Admittedly, I tried very hard to enjoy Someday's Dreamers as much as possible; in fact, going in I was practically convinced that it was a top-notch series by the premise alone. However, my level of disappointment steadily grew the longer I watched, ultimately bottoming out around the middle of the series. While it managed to turn itself around and end to a sound bit of a closure, the fact that it took a number of reluctant, forced watches to get through leaves me with a fair amount of skepticism regarding its quality.
That's certainly not to say that Someday's Dreamers was bad; quite the contrary - it had the makings and the mechanics of a top tier series. I'm not quite sure where it took a wrong turn, as its characters were mostly likeable, its story well composed, and overall quite decided in its intended direction. Yet, regardless, it ended up being utterly droll and monotonous at times; at its very best moments I was only mildly entertained. Perhaps it was its emphasis on childish, simplistic topics, but the story never gave me any incentives to care about its events aside from the fact that its characters were generally amiable. Even more, some events, such as Angela's sporadic confession toward the middle of the series, just seemed completely out of place, especially since they were given no follow up.
In many ways it seemed as if the series had a topic quota to fill within its twelve episodes, and randomly mixed and matched its events to compensate time slots as needed. Ultimately, most of the mage requests sent the heroines' way just seemed bland, as they tried to elicit a wide array of emotional responses with minimal viewer involvement. Overall, I'd say it suffered from the same flaw that hurt the similarly approached Shinigami no Ballad - compelling premise, un-compelling content, and an ultimately average anime.
While it might not have had the most enticing story components, at the very least Someday's Dreamers looked nice. With smoothly integrated CGI and catchy character designs, for being five years old it didn't look the part. Even so, I noticed on a number of occasions a jump back and forth between the usage bright and dull colors (between day and dusk primarily), which provided for some odd scenery from time to time. Though it's not an extraordinarily big deal, it does make backdrops such as sunsets look a bit odd.
Lastly, I noticed some minor inconsistencies with lip synching toward the end of the series, as a few scenes looked to be almost entirely static with hardly any mouth movement at all; though, in all fairness, this might have just been a problem with my video and not something within the anime itself.
While nothing extraordinary or spectacular, the large number of simplistic piano pieces fit the series like a glove. They oozed the very casual, laid back feel that makes slice of life series come alive, and I found them to front the intended atmospheres when the story didn't quite pull through. In fact, when I did find myself bored, I tended to sit back and listen to music in the background for entertainment, and it never did disappoint. Top notch voice acting rounds the rest of the sound score out, as while the side characters were pretty standard, the main cast (especially Yume) were all fantastically voiced.
Someday's Dreamers characters were...quite an eclectic assortment. Some, such as Yume, I really liked; others, like Angela, annoyed me to no end. While the main characters versed well rounded, distinct designs, the supporting cast just didn't seem to do much. Each character was only briefly touched on in one way or another, which made them seem a bit dull despite being a recurring cast; save for Yume, I never really got to know any of them come the story's close. After having their respective stories told, they seemed to vanish in importance; their significance devolved to little more than mere scenery props. Thus, while ultimately all the characters served their respective roles, they never really got beyond being mere pawns of the story, and that perhaps was their only true weakness - had they been animated in such a fashion to attach themselves to the viewer, I think the quality of the series as a whole would have skyrocketed dramatically. All in all, they had the potential to be great, but only ended up being good.
Have you wondered how magnificent it would be to have magical powers?
If so, then Someday's Dreamers is the anime for you. It is a mellowed slice-of-life exploration of what the modern world might be like if mages lived side-by-side normal humans. The viewer follows the adventures of Kikuchi Yume, a seventeen-year-old mage who spends her summer holiday training to become a licensed magic-user while learning that magic has it limitations too.
The plot and premise are totally uncomplicated, but this is one story that reaches its potential. The anime sets out to tell a simple story with no tricks or surprises – doing so with remarkable aplomb, I might add – and then concludes without further ado or fanfare. Proof positive that storytelling at its finest has no need of fancy techniques to be effective or captivating.
As an aside, I should add that the Japanese title for this anime, which translates to Things That Are Precious to a Mage, is actually much more apt for the story. I cannot fathom why people felt compelled to shorten the title to Someday's Dreamers, which is good, but not as fitting.
