Posted by psgels on 12 September 2014 with categories: Anime Reviews

Let me talk a bit about Ryousuke Nakamura. For a long time, this guy was my hero. He started off as an assistant director to Monster, in my opinion a big reason why that series got such a ridiculously solid adaptation, and then in 2008 he came with the groundbreaking Mouryou no Hako. No TV-series was like what we saw there. A year later, he completely rewrote the classic story of Hashire Melos to the point of brilliance, while he still kept incredibly faithful to the original work. This guy’s hands were pure genius. Afterwards, he left Madhouse, the company he was under contract of, and he started working freelance.

Now the problem with working freelance is that it’s a lot harder to land really good jobs. The best example of that is Dai Sato, a brilliant writer (think Erbo Proxy, Eureka Seven), who in the meantime of writing episodes here and there has resigned to writing kiddie shows in order to pay the bills. Ryousuke Nakamura thankfully fared better, but even then he has not gotten the golden opportunity that will give him complete freedom yet. The only television-series he did was Aiura, which was a 5-minute episode show about a bunch of girls that do nothing. It was incredibly well executed and all, but you can’t do anything with that kind of a setup. Beyond that he’s done all kinds of jobs here and there, from episode directing to storyboards, to production progress, to also just animating.

There is only one serious thing that he took the main seat as the director at… and its biggest focus is a romance between middle schoolers. That’s also its biggest problem right there: Monster! A tense thriller across Germany! Mouryou no Hako, a ground-breaking mystery chockful of Japanese folklore after World War II. Aoi Bungaku! A look into the mind of the writer of Hashire Melos! Nerawareta Gakuen! A teenaged romance with time travel!

So yeah, there are cliches. He doesn’t shy away from that. In some cases, he even takes cliches, gives the illusion of subverting them, only to subvert those subversions again and adhere to the cliches, repeats that several times after. And yeah, when you take into account that there will be lots of teenaged hormones… this pretty much is a beautifully executed movie. It takes care to make its four main characters well rounded, the side cast all are enjoyable and likable, the story brings in enough twists. With the cliches ingredients, it tries to make as much of it as it can and the themes that it uses, and the ideas that the whole story revolves around are actually pretty damn interesting. This also is not one of those romances in which nothing happens. Stuff does happen. It’s cliched obviously, but the most important part is this: both the characters and the relationships between these characters are constantly evolving.

Visually this show is perfect. You can see lots of the signature tricks that Ryousuke Nakamura loves to pull for his series. There obviously are the shots that are spammed with sakura leaves, but also the more subtle things. When characters move, they move full of energy and inspiration. Their facial expressions are full of emotions. All of this leads to a cast that feels very believable and relatable. This movie is already more than a year old and I didn’t notice any sort of buzz around it. It’s a pity, because it’s pretty damn charming for what it is. I’d say that the acting in Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo was a bit better than this one, but it’s definitely not by much.

Then there is the ending. I want to talk about it, but I’ll be as vague as possible for the sake of spoilers. At first sight the ending seems to suggest that it was rushed. Things happen fast. However, I believe that it somehow worked out very well. It’s the kind of ending that doesn’t explicitly spell everything out for you. It allows you as a viewer to fill in the blanks, and it’s even a bit open to interpretation at some points. I would not call it rushed to the point where it becomes flawed. Instead it makes the ending work and gives you something to think about. Not bad for a movie targeted at kids.

15 Responses

  1. Avatar Flawfinder says:

    It didn’t have much of a fuss because aside from how it looked, not many people really cared about a plot focusing on a bunch of teenagers. Especially when all the interesting elements are shoved to the side in order for the main dude to get abused so many times by his childhood friend. I guess it’s not bad for kids, but I never saw it as a kids’ film. But that’s neither here nor there.

    Also, Garden of Words was the better beautifully animated romance film last year.

    • Avatar AidanAK47 says:

      But that’s all Garden of words was. Beautifully animated. It was yet another remake of voices of a distant star or at least pretty much did what that did only weaker. Hoshi wo Ou Kodomo may not have been perfect but at least Makoto tried something different. But now he will never try something different. Ever again.

      • Avatar Litho says:

        Shinkai also has the same penchant for sakura petals, btw. But yeah, he’s not done anything for me since Kumo no Muko, Yakusoku no Basho.

