The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Futakoi Alternative

Title: Futakoi Alternative
Genre: Romance/Action
Company: UFO Table
Format: 13 episodes
Dates: 7 Apr 2005 – 30 Jun 2005

Synopsis: Twenty-one year old Futaba Rentarou runs a detective agency he inherited from his late father with his two fifteen year old twin assistants, Shirogane Sara and Soujyu. Between jobs, which include tracking down lost pets and finding masked troublemakers, Rentarou, Sara and Soujyu chase UFOs and argue over who should answer the telephone.

The Highlights
Cinematography: Constantly eye-catching and pulsating with life; full of flair.
Characters: Strong personalities; many dynamic characters with a significant amount of depth.
Story: So ridiculous it works.
Cameos: Mostly unnecessary.

There are a lot of people who suspect that Futakoi Alternative was built around a very simple, almost gimmicky philosophy: to be the complete opposite of the original Futakoi series. Perhaps it can be attributed to how boring the original Futakoi was, but the supposed polar opposite of the original bland harem is actually an engrossing, and highly unconventional story surrounding a set of believable, yet inspired characters. However, I prefer not to believe that an anime as good as this could be spawned from such a simple gimmicky idea.

Futakoi Alternative’s story isn’t overly short of completely ridiculous. The insanity of the first four minutes alone, which involve a giant marshmallow squid monster on a plane, are enough to dispel any expectations for the plot to keep within the bounds of what is sensible. But as bizarre as it is, the story is a defining trait, one that allows itself to relish in style and explore its characters. The pacing alternates between breakneck speed and leisurely calm frequently and with minimal effort, all while displaying a wide array of eye-catching effects. The visual cinematography is something to be heralded, ever defying convention and drawing attention to itself. Unconventional timeline shifts are often invoked in the telling of the story, which work to great effect to highlight experiences and changes in the characters. This makes sympathizing with these dynamic characters even easier – although considering how strong the personalities are, particularly in the main three, winning over this particular reviewer was never a challenge. Rentarou himself is a mix of courageous drive and heroism, yet possessed a fair dose of truly human characteristics that deservedly earn him praise as one of the best male leads from this year.

Unfortunately, some of the episodes towards the beginning of the series can be tedious. Various throwaway cameos from the first series are introduced with little reason except to sate fans. Some of these episodes are slightly salvageable for developing the main three characters, but an equal number are completely pointless, and only serve to stifle the plot. Though fortunately rare, some of these episodes even go so far as to drown in an overuse of the unconventional cinematography and timelines that otherwise compliment the series so well, making the story sometimes confusing and difficult to follow.

When the plot finally does reveal its hand, we become privy to Futakoi Alternative’s true colours. The final third is a compelling display of amazing acts from numerous characters which (if they hadn’t already) are almost certain to win your respect and admiration. All this takes place to a strong and vast soundtrack, which includes the sweet, touching ED song, “Bokura no Jikan”, from eufonius.

In a lot of ways, Futakoi Alternative is an exercise in style. But it is its substance that makes it memorable. Futakoi Alternative’s final episodes display its large cast of rich characters in such a way that will make them very difficult to forget, and almost impossible not to like. If you can forgive (let alone appreciate) a plot that goes beyond the abnormal and the rare pointless episode, Futakoi Alternative is very much worth your time.

The Rating: 8

Reviewed by: Sorrow-kun

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