Imagine, if you will, an end to conflict, a world of peace, a universe where seldom a cross word is exchanged, much less an utterance of aggression. Truly, this would be a wonderful place to live - but watching it for 26 episodes? My, does it ever drag.
Da Capo crawls unapologetically from the "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" school of harem anime. In this school, a generic male lead is pursued by a series of improbably acquiescent girls, who differ from one anime to the next solely by virtue of having their hairstyles and personality hooks randomly reassigned. As a rule, the next step is to introduce a novel setting, to plot an interesting story or perhaps to thread the characters into a comedic tapestry. Unhappily, Da Capo doesn't seem to have read that far into the instructions booklet and dismisses every one of these suggestions, instead including... nothing.
Going back to my first paragraph, this series fails principally because it is entirely free of any kind of friction. There is no adverse force to challenge the characters; there is no conflict between the characters themselves; there's not even a personality clash worthy of note. It just feels like one ceaseless bombardment of fake smiles, like an eternity spent in Starbucks. Supposedly, more than one of the girls is attracted to the unpardonably prosaic character of Junnichi Asakura, yet - aside from a handful of trivial scuffles between the two primary love interests - none of them seem to care enough to do something about it. In fact, Junnichi could have saved everyone a lot of time by just drawing up a rota and leaving it at that.
At only two points in the series does Da Capo threaten to excite in any way, shape or form, and these embers of drama are abruptly extinguished. What seem to be a dark ploy and compelling character shift turn out to be an accident and a misunderstanding, and the series returns to its irenic, monotony. Perhaps conscious of the mass-boredom being left in their wake, the later episodes finish early to be augmented by a five-minute "side episode". It is a small mercy, however, as these comprise a few sequences of unfunny nothingness and dull arthouse surrealism, two moments of mild and stylish intrigue and then one final burst of soul-destroying pointlessness. As was the case with the body of the show, a single good idea is diluted with blandness, and then struck down before it dares to captivate the viewer.
The animation is passable, but far from spectacular. The lighting is done well, and nothing is truly awry. However, while some of the up-close animation is pleasing, there is no outstanding attention to detail. Indeed, there is nothing at all that is striking or memorable, aside from some face-distorting conceits which are as unfunny as they are overused. Certainly there is nothing in the animation which compensated me adequately for the way in which the story numbed my mind.
The soundtrack is actively annoying. Each "funny" scene flaunts one of a selection of irritating, whimsical ditties as though they are some kind of license to amuse. Instead, they make the scene's failure to gratify all the more obvious and maddening. As for the main themes, whoever wrote the opening and ending tunes somehow managed to marry generic with irritating, giving rise to the pair of cacophonous lovechildren which bookend each sorry episode.
Most of the voices are tolerable but, predictably, those that remain in the consciousness are the truly annoying ones. It's not enough that Moe Mizukoshi falls asleep every few seconds; apparently her spaced-out nature must also be emphasised vocally, by stretching out every blasted sentence to the point where fingernails on a blackboard would be blessed relief. Although she is the worst offender, other characters also manage to do this. They repeatedly use their voices to reflect their superficial personalities and drive them home with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer.
Uninspiring. Unoriginal. Uncommonly nauseating. These are just some of the "un-" adjectives which describe the majority of the show's cast. In a romance anime - or a romance anything, for that matter - it's pivotal that the characters be interesting and worthy of sympathy. In Da Capo's case, half of them invoke feelings of idle hatred, whilst the other half incite nothing but indifference.
What little plot is offered depends quite heavily on the viewer's emotional involvement with the protagonists. You need to care about each individual in order to care about their insignificant backstories and minor plights. It's hardly a surprise that this involvement scuppered by the fact that there is no reason to care. Those last few words may sound somewhat nihilistic but those are the depths that watching this meritless dross has brought me to.
In truth, there are no real redeeming features to this anime. It is simple, it is unadventurous, it is dull, and it is a black hole of humour so dense that not even light jokes can escape its pitiless pull. More than anything, though, it is entirely devoid of any element which might rouse emotions or engender the slightest hint of a confrontation. To put it simply, Da Capo digs its own grave, without anything so controversial as a whispered complaint. It then lies there, staring up with a grotesque plastic smile upon which I am only too happy to shovel dirt until the sun bakes my flesh dry.
On an island where cherry blossoms bloom all year-round, love seems to always be in the air. It is in this magical atmosphere that Asakura Junnichi lives, and when he dreams he travels to the dreams of others, rather than have any of his own. In everyday high-school life, he is accompanied by his adopted sister, Nemu, and an eclectic group of friends including a j-pop idol-in-the-making and a girl they knew from their childhood. Promises, and magic, and love -- Junnichi seems to dream about every girl he knows, but which girl dreams of him...?
When it comes to anime, I tend to be a fan of comedy, shoujo, romance or anything else that will put a smile on my face. However, I'll review pretty much anything. Whether you like or dislike my reviews, I'm always glad to receive feedback, and I'm always happy to get into intelligent discussions.