.
Now, blending routes is one of the hardest issues visual novel adaptations have to face. You aren't really able to commit to one specific route, seeing how that will eliminate too many of the elements that you want to show off, but on the other hand just throwing stuff into the metaphorical cooking pot and putting it on the stove will hardly result in something edible. The problem is that it completely destroys the appeal the visual novel originally had to me, that which made it special. Rewrite deals with a lot of very heavy topics that need proper explanation as well as a nuanced discussion about the different sides and aspects, something the visual novel spent a great deal of time on. It's not something you can just rush through and still get the point. I find it hard to believe that the original author was involved with the adaptation, considering that it completely misses the point of the work it was based on. In order to completely understand Rewrite's conflict it is ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL, I cannot stress this enough, that you get to see both sides of the argument. Its one of the main points of the visual novel, yet nowhere to be found in the adaptation. Instead we get the protagonist poking his head into every one of the factions without really getting involved with any, which obviously doesn't suffice since you're getting little more than a short summary of the position, but also opens up a plethora of plot holes. Man, those secret organizations are sure lenient, just telling a random stranger, who has done nothing to earn their trust and isn't committed to them at all, all about their super secret plans, aren't they? Kind of makes you wonder what's the point of being a secret organization then.
Sure, it would have been hard to handle a change in perspective effectively, but that is what the Omnibus format, a perfect match for this type of visual novel, is for. Instead they decided to just blend things together and thanks to the nature of the material, which has most of the important stuff happening after the relationships change and important world-shaking events occur, we end up with a bunch of rushed half stories that do nothing for the characters the focus is supposed to be on and don't really leave an impression. Amazing!
But the worst thing is that this adaptation makes Rewrite come off as completely generic middle of the road trash that you, me and everyone else has seen plenty of times. Not only is this a gross misrepresentation of the visual novel, but it isn't even particularly good when looked at in the context of these types of show, on the contrary, it doesn't even meet the average. Hell, I have read and liked the visual novel, yet watching this makes me question my opinion on it. Was I on drugs while playing through the visual novel and just remember it being good despite that not being the case or is the adaptation really that bad?
There is a reason why the common route of the visual novel is as long as it is. It strives to create a contrast. A lot of the later routes is about yearning for the days where life was pleasant and easy. But that doesn't mean anything if we do not first get to experience said life. It's similar to something like Higurashi in that regard, which I have often heard being described as boring thanks to just how much slice of life build up there is. I, on the other hand, never had a problem with this seeing how it makes the drama hit far closer to home. The anime never manages to create the feeling that something valuable has been lost here. Why should I care about the Occult Club disbanding when they have done approximately five things together that got about twenty minutes of screen time at the most? I simply do not give a crap.
Instead the series decides to waste time on pointless shit. Hell, even after watching the entire anime you still won't know what that random excursion in the first episode was about unless you've read the visual novel. As a fan of the series I do appreciate seeing some cool minor characters animated, but considering the tight schedule the show was on and the lack of an impact said characters end up having on the plot, you can't deny that the show would have been better if they had just been excluded. For example: Why are Gil and Pani in this? Their contribution to the plot is minimal at best and we already had more than enough comic relief without them. Well, at least they served some kind of obvious purpose, I'm still trying to figure out what Imamiya was there for. Sure, some of those characters may gain importance in the recently announced sequel, but I can't help having doubts about that after watching the first season. Speaking of the characters: Since we have already talked at length about why Rewrite fails at telling its story, lets move on to its next big flaw: Characterization.