Just like the story, the animation is simple, but extremely beautiful. Detail levels are not extraordinarily high, and there are no breakthrough techniques or notable technologies used to make the anime flashy or visually interesting. It is therefore all the more surprising that the overall visual appeal of Someday's Dreamers is among the highest I have seen. The beauty of this anime lies in its basic approach to animation: jaw-dropping use of colour, breathtaking scenery and stunning background art. It is hard to picture it without seeing it: nothing showy, just plain and understated style.
My praise for the sound in Someday's Dreamers cannot be more superlative. The soundtrack itself is not memorable, but the anime is beautifully orchestrated with nostalgic and curiously bright music. For a mere 12 episode anime, there are almost 30 unique pieces, not including the different variations to keep things interesting. I distinctly remember remarking to myself during my first viewing of Someday's Dreamers that I could not recall a single instance in which music was recycled from episode to episode, save for the opening and closing sequences, which are incidentally of similarly high quality. Quite simply, the audio portion of this anime is musical paradise.
Despite the mix of cheerful and dramatic scenes, the seiyuu go out of their way to keep their emotions genuine, such that there is no melodrama or overacting. The selection of Miyazaki Aoi to play the part of Yume is most appropriate, as her voice really brings out the purity and the cheerfulness of the plot.
Perhaps the weakest part of an extremely well-rounded anime, the characters of Someday's Dreamers are not as singular or striking as one might expect them to be. Admittedly, there exists a strong possibility that the characters are purposely understated to accentuate the other facets of the anime. Nonetheless, I believe that Someday's Dreamers could have showcased a slightly more distinguished and fully-characterised cast without losing any of its existing brilliance. Despite this small criticism, I very much enjoyed watching this short story of Yume and the friends she meets over her summer holiday.
Someday's Dreamers is really an anime that works. It works in a way no other anime could work. It is a symbol of exactly what an anime should do. Sure, it's not the best one to do this, but it works.
Story: What I like about the story, and what works about it, is its slice of life. It just really connects. It asks us questions about what should we do in the situations presented. What would we do. If this "special power" actually existed, would those who have it deserve it. How would they use it. Stuff like that. It all applies to life. The actual story doesn't get overshadowed though. The story presents these slices of life though itself. And it just works like that. The story itself works into something bigger than you would have expected from watching the first few episodes.
This story isn't perfect though. For one, there are times when it uses typical shojo conventions to progress. It still works, but it could have been at least a bit better at this. The second thing that harms the story is there are also times when something feels out of place, or over the top for no reason. And then, there is the double edged sword. How slow-paced it is. While how slow paced it is works in its favor at telling you the story, it can get a little grating at times. Once you get into it, you can't really get out until it's all over, and how slow it is, this could be seen as forever. While it has it's flaws, the story is worth watching.
Characters: The characters in Someday's Dreamers are life-like. They are what makes the slice of life a slice of life. These characters are people that have their good and bad times, and are completely relate-able with the situations that they are in. It gives us a sense of something to grasp and hold onto and learn from. While these characters do that, they to have their problems. First, some of the characters can be hard to related to at first, or really at all though out the series. You may or may not find something from some of the characters. Not all, but enough to lower it a little. Then there are some characters that can be annoying at times as well. This isn't that bad though. After all, we all have someone annoying to deal with in life, and this just portrays that aspect. Still, they could have been a little less annoying. Finally, the biggest problem with the characters, you know how I said that there are times it's over the top? This is mainly the characters fault. So, why did I bring it up in the story? Well, the characters have affected the story in a negative way, and that's what makes the characters not as good as they could have been. But, they are still good.
Art: The animation was OK to say the least. While it is not an eyesore, it didn't seem like it was as good as it could have been. It didn't seem natural enough. I think that if some more money went into this, the art could have been a spectacle. But, it's just OK. It's not bad, just OK.
Sound: The dub voices are great. they work really well. There only problem is that sometimes they over-acted the part and made it over the top. Now the OST. That is freakin' amazing. It works perfectly for the story, and makes it even better. It's just simply amazing. It works and sticks with you. It is just wonderful.
Overall: While it's not one of the best anime out there, it is worth watching, and maybe watching again. I'd be willing to watch it again. This anime is just simply a slice of life that applies to life, while still being its own story. It does have its flaws, but, you'll be able to recognize that the good outweighs the bad in this situation. 8/10