Two thousand years ago, the stone sword known as Sekiken was involved in a tragedy that plunged the land of Kamitsumihara into chaos. Now, in the present, all the elements needed to perform a ritual to cleanse the land and end the endless cycle of reincarnation are available. Kamiazuka Touka, current holder of the Sekiken, meets Kawakabe Momoka, a young girl and reincarnate of the tragedy. During their brief time together, they must uncover the truth behind past events, try to lead a normal life, and learn what it’s like to be human.
Note: this is from a video review, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tcv3UQh7FwgIt is playful. What it is meanders between comedy, fantasy, and romance, often all at once. It is not one aspect or another; some episodes consist almost entirely of one theme, but later combine them with not necessarily equal proportions. What it does seem to have as an underlying element is Buddhism, and this sense that the present is what matters, as in the anime when the past is thought of destructive fantasies come into fruition, and if it's the future doubt is thrown in, as in real life. Other than that, each episode is narratively distinct, although they all have a bedrock of characters that appear in nearly every one. It is, essentially, an ensemble cast, but some are more visible due to their specific function in the world of Kamitsumihara.It doesn't shy away from much, which makes it fickle as a genre. Some fantasy may be comedic and serious at other times, but not many also attempt to present each story in its own specific frame, whether a theatre (and as such doubt its authenticity, in thinking the viewer is watching the watchers, but then viewers are still doing such an action outside of such a frame). It can have a meta-narrative, as per the implication that a character is also the writer, but still that somehow in-universe personalities are aware of subtitling. The latter is comedic, but the former is used more often in more serious narratives that serve as a commentary to what a 'flow' is, and how a subconsciousness may take over. The anime itself isn't told at all as simply as most other stories, and yet guises itself in typical shounen tropes, which may be distracting as to what causes this and that. Visually it synergizes with the script.While anime like Katekyo may have stereotypical props that tell a fairly straightforward story (that can still narrate it with vigour, although more comedic), Gettan uses items like swords in a similar, but symbolic fashion. Most events are also almost metaphorical, like when the sword first appeared. This is what separates it from most shounen anime, although the comedic episodes have more similarity, despite usually ending with a supernatural twist. This is what makes this story more unique than most other anime with similar themes, along with the variable of sexuality (done in a subtle way), which isn't by itself positive or negative; it was like Inuyasha (with shrines and myths) if that wasn't so single-minded about Naraku. In far fewer episodes Gettan tries to be even more varied, and this is also evident in its music which can range from jazz to (what sounds like) harps.Now, with regards to the average viewer's perception (as indicated by the decimals on various sites)... how exactly does a mind work? So, as long as one assumes Moonlight Lady 1 is seen by the same people as 2 (Gettan)... how? Was the prequel rated solely on how titillated one felt? Narrative and anything non-repetitive be damned? One is hentai, the other is a subtle narrative about meta-universes and existential possibilities... oh, but one can't possibly expect so much from the average viewer, can one? It's a world where Erica Friedman apparently complained it's not yuri enough. I mean, sure, it's unbelievable it even has such a prequel, so perhaps it's attracted the wrong sort of people, unable to appreciate both Yami and this.An impressive analysis of this series was done in the book titled 'Anime and the Visual Novel: Narrative Structure, Design and Play at the Crossroads of Animation and Computer Games' by Dani Cavallaro, page 55 - after the writing about Yami. It is certainly a deep narrative that merits delving into.
Originally posted on NihonQc.com on January 22nd 2009Story 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. Characters 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. Animation 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. ------------------------------- So overall: 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 EDKono Sekai ga Itsuka wa by Saori Hayami (Momoka) - Yumiko Kamiazuma -
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