As I mention in my Fate/stay night review (shameless plug), adapting a visual novel is hard, especially when it comes to the characterization of the main character, which is mostly done through the use of extensive inner monologue, something you can not do in the context of a visual medium like anime. You therefore run the risk of having your main character look like a dumb, obnoxious and unlikeable twat, see Fate/stay night for reference. So then we get to Rewrite's main character, Kotarou, a dumb, obnoxious and unlikeable twat. God damn, this adaptation makes him seem like a jackass. Now, don't get me wrong, it's not like the visual novel didn't portray him as a dick from time to time, but you had the inner monologue as a balance. It's not about what a character does, but how said actions are framed. In the original material you see him do a lot of stupid and weird stuff for the sake of comedy, but you can always tell that he means well and that he has some obvious issues he's trying to cover up. This doesn't apply to the anime version of the character, who just comes off as a perverted and otherwise pretty bland asshole, who does some rather uncharacteristic stuff from time to time, which only serves to make him seem inconsistent. His choices just make no sense in the context of the story since we have no inner monologue to connect the dots. Now, I'm by no means an advocate of having a story tell you the information normally conveyed through inner monologue, I'd rather have them find a creative way of delivering it, like through visual metaphors, but it's still better than simply cutting (close to) all of it and thus leaving a character without any substantial development. This way our main characters ends up staying rather bland until the very end of the story, which only adds to the pile of problems. Now, as opposed to other Visual Novels, Rewrite is most definitely Kotarou's story. He's an intentional blank slate throughout most of the game's first half, really growing into his own during the second one. It's the kind of character development that takes ages to do and is near impossible to achieve with only 13 TV episodes to work with as long as you're not going to make it the focal point of the project. And Kotarou, make no mistake about it, is in no way the focal point of the anime adaptation. Despite the amount of screen time he does get, I can see him as little more than a side character in his own story. The real focus in on the more marketable characters, the girls, with one in particular finally getting her time in the spotlight.
So, let's talk about the girls: There is Kotori, the childhood friend (with a tragic past), Chihaya, the airhead (with a tragic past, which apparently wasn't important enough for the anime to focus on), Lucia, the super tsundere class president (with a tragic past), Shizuru, the loli (with a tragic past), and Akane, the club president (with a tragic past). That's pretty much it. Yes, I do realize that there is more to these girls than that, but this is basically what the anime version told us about them without getting into spoiler territory, so there really is no point in elaborating on it any further. What little development there is, is so rushed that even McDonald's wouldn't dare sell it. They don't have much of a character here, which brings down their appeal to little besides their character design. And even that's not anything to brag about either, considering how bad of a job 8-bit did with the art. The designs are significantly less appealing than they were in the visual novel, which is bad, seeing how they're supposed to be one of the biggest initial selling points.
As you can see, there is little point talking about the main female cast any further. Well, I suppose there is one character that I should be talking about a little: The mysterious ribbon girl or, as I will refer to her, Kagari (seems like you finally got that spin-off you wanted, good for you). Now, as far as I know, this adaptation was specially designed to put the spotlight on her and it shows. She does (sort of) have her own route in the visual novel as she is one of the main focal points of both the Terra and Moon route, but it would have been impossible to adapt these without knowledge of the other routes (expect the second season to be an even bigger disaster that is impossible to follow), so they decided to come up with a mix of Moon/Terra, Harvest festa! and a bunch of other things for the second half of the show, which results in us ending up with six episodes that feel even more rushed than the rest of the show, make little sense, create a ton of plot holes and never manage to capture the feeling that the individual routes from the visual novel had (even the lesser ones, looking at you Chihaya and Shizuru). The second half of the show isn't even bad per se, but that somehow makes the final product even worse. At least the first few episodes were somewhat interesting, in the same way that watching two trains collide is interesting, but the later story arc is just so mediocre that it has little to no draw to it whatsoever, making it hard for me to believe that this was supposedly written by Romeo Tanaka. Not to mention that the tone of the second half of the show is far more inconsistent than it was in any of the visual novel's routes. Yes, some comic relief is appreciated, but you're supposed to create a contrast here, so make the main tone more serious. This had way too much dumb comedy, it didn't balance out at all. Kagari herself was quite possibly the biggest victim of this.
(Oh, and can we just mention the fact that Kagari showing up at the school in broad fucking daylight is a damn insult if you consider that there are supposed to be hundreds of people looking for her? Or is that even a thing in the adaptation? Because honestly both Gaia and Guardian seem to be pretty disinterested in regards to capturing her until the last two episodes or so. Way to make your main factions look completely incompetent and downplay your conflict. I don't believe for a second that there is a war going on here. Random rant out.)
