I have to say, aside from few greats like Escaflowne, School Days, Kimi Ga Nozomu Ein and a few others, I have rarely been so emotionally MOVED by an anime. For the good and the bad, this show reaches deep inside you and forces emotions out of you like very few before it have achieved (and this is coming from a guy who half way through School Days still thought it was going to be a regular romantic comedy). This alone would warrant a very high score from me, but thats not even all its got.
The first episode hits your heart like a dumptruck, and then backs up over it and unloads on it. Sad doesnt even begin to describe the scenes to follow. Seeing Haruka Kotoura, the sweetest most innocent girl both blessed and cursed with the power of mind reading slowly lose everything she loves with no idea why is simply heartbreaking. Alienating her classmates by repeating what they think, then her best friends, then her teachers, driving her mother and father apart by exposing their lies to each other and finally being abandoned by her mother, all the while she never even knows why everyone hates her. And when the abandoned kitten she finally finds a kindred soul in is torn from her so coldly, she completely gives up all hope, emotionally dead from all the torment, all the anguish and all the pain. Transferring schools to escape the ridicule she meets Yoshihisa Manabe, the first of everyone shes ever met to not be immediately put off by her gift. Quite the contrary, he finds it hilariously cute and fun to torment her with the perverted imagery he conjures from his imagination. Perhaps from his falling in love with her at first sight, or perhaps from his sense of honor and duty as a man (a perverted man, but a man nonetheless), he swears to always be there for her, never abandoning her. Moved by his kindness, Kotoura finally starts to open up and try to make friends who arent afraid of her powers. Thankfully, at least until later on when its more appropriate, the show takes a lighter tone. If it didnt, I dont think I could have continued watching. But the journey of this unfortunate girl and her new friends is fantastic one, and certainly stands out among the many highlights of this anime.
The animation is absolutely outstanding. Simple yet vibrant characters with beautiful expressions. Cute and wonderfully colored effects that perfectly compliment the flirtatious teasing of Kotoura by Manabe with his perverted imaginings. All draped with absolutely gorgeous and masterfully detailed backgrounds that somehow superbly contrast and enhance the elegantly simple characters. Any other anime would not be able to pull this combination off, but it works wonderfully here.
The only thing close to a black mark in this anime is the sound. Not that it was at all bad mind you, it simply was not as great as the rest of it. The VAs of all the characters (of course, especially Kotoura and Manabe) were absolutely spot on. Kotoura is every bit the innocent yet far too painfully experienced girl, greatly paired with Manabe, totally perverted (in the normal highschool boy way), head over heels and devoted to Kotoura. The music is what kept the audio experience from being on par with the rest of the show. While nothing was at ALL bad, nothing stood out or made an impression either. Marring an otherwise sublime experience for the ears.
Easily, watching the various players on the stage, their relationships, their growth and pain, hardships and happiness is the highlight of an already superb experience. Every character is given thorough time to flesh out and have real relationships, overcome hardships and of course, fall in love, confess and all that goes along with it. Even Kotouras mother is given screen time for the audience to learn about and understand her, for good or ill. Unfortunately, I cant spoil it, but the relationship between Kotoura and her mother throughout the series is tear wrenching and heart breaking, standing out among all the animes Ive watched as one of, if not THE most moving Ive ever seen. I promise, by the end of this show, either from the relationships between characters, the conclusions of the stories, or the realizations and resolutions they each come to, you will be in tears, or very close to it.
I think one of the bigger things that makes this anime such a great watch is the seemingly impossible contradictions: melancholy and joyful, serious and silly, heart-breaking and heart-warming; along with a combination of a little bit of everything: echhi, melodrama, comedy, romance, slice of life and everything in between, that somehow work together in perfect harmony to create a near perfect symphony of experience and emotion played masterfully on your heartstrings. Whether you enjoy it for the powerful drama, the painful yet lighthearted story, the charming romance between two seemingly incompatible people or simply the slightly perverted comedy, I guarantee a great watch.