Throughout my years of anime watching, there’s something I’ve learned about game adaptations. That is, most of them fail to live up to hype and become a poor man’s version of its original game. This applies to games including the visual novel genre especially with remakes from decades ago. Watching Kono Yo no Hate de Koi wo Utau Shoujo confirms my suspicions and reminds myself to always lower expectations when coming into an anime adaptation based off of a video game.
With 26 episodes, you’d think the anime itself hits the sweet spot for its pacing. From what I’ve heard, the original game consists over 50 hours of gameplay with the main story covering at least 30 hours. When the anime adaptation got announced, I recall hearing plans about the series will “cover all the characters and routes from the original game”. Other comments they made includes making the character Mio “more tsundere” and that anime would “outdo the game’s dirty jokes”. Coming into this show as an anime viewer, these were on my low priority list. I didn’t choose to dive into this show looking for a tsundere character or dirty jokes. That’s what Hensuki is for.
But on my first viewing, I do admit the show itself carries a degree of mystery with is premise. The first episode actually managed to grab my attention despite the over usage of time travel tropes in the anime industry. Takuya comes into the show with a personality that blends the line between confident and cocky. When the staff mentioned about dirty jokes, they weren’t kidding about inserting them into dialogues and various conversations. Whenever Takuya interacts with the opposite sex, it seems he can’t hold back on making at least one perverted joke. This applies to characters such as Mio, Mitsuki, Kaori, Eriko, and to a lesser extent, Kanna. As the main character, he gets involved into a variety of mysteries that sparks some potential. From the first episode, he receives a package of mysterious objects and also encounters a mysterious blonde girl. After receiving a kiss, she disappears. From here, Takuya is thrown into a wave of conspiracies and his life changes forever. The mysterious object he receives plays an integral part of the plot that does extend well beyond the realm of time travel. It would also appear that the device has connections to his father’s legacy. Looking back now, I had to remind myself that this isn’t developer Mages’ only work dealing with time travel. The popular Steins;Gate franchise also used such ideas that made a thrilling sensation. For YU-NO, it’s not a show I want to compare to but both anime does contain time travel and parallel worlds. In fact, the first main story arc deals with Takuya using his device to time travel and making changes to the past to influence the present. Sound similar? However, the first anime arc did generate a thrilling sensation as we watch Takuya’s every move. Even with his personality, you have to admit Takuya has a lot of guts and isn’t afraid of taking risks. Remember, he is traveling through parallel worlds to fix mistakes and trying to unravel the mysteries of his father’s legacy. It’s the type of responsibility he bears on his shoulders that shouldn’t be taken lightly.
When watching YU-NO, I had to also remind myself that anything can happen in this show. Takuya is a daring protagonist who resolves to take risks that puts his own life into jeopardy if it means learning the truth. From his actions in the first half of the series, I did appreciate a protagonist who can keep me at the edge of my seat. Unfortunately, it’s the many character interactions he has with others that puts me off. From the half-baked sex jokes and lubricious dialogues, it’s actually had to take the guy seriously. This is especially true during Mio’s route/arc where I lost count the number of “dirty jokes” that were made. However, I don’t want to judge Takuya too much as the main lead. The show has its own female character roster too.
With each route focusing on a different plot (although connecting the overall core story), this anime had to at least make some of its female characters intriguing. I have to regret to say that outside of Eriko, there’s really no character that I declare as likable. For instance, both Ayumi and Kaori are adults who gets involved into complicated affairs. These two characters are added into the main arc for seemingly inspiring more drama for the sake of drama. On the other hand, mysterious characters such as Kanna makes little impact for the show altogether. I can’t recall one moment in this show where I can look back and say “oh, that was clever!” And of course, who can forget about Mio? The wealthy tsundere is a main target for Takuya’s butt jokes that makes a fool out of her character. The only female character I can tolerate is Eriko who has a more mature personality and actual brain with her school nurse outfit. Nonetheless, the first half of the anime will make or break the show if decide to accept these characters and Takuya’s role as the protagonist.
Then, the second half happened. We’re in 2019, an age where isekai is a popular trend and every season has a few of them. Guess what? Kono Yo no Hate de Koi wo Utau Shoujo isn’t going to let this chance slip away either.
Honestly, watching the second half of Kono Yo no Hate de Koi wo Utau Shoujo felt like watching a different show altogether. It almost feels like entering the Twilight Zone where logic is tossed out the window. With a brand new world and RPG-like setting, we follow Takuya’s adventures in this fantasy setting. Oh and remember the girl that kissed Takuya from the first episode? She’s back and takes on a more important role. Now, we are also introduced to other characters such as Amanda, Illia, and others who takes on the adventure trope. I probably had to pitch myself and asked if this was real. Make no mistake, I was actually quite thrown off by the certain change of the plot direction. The first half of the show contained mysteries that while not being well written did carry a thrilling sensation. But now, we got an otherworldly isekai adventure that isn’t any unique to what we’ve seen in recent years of the genre. To me, that’s a fair statement to make since from episode 19 and forward, this appears to me as what most isekai in modern era are. Using the fantasy setting, we have guilds, weapons, magic, and all the old tricks from the book. The only plausible part of the second half I commend is the more emotional content. With radical changes of the setting and story, it sometimes makes an impact and capitalize on its new plot. That being said, you should probably hold back and determine for yourself if it’s worth getting that far into this anime.
Studio feel obviously had an intention to make this show appealing to a modern audience. Compared to the game graphics of the late 1990s, the anime has a more modern standard unlike its old school generation. Of course, the franchise is known for its sexual content and the anime does contain some controversial content. It does omit what’s needed to be shown on television but the series still contains moments of sexual assault and some nudity. Fan service is not too explicit but definitely appear often thanks to Takuya and the tone of the plot. The character designs ranges from school girls to more mature adults with character expressions matching in tone with their various personalities. Finally, I will say that Mages does deserve some credit for making the anime production flow consistently. The anime adaptation was announced nearly 2 years ago and planning this was not an easy task. They obviously wanted to have the animation quality look polished in the end and that’s what we do get.
After 26 consecutive weeks of Kono Yo no Hate de Koi wo Utau Shoujo, I admit that the show made a bold attempt to showcasing the science fiction genre. Using the concept of sci-fi with time travel, isekai, and parallel worlds is no easy accomplishment. Mind you, this is a remake of the original series and I imagine the director wanted us to experience something refreshing. However, the show failed to capitalize on its creative ideas and instead gave us a mediocre story and lackluster cast. No thanks.