Personality-wise Kagari is nothing like her visual novel counter part. Sure, I too am aware that she acted that way during Harvest festa!, but that one is a fanservice game for a reason. People who buy Harvest festa! want little more than to see the characters they love act all moe and maybe have a shower scene here and there. But that doesn't really fly for the main story. Not only is she a nothing character in this, but the set-up of her individual story being the most eye-rolling cliched thing ever (amnesia) certainly doesn't help. Like or hate her visual novel version, but it made sense in context, provided some good scenes and served the story just fine. This moe blob, on the other hand, has absolutely no depth to her character, being seemingly relegated to mostly doing lame and repetitive comic relief, which, again, is not a good fit for what is supposed to be the climax of your story. Where is the drama here? It's obvious that I'm supposed to care about the relationship between Kotarou and Kagari (you may as well change her name to that of any other character), but I see little reason to, they just didn't set aside enough time for the two of them apart from comedy hijinks. And I think that this is a good point to finish this section on: The show never managed to make me care about anything thanks to there being an imbalance between set-up and pay-off. Rewrite talks a great deal about the importance of friendship and bonds, but if these bonds are developed only partially, in a rushed fashion or even not at all, then they hold no worth whatsoever. This is made painfully obvious during the final two episodes, the supposed climax of the story. There is no real drama because the show got so absorbed in trying to include as many things as possible, most of which end up going nowhere anyway, that they completely forgot to properly set up said drama. And this is just sad, because it makes watching Rewrite feel like an empty experience and a waste of time.
To be fair: It isn't all bad. You'd have to be pretty talented to turn material this strong into something with no worth whatsoever and I'm afraid that the director is just too mediocre to make that happen. One of the points I really liked about the visual novel was its comedic writing, especially in comparison to other Key works, and while they generally did a poor job translating the humor, some of the jokes still got a chuckle out of me here and there. This is helped by the comedic timing being pretty decent most of the time. Furthermore, as much as I criticize the look of this show, the backgrounds are actually rather pretty to look at on their own (well, some of them are). Truth be told: The standard for this series isn't bottom of the barrel awfulness, it's mediocrity. So much so that I didn't even bother adding an adjective to the word “mediocrity”. And that's often a thousand times worse. Awfulness is interesting, mediocrity is not and while I thought that the first episode of this show was just so bad that it made me genuinely curious about where it's gonna go from here and the climax was without a doubt a complete mess, most of the rest of the series was just sort of boring, little more. I decided to write this review pretty early on and if I didn't, I definitely would not have even kept up with it, even as a fan of the source material. Which leads me to think that the anime may have failed at fulfilling its most basic task: Getting people interested in the franchise. It certainly seems so, I see no Rewrite hype movement or people swarming out to find out more about the material, do you? The MAL community certainly doesn't seem to be hyped about it, seeing how it is, at the time of this writing, only the 16th (!) most popular show of the season, which seems weird when you compare it to other Key titles like last years Charlotte or any of their prior big name adaptations. Say about Studio Deen's adaptations like Umineko or Fate/stay night (2006) what you want, but they at least got people talking. So maybe Rewrite would have actually benefited from being intriguingly terrible. Yet, as much as I tried to make it seem so throughout this review, Rewrite really isn't that bad. Yes, it's like a “Best Of” album of adaptation failures, but this is about judging the anime series on its own. Decently written dialogue, an OST that is strong on its own and some pretty shots here and there are definitely enough to keep it somewhere around the lower end of “meh”. Which, again, may not be something to be happy about in this case. What you should be happy about however is the fact that due to the creation of a new route for the anime adaptation, watching said terrible adaptation will not completely spoil the experience of reading the visual novel for you if you decide to do so at some point down the road. Sure, you know some bits here and there, but they hardly ever went into the real meat of each route, so there is still enough stuff left uncovered to make it worth a read. So, that's a positive, I guess.
And at the end of the day you've got to give 8-bit credit for one thing: If they intended to recreate the feeling of skipping through the visual novel, then great fucking job, because they absolutely nailed that.
Okay, time to be honest: I don't actually hate Rewrite nearly as much as I pretended to over the course of this review. Truth is that I don't have all that many negative feelings towards it whatsoever. And that isn't because I secretly think that it's good or maybe entertaining in the same way that watching an elephant try to break a wall with its head is entertaining, no, it sucks from pretty much every angle imaginable, but more that I had absolutely no expectations going in. I knew from the moment I finished the visual novel that doing a good or even faithful adaptation for Rewrite would amount to being a Herculean task, which made it highly unlikely that it would ever be done. After all, if you really wanted to convey all the visual novel had to offer you'd need somewhere between 50 or even 75 episodes if you really wanted to be thorough. And there's no way that would ever happen. Still, I kept on hoping. After all there is always KyoAni, who clearly have some absolutely insane people in charge, so you never know. But that tiny bit of hope disappeared when it was announced that 8-bit would be the studio doing the adaptation. I'm really not mad, just a little disappointed. At the end of the day all that I'm left with is the sentence „at least we got something“, which, to be fair, I really didn't think we would any time soon. It's the same with this season's painful iteration of Berserk. But isn't that a shitty attitude to have towards something you love? To actively lower your expectation to the absolute minimum because anime is mostly used as a tool to promote the far more profitable source material? I get not expecting too much out of the show, because there will never be that perfect adaptation which we all crave, that is a fact, but this is going too much into the opposite direction and makes me more than a little sad just thinking about it. I also get why Rewrite turned out the way it did. In the end, many people profited from it. 8-bit probably made decent money, Key got some cheap advertisement and the average Japanese teenager found another way to put off doing his homework for another 30 minutes during the 13 weeks the show was airing. So, why even be mad about it? True, there is no reason to be mad. But at least let me be disappointed.
