Utakata

TV (12 eps)
2004
Fall 2004
3.245 out of 5 from 1,588 votes
Rank #4,457

On the day before summer vacation, Ichika discovered an old mirror in an old school building. From within it, the mysterious Manatsu looked out and offered to trade favors: if Ichika will do her "homework" (experience the power of the spiritual life forces and write about her feelings) then she will return the charm that Ichika has lost. As Ichika struggles to absorb the raw power of nature, those who watch from the other side of the mirror eagerly await her decision at the end of trials. Can a 14 year old take on the sins of the world and mend the rifts between nature and humanity?

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FalseDawn
6

StoryIn a sense, Uta Kata is a unique series in that it doesn't specifically have an antagonist - you could consider the mysterious woman who likes to stand on rooftops 'observing' the main characters as a villain of sorts, but she's not the usual "evil" kind. And I think this is actually where the series starts to fall down; it has no motive behind it. I completely disagree with the synopsis provided on the Anime-Planet Recommendations Database that suggests that Ichika is attempting to bridge the gap between nature and humanity, because that just doesn't seem to happen. Yes, there are times when her temporary powers are used to help people (though largely in the face of natural disasters, not human-made ones), but in the end, it seems more like a pointless exploration of power, largely because there is no resolution at the end.But let's backtrack: Uta Kata opens on the last day of term before the long summer vacation, soon to be enjoyed by the protagonist, Tachibana Ichika. While cleaning a coincidentally-placed unused school building, she loses a trinket given to her by her crush, which leads to her meeting a girl who appears from a mirror, named Manatsu. They quickly become best friends and Manatsu reveals that she can let Ichika experience the powers of the Djinn, godly beings related to different abstracts (for instance, the Sun Djinn, the Moon Djinn, etc). The series follows her transformation as a human after experiencing such consuming power.Interesting, you say? Perhaps the idea is, but the execution is lacking. For one, it begins to follow the concept-of-the-week idea (similar to the villain-of-the-week) and the final decision to be made by Ichika, which appears to be the crux of the series, is much too over-dramatized to make any real sense. Another reason would be that it tries too hard with the hackneyed "coming-of-age" theme that it builds its train tracks on. The transition from innocence to experience is presented with too heavy a hand, and it feels like some of the exposition is merely added to hammer in that theme.I suppose what it lacks though, as I've already mentioned, is motive. There is no point to it - and when the writers attempt to shoehorn a point into the plot, it comes across as being preposterous to say the least.AnimationAnd now forget everything I've said about the story - because the animation is awe-inspiring. The landscape shots are beautiful, especially the beach episode and the various dream sequences. Colour is used lavishly and even the night scenery, particularly the festival, are utilised to their maximum effect both visually and symbolically.Even the character designs themselves are unlike anything you'll find elsewhere in anime. Despite the characters being fourteen, they are made to look younger and cuter than their age - not on the same scale as Manabi Straight  or Lucky Star where the characters are noticeably older than their character designs - but it's fair to say that their implied innocence is brought to the fore through the animation style. The irises are huge compared to their respective pupils, giving them a unique look that I haven't seen in any other series. The few adult characters dotted around the storyline, however, are much more natural-looking but without being too contrasting, combining the two different styles effortlessly.Another original part of the animation are the costumes. Uta Kata  is probably the only series that can boast it has as many costume-changes as Cardcaptor Sakura. The costumes are in fact a collaborative element, where artists from well-known series "guest-star" as weekly costume designers. Such artists include Koshi Rikudo (Excel Saga), Akamatsu Ken (Love Hina) and Ueda Hajime (FLCL). This makes each costume eye-catching and with a great deal of variety.The only thing that lets this score down is the persistent need for fanservice. While the