Hey, do you know that show called Monogatari? If you do, try to imagine Monogatari, that show which is full of dialogue and most of its big moments are also dialogues, that show that bended the "show don't tell" rule and made it its bitch, and then take every person from the staff that worked on it, including Nisiosin, Akiyuki Shinbou, everyone that had any creative input in it, and give it to people who can't comprehend how to make it interesting at all. Oh, and don't forget to also get Takayama Katsuhiko to do the series composition. You know, the guy who wrote the script for Boku No Pico, and whose last big project was Big Order.
I have no legitimate idea who thought that this is the team that can be creative enough, to turn a light novel story, that's really heavy on exposition, slow and hard to consume on its own for sure, into a story inside of a visual medium, but let me tell you, they were wrong in all the worst ways imaginable.
Ladies, gentlemen, I present this review which I humbly wrote about a series, that I'm pretty sure had less passion while being developed, than I had while writing this analysis.
*Spoilers past this section*
Superpowers aren't a new idea, neither is one of them being controlled by the government, but there are titles coming out each year that are able to do some good with such topics. My Hero Academia, Captain America: Civil War and the X-Men comics are just a few that immediately come to my mind. All of them have found a way to create worlds around such ideas and adapt their plot to play to its strengths. Sakurada Reset attempts to do it, but it fumbles at every point and every corner, creating a huge jumble of ultimate nothingness.
The story takes place in Sakurada, that has been a place where all sorts of powers have sprouted out of nowhere and have been taking the place by storm. The things have been calmed down and controlled by the Administration Bureau, that has been controlling and ministering over the area. Thanks to that, Sakurada is able to continue with its everyday flow and the abilities become a common thing, a part of an everyday life. However, the trick is, the abilities do not spread, they're contained within Sakurada and everyone who walks outside of its boundary immediately loses all memories of them even existing.
One day, a boy by the name Asai Kei enters Sakurada, and it turns out that his ability is ultimate memory, which allows him to remember everything no matter how his memories are altered. Years pass, and one day, during school, he meets a girl - Haruki Misora - that can reset the world to the state at the time when she has last "saved". Combined, they are able to do great things, as Kei is able to plan out and fix problems that arise due to his perfect memory. They're story leads them to a lot of pain, a death of a friend, a fight against those who despise powers, but also joy that they find in helping others and the happiness in each other.
This show's problems are somewhat weird, especially pacing-wise. It begins two years before the actual events, when Kei, Haruki and Sumire Souma meet and solve their first case together, which later one becomes a basis for them helping other people out. The pacing in those first episodes is extremely fast and unapologetic, it doesn't care if you didn't catch something, you're just supposed to have understood everything in between the stupidly fast transitions. Considering that those beginning moments of the show are supposed to introduce you to the concept of powers and set up the entire drama later on, I don't think I need to say much more about why that is a bad thing.
But to add salt to the injury, every problem that the show struggles with in general is present this early on as well, which is both weird and sort of funny at the same time.
That's because despite the fast transitions and scenes generally passing by like flies, the show is surprisingly slow in the delivery of each line. You can spot awkward pauses everywhere, there are those empty, 5-10 seconds breaks during dialogues. They really become apparent in the third and fourth arc, but they're there from the beginning, and they're quite hurtful to the flow of the conversation and the general pace of the anime. It feels like they're there to sort of fill out the time instead of doing something meaningful. You might ask "How is it possible tha the early scenes go by so fast if the scenes themselves are so slow?". It's simple, the scenes are slow, but they're just short early on, and it's only later that it becomes a serious issue, when they start becoming longer. And what makes it worse, there's a distinct lack of anything interesting going on with the show's visuals.
At the very beginning of this review I mentioned Monogatari, and I did that for the purpose of making you, the reader of this review understand something. If you've watched Monogatari you've obviously noticed its style, its distinct way with visuals and how it enhances dialogue that would normally feel dreadful and boring. There's tons of visual gags, characters screw around in the background, the art style changes on a lot of occasions, most metaphors are visualized and generally the show is just interesting to look at, even though most of the information you get is through the characters talking. Despite the silliness however, its still able to maintain the same seriousness and groundedness that Sakurada clearly tries so hard to achieve with its visuals through the lackluster emotions on the character's faces, the monotonous tones of their voices or the simple, plain visuals. You know why that is? Because its writing is good enough so that it's able to create those serious scenes whenever it wants to. Sakurada Reset feels like it doesn't believe in its writing or characterization enough for us to continue understanding them without the visuals accompanying it. That wouldn't even be that bad, but the show looks horrendous. Everything is plain, the designs are boring and have absolutely nothing to them, the background art is often nonexistent or cut out due to the camera placement, though there are a few cool shots. The animation for what I'd say is at least over 60% of the show consists of still shots and characters with their moving mouths.
If the show's so boring to look at, my questions is: why is it an anime? Why did this story have to be recreated in this medium? If the director has no inspiration to add any personality or individuality to the show, if the background artists are doing only what's necessary, if the show doesn't even look that good to begin with, the what's the point of LOOKING at the show? Hell, its visualization goes even further, as it HURTS the plot with the previously mentioned awkward, soundless pauses, the lack of emotions on character's faces, and the mostly uninspired designs of everything you look at. It just throws you off from the start and never draws you in again.
But those are technical things, those don't matter right? Let's talk about....
