The protagonist, Kouda Mikako, is a student of "Yaza Gaku". Specialising in fashion design, Mikako dreams of becoming a fashion designer with her own brand. Living next to her is her childhood friend, Yamaguchi Tsutomu. Even though they have been close since they were young, they share a platonic friendship. However, Tsutomu has been gaining popularity, especially with the girls, because he seems to resemble a popular vocalist from a band and somehow, Mikako begins to see him in a different light. This is a story about how youths cope with dreams, love and friendship.
I might as well write a review of this anime since I was the one who provided (most of) the raws, translated it and reviewed each episode at least three times before it was released, which in my opinion counts for at least something.
Well, as much as I am loathed to put labels on what are clearly three-dimensional characters, here we have a show where Ai Yazawa pretty much presented us with what could be a psychological profile of a tsundere before such a term even came to existence. She's brassy, full of herself and can sometimes be unfairly cruel, but that is
just a front she she feels she has to put up in order to shield her vulnerable side.
Yes, it would be convenient to say Mikako is the way she is because of the childhood trauma of a divorce (and what her Mom did afterwards). But alas, the reason behind her disagreeable personality is artistically anticlimatic. That is simply the way she is, as is evident from the flashbacks from her childhood and later when she becomes "honest with herself." This is the place where I feel the anime succeeds because we become too used to seeing the lead female character who is cutesy, klutsy, timid, moe or whatever stereotype that is supposed to appeal to the regular anime audience. She is truly one of the more variated full-rounded characters you'd find in any narrative.
The main drawback from this show, like a lot of the shoujo anime that aired around that time (Marmalade Boy, Kodocha) is the number of episodes. I really believe they could have more effectively told the story that they presented if they instead aired around half the episodes. Of course I am talking about filler episodes that sometimes introduced inconsistencies (***spoiler****e.g. why would Mikako be unable to sell her wrong-sized clothes at the second flea market if she was able to sell out all those exact same clothes at the first flea market?***spoiler***), but that is a minor quibble compared to the parade of episodes that occupied the middle featuring a love triangle between three supporting characters. They could have easily settled that matter in a handful of episodes, but they stretched it out over at least ten episodes, padding those with situations based on uselessly masochistic self-abnegations so contrived that my suspension of disbelief almost never recovered.
But thankfully, it didn't overtake the main story of the show, which was the real draw in the first place. It's clear the creator had a lot of fun with her inaugural anime adaptation and it shows through her somewhat unconventional artwork and character designs. The whole thing sort of reminds me of "Doug". The animation certainly shows its age, although it's pretty solid for what was shown at the time. For those who are expecting the quality put into Yazawa's other two animes by Madhouse Studio, be warned that you've been spoiled.
The music, mostly provided by Mikako's seiyuu Rumi Shishido might be an acquired taste for some (for those who don't like unsteady singing voices), but it grows on you, at least it did for me. The story, as long as it focuses on the two main characters, is pretty solid-grade work as it navigates you through the ups and downs of a teenage girl trying to cope with her contrary personality. As for enjoyment - well I wouldn't have spent at least 62 total hours going over the series if I didn't enjoy it. So in the end it would have received a higher grade for the story and characterization if it weren't for the mostly repetitive fillers.