At this point I should probably mention that a season two for Rewrite has officially been confirmed, adapting what you could call the second half of the visual novel, the “answer arc” so to say. That being so, I guess that this season could potentially gain in value if its sequel manages to make up for all its failures. But can you honestly have faith in that? I for one can not. Not as long as the same people are in charge of the project. So Rewrite may return in the coming Winter season, but I don't think that I will.
Summing up: Should you watch Rewrite? No. The series has very few redeeming features. The best it has to offer is boring mediocrity. All you'll end up doing is to spoil yourself on important aspects of the story in case you ever feel like reading the far superior source material. Rewrite is, without a doubt, the worst out of the Key adaptations, which is saying something when you think about how poorly put together Little Busters! was and that Toei Animation actually used to be the gaming company's go-to studio. New viewers will be thoroughly confused by the messy job the production staff did trying to put all the different elements of the visual novel together and fans will most likely be enraged by the lack of care given to the project. Just save yourself the time.
If I could only “Rewrite” my memory and forget all about this mess. Ha. Ha. Ha. *sigh*
Since Rewrite is a visual novel by Key, a lot of people will compare it to the likes of Clannad, Angel Beats, Air Cannons, etc. But, I propose some new comparisons.
1. Shitcom, because both are pretty shit comedies.
2. The sensation of hitting your head against a brick wall for six hours.
If you enjoy either of these, then Rewrite might be the perfect show for you. Otherwise, I consider it one of the worst anime of 2016: a fucky jambalaya of overdesigned characters, dumb memes, and a plot that was probably written by someone putting a bunch of sticky notes on a dartboard and writing in
whatever they threw at.
Before I go on, let me just say that I don’t give a flying fuck about how good the visual novel is or isn’t. I don’t care what purpose this anime serves to it, whether to be some sort of adaptation, if you can even call it that, or just a teaser meant to advertise it, whatever. I’m just reviewing the anime the same way I review any other anime: like a little dickbag who isn’t good at anything els--I mean, independent of any other source material. I did not at all write a Shokugeki review comparing it to the manga to contradict myself and then delete it out of embarrassment.
So if you’re not very familiar with Key’s works, here’s how they generally go: The MC is an everyday normal guy with just enough wit to keep him from being 100% beta, but not enough substance to put him above the level of a general self-insert. He goes to a weird school filled with even weirder people (mostly overly-designed cutesy girls) with some maddeningly strange characteristics. Various shenanigans occur for a few episodes until the plot finally comes in, or maybe there’s one to begin with but doesn’t have much of a focus yet.
If you can’t tell, I’m not a fan of these Key guys who think it’s funny to put their logo on every coffee can in every episode of every show. The way they tell their stories is very jarring because of their spontaneous, bombastic sense of humor. Half the time, I can’t tell if they’re trying to make a teenage melodrama, or if they’re trying to make a dinnertime cartoon sitcom for dummies. It's an uncomfortable mixture of both, like ketchup and mac and cheese. Since they like to dick around with their storytelling, things can get rushed and/or confusing in the end.
These things are increased thousandfold in Rewrite.
There is no plot in Rewrite. None. It pretends to have one in the second half, but the “twist” being that something is actually happening comes out so half-heartedly that the writers seem disappointed in themselves that they can’t write in as many dank maymays into their show. Instead… eh. There are monsters, eh. People are fighting, eh. The world is gonna die, eh. FEECOF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Whoops, there goes Rewrite being funny again xDDDD!
Don’t believe me? Here’s part of MAL’s synopsis, albeit fanmade by MAL Rewrite (that joke is funnier than anything else in this show):
"Equipped with the superhuman ability to permanently rewrite any part of his body to multiply his strength or speed, Kotarou is naturally drawn to the supernatural."
