H2O: Footprints in the Sand

TV (12 eps)
3.558 out of 5 from 6,704 votes
Rank #4,888

After a series of unfortunate events, the young Hirose Takuma was rendered blind. In an attempt to reverse his condition Hirose moves in with his uncle in a rural village, and upon his arrival he quickly begins to make new friends. However, Hirose soon discovers that one of his classmates, Hayami Kohinata, is being harshly bullied by her peers for reasons that neither she nor anyone else wants to explain. Even the seemingly honest and gentle Hinata Kagura, who had been doing her best to be friendly and helpful to Hirose since his arrival, acts harshly towards Hayami. Once a mysterious girl bequeaths Hirose with a life-changing gift, he takes it upon himself to help save Kohinata from her loneliness while working to uncover the truth of the situation.

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StoryWhile not the worst anime I've had the misfortune to poison my mind with over the years, H20 ~Footprints in the Sand~ certainly deserves its spot as the worst I've seen in a long time.  The viewing experience was analogous to a game of paintball gone horribly wrong; think of it like getting pelted incessantly in the groin for four and a half hours straight, without relief, followed by a long period of puking blood.  Now envision the horror of H20 in precisely the same terms, but replace the excruciating bombardment of paintballs with clichés and the subsequent puking with actual, physical vomit straight from the bowels of your stomach.  Ordinarily I would have dropped shit like this after ten minutes, but a friend's suggestion that it got better toward the end kept me going.  While this, indeed, might have very mildly been the case, it certainly did not merit suffering through the horrendous amount of tripe that comprised the entirety of the series' beginning and middle portions.  As such, it manages to stand above ordinary, crap-filled harems, but just barely. If anything, at least H20 starts out as if it's going to be something original.  Our fabulously sophisticated and intelligent male lead happens to be blind, and his naiveté initially seems somewhat believable - the kid can't see, after all.  Within the first ten minutes of the series, though, he has managed to plant his face between the legs of every girl in the school at least once (lots of accidents happen to blind people, you know!) and grope at least one set of boobs a minute.  This trend continues until the beginning of the second episode, where our brilliant hero somehow wakes up no longer blind.  After this, of course, the face-between-legs and groping events continue, but they rely on the usual "misunderstanding" situations to occur (like when our male lead walks in on a girl taking a bath, slips on a bar of soap, and falls into the bathtub with his head smack dab between her legs underwater!)  Now, I've seen these sorts of events in harems time and time again, but few dare rise to this level of mediocrity - every single fanservice shot is so utterly contrived it's laughable. Oh, but here's the best part: H20's primary harem female is a masochistic emo girl who likes being abused because she has a guilt complex.  As can certainly be expected, our resident Prince Charming tasks himself with "rescuing" her from her plight, but her constant walking in on him during his perverted mishaps make this a complicated issue.  Just for good measure, the writers then insert ten episodes of pseudo-dramatic, fanservice-packed garbage for her to subsequently fall in love with him in for no explicable reason; and, of course, these episodes come with the usual array of harem events such as the bikini beach scene.  By the time the "serious" events of the last two episodes arrived, I could have cared less for any of the characters, and found myself laughing at instead of feeling pity for the girls.AnimationFor a 2008 production, the animation, in relative terms, is atrocious.  While not  absolutely awful, its flaws make it seem incredibly dated while still aiming for the colorful, vibrant feel most modern series possess.  Above all else, there is a very noticeable lack of movement, which becomes apparent right of the bat and persists all the way through.  Character dialogue tended to be accompanied by an unusual amount of stills, and the inanimate backgrounds carried a very rigid, late 90's feel.  To make matters worse, it seemed as if two different art teams worked separately on the characters and the backgrounds, as the two appeared vaguely congruent at best.  This resulted in an overall droll and plain atmosphere, and given the horrendous quality of the fanservice, I was not impressed whatsoever.SoundIt certainly didn't help H20's suffering aesthetics, either, by having shoddy voice acting and a poorly composed musical score.  The main guy's voice is decent at best, but all the girls are either horribly high pitched or whiny and nasal.  