characters are portrayed as innocent, a lot of skin is uncovered and there's one memorable nude scene - which I personally think it was unnecessary. But then again, I know people who will now watch the series because I've commented on nudity, so who am I to say what attracts the fans?SoundThe OP and ED are two of my favourite songs in anime history. Not only are they wonderfully atmospheric pieces of music, but they also fit the series snugly. I cannot think of an OP or ED that I've replayed more than these two. The sound in the series itself sounds very whole. It treats your ears to some pleasant background music, relying on the woodwind section (particularly flutes) to portray a sense of summer and innocence.The seiyuu themselves are pretty well-suited to their characters, though I think it's fair to say that Ichika will get on your nerves after a while, but I wonder if that's more her character than the voice itself.CharactersThe two characters in this series are Ichika and Manatsu. While the supporting cast are focussed on in certain episodes, they're rarely interesting and only lightly explored. Bubbling beneath the surface of this series, there's hints of child abuse and other sexual encounters, but these feel tacked on - as if trying to make Uta Kata more sinister than it actually is. So I'll ignore the support cast and focus on the two main characters.Ichika is an unusual choice of protagonist, who seemingly takes things too seriously (and is told so by a number of people) and whose sense of humour is pretty lacking. She's extremely introverted and without Manatsu's presence, we'd probably consider her an anti-social being, perhaps even to the extent of her being misanthropic. As the viewer, we are not really given the chance to empathize with her - we can only see her being influenced by the great powers bestowed upon her, but the experience is so far out of our own field of knowledge that we can only sympathize with the effects... but even then, some of her actions seem abnormal reactions, despite her extraordinary circumstances. Her violent dreams and the emotional breakdowns she experiences throughout the series never endear us to her personality. Ichika is a weak person, both emotionally and in terms of willpower. And yet, she finds strength through her experiences with the Djinn, and by the end of it, we realise that she's not naive any more, but in fact, a strong-minded individual who has dealt with all the hardships fate has thrown at her and come out the other side with her humanity intact.Manatsu is her flipside. By contrast, she's energetic, she speaks her mind and nothing seems to faze her, even Ichika's angst. Somewhat stereotypical, Manatsu only saves herself from becoming a cliche because of her relationship with Ichika and the mystery that enshrouds her character. She maintains her role as Ichika's confidante - and in a sense, Ichika's conscience - even though she reveals little about herself. I would even go as far as saying that Manatsu doesn't really exist without Ichika - she doesn't seem to be a character in her own right, more an extension of Ichika. By the end of the series, it becomes clear that Manatsu is the guiding hand that leads Ichika into the experienced world.OverallUta Kata has always confused me as to its intent: on the surface, it seems like a warm story of two best friends experiencing otherworldly adventures - but underneath lies a dark, emotional world, so heightened that it becomes abnormal and frightening. I don't dislike series that set out to be intentionally strange, but Uta Kata gives mixed messages to its viewers. Narutaru  had a similar effect on me, but was much more striking and I was much more willing to be whisked away by its story, whereas Uta Kata  doesn't seem to understand what it's driving at. While being a coming-of-age story, it also appears to want to tell its viewers about gods and hatred towards humanity - but it fails to register a tangible point on both counts. Its emphasis on the dark, sinister emotions endured during growing up seems too over-the-top, rendering the actual plotline motiveless.However, the one reason you should watch this series for is the animation. It's like luxury chocolate ice cream for the eyes, and I cannot think of any other project that has incorporated so many popular anime artists on one series. I find it a shame that the decision wasn't made to focus on the storyline a bit more than the animation, though.In the end though, Uta Kata  is worthwhile only as eye-candy. While it strains to be intelligent and philosophically-daring, it falls at every hurdle.