You know when this Rewrite ability is shown for the first time? Episode fucking four. Not one. Four. And, as usual, the story just reveals it as if it’s the most normal thing in the world. No prior hints for him having this power, no explanation as to how or why he has it, nothing. And that synopsis isn’t even accurate, because it's not just about increasing strength. At one point, he “rewrites” his body to resist poison. What else can he do? Resist age? Resist death? Become invisible? Triple the size of his dick? You know, that would be a good power to have in a massive waifu war such as Rewrite. I think there was a hugely missed opportunity here.
Other people have powers too. Just because. And there are shitty CG monsters sometimes. Just because. Eh. It’s all part of the hilariously goofy fun that is the Whatever Club at Whatever High School!
The real plot towards the end turns out to be some environmental awareness campaign. People are assholes and don’t take care of the planet, so other people need to out-asshole them and activate a thing that will kill everyone so that the planet can live. I don’t know how this is supposed to tie into the main character having the ability to theoretically give himself the neck of Alolan Exeggutor. Maybe there’s a reason somewhere that I missed, but it’s a little hard to follow along when the show tries to adapt every possible waifu route in the game while playing catch-up with the plot because that took forever to come in and now it needs to do 3,000 things at once if it wants to wrap up in time. Except the plot took so long to come in that I lost interest before it even happened. Maybe this show should’ve had a rewrite, eh? Ehhhhhhhhhhhhh???
And at the end of the day, what did this amount to? A dead end. Literally. The ending is not satisfying, as it’s apparently just one route of many, leading me to wonder what the point of all of this even was. Was it to introduce the characters? Anything could’ve done that within a couple episodes; to say an entire thirteen-episode season can be dedicated to that would be an outright lie. Is it to introduce the setting? Kazamatsuri has basically no focus at all. I know that it’s a big place and kinda environmental-friendly. My fucking bedroom could've been a more interesting setting, because at least I have Big Order posters. Is it to explain the conflict of the show? Well, it only took them until at least six episodes for them to reveal that there was any conflict in the first place, so… no. It’s all a bunch of mush, and I’m not quoting whatever that pink sheep dog thing was. It tries to please both visual novel readers and newcomers by adapting the visual novel with an anime-original route that tells a complete story while also introducing a story. I don't even know what the fuck that means, but it failed at all of it.
Key should just make their own Nichijou. A show where nothing happens, everything is stupid, and it’s funny as hell. Make something like that to satisfy their own sense of humor, so that maybe they can tell a compelling story and find a way for someone to get attached to its characters beyond humorous interactions. Ha ha, Kagari likes coffee and calls it "feecof"!! What a deep character!!!
As everyone will write in every review for every comedy anime in the world: comedy is subjective. Not everyone is going to love it or get it, so making the characters more like a bunch of running jokes in the midst of a deep melodrama might not be the best idea. When they fed me a character's sob story, my reaction wasn't "Oh no, how sad! I'm emotionally invested now!", it was "Wait, I was supposed to take this seriously?" The usual nonsense that follows a sad moment leads me to believe that I had the right idea.
I can admit that the show was a little funny at times. It was. There was about… one gag per episode that got a laugh out of me. For about four episodes. Because within those first few episodes, I was still somewhat invested in the show. I thought everything would make sense in the end, that something was gonna happen at any moment that would tie everything together and make me believe the show was actually a work of genius. But then it never happened, and even still I was trapped, because I was at a point where I was in too far to pull out and cut my losses. I needed to see it to the end, so I could at least splash more salt than Arataka Reigen. Perhaps that was the point, just to lure everyone in and keep them thinking that, someday, it’ll all come together and make sense, only for them to post a note at the end saying “lol fuk u idiot”. If so, congrats Rewrite, Key, Studio 8bit, you totally PRANK’D me bro!! XDDDDDdddeDdDdrefzdfxff
Ah, it’s like someone probably once said, a good piece of entertainment is one that leaves the viewer thinking. Rewrite leaves me thinking that I should’ve died in that car wreck I had last year.