Although, surprisingly, there was one song I actually liked, it seemed way out of place when followed by this one bile-infested piece of crap track that seemed to get played four times an episode; it's as if the series intended to keep hinting that it could be good, but wanted to definitively prove that such was not its goal. I'm not even going to bother going into any further detail, as H20 shouldn't be touched regardless of the quality of its sound, but it borders on painful at times. CharactersIf you're still reading and must truly know, there are three primary characters in H20: Dumbass A (the guy), Dumbass B (the blonde chick), and Dumbass C (the emo girl.)  I think their names were Takuma, Hinata, and Hayami respectively, but I honestly wasn't concerned enough about any of the three to actually pay them too much attention.  As I mentioned before, Takuma is completely retarded, and his inability to keep his head out of a pair of breasts completely ruins the respectability the writers tried to force him to possess in the later episodes.  Hinata was the only tolerable character, mostly because she actually had some semblance of depth, but even then only slightly garnered my interest.  Regardless, for the most part the writers reduced her character to revolve around the fact that she had the biggest boobs out of the all the girls, so she's not really worth any more mention. Again, though, Hayami was by far the most "interesting" character, probably because none of her reactions to any events in H20 made much sense.  One moment she begs for Takuma's affections, the next she's pissed off at him and cries to her classmates to kick her ass to get back at him.  Seriously, what the hell?  I get that she was supposed to have had a rough life, but her complete inconsistency in personality did absolutely nothing for her character.  She seemed to be nothing more than plot-driven tripe, and given how downright abominable the story was to begin with, I hadn't the slightest bit of empathy for her.OverallFor those looking for a recent, relatively serious romantic drama, check out Myself; Yourself and steer clear of H20 all together; aside from its fringe harem attraction, this crap isn't worth one iota of anyone's time.  If for some reason completely unbeknownst to me you find yourself still interested, try coming up with different names for the series like  "HYDROGEN DIOXIDE: TARSAL IMPRINTS IN THE SILICON" instead of forcing its mediocrity down your throat.  Seriously, there are so many other more productive things to do with your time that there is absolutely no reason to give this crap consideration.  For anybody not specifically obsessed with shallow harems, heed my advice: do not touch.  Ever.


H2O - Footprint’s in the Sand is a 12 episode harem ecchi anime with themes of bullying and comedy, also claiming to be psychological. Initial impressions looked positive, the main character is blind and a girl is getting bullied for some reason, it seemed promising. I wanted to enjoy this anime, but I soon found it to be rather shoddy, with various pressing concerns. Especially the story. The title refers to the names of the three main female characters, Hayami, Hinata and Otoha. It sounded like the sort of anime I’d like, I was expecting it to be quite serious and thought-provoking. Keep reading to find out where this anime went wrong. Animation I had trouble believing it was a 2008 anime. I don’t think it was available in any quality better than 480p and even then it wouldn’t have helped. The character models looked fairly clear on close ups, but adjusting one’s focus to the background and one would be mistaking this anime for something made in the early 2000s. The style didn’t really stand out at all, in fact it also looked a bit weird in places. Very generic characters and the male lead looked very derpy too. I really didn’t like the design of him, his ugly mug resurfaced memories of terrible harem/ecchi I once watched. He doesn’t exactly look like the typical harem protagonist, but just a bit worse. Looks shouldn’t matter too much, but here it combined with his dislikeable personality to make me dislike the character. The other characters also just look very unoriginal and look like characters seen in many other anime. Something I found a bit shoddy was the manner in which the blindness was depicted. They just closed his eyes all the time, like the trope closed eyes characters in some anime (Brock in Pokemon for example). I’ve seen blindness depicted in much better ways in other anime, this method of depicting it is rather shoddy. And finally I was shocked to find that this anime is brimming with ecchi and fan-service. Early on, the main character’s blindness is an excuse for the anime to put him into dodgy situations, like landing on or under girls, poking/feeling them in awkward places, there’s even one seen where he falls over somehow ending up right in a girls crotch. Quite sordid, there’s even a token beach scene complete with not one, but two girls in that hideous school swimsuit. They meant it in a light-hearted way, which really damaged the serious atmosphere the anime seemed to want to go for. It seemed to be die off after the