Rec comes to us from director Ryutaro Nakamura, who also directed Serial Experiments Lain and Kino's Journey, two anime who have very high acclaim. Now, even if you haven't seen Rec or Lain or Kino's Journey, you notice Rec looks rather different than Lain and Kino's Journey, and indeed, they are rather different. Serial Experiments Lain and Kino's Journey focus on one female character within a hostile environment which they have to work their way around, and has many dark tones. Rec, on the other hand, is about two people trying to deal with the hardships getting into a relationship in a passive-aggressive environment they created for themselves and has lighter tones, and look at me, dancing around the issue. Dancy, Dancy Dancy. Alright, let's just skip to the end, is Rec good? Yes. Is it better than Serial Experiments Lain and Kino's Journey? No.
Rec centralizes two characters, Aka, who is an up and coming voice actress with a love for Audrey Hepburn films, and Matsumaru, an average-joe worker who works in the marketing department of a snack company. They met one night, and then Aka's house caught on fire and Matsumaru offered her to stay at his place until she can move back in. Now, these two characters have perfect chemistry, in the fact that while they still are worlds apart from each other, their interaction seems really natural and flows quite nicely. They have a variety of personality, and use all of it when dealing with their problems. While a good number of they time, they do act passive-aggressively, there are many ways they express that, even dipping into their other emotions. The anime sets its priority straight and only focuses on those two characters for most of the time, however, they each have one character to confide in, Hatakeda for Matsumaru and Yoshioka for Aka. These characters are entertaining in their own right, but they aren't all that developed, but that's what makes it better. We can focus on the main characters much more and the two other characters don't over-power that at all.
For most of the series, we are focused on Aka's problems she addresses in a passive-aggressive manor, and only three episodes where Matsumaru has problems and expresses them like so. While both of these are rather well executed, I feel like it could have been balanced more. I feel at least one more episode where Matsumaru's problems are addressed could make it a little more worth-while. That being said, Matsumaru's problem-handling portion of Rec is easily the better part. Don't get me wrong, they're both good, but after Aka's life seems to get better, his life gets a little worse and he doesn't know how to deal with it and that creates another main problem after the first main problem gets solved without it being contrived in some sense.
I will admit, the music is just seemingly generic J-Pop stuff, but that's compensated with a focus on story and characters and is not meant to blow you away rather, just to set the mood, and at that, it handles it quite nicely. Still, it could have been a little more interesting. The voice acting is really good though. It flows like a Bruce Lee fight scene in a river, and Bruce is moving with it, creating a good atmosphere with the characters, and making them more enjoyable as a whole. The art of Rec is very well put together, illustrating the right level of shading to create a good tone, which is not quite dark, but still not entirely light-hearted. Again, like the soundtrack, it's mean to play second fiddle for the story and characters, and it also does a good job at it.
When comparing this to Lain or Kino's Journey, you will notice some differences. The main difference is that Rec is about two characters and Lain and Kino's Journey are about one. Lain and Kino's Journey deal with more darker tones and themes, where Rec is more light-hearted. That's not to say they don't have similarities as well. Both take place in a hostile environment, however Rec's environment is not only man-made, but also much smaller than the ones in Lain and Kino's Journey. The both deal with problems of the characters and look at them as people, rather than as characters. The soundtrack and art aren't as vital as the story and characters in all of them, and they're all expressive and free-flowing. So, while it doesn't have all of what made those two shows good, but Nakamura did manage to sneak in a taste of that, and it make the anime all the more delicious.
Overall: Rec, while not as good as Serial Experiments Lain or Kino's Journey, it's still worth watching, and I would recommend it for RomCom fans, as well as fans of Lain and Kino's Journey. Hell, I'd recommend it to almost anyone looking for anything good to watch. 9.8/10
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