Galadriel
8.5

Plot: "On the day before summer vacation, Ichika discovered an old mirror in an old school building. From within it, the mysterious Manatsu looked out and offered to trade favors: if Ichika will do her "homework" (experience the power of the spiritual life forces and write about her feelings) then she will return the charm that Ichika has lost. As Ichika struggles to absorb the raw power of nature, those who watch from the other side of the mirror eagerly await her decision at the end of trials. Can a 14 year old take on the sins of the world and mend the rifts between nature and humanity?" (site synopsis)Story: Being a fan of shoujo-ai animes i decided to give a shot to Uta Kata which recently came in the center of my attention especially after i watched Kiddy Grade and the animation of both of this series seem quite alike, and as well the character designs. Many people might wonder, what the hell the title means, well Uta means "poem" and Kata means "fragment" in other words, "poem fragments. What amazed me, well uhm not quite amazed, what surprized me is that this series actualy doesnt have a bad side, or a real antagonist, and whats more is that the synopsis made for this anime in anime-planet is totaly messed up and i completely disagree with it, because of it i was about to drop this anime because it seemed really confusing, the premise says one thing but the anime itself does another thing. It got pretty annoying and i was actualy thinking what the heck could it be about. Lucky for me that i also checked the official anime-planet review and everything cleared up so i continued watching it until the end. Uta Kata managed to catch my attention, keeping me captivated until the end, it really raised my interest because it seemed pretty distinctive compared to other typical animes that actualy have a main villain/antagonist or at least a bad side. The story of Uta Kata is centered on a teenage girl named Ichika. One day when she toghether with her school mates were asked to clean an old building, Ichika discovered an old mirror which seemed kinda strange. What's even more strange is that from that mirror a mysterious girl named Manatsu came out and made an offer to Ichika, more like to trade favors: if Ichika will do her "homework" (which is to write down the experiences that she feels while using the spiritual life forces, the power of Djinn) then she will return the charm that has been changed when Manatsu came out from the window (the synopsis tell that the charm was lost, infact the charm changed, it wasnt lost, it contained the 12 powers of the Djinn and while she was using them one by one the stones on the charm were dissapearing). At the begining it seemed like a child's play, using the powers of the Djinn to bring peace and harmony to the people was the thing that Ichika wanted to do although things did not went as she expected. Another mysterious character which was actualy Ichika's neighbour, a woman named Saya, was supervising, was like watching over her, making and taking advantage of every oportunity so that Ichika will remain with no other choice than to use the powers of Djinn. Her actions were pretty much unjustified, and for what purpose was she doing this things? This question will be answered at the very end of the anime. What makes it even more interesting is that apparently the boys that were tutoring Ichika, Sei and Kai, actualy gave that charm to her and they had an idea of what was going on, were they actualy directly implicated in the story, did they know about Saya and her actions or did they knew Saya long before Ichika gained her powers? All of this will be answered by watching episode after episode and it will clear up near the end. The question is why was Ichika chosen to test this powers? Was she something like "the chosen one" or it was just a pure coincidence? This remains to discuss though im sure that this questions will make anyone feel curious.Animation and Sound: In terms of animation as i mentioned above, Uta Kata is similar with Kiddy Grade's animation style, directing and character designs as well. The animation of Uta Kata is pretty eye catching, the colours and the scenery are used in a briliant way they are utilised at their maximum potential leaving behing a masterpiece in terms of animation. The character designs are also another topic where Uta Kata stands still, they are so innocently made, even though most of the protagonists are fourteen years old the character design make them seem even younger and another thing that caught my eyes was the wonderful "cosplay" aspect of this anime, whenever Ichika was using the power of Djinn a new costume was appearing, their design pretty much impressed me as well. Since Uta Kata is categorized as "seinen" we should expect quite abit of Fan Service but, it used quite often though not in an ecchi, perverted way though, and if i think again there was only one yet funny nude scene which remained deep implanted in my brain (everybody knows that Fan Service actualy attract mases so why not use it at least its not really in an ecchi, perverted way, because if it was it would have ruined the entire story of this anime). The sound of Uta Kata is also pretty well chose and really fits the anime mood and environment, perfect choice for the atmosphere that occures in Uta Kata, the OP and ED songs are my 2 of my favorite soundtracks as well.Characters: One of the lowest points of this anime is actualy related to the characters of Uta Kata. We know that Ichika and Manatsu are actualy the main protagonists of this anime and aside from the side-characters this ones were actualy developed quite abit showing some things, details about their past in a slow-paced way. Ichika is probably a surprizing choice for a main protagonist, she is a person that always takes things too seriously (sometimes it is required and sometimes not, in life) and in some episodes she is told so by other characters as well. Even though she is a really weak person, physically, emotionaly and she even lacks willpower, from experiencing the power of Djinn she becomes a strong-willed person which dealt with all the hardships that she encountered while she possessed the powers of Djinn. Manatsu is everything that Ichika lacks though, she is a person that doesnt take things serious, she is strong emotionaly, she even mentioned that she is not able to cry a single tear, physicaly and she has willpower as well. Although her sudden appearance and the shallow detail that is shown about her when she actualy met Ichika makes her a quite interesting yet mysterious character. Her role was like a merely supporting character if i have to say it, she was like Ichika's confident always cheering her up and supporting her while she faced the encounters of the powers of Djinn. In the end, its revealed that Manatsu is actualy the guide that leaded Ichika to experience the powers of Djinn.Overall: Uta Kata apparently seems to be heartwarming, nice, pretty impressing, interesting though it kinda fails, since even the synopsis for this anime here was made completely wrong (i dun even wana know who did it) it makes it even more confusing than it was. Uta Kata hardly tries to be intelligent, to impress the viewer but in the end it completely fails, though because of the circumstances of this anime and the events that occure, it makes you feel more and more curious about it, it catches your attention ending up sympathizing with the main protagonists. The thing that actualy makes this anime worths watching and it compensates for the holes in the story/character development is the briliant animation style and the nice sound of this anime. Sufice to say, in my opinion i would recommend this anime for everyone, though i forgot to mention one thing, the ending of this anime wasn't the catastrophic type though, i witnessed a shounen-ai aspect that i really did not predict (though i smelled something fishy about those two dudes, Sei and Kai from the begining) and which i damn dislike, i think that its even more disgusting than the incest theme. Anyway, Uta Kata is at least worth watching though i strongly doubt that i will ever watch it again, it will take me alot of time to remove that shounen-ai thing that i witnessed and thats because this anime really made me captivated and interested from the begining until the end.And some videos:~Enjoy and Cya Around~