People! Stop undervaluing the influence of the things you look at in anime. If the thing you're looking at does nothing to even attempt to adapt to the medium that IT CHOSE, then why should you, as a viewer, adapt to the the way it's presented to even digest it? Goddamn Mobile Suit Gundam from 1979, freaking Serial Experiments Lain from 1998, name any other show from god knows how long ago, and all of them, despite looking like they're drawn in Microsoft Paint at times, are able to create style, atmosphere and designs that integrate into the experience, creating a distinct feeling to them. Sakurada Reset is content with being the most limited and basic version of itself imaginable. It's fine with the bare minimum if it just means it can tell a story. Where's the passion? Where's the love for the project that you're working on? This show feels like it was more of a chore to make rather than something that anyone wanted to work on. It's disgusting, repulsive even. I know nobody wanted for this project to work out, you can see and feel that while watching. Well, maybe there's someone...
I'd argue that if someone feels like they tried it's the original creator. This is light novel writing through and through, and every amateur mistake is there. From the lazy exposition where Kei or others go out of their character to explain things to the viewer; the lack of proper explanation of the powers, that leaves up countless possibilities, which end up feeling like conveniences; to the clear struggles of the author as he tries to get from point A to point B, desperately setting things so his vision can finally take place. He clearly had ideas and did some research, but he's just not a good writer. He lacks subtlety and understanding of the people he's catering to. He believes that if he didn't understand something before writing about it, then we also won't, so he forces explanation into the plot, be that either some storytelling term or a psychological one. He also ends up making the characters, especially the side cast, feel like devices to fit the finale rather than the fully realized ones. He gives them those mini-arcs that, he thinks, are enough to flesh out the characters, but that's not true. It's hard to say if it's a case of lackluster experience, lack of time, or anything else, but even though the plot is a mess, you can't say it lacks ideas or creativity in what it is. It's just the execution that sucks.
Let me go back a little bit and talk about the way this show uses its characters. What I mentioned is unfortunately true to the core. Characters end up feeling like they exist just so that their power can be in the story, and the writer gave them interactions and moments so they won't be considered as plot devices. Bad news: they are still plot devices.
Despite quite a few characters that the show attempts to get through something, there are pretty much no implications for them before, during, or after they're done with the things they need to do. Their shown only when they're absolutely needed, in situations where it's necessary for them or their powers to exist. When Haruka needs to express emotions that she can't show to Kei, she talks with the cat girl that she met before. She never really seems to have any internalized monologues, none of the characters do, they have to express it out unless it's something that has to be explained to the viewer. They lack stances on the world, they lack personalities and reasons to exist, it's impossible to see them actually live inside that world, outside of the events that the show presents. They're puppets, moving when they are picked up and put down when another puppet has to step in. Can you tell me what could Ukawa do on her daily basis? Can you tell me what personality does she showcase in conversations? What about Murase? Oka Eri? You can't. As I said, they are puppets, they're not characters, but the show pushes in this bullshit narrative and character arcs for each of them as if they were meant to be. They exist so that their powers can be used, that's it.
Actually, I think's it's important to also talk about something in this show. I said that the characters don't feel like they couldn't fit in casual situations, but are there situations like that in this show? To be honest, not at all, but the show tries to hide that fact. The problem is, it does it really poorly. I'd compare it to someone who's really fat trying to hide behind a pole. There's obviously a large part of his body sticking out. same goes for those "casual" conversations in Sakurada. They try to showcase those dialogues between Kei and Haruka, but all they, or anyone in fact talk about are psychological scenarios and terms. Let me show you two supposedly laid-back conversations from this show:
"Hey, what are you thinking about"
"Have you heard of the Swampman?"
"No, what is that?"
Proceeds to explain the entire idea of the Swampman
"Your notebook was new today"
"It's almost like as if a new world was born today"
"You mean like the Five-minute Hypothesis?"
"Yes. It's a thought experiment...."
Both of them are clear and lazy attempts at explaining the viewer a concept that will appear, or has already appeared in the story, NOT casual conversations that those two characters would have. I heard so many times that this show is good at foreshadowing or that it requires lots of thought to understand, but I can't phatom anyone thinking that this is well written in. The main character explains everything before you can even think, like that time when a monster appeared representing some character, and the MC just, straight up, explained his design. That design was probably the most creative thing that happened in this show ever since they introduced the concept of powers, but nope, you don't get to understand it, the show understands it for you. It's aggravating to me as the viewer, I can understand it on my own, just give me the chance.
So if the casual conversations are ruined, and you can't enjoy thinking about the show since it's done for you, can you even follow the mystery properly? No. The powers haven't been explored or given enough room for that to be available. You can just look at the things as they uncover, since the plot has some heart. Oh wait, I forgot, you can barely even LOOK at it. Well, I think I can say this show is worthless now.
I think I said all that I needed to about Sakurada Reset in the last paragraph alone, there's very little that I can add to it. If something, I guess I have to commend it that it capitalizes off of the characters and lets them grow with the story, but again, that's only noticeable because the show straight up says it to you, not because it's something that comes naturally. There's nothing in their behavior or thought process that changes, even though they underwent this "big" change.
So, overall this show lacks any sort of real value, both as an experience and as a piece of art, if you can even call it that.
And I'm done.
As always this is purely my opinion, but I can't encourage you to develop your own. Watch at your own risk.