I don’t know who the fuck this 8bit studio is, and given the art of this show and that their most popular work is Infinite Stratos, it seems I haven’t missed out on anything. Rewrite looks terrible. Not even because of the mediocre studio, but even designs imported from the visual novel. Who in the name of Lady Gaga designed the school uniforms in this show? What kind of cruel monster would subjugate these poor girls to this kind of torture? They all have to wear these extremely overdesigned, uncomfortable-looking dresses with skirts and sleeves that you could drive a truck into despite the torso clinging to their tits like a wet washcloth. Isn’t that nice? No, they don’t look cute in the slightest, they look like they take a half-hour to actually put on. And I’m sorry to disappoint everyone, but I’m not really into fucking the wrappers of strawberry-and-creme hard candies. But, whatever fetish you relish.
The animation is mediocre, which for the most part isn’t a problem, but for some reason the anime becomes an action series with a bunch of fights, and then it’s a problem. Even worse is that there are a bunch of weird supernatural beasts in the second half of the show, and while they have an interestingly jaded color scheme, they’re done in really poor CG. At other times, it’s inconsistent, such as the way they animate Kagari. Do her ribbons move around with a mind of their own, or don’t they? I dunno, I guess whatever key animator 8bit hired for that episode gets to decide that. No particular positives about the art can make up for the big negatives; the only things possibly worth mentioning are that the OP’s and ED’s look surprisingly good, and that maybe the character designs are okay, but as you can expect from a visual novel full of girls, some of them are gonna look strange, like Shizuru and Kotori.
I guess I should also mention some of the voice acting, because Hana Kanasamanawamallama voiced the main loli girl. Apparently that means it’s good. Not really, because her role didn’t have anything impressive about it, but at least her voice is nice to hear. Otherwise, the soundtrack was decent; it never felt spectacular and most of the time it was pretty average, but there were some good, emotional or light-hearted tracks here and there, especially when (and this is weird to say) Kotaro was about to grope Akane, they played the VN's OP. Nice. The OP’s and ED’s were all pretty decent as well, though not impressive either.
Do I need to say anything else? Don't watch this anime, no matter what sort of relationship you have with the source material. This anime sucks. The story sucks. The idea of it sucks. The way it’s told sucks. The people who are in it suck. Hell, the people that made it probably suck too. Maybe I’ll join Gaia. Not because I care about the planet, but because, sometimes, I just feel that a lot of people dying would fix things. Kefka did nothing wrong. Get well soon, Maeda-san.
Story - 1/10
Art - 3/10
Sound - 6/10
Character - 2/10
Enjoyment - 1/10
Memes - Aboutaslifelessasharambe/10
Overall - 1.25/10 (Range - 1-2)
Favorite episodes - 0
Favorite characters - Akane’s Boobs
Recommendation level - no
Rewrite, one of Key’s most prominent visual novels getting an anime adaptations? This almost feels surreal, right? I’ll get straight to the point. While the idea of Rewrite finally getting an anime has been a dream for Key fans for many years, it may also be somewhat a tarnished reality as we realize what we’re really getting. After finishing the show, it’s more than just tarnished. Much more.
On paper, Rewrite follows a lot of standard Key formulas you’ll recognize easily if you’re already familiar with their work. The slow paced story from the beginning, generic character personalities, and supernatural phenomenon are just a few to
name. However, one thing this adaptation didn’t fully embrace is its ability to move the audience. What that literally means is its inability to make the viewers feel tearful unlike some other series. (ex. Clannad After Story) Some may question that it would be unfair to compare Rewrite to other Key’s works but in reality, the adaptation really has more humor than it should.
From the first few episodes, we meet Kotarou Tennouji, the male protagonist. He gets involved with his school’s Occult Club where we meet the other female characters. They range with different personalities and all more or less oddball characters at first. The real catch though is that they are also involved in some kind of darker plot that unfolds as the series progresses. But on paper, the first few episodes doesn’t reveal much of itself as it tries to get viewers to familiarize with the franchise. In essence, the main female characters will likely be a hit or miss to get attached to. Most of them are stereotypes like the school council representative type or the redheaded tsundere. Meanwhile, the series does also introduce a mysterious character from Tennouji’s dream, a young girl with ribbons that seemingly kills him. Perhaps this is where viewers will get intrigued by the show.
From a standard viewpoint, the storytelling of the series bounces between acceptable and awful. There are some episodes that nails the coffin when it comes to creativity while others makes you feel like it’s a forced chore to finish. As an anime original viewer, I confess that the show itself is underwhelming particular with characters such as Lucia. The way their own story is set up not only feels rushed but lacks concrete feelings. It’s hard to feel what they are going through with the pacing especially from the buildup and ultimately doesn’t really satisfy what its intentions were. On the other hand, some other background storytelling such as with Shizuru (the eye patch girl) feels it’s done right because of the more tragic mood. Still, with the show being just 1-cour, you really shouldn’t expect a full adaptation of each girl’s story. In fact, this particular anime actually develops into a more mysterious plot that unfolds with connecting events. Unfortunately, the insert episodes of the girls’ routes doesn’t do much justice and weighs down the show overall.