ThatAnimeSnob
4.5

Uta Kata is an interesting idea for a story that did the mistake of becoming a series instead of a movie. The basic concept is extremely captivating but stretching it to last for 12 episodes, most of which are aimless slice of life, ends up killing all the excitement. To put it very simply, the story is about some girl getting powers from some other girl and spends each episode trying to help those around her with magic. The catch is, most of the times she ends up creating more harm than aid, and thus there is a very dark side to her otherwise supernatural gift. Now let me make a list of the interesting points of this premise:- Yuri innuendos between lolis; run now and watch it you sleazy viewers! Yuri never fails. - A different magical transformation on each episode. That’s right, if you are bored with the same repeated clips and attacks of mahou shojo, then this is interesting for having a different uniform and a different elemental power on each episode. - Dark and depressing side to an otherwise cheery genre. It goes against the norm of such shows and presents how even magic can have its toll and negative side.- WTF ending trying to make everything bigger than life itself. Because it’s anime and can do this stuff.In theory the above elements would be enough to have ourselves a winner. And it is true; when it first aired it had some interesting reactions from several viewers, especially female shojo fans and male Yuri fans. Unfortunately the feeling went away pretty fast because as I said it was a nice idea stretched to last too much and to the most part nothing happened. So if I am to add the negative side to the above strong points I mentioned, we get these results:- There are lots of Yuri themed anime and this is amongst the weakest ones because of the simplicity of its characters and the blunt plot which makes it easily replaced with a dozen other better directed shows.- Having different uniforms on each episode is a minor detail that in the longrun does not help much in keeping you interested. Cardcaptor Sakura for example did the same and it was a lot more moe to the point it mattered. Also there is Fairy Tale where a female warrior named Erza does the exact same thing and it is a lot fancier than just a few minutes of some simplistic magic we will never see again. - Dark themed mahou shojo are uncommon but there have definitely been better examples. The older Princess Tutu and the newer Madoka Magica are famous examples which simply overshadow in context and presentation the simplicity and dullness of Uta Kata.- Nobody does it better than Gainax when it comes to WTF endings and this is definitely nothing much before those. So individually Uta Kata may seem interesting and special but in closer examination and comparison with anything else that came around it ends up being way too simple and boring. The character dynamics are weak, their design is generic, and the premise does not really deserve a whole series to be told. Backed up by unimpressive artwork and soundtrack is the final straw to tell you DON’T LIKE THIS SHOW. So I am just going to say go watch Princess Tutu or Madoka Magica (although I dislike Madoka) instead of this since it is completely obsolete before them.

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