The Noitamina time-slot surely rocked beyond belief this season. Alongside Sarai-ya Goyou aired the possibly even better Yojou-han Shinwa Taikei, the latest product of Masaaki Yuasa of Kaiba-fame. This time, he went for a ton-of-dialogue artsy character-study slash college life series, in which we follow the lead character as he explores a wide variety of different clubs and lifestyles during his years in college throughout many parallel dimensions. And it works out wonderfully.
At first sight, the way in which this series keeps resetting itself after every episode may seem weird at first, but it actually was a brilliant method to flesh out its different characters. Because of its very frequent resets, this stands out even more than series that did similar things in the past, like Higurashi and Umineko. Because of this, we get to see a ton of different sides of the characters that would never have been able to been shown without these resets, and the most important part is that we see Watashi develop in many different ways throughout each episode. The different side-characters all have their own parts to play in Watashi (the lead character)’s world and everything comes together wonderfully in the final episodes.
All of this is accompanied by some truly excellent dialogue. This series is based on an actual novel, rather than a manga or light novel, and it really shows. The dialogue is incredibly fast and you really need to pay attention to keep up with it, but as a narration it offers very detailed descriptions of the situations that Watashi finds himself in, which is nearly always very imaginative in the ways that it does so, with quite a number of witty remarks.
One potential pitfall could have been for the series to lose itself in either its dialogue and visuals, but neither happens. There are a ton of details stuffed into this series in order to make all episodes stand out, but in the same way the main message and characters remain deceptively simple on the outside. In comparison, while Kuchuu Buranko felt a bit like a loose cannon at times, every moment of Yojou-han is instead meant to bring colour to the life in which Watashi is living, and build up for the episodes that are still to come. Because the huge amount of building up, the first half of this series is decidedly less impressive than the second half, but the build-up is definitely worth it.
It’s a series that doesn’t try to provoke the biggest emotional response, but as a character-study it really stands out as a minor masterpiece here, in the way that it very subtly manages to flesh out and characterize its entire cast. Especially after the final episodes, it stands out as my favourite show of the series that premiered during the past spring season.
|Storytelling:||10/10 – Fresh, and varied, skillfully combining repetition with new ideas to flesh itself out. Top notch narration.|
|Characters:||9/10 – The formula really allows the characters to come alive and show many different sides of themselves.|
|Production-Values:||9/10 – It’s Masaaki Yuasa. Do I need to say anything more?|
|Setting:||9/10 – Spoilerific to go in detail here but yeah: this one rocks too.|