The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Kowarekake no Orgel

Title: Kowarekake no Orgel aka Half-Broken Music Box
Genre: Drama
Company: ElectromagneticWave
Format: 1 OVA
Dates: 31 Dec 2009

Synopsis: “Parents” are helper androids who take the form of small girls. On a raining night, Keiichiro finds a broken down old Parents dumped in a pile of rubbish behind a shrine. He takes her to a Parents mechanic, who tells him that they don’t make replacement parts for this type anymore, so she can’t be fixed. Keiichiro takes her home anyway, but somehow, the next morning, she comes to life and begins to care for Keiichiro. As she’s unable to remember what her former owner called her, Keiichiro gives her the name “Flower”.

The Highlights
Animation: Very crisp; competitive with any studio made OVA.
Tone: Strangely feels like a short visual novel, both in atmosphere and storytelling.
Execution: A bit rough around the edges.
Drama: It wants you to be sad, but it’s hit-and-miss.

I had heard almost nothing about Kowarekake no Orgel going into it, except for the occasional suggestion that it’s sad and will make you cry. What I learned afterwards is that Kowarekake no Orgel is an independent doujin anime, which is a refreshing rarity in a medium so dominated by studio works. The animation is crisp, and there’s a good amount of attention to detail in its overall visual presentation… I just can’t say the same about the directing. Its intention is obvious fairly early, and while I didn’t mind it, it’s the sort of anime that will inevitably divide audiences. At the end of the day, it’s an anime that wants you to cry, which is all well and good, but there’s just nothing else to it. If you do cry, you’ll love it, if you don’t, it’s much less likely. Predicting who’ll respond to it and who won’t is like shooting into the dark.

If someone had told me this was based on a short visual novel, I’d have believed them. It’s reminiscent of Key‘s Planetarian in some moments, particularly those early when Keiichiro recovers an android, Flower, broken down in a rain-drenched garbage pile, and has a similar mood to Narcissu later, with its summer small-town setting and a certain event that happens towards the end. There’s a sweetness to how the events are presented, but I wonder if it would have been more affecting if things were slightly more subdued and tender.

The story is very simple, and there’s no pretentiousness about it. The male lead is a young man with a tragic back-story, while the female lead is a cutesy moe android who is clumsy but earnest. While the temptation may have been to overplay Flower’s moe traits (which they do admittedly come close to doing), enough restraint is shown that one can take Flower seriously during the more dramatic moments, and sympathize (somewhat) with her plight. The story builds to something of an inevitability, which takes away from its potential power. While I can understand the foreshadowing at the beginning as a means to prevent mood whiplash, I wish it didn’t make the ending so predictable.

It’s easy to accuse Kowarekake no Orgel of trying to put an onion under your nose, but I generally consider this a trite criticism which doesn’t get the root of a given melodrama’s problems. In this case, Kowarekake no Orgel could have worked, and almost did, but its rough execution probably held it back from being truly evocative. At the very least, I’m gladdened by the fact that an independent anime could look so polished. The spirit of visual novels from a decade ago, when the medium consisted mostly of doujin works, is in this anime. Whatever you might think of this anime, it shows that it is possible to make independent anime, and you don’t have be named “Shinkai Makato” to do so. I seriously hope we see more in the future.

The Rating: 6

Reviewed by: Sorrow-kun

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