early episodes, but before I could breathe a sigh of relief, they went overboard in the parody episode and the ecchi remained thereafter. Sound The music didn’t quite stand out to me. I even found myself occasionally skipping the intro, but not necessarily because it’s terrible. It’s okay, but the outro wasn’t as great. Being a serious anime, one would expect the background soundtrack to be some serious orchestral scores and instrumentals. It was actually there, but somehow I barely noticed it. The background music wasn’t discernible until I actively tried to pay attention to it.. Nonetheless the background tracks had relevance. There’s not much I can say about it, since it went over my head, neither the music nor the content itself stood out. This anime is available only in Japanese, I don’t think it would be suitable for an English dub. The only main male character, the protagonist is voiced by a woman and as usual, it shows since his voice sounds off a bit. I guess his voice hasn’t broken, despite being in middle school. Ami Koshimizu is the voice actor behind Takuma Hirose, having also been the voice of Kallen Stadtfeld in Code Geass, Anemone in Eureka Seven, Demon King in Maoyuu Maou Yuusha, Nanaka Yatsushiro in Myself Yourself and Holo in Spice and Wolf. Hayami Kohinata is voiced by Harumi Sakurai, who voices Yuri in Angel Beats, Tsukasa Tsutsukakushi and Ranka Sena in Mashiro Iro Symphony. Youko Honda who voices Maki Kumon has also voiced Mana Ishizuki in Sola and Miho in Nodame Cantabile. Hinata Kagura is voiced by Ryouko Tanaka, Otoha is voiced by Mia Naruse, Hamaji Yakumo is voiced by Yui Sakakibara and Yui Tabata is voiced by Mio Yasuda. These voice actors don’t seem to have much experience, even so they did a sufficient job of getting across the typiucal anime voices you’d expect to hear for these characters. Characters Unless otherwise stated, the characters are middle school students. Hirose Takuma, the male protagonist and moves in with his uncle in a quite rural village. This is due to his illness, he was apparently born blind and unable to see. Though you might as well ignore it since from episode 2 onwards he’s able to see normally and the generally acts as if he was never blind in the first place. Everyone calls him Hirose-sama and he is often refered to as ‘yakusoku no hito,’ which means ‘the promised one’. He’s the typical harem protagonist, no balls, weak-willed, often gets himself into ecchi situations, unable to stand up for himself, popular among girls and nice to girls in such a way that they somehow become infatuated with him. I really hated this character, until he started showing some guts and actually tries to improve the situation in episode 5. He’s somewhat defensive of Hayami and wants to make friends with everyone. When it comes to Hayami, he’s stubborn and refuses to leave her alone. He’s the only one who can see Otoha. The story of his parents is eventually revealed. Otoha is a ghost that appears to Hayami when no other characters are around, even in his dreams. She somehow magically cures his blindness and always tries to flirt with him, she usually appears flying at Hirose in an attempt to give him a hug. It’s obvious she likes him and the story with this character goes deep, there’s a lot to be revealed about her and who she really is. Though I found it obvious, put two and two together and the truth is evident. I really don’t see how she can be a main character, when someone like Yui isn’t. She doesn’t appear enough to warrant it in my opinion, her character is absent from episode 9 onwards. Hayami Kohinata is the poor (literally has nothing to her name) bullied girl, who lives across a bridge in two broken gondolas on her own (the no parent situation is eventually explained). The entire village hates her. She is very cold and behaves tsundere towards Hirose, who she clearly has a crush on. He often gets slapped when he gets in a pervy situation with her (e.g. slipping on soap and landing on her taking a bath). She often mentions the one friend she once had and currently the only person who’d engage with her is Hirose. Her favourite food is tamagoyaki (sweet egg roll) and she prefers to be left alone. She can’t cook and often eats cup noodles. It turns out that she’s a nice person if one gets to know her, but she has a habit of getting upset and storming out of class. I don’t know why she even bothers going to school, since she’s bullied there where even the teachers and adults refuse to help. Her character actually goes through a significant change halfway through the anime, all I can say is that her hairstyle is the most obvious difference. Hinata Kagura is the granddaughter of the village chief/elder and is a girl who appears to be perfect. She’s good at almost everything, she looks gorgeous and is probably the most popular kid in the village. They even give her *ugh* big boobs. A nice person, she strives to be a good girl and to get praised by her grandfather. She can only cook tamagoyaki, but tends to cook a lot for Hirose. From a very young age, Hinata