Urashima, an island far from the mainland. The people who live there lead carefree lives. But five years ago, the island's three great families suffered a series of misfortunes and succumbed to suspicion. The people of the island cut off all contact with the mainland and began a slow decline. The key to saving the island lies in three girls who belong to the three families. But they are bound by old traditions, and are conflicted. On that island, a lone man washes ashore. The man claims to be from the future, and he begins a solitary struggle to change the island's fate.
Ever wondered what would be like to wake up and have no memories about yourself? Island takes this traditional trope but instead of translating it into a survival tale, it turns it into a story about rediscovery. It’s a series based on a visual novel but I confess to say that it’s very questionable in terms of presentation. Looking at the show made me wonder how such a simple premise descended into an abomination.
The simple premise of Island honestly made me curious about the show at first. Taking place on this island known as “Urashima”, it gives the impression of a setting of isolation. It’s
away from cities, civilizations, and the social problems that we have to deal in our everyday lives. In fact, the first few episodes really makes it clear that the islanders there live in a carefree way. However, it didn’t take long for me to realize that there’s more than meets the eye about the story’s mystery. A big part of the show is trying to sell its suspenseful plot by connecting the past with the present.
Before I actually get into the juicy part of the show, it’s noticeable that Island underwent some changes before the actual premiere. From my understanding, there was dispute over the script so what we see on TV may not be what was originally planned. I have not played the visual novel (even though it’s available now in both Japanese and English) so I came into the show as a fresh newbie. Still, a show like this felt more like a niche designed to target the specific audience. In this case, it’s aimed at people who enjoys the feeling of a dramatic adventure. And to be honest, that’s a tough pill to swallow. The first few episodes flirted with relationships between the main cast. Meanwhile, the story suffers pacing issues from the very start as each episode constantly bounces between cheesy comedy and dramatic sequences. Then, there’s the mystery that tries to carry the plot. What we get instead is more of a wish-fulfillment love story that doesn’t know what it’s trying to do. There’s a lot of pitfalls that hardly puts emphasis on the story. This is evidenced with the sex jokes, ineffective writing, and in general, lack of care in the characterization.
Speaking of characters, Setsuna Sanzenkai is what I like to describe as a blank piece of paper. You try to write down facts about him and there’s really nothing. That’s because the guy has a mysterious past but in reality, his personality is just as empty. Through his interactions with the main cast, he doesn’t stand out any more than they do. It doesn't help that his dialogues sounds robotic and often lacks enthuaism. The main cast consists of three girls – Rinne, Karen, and Sara. Each of them seems to have some sort of connection with Setsuna as evidenced through various flashbacks. The show also dedicates a decent amount of screen time by using montages to enhance their relationships. Unfortunately, it fails to cook up any meaningful relationship between Setsuna and these girls. There’s too much generalization on the girls’ personalities and much less on their development. Even Rinne, the girl that Setsuna spends the most time with suffers from this. Sure, there is background storytelling that makes it clear he and Rinne knows more about each other than meets the eye. However, it’s the type of relationship that adheres to wish-fulfillment. These characters are not larger than life and in fact, you can find them in just about any eroge visual novel. It’s a shame really since they look charming on the surface.
So is there anything worth watching about the show? To be honest, it’s really comes down to the decision on what you’ll find attractive or not. The comedy is blatantly inauthentic with poor timing between the characters’ dialogues. While the show had potential for its mystery elements, it really doesn’t get the ride going until quite later on. In other words, this anime will test your patience. I’ve honestly struggled to stay awake when watching Island and this show felt like it would be better if you played the game.
Perhaps there’s some redeeming quality about the show when it comes to the technical quality. I have to admit, Island does look well designed in terms of its setting. It’s able to convince me of the cultural differences between itself and the outside world. The idea of isolationism also looks credible with the relaxing atmosphere and being away from urban cities. Characters all look like they live the carefree life with their simple clothing and moderate technology. There’s also quite an abundance of fanservice that may sometimes feel uncomfortable. Because let’s face it, some of the girls in the show looks like kids. You be the judge but it’s hard to deny their physical appearances.
On the other hand, Front Wing was able to create this series with a very relaxing and atmospheric music. While the montage songs can sound a bit generic, they are also appealing by itself if you just listen to them. Unfortunately, the show definitely takes a step back when it comes to voice acting. I already mentioned Setsuna but his voice really sounds like a cog in a machine when he opens his mouth. The female characters’ voices doesn’t sound any better and often too high pitched to take to heart.
I’m glad this show is only 1 cour because any more than that would feel like a chore. To be able to attract an audience towards this show takes more than just a creative setting. The premise had some potential but it’s weathered down by its ineffective plot and one dimensional characters. Perhaps if I watch this without thinking too much, it would’ve been a better experience. The fact is, Island is just another example of a poor story with a budget that it doesn’t deserve.