As Rewrite retains a lot of comedy, there’s also the mysteries that carries over the course of the show. I already mentioned about the strange ribbon girl from Tennouji’s dreams. However, we also get the main setting that itself is a mystery. The series takes place Kazamatsuri and has quite a lot of hidden secrets, some that ventures into the supernatural realm. Being the curious guy that he is, Tennouji is drawn to these mysteries as he has a supernatural ability of his own. A major turning point revolves about the utopia-like environment and where all sorts of strange occurrences takes place. When one of the students at Tennouji’s school goes missing, that’s where we realize Rewrite can be darker than it seems. We are also introduced to factions that have conflicts with each other and some of the girls from the Occult Club are involved. Tennouji himself also begins to display inhuman talent with his own Rewrite ability. And finally, we also learn a lot more about the mysterious ribbon girl that appears in Tennouji’s dream. It’ll take patience for viewers to eventually get to the main meat of the plot and if you’re the type that sees Key as an insufferable product, then this will be a hard show to follow.
Perhaps storytelling isn’t just what Rewrite emphasizes on though. There’s also relationships, connections that tries to be meaningful. Tennouji develops several important relationships with others including Lucia, Kotori, Kagari (the ribbon girl), among others. However, the show itself seems to focus on that mostly on the surface level. Because of time restraints, they aren’t concretely developed as you’ll anticipate. Oh and it’s easy to forget about characters like Haruhiko when his role in the show seems to be mainly comic relief. And romance? That part is mostly teased at and hard to really appreciate if it’s even there. At best, character relationships are subtly memorable but because of the mediocre buildup, they aren’t very memorable.
Adapted by studio 8-bit, the show itself is underwhelming when it comes to visual quality. The characters look blend while it does retain Key style features such as the moe-eyes, feminine parts, and surreal-like atmosphere. However, the action is more of a disappointment. Well to be honest, the action was never a main attraction in the show anyway and the brief segments where we see that isn’t so appealing either. There’s not much fan service in the show except with the blushing and that one episode where Lucia puts on a maid outfit. Oh yes, a maid outfit.
On the other hand, soundtrack for Rewrite is impressive. Well, not in the impressive that it’s a masterpiece but definitely hits the key points. The theme songs offers choreography that fits the show quite right while the OST is mysterious as it should be. Even during comedic moments, the music seems to fall in place naturally. Furthermore, character voice expressions are well delivered if you compare to their characters from the VN.
So in the end, what should you really take for granted from Rewrite? It’s pretty much a popcorn entertainment that’s perhaps only easy to watch if you come with an open mind. For those with high expectations, it’s probably a good idea to drop the show as it seems to appeal to a broader audience, beyond the visual novel fans. I think Rewrite tried to take a risk and although it partially succeeds, there’s more failure. In the end, it’s a nice show to pass time with for fun but not something to talk about for years to come. Oh and season 2 has been announced for the love of God, let’s pray for a better sequel.
Have a great story and long stories like Key usually get them done, are priceless to see in animation, this one, even with its own factors, it's one of them...
The characters are the basis in all stories, and in this one the characters have a great color because each one tell its own story and with that, the story change itself to its true colors.
The sound and art are nostalgic to the novel, even the 3D sprites, and the usual BGM, so you gonna have a great environment with the luxury of a visual novel material in animation.
The story, good this animated route, it explain
characters, environments, plot, etc... but for the popular opinion, this is only at the start, when the real problem enter in the play, the anime take a speed of explanation and change of scenes that can make you say: "What I am seeing?! How? What?", so that was the very weak point with this animation, maybe because the length of the visual novel, this story have so much to say, so transfer this to the animation was unsuccessful at certain grade.
Even that it's a story that can be valuated well if you see it with calm, maybe if you get very confused and intrigued, you can awake the feeling to play the visual novel (like me).
I think this is all, so be patient and play the VN, that a solution, if you reach this point and feel this review useful or only time lost, anyway thanks for read it all, happy anime and happy VNs, remember the other routes will be animated in 2017!!