Kagura was promised to Hirose Takuma in marriage. As well as flirting with him excessively, she calls him Hirose-sama and is the one to label him as ‘yakusoku no hito’. Hinata has high expectations from her grandfather and the village around her, especially as this seems to have something to do with the death of her younger sister, Hotaru Kagura. Not surprisingly, there is more to this girl than meets the eye. One clue is that she is constantly reminded that she must be Hinata Kagura. Much like Hayami, this character goes through a change The hot-headed, big ego, ojou-sama trope character here is Yui Tabata. She craves attention and is often ejected out of the scene when she does, in a variety of manners which are probably meant to be funny. She works the fields on the lands her family owns with her two henchmen, two kiss-ass boys from her class. She has a great dislike of Hayami, to the point where she and her henchmen bully her. This has a lot to do with this characters background. The other character don’t matter much, but one I should mention is Hinata’s grandfather the village elder. He harbours great hate for Hayami and it seems the mean things Hinata does to Hayami are because of him. He often tells Hinata that she must be Hinata Kagura, which might not make sense early on. He seems to be capable of being very mean and appears to govern the village with an iron fist, though for the most part the villagers are happy to have him as their leader. I’ll also mention that Hirose’s uncle behaves a bit campy and appears to possibly be gay. He also calls Hirose ‘Taku-bou.’ Story The blind boy Hirose Takuma moves into a quiet village in order for him to get better. Here, he makes friends with a bunch of girls. He dreams of a mysterious fairy Otoha who somehow magically cures his blindness. And this is my first problem with the plot of this anime, the way his blindness is depicted is lacklustre. As well as it just being him closing his eyes, they magically remove it. Now I know this is fiction, so anything can happen (a toe could materialise into thin air, turn into a building and eat a bite out of the earth), but things do need to make some sort of sense. The plot of this anime is filled with too many conveniences. For the rest of the anime, the entire cast behave as if Hirose has always been able to see, with minor references to him being blind. Especially Hirose who acts like it, maybe I’m wrong and he wasn’t always blind. They also make a story mechanic where Hirose’s blindness is linked with how he feels. If his heart opens then so does his eyes. I guess this might explain why his blindness is just him having his eyes closed. This also kinda links in with the suggested psychological aspect, which in my opinion is just convenience and cheap, much like the ‘they woke up and it was just all a dream’ ending to a narrative that is an absolute no-no (that is just an example btw). The whole situation with Hayami being bullied is the only interesting aspect of the story, besides Hinata’s backstory. It’s a mystery hidden from the viewer and Hirose that turned out a tad disappointing to me, just because it’s a familiar explanation/situation I’ve seen in stories and anime before. It still doesn’t make some sense as Hayami attends school where she gets bullied, though that might be because she feels she somehow deserves it. I’m afraid to say this aspect of the story is flawed. The conclusion must be mentioned here as it goes all over the place and lacks coherence. Things happen for the sake of it and it seems half-arsed. They break one of the golden rules of story-telling and anime plots. And possibly another. Some folks claim it to be an emotional ending. I’m a sucker for such things, yet I didn’t even feel the slightest bit sad. This anime was unable to invoke thought and emotion. One positive thing I can say about the ending is that they do something nice that is rarely done (involves passage of time). Conclusion This anime seemed to have promise, even after the rocky start it seemed to be getting better before going downhill in episode 8. A potentially emotional and serious plot ruined by pointless ecchi and careless writing. As a reviewer it is my job to look at things with a cynical eye and right now I’m having trouble figuring out who this anime is aimed at? Perhaps fans of ecchi/fan-service who also want a serious story? Though there are better anime for that. Or maybe for those who like this style of broken ‘full-of-miracles’ story? Looking at the average rating and the reviews, it seems there are some folks who appreciate it. I honestly thought I’d like this anime before I started watching it, perhaps my high expectations ruined my enjoyment? For most viewers, I’d suggest avoiding this one, though not as terrible as other anime, the plot really let it down. And I’m shocked to think some people would believe this anime is underrated. Family-friendliness Rating: 4/5 Fan-service and ecchi galore (lower is better) Overall Rating: 4/10 (higher is better)

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