I had medium hopes for this one the first time i read the plot on wikipedia.
But that all changed when i started watching, i sat like glued to the TV and watch the entire serie today, and boy did i liked it!
I you have any doubts about this one i just say: DONT!
Watch it! You won't regret it!
Kimi ga Nozomu Eien is a dramatic, romance anime (with tragic elements) that far exceeds expectations. I was in a bad mood since the last anime I watched was School Days, which is nothing like this anime! Not only did this make me feel much better, but it reminded me that I love romance anime, when they are done right like this. This is the definitive romance anime! It also does something that few other animes do (I can't think of any bar DBZ) and it even does it properly: passing of long time. This anime contains mature themes and those of a younger audience may find it boring/soppy. Due to the rapid plot progression, I'll do the review spoiler free with a pseudo-spoiler (concerning the early episodes) section post review.
The first thing I noticed when I started watching this, was the surprisingly great quality of animation. The shadows and shading were much better than some anime I've seen, that were produced years later. The style is generic, but it is best suited for it. There are no ecchi elements, despite there being some cleavage that is too obvious, everything is well within context. The opening theme, which doesn't appear until episode 3, was surprisingly great. Both the opening and ending can be a bit misleading about the content of the anime, but it's fine since they are introduced at an approriate time. The other music was also very appropriate and enhanced the atmosphere of the scenes, but not so amazing that I'd want to get the soundtrack, despite thinking that hearing the opening. This anime is in Japanese so you'd need subtitles for it. Or actually... its in English too? I didn't know that. I can't comment on the quality of the English dub in that case. Actually I couldn't find the dubbed version, so that explains it.
The characters, are human, to say the least. There were moments when I thought I hated some characters, but in the end I realised how thoughtfully these characters are done. I felt like I could really understand the thoughts and feelings of each of the main characters. Due to a certain plot element, I will be referring to the characters as they are in the majority of the anime.
Takayuki Narumi is the male protagonist of this anime. He goes through a lot and his mental progression, throughout the series is clear. His behaviour may seem negative at times, but I feel it is justified given the state of his thoughts and feelings at any given time. Heck I'd even commend him for acting so 'nicely.' One character describes him as 'too nice a person' and I'm inclined to agree. This factor also means he amost always listens to and considers what others have told him to do. Almost spoilery, but I could really empathise with this character. He appears a bit lost, when it comes to his life goals. The only negative is that this another character who is in the anime trope of not having any parents exist at all.
Haruka Suzumiya is a rather shy and lovestruck girl. She is a very peaceful, yet emotional individual. She has a good suppoting cast in her family, who are also done surprisingly well. I was pleasantly surprised at how she appeared episode 3 onwards (more in the spoiler section). She loves reading picture books and wishes to study child psychology so that she can author them one day. This character is amazing at how she sees the world. I hope people can learn from her example.
Mitsuki Hayase is Haruka's best friend and very often considers her friend's feelings, though sometimes there's nothing she can do. A complicated character to say the least, she likes swimming, aquariums and everything to go along with those things. She has a bit of a dirnking problem, which in combination with her thoughts and feelings can lead to her doing questionable things. Overall, she means well and tries her best to do what's right, even though there may not be a right answer. A very human character, complete with the understandable imperfections that we all possess.
Akane Suzumiya is Haruka's younger sister and is very supportive of her sister. She looks up to Mitsuki and hopes to be a swimmer just like her. Initially she might seem to be rather judgemental and spiteful of others, she turns out to be an understanding character who learns to empathise with other's situations. This character really grew on me.
Other characters aren't too important, Shinji can be aggressive at times and he isn't honest with himself. Both the doctor and the parents seem to be evil mean people at first, but we soon learn that they suggest the harsh things, only because they are concerned for others. The hotheaded, foulmouthed waitress Ayu Daikuuji was most certainly the worst character in the anime and it would have been better without her.
The story. The beautiful romance and drama. It really shows how something so simple can change many people's lives. I was expecting this anime be a typical highschool love-triangle anime. I hate love triangles in anime. But it actually did it well. Without spoiling everything, it is an emotional rollercoaster ride that tugs at the heartstrings and retains its own integrity by still being unpredictable. A lot of things happen rather quickly and it utilises flashbacks to really show the backstory of certain characters. I don't think I've ever seens such a beautiful romance story in an anime. There were many points where I felt I should have cried. And a bonus... (saved for spoiler section) it really breaks the mold. However I can see some people getting upset at the ending. Fair enough, but its better when it is something you don't expect.
All I have to say now, is go and see it! You might have difficulty finding it in English, but the Japanese audio is done very well. If you are normally disappointed by romance, then by all means watch this one. This is a must watch anime! If you don't like this, then you can only be a heartless frost cavern. This anime reminded me why I enjoyed romance anime in the first place (before being bogged down with the terirble stuff and giving up on the genre till now).
Family-friendliness Rating: 5/5 Context-justified (lower is better)
Overall Rating 10/10 (higher is better)
Story: This is actually an adult romance, not a high school romance. In episode 2, Haruka ends up in a coma after getting hit by a car while waiting for her boyfriend: Takayuki. The thing that was most important here, is that Takayuki was late and he even says, if he wasn't late then everything that ends up happening wouldn't happen. Takayuki and Mitsuki are a couple 3 years on and the story really starts when Haruka inevitably wakes up.
From episode 3 onwards, the world is 3 years after that event. The characters are in their early 20s, assuming they were 17/18 at the start. With the exception of Akane, who is a high school student. They really show that the characters have grown into adults, they actually look to have aged. Something that I have only ever seen in one other anime (DBZ). Well done. This also means the romance is now between adults.
About Takayuki's character, it is shown clearly his severe depression after losing Haruka and being told by her parents that it's best for him not to see her. It's a massive hurdle for him to get over and become normal. Most importantly Mitsuki was there for him when he hit rock bottom. Like a guardian angel. She helped him get back up on his feet. That pain resurfaces when Haruka wakes from her coma.
ENDING SPOILER< Haruka is a surprisingly understanding character when it came down to Takayuki's feelings. I was absolutely stunned she'd let him go. I felt like crying at that point. >ENDING SPOILER
Mitsuki is all over the place with Takayuki. When it came to the hotel scene, I initially thought it was stupid, then forgave her for her mental (and drunk) state. But in the end it seemed like a stupid thing to do. Maybe it really showed how depressed and unhappy she was without Takayuki. I felt the same for Shinji, but he was kinda cheating on his girlfriend, despite it being apparent he loved Mitsuki all along. Maybe a bit weak for not going after her after she broke up with Takayuki?
Also the ending almost had me in tears. Surprisingly a happy ending for everyone.
The story, although brilliant, was rather depressing. Yes, it had all the features of a romance, yet the way in which it ended was disappointing. During the first two episodes, the story was full of humour and excitement, and it really drew in the audience, yet afterwards, it seemed that it was one tradgedy after another for the main characters. It is not to be expected that all plots end in the most desirable fashion, as that would be boring, yet the conclusion appeared to be lacking in many aspects. As for character development, some of them were just "there." They existed and nothing about them changed. Again, it is to be expected that not all characters will develop, although it would be preferred when they are involved in the plot in such an in depth manner.
The story itself, and the emotions it drew upon, are a work of art. It brings out the torment and sadness that one experiences when going through such situations. That it was able to connect with the audience in such away shows how much effort was given to creating the plot.
It really is up to the individual to decide if they want to watch this, though it is sincerely recommended.
This was one of the more powerfully moving anime i've watched in a while. I'm not great at reviews but i can say it's right up there with Clannad as far as the emotion it invokes.