      • Avatar Argentus says:

        I agree it’s nothing groundbreaking but I think that with every iteration of his “stories about their distance” he gets better no only at animation but also his stories are getting more mature and better executed. Hoshi no Koe was a simple and straightforward teenage romance, Garden of Words is a multilayered novel-like story of socially inappropriate affection, trying to cope with psychological traumas and struggling to find you place between a world which you feel too mature for and a world that rejects you as immature – a very realistic take on a coming-of-age story. The basic premise might be similar but with every iteration it gets much more depth.

        • Avatar AidanAK47 says:

          You are looking way to deeply into it. Garden of Words is a simple little love story. You are just using your own interpretation of supposed subtext to make it seem more than it actually is. When you take what was actually given there very little to it.

        • K-Off K-Off says:

          Brother, reading between the lines is fine and all, but it’s out of place for a story like Nerawareta. There is literally very little context.

  2. Avatar Kurini says:

    Ahh, I miss your reviews and writing! Glad to see you back in the mood to watch anime. :) I think it’s thank to you that I really love Ryousuke Nakamura’s works as well. Overall, I like this movie, but I definitely like Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo much better. Toward the later half part of TwKS, I got really emotionally attached to it and I didn’t really get that while watching Nerawareta.

  3. Avatar umibozu says:

    ok so. . .I just saw this after looking at the review. . .

    . . .

    I love you Psgels but dude. . .

    Ok Ok the Visuals were A M A Z I N G! the voice acting was great and the first have love square part was enjoyable. The music was supergreat too

    But everything else. . . .

    Was a complete trainwreck. I had to look up wth was going on and EVEN THE SITES WERE CONFUESD.

    Also do not come at me with cliche’d resonss like: “you shou’dn thave to be spoonfed the answers” or “its supposed to be left up to your interpretation” blah blha blah. . .

    The only time those excuses work is if the movie is CONSISTENT in presesnting the plot in a manner that “makes you think” (Memento is the perfect example) OR the plot is straightforward with frignes of “not telling you all the answers upfront but have them in the movie to talk about later. . .and you can only have a small SMALL portion of the movie dedicated to asking questions and not answering them. . .and the questions STILL HAVE TO BE ANSWERED. ANND, the questions CAN NOT be MAJOR plot questions. Best example of this is Inception – you pretty much know whats going on, everything is explained (although one scene kind of violates the “show don’t tell” rule but then shows you what they told you anyway so I give that part a pass)and the only part that you have to think about is the totem question at the end. THAT’s how you do the ambiguous endings.

    This whole movie was a clusterfuck, Here I’m thinking that the main character is himself and his grandfather at the same time but then clearly his parents are mentioned as being alive in the first like 15 minutes of the show, the antagonist/”Frenemy” guy suppossedly is crushing on his own mother from the future who wants to be with him or whatever. . .

    Then the whole cellphone subplot. . .which didnt go anywhere, the stude tcouncil subversion part. ..which didnt go anywhere. The motivation of the antagonists(?) which wre 100% stupid if you thoguht about it. . .since they could have solved the reason why mankind “fell” in the first place rather then messing around in a stupid school.. . .

    Then come to find out that all these questions were answered in the boooks. . .to which this movie is supposeldly a sequel of. . . .

    This is one of the worst sins you could ever commit in a film. Period.

    SO Basically it wasn’t even made for viewers who never heard of it, it was jsut a fanservice movie for those who knew the original marterial. . .I was pretty damn pissed, even though it looked beautiful I still felt I wasted my money and time on this.

    Even Though it looked and sounded like a 10/10 The trainwreck of a plot pretty much negates all of that.

    I give it a 4/10 one point for animation, voice acting, music, and the first 40 minutes of the movie plot wise.

  4. Avatar bakanishi says:

    Agreed! I thought Nerawareta Gakuen was pretty nice.

  5. Avatar Kauwilaf says:

    Hey there, I started an anime blog for my class, and read some of your reviews, although I do not agree with some of them, I do appreciate the information that you give out for the anime.

  6. Avatar maize hughes says:

    Welcome back!

  7. Avatar Natasha says:

    Hmm… after the review I’m considering to watch this anime! Thanks ^^ Nice review and you have really nice observation while watching B)


  8. Avatar Paulo Coelho says:

    Paulo Coelho‘s story
    is a short (163 pages) and basic one, a motivational parable concerning the significance of going after one’s dreams.
    Originally released in 1988 in the Brazillian writer’s native Portugese, it has actually considering that been equated in near
    70 languages as well as has become one of the very popular e-bookses in history.
    The Alchemist is a fast and also satisfying suggestion for anyone which feels they have
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  10. Hey there this is a good article. I’m going to email this to my buddies. I came on this while searching on aol I’ll be sure to come back. thanks for sharing.

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