The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Akane-Iro ni Somaru Saka

Title: Akane-Iro ni Somaru Saka aka The Hill Dyed Rose Madder
Genre: Romance/Comedy
Company: TNK/Marvelous Entertainment
Format: 12 episodes
Dates: 1 Oct 2008 – 19 Dec 2008

Synopsis:  Nagase Junichi carries around an unwanted reputation as a tough delinquent with the nickname “Geno Killer”, which lets him rescue a rich girl named Katagiri Yuuhi from the advances of some aggressive boys.  It turns out that Yuuhi has transferred to Junichi’s school, but their brief history leads their fellow classmates to speculate that there might be something between the two of them.  Junichi misinterprets this and takes the opportunity to steal a kiss from Yuuhi, which causes her to react violently.  But, to make matters worse, Yuuhi finds out that she and Junichi have been arranged to be married, and that they’re therefore currently engaged.

The Highlights
Characters: The main characters are bland variations of archetypes.
Romance: Romantic development left until late; final decision feels forced.
Stand alone episodes: Occasionally amusing, but mostly pointless.
Side characters: Slightly more interesting than the main characters.
Junichi’s parents: A novel addition for this genre, but incidental to the plot.
Seiyuu: Lots of big names, but most are wasted in their roles.

Directed by the wonderful mind that brought us the School Days(1,2,3) anime, Motonaga Keitaro, Akane-iro ni Somaru Saka is yet another eroge conversion about a love triangle.  But don’t expect anything like School Days; while the infamous extreme soap opera is unforgettable for all the wrong reasons, Akasaka is as unique as a rubber band.  It’s as bland and forgettable a shounen romance based on a renai game as one could find, an any-coloured visual novel conversion with varying levels of dull characters doing varying levels of dull activities.  Think Yoake Mae Yori Ruri Iro Na ~Crescent Love~ (remember, the cabbage anime), except with better aesthetics and execution, but just as little ambition.  The only ambition in this anime is for mediocrity, and it can’t even attain that.

Characters make or break anime in the romance genre.  I can stand to watch characters doing episode after episode of inane activities provided they’re at least interesting and likable.  Akasaka’s main characters are weak variations of tried-and-true archetypes.  I don’t deny that these characters could have possibly developed into more interesting personalities, but there’s so little meaningful character development that they’re ultimately difficult to sympathize with.  Yuuhi is yet another Kugumiya-voiced tsundere.  I’d feel sorry for Kugumiya Rie constantly getting typecast, but every time she takes another one of these roles, she loses more and more integrity as a seiyuu, IMO.  You can literally hear the strains as Kugumiya tries her best to bring something new to this character, but in the end it’s just about impossible not to be reminded of Louise (Zero no Tsukaima) or Taiga (Toradora!).  But, looking for someone to root for in the main three characters, Yuuhi was the best I could find.  Minato’s primary characteristic is that she naturally gravitates towards the kitchen; the archetypal “wife” character, she embodies a commonly held fantasy, but purports an image of femininity that would have been more relevant in the 1950s.  Jun is also passé.  He’s yet another delinquent with a kind streak, which was cutting edge for anime romance leads three years ago, but has now become a cliché.  His internal conflict with his delinquent side, labeled “Geno Killer” (which we’re given nary an explanation for) makes for one of two dramatic conflicts in the main story, but is ultimately executed with a ham-fist.

The other central conflict is the love triangle itself, but the final decision is so arbitrary, Jun may as well have tossed a coin.  All I’ll say is that the other choice of girl would have made more sense within the context of the story (even if you weren’t shipping it), but I’ve never had much respect for romance series that simplify their central dilemmas to a matter of choice.  Nonetheless, it’s ten episodes before the romance takes centre stage, and what precedes it is generally pointless, harmless fun at best and inane at worst.

Personally, I think this anime could have been more interesting if it were about its side characters, particularly Mitsuki and Ayanokouji Karen, the latter of whom is basically Yuuhi’s rich girl traits taken to their logical conclusion (it’s no coincidence that the most entertaining scenes are the ones where Karen and Yuuhi get together and cluelessly grapple with the real world.)  And while the mediocre filler episodes have their moments, the show falls down with a conclusion to the romance which is bewildering.  The only thing genuinely unique about this anime is that Junichi’s father is an action hero from a Steven Segal movie.  Not that this ends up having anything to do with the plot.

The Rating: 4

Reviewed by: Sorrow-kun

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