Split into small character-based arcs, each individual story was very personal and interesting to follow, a couple of them being a far shot from anything near cliche. However, I felt that if Diamond Daydreams had used a linear structure focusing on one main character for its 12 episodes then I would be sitting here writing about how mundane the show was. Fortunately, that possibility did not remain unforeseen and a great job was done on providing enough variation to keep people like me interested.
Diamond Daydreams is quite a heavy romantic drama with rare moments of comic relief; however, the varying interpretations of what can be considered romantic differ impressively. All the stories involve some degree of romance, but not in its stereotypical Hallmark way. Diamond Daydreams is more about compassion than romantic love, but the way that the characters involve themselves in each other's lives and the actions they take are reflected romantically.
The connecting theme between all the short stories is the idea of the legend of Diamond Dust. If one is lucky they will see this rare occurrence on the mornings of unusually cold days; if a couple see it together, they will be blessed with good luck in their relationship. At times this idea felt contrived and cheesy and luckily it was only brought up once or twice per story arc. Rather, it was used to represent the possibilities of the future for the characters, as they are all told the story of the legend during these snapshots we see of their lives, snapshots that show the characters during life-affirming and life-changing times.
Despite all this something felt missing from Diamond Daydreams - and I was often restless whilst watching it due to boredom. At times the whole anime felt like a postcard for Hokkaido and that became quite a distraction, but it was also due to the other aspects of the series.
Diamond Daydreams delivers beautiful scenery and I found the series quite stunning. However, I became irked by the character designs - strange dopey eyes and fat cheeks - they were unique but did not completely work for me. As a series with multiple female leads I was impressed by the attention each girl received - subtle differences that added to the realism but ensured they remained distinctive. The animators did not take any shortcuts with the presentation of these characters and that won points for me.
Movement was not of the best quality, a DVD special provides an additional look into the story of the ice-skating girl, and whether it had been this episode or the original aired episode I don't remember, but a scene on the ice was particularly disappointing. The grace of a figure skater is simply not pulled off and it was entirely unbelievable that Suomi could have possibly been competing for gold.
Unfortunately, Diamond Daydreams fell flat in what is probably one of the most important aspects for any series seeking to invoke emotion: the score. Everything was wonderful in the first couple of episodes, until the same piece became recycled for every touching or sad moment in every episode simply played by different instruments. It became rather annoying and prevented me from giving a single damn how the scene was trying to make me feel.
The OP was a fine little number, pretty upbeat for the slow pace of the show but not entirely out of place. I really enjoyed the ED, an acoustic guitar & piano ballad with some satisfactory female vocals. The guitar carries us from the ending scene into the ending credits in a style reminiscent of the much more beautiful ED from Loveless. For me, this little touch did leave me looking forward to the next episode.
The English dub was atrocious from what I tried to hear of it - the actors trying far too hard to sound soft and vulnerable. It was too much of an insult for my ears to delve properly into it and I had no complaints for the Japanese voices to begin with.
A wide cast with only two episodes to develop each character may chime alarm bells for some potential viewers, but rest assured the process was handled delicately in Diamond Daydreams. Each individual female lead, despite all dealing with certain difficult situations in their lives, were very different people and remained vulnerable whether shy or hot-headed. It was this vulnerability that probably made them all easy characters to empathise with, even if they weren't notably likeable.
The dialogue was often lacking, and again, cheesy - however, that could simply be a reflection of my tastes toward drama and romance.
I would be very careful about recommending this to anyone, simply because a lot of people who do not watch drama or are not used to its slow pace will probably find Diamond Daydreams boring. I know I often did. However, I can see this series being very therapeutic for anyone who is going through a crappy time and wants to know they're not the only one - there are so many ways in which life can make a person feel sad, anxious, and alone. I would probably watch Diamond Daydreams again if I needed some comfort on a cold winter night.
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