While waiting for someone to write a positive review about this, I thought I'd wake up because that won't happen, so I guess I should do it myself. I find 7 to be above average, not something I'd recommend, but it's good compared to the hate this show is getting, and I actually like it. So there may be spoilers because no one cares about a show with this low of a rating, right?
The story with its mysteries and use of time travel is stunning, it's all connected and covers up most of its plot-holes (not really all though). The way Setsuna wants to
save someone, which is later implied to be Rinne, the way the Island repeats itself, the way Kuon is revealed to be the future Rinne. It all felt smoothly connected, believable, and most of all, shocking. Even I was surprised by how an overhated anime can shock me with its twists, but surprisingly it surprised me. But that does not mean it is without issues. The ending where saving Rinne is neglected kind of was off the point, but I can't say after that big shock that I cared enough. It still dropped my scoring a bit, in addition to the Never Island segments having copies of the Island segment, that was hard to believe. Ignoring the flaws, I believe the story is the strongest point in the series, but its minimal flaws make me rate it a 7.
Songs by Rinne's seiyuu are really nice to hear, I love the seiyuu. Insert songs are also well made, no complaints. Art looks nice, which is something even the haters can agree on.
And I bet we all can agree that the characters are flat. They were used as plot devices, and if the plot wasn't good, this series would be as forgettable as School Days. Even though they are bland, I did not really dislike them, nor like them. The 3 main girls are cute with cute voices, and Setsuna with his manly seiyuu, not much to complain about, but I did rate the characters a 5. The show would be an easy 8/10 with stronger characterization.
Obviously after everything I said, I did enjoy the show. Characters do not really affect enjoyment, and enjoyment is the main reason we watch anime, right? So it's not wrong to ignore certain flaws if you enjoyed a show. You do not have to agree with me, after all, I like SAO. But I could name 50 shows better than SAO and Island, so even if they are good in my opinion, you can find better, but you can give this a try.
The Summer 2018 season is wrapping up slowly and it's that time again.
Today, I will be reviewing Island, an anime with time travel, romance and lolis!
Island had a really terrible story.
The writing immediately suffers from absurd pacing where it either goes too slow with nothing happening at all, or goes too fast with major plot twists and elements failing to work due to being rushed to hell.
And whatever content that was given, was super boring and for a guy that loves SciFi shows a lot, this did not interest me one bit.
It felt like they were writing this anime but it had no soul
to it, since shit just occured with no real heart put into it.
Overall, a very boring, lackluster and terribly paced story that had to be one of the most boring SciFi stories I have ever witnessed.
Setsuna was not the worst character ever. He ain't annoying nor a dick.
He was just a guy. Didn't feel anything for him but he isn't bad.
And the girls also feel very generic and the relationships between Setsuna and all the girls lack a lot of depth to it, with poor writing to blame.
Rinne looks cute but was nowhere engaging for me as a character and Karen & Sara were just there too.
Art & Animation (8/10)
feel. did not make this look as good as Hinamatsuri last season, but the art looks very good with some nice character designs.
The OP and ED songs weren't that great but the OST was really nice and fitting for this show, especially its calm songs.
However, the voice acting was not good for me.
Rinne and Karen's voices felt off for me as they sound too striking for their characters.
Island was a massive letdown and a poorly written show from the get go. One of the weakest shows of this season for sure.
This anime is a serious problem onto itself: promising us with the light-hearted romance turned dark-esque story with the time travel mechanics, but converting about 30 to 50 hours of play into a 12 episode series (which is honestly a no-go for VN fans and anime-onlys who has watched numerous VNs like myself).
With it, this is a in-depth look on the controversial series called Island, and this review will be long as molasses (don't worry there's a TL;DR summary):
The VN was created by Frontwing, who has done the Grisaia series, with 8-bit's adaptation in 2014 raking in massive success. This is the 2nd attempt that
the company has done this (for their 15th anniversary) to promote the Eng Sub game by using the anime adaptation from studio Feel. Unfortunately, people who have played the Japanese version saw emerging red-flags from the get-go, with similar resonance and dissuasive implications with anime-onlys that this is a bad-ass poor adaptation of the game. The most obvious would be that its gameplay is based on narratives and dialogues, but somehow even the anime adaptation could screw that.
So yeah, a game that the company advertises Island as a "momentary and eternal fairy tale"? There are few scenes here and there, but I don't really think so.
So, going through the story background (and indeed from the game itself):
The "Island" of Urashima, one that has been heavily under suspicion on the tales of the 3 main girls (Rinne, Karen, Sara) and their family traditions in the span of 5 years. Oppressed under misfortune and cut from the mainland in order not to spread the curse around, in comes a guy who is aptly named Setsuna Sanzenkai. Formerly a nameless guy who comes from the future to kill and save someone, that is washed up ashore naked and questioned about his motives, but everything else to him is satisfactory. His main mission is to not let the recurring memories happen, and save everyone from the misery of the curse by doing some time-traveling on his way.
