Summarizing the story of Touka Gettan in just a few lines is practically impossible, in this review I’ll tell you just what you need to know about it. Kamitsumihara is a fantastic ground where magic, destiny and tradition played a major part in the history. For generations, Kamitsumihara is under the protection of the Kamiazuma family. By pushing back the demons and evil spirits from these grounds, they allow the residents of Kamitsumihara to live a normal life. The story is about Touka Kamiazuma, the main character, and his meeting with the young person Momoka Kawakabe who recently moved in at the Kamiazuma household. Touka Gettan presents their fateful meeting which is, as we get it rather quickly, much more than a mere coincidence. Why do their life and destiny seem so closely related? Where does this unconscious mutual attraction come from? And what is this ancient legend that just reappeared in Kamitsumihara, and why does it seem like Touka and Momoka are in the middle of it?
To tell us this complex story, the creators of Touka Gettan chose a quite peculiar method: the series was broadcasted “backwards”. The first episode is in fact the 26th, and the very last of the series (chronologically speaking). Thereafter, each episode goes a little further back in time, to eventually end after the 26th episode with what is the beginning of the story. But just to make it very clear, the scenario was NOT written according to this odd broadcasting order, it was literally broadcasted backwards. Remember Kara no Kyoukai or The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya? Well in those two series, the events were indeed broadcasted in a non-chronological order, but their scripts were adapted so that everything remains coherent. In our case, the directors/producers of Touka Gettan simply thought it would be a good idea, once the production of the series was completed, to broadcast it starting with the final episode and just keep airing the story backwards. That was a major bold move that no one seemed to be aware of, back when it started airing in 2007. In the end though, the result is rather impressive. What’s odd at first is the fact that the first episode is to some extent where the emotional climax occurs, but you do not fully realize it until much later (since you don’t know the characters or the story really well until then). So the storytelling is totally unconventional, you’re not slowly progressing towards a love confession or an epic battle between good and evil, but towards the origin of it all; where it all began. So be warned, because of that the ending is far from conventional. My little advice to you: After you’ve watched all 26 episodes in airing order, go back to episode one and rewatch it. It’ll just make so much more sense to you.
Touka Gettan is not only only a drama set in a fantasy world. In fact, more than half of the episodes are devoted to the everyday life of Touka and Momoka, and are mostly episodical comedies. Christmas episode, honsen episode, Valentine’s Day episode, you’ll find them all here. Most of the usual themes return, but all of them feature the “Kamitsumihara” twist, so they’re always refreshing and rarely boring. And the storyline does advance during those episodes, we always learn some more about Touka and Momoka. In addition, the comedic aspect considerably reduces the atmosphere of the series which is rather heavy during the first 5 or 6 episodes.
Humour can be found in several forms in Touka Gettan, the most outstanding scenes are without any doubt those featuring Shouko, her convertible car and the Butterfly Triplets. Momoka and Makoto also play important roles as comic reliefs.
Before closing this first section, which is already more than long enough, I absolutely have to comment on certain episodes which to me were small masterpieces. Episode 19 was, in my opinion, a directing gem. It takes talent to be so creative when exploring the very dark past of a key character. Episode 14 is also very interesting since it is where two Carnelian stories cross path (Touka Gettan and Yami to Boushi to Hon to Tabibito). Very refreshing episode if you’ve seen YamiBou, if not it might convince you to give Touka Gettan spiritual predecessor a try. Episode 25 was the only one that was added AFTER they decided to air the series backwards, and again, here we’ve got another very creative way to summarize a story in a single episode.
Touka certainly isn’t the most charismatic main character ever, but both Momoka and Yumiko carry the show on their shoulders. Yumiko, who quickly became one of my favorite character ever, is sort of Touka’s foster mom. Being a novelist, she must constantly work on her next book but has a hard time finding the motivation to do so since Touka entered her life. What makes her character so special is very tough to mention without spoiling anything, but I became quickly addicted to her expressions. But behind her kid-like manners hides a very dark and complex past you’ll want to uncover.
Touka Gettan has a whole lot of secondary characters, so many that in the first 10 episodes or so you’ll be at a lost. This is mainly due to the fact that some of them look really similar, and aren’t properly introduced until much later on in the series. Some of them aren’t even introduced at all, so you don’t really know who they are and why they’re there (the divinities might be a good example). But that being said, Touka Gettan is an extremely complex series and you will most likely find it impossible to understand it all on your first watch. Anyway, remember that Touka Gettan isn’t a series meant to be deciphered, but a series meant to be enjoyed. Don’t waste your time trying to analyze every scene to find its meaning, just dive in this fantastic world and enjoy the ride.
It might not look like one, but Touka Gettan is a somewhat recent release (2007). In general, the animation really isn’t all that stellar, but some special effects were really amazingly done. On the other hand, the artwork is sublime. Character designs are just like what they were in the original game (see this link for some shots taken straight from the game’s artwork), sometimes you could swear that they’re just carbon copies of each other. It’s great to see the chief character designer at Studio DEEN not overdoing it this time around (*cough Higurashi). Animation-wise, an episode in black and white only was a pretty nice touch. It might not be much but it does enhance the whole experience. So all in all, the artistic value of this series is much above average.
Whether it is for the design of its characters, the beauty of Kamitsumihara’s landscapes, it really is the best of Studio DEEN than I was able to discover through Touka Gettan.
Sound and Music
Because of its originality, and the fact that it’s constantly present, Tada Akifumi’s soundtrack here is memorable. From traditional Japanese music to comical jazzy tracks, the background music is always is perfect symbiosis with what’s shown on screen. Tracks like Touka, Sekiken and Sekkai are easily the most memorable. Touka can be heard in the first few minutes of the very first episode, it lasts a little more than 3 minutes and might hit you like a truck. Be warned! The OP and ED are slightly less memorable, but both are true to the story nonetheless. “Kono Sekai ga Itsuka wa” is a very nice piece of music that really captures the tone and atmosphere of the series.
Touka Gettan’s seeiyu cast doesn’t have many big names. Well, other than Mamiko Noto and Ai Shimizu who returns to play their roles from YamiBou (1 episode only). Still, I tip my hat to Miki Itou’s performance in the role of Yumiko.
Too many people started watching Touka Gettan not knowing what they were getting into. Most of them got super confused in the first minutes and thought that this series was nothing but a gigantic mess that doesn’t make sense. Let me remind you, because it’s important, that Touka Gettan isn’t a series meant to be deciphered, but a series meant to be enjoyed.
Touka Gettan ED
Kono Sekai ga Itsuka wa by Saori Hayami (Momoka)
- Yumiko Kamiazuma -