From there, criticism level 1: The story exists on 3 platforms (SPOILER WARNING):
The initial start but quickly dull and boring "Stage" (Ep 1-7);
The seriously rushed "Recursion" (Ep 8-10);
and the quickly made "to feel like the ending" "Jump" (Ep 11 and 12).
Aside from information that was cut out from the VN, don't bother to use the 3-episode rule because the story gets stranger every proceeding episode. The cheaply-made time-travel mechanism just made the whole series look like utter crap with confusion on the progression and beyond...and that's not all. An example would be when the time-traveling scenes came, the timeline was confusing. Only those who are able to discern the events within that period, were able to understand and enjoy/hate the predictability of the series going forward.
The characters...all are strikingly similar (at least the girls), so the point that looking at them reminded me of shows like Kodomo no Jikan: An adult-looking guy wanting to get dirty with the children pedophile lolis. And don't you dare try to sneak away by the thought that the characters have something unique to them, because they don't. They solely exist to fulfill the narratives and plot points from the game, and seemingly similar to the anime adaptation. Think about it:
Karen wants to leave Urashima to find out what really happened to her biological mom;
Sara is like a psychologist with all the charts, diagrams and whatnot, and questioning of past and future events;
Rinne has Soot Blight Syndrome (cannot stand under sunlight, it's a premontioned curse) and is like an owl, only active at night, and searching for the TRUE Setsuna, the one who has been with her before "his" disappearance 5 years ago;
Setsuna is there for the 3 girls to fill in the plot "holes" for them and get theirs and Urashima's problems solved, while working as a servant for Rinne.
So...criticism level 2:
None of the characters, yet alone the MC guy or loli girls are engaging nor interesting to follow. All of them are "walking" cliches. Their dialogue just made it seem like there's a narrative leading to plot points located around the strange Island, and the "going about everyday issues" thing don't really click all that well, accounting for the many issues that made this series much less enjoyable to begin with. You want some romance? It's minimalistic at best. Typical VNs will have sorta-based harems, but this one made the troupe seem far too conventional, like it is the last thing the producers want the characters to end up with.
One issue I would like to address (if that ever calms your displeasing qualms about the show):
The VAs however...through they remain the same as is with the game, Sara's in-game VA Rie Murakawa has been changed to Hibiku Yamamura for the anime due to disputes between her parent agency against the production committee. The full bio's on ANN if you want to check it out (because it seems like a big issue to fans of the VN).
The criticism though: All of them felt very muted and out of character, as much as they reprised their characters from the game, the exact feeling is barely fleshed out in the anime, and that is literally quite sad.
Now, let's get on with the good stuff:
The art and animation by studio Feel is bright, gorgeous and beautiful to look at, and no, I'm not saying that Feel is a studio that you can count on for VN adaptations. Just take a look at Yosuga no Sora in 2010 and you can see why (same type of adaptation but much enjoyable to watch). Such stuff like the scenes of reflecting water upon the beach and the soft touché background made this watchable to a degree, your mileage may vary. But for Island, striking art and good animation just doesn't do justice to warrant a series that's worth watching. With that said, I applaud the producers for good effort done to get the anime as close to the VN source as possible.
Easily the best part about Island, is undoubtedly the music, or the OST rather, and it's rare that we get a double-take of both the OP and ED for a 1-cour show. Since the events of Island happen within different timelines, it's considerable that the OST has to be confined to the overall presentation, and what we're given makes it for one of the best OSTs this season has to offer: the voice talent of Yukari Tamura (from Last Song) for the OPs and Asaka's amazing rhythmic-feeling EDs. Honestly, I would be much better just listening to the OST alone than watching this show (and you should, too).
In the end, the million-dollar question is: Should you watch Island?
Granted, most people's criticisms with this show are far more or less than what I can cover here, and that's to an insane degree. If you like the Kodomo no Jikan feels of "big" guy and loli sex-induced fanservice, I'm sorry but you're not gonna find it here.
If you want the TL;DR though: again, it's a poor adaptation of the VN with a whole lot of nothing. I was certainly looking forward to watch this, but ended up burning myself at the 3-episode rule and giving this another shot (after prelim review)...and yeap, I don't wanna come back again.
This is just another shot at making VN adaptations the cream of the crap ton of anime, and doesn't bode well either. The more deep the progress, the more insane those let-it-be ideas come and gradually, all sense is lost altogether. Skip this and just proceed onto better VNs like Clannad and the such. But yeah, I'd much rather watch sex shows like Yosuga no Sora more.