The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Lamune

Title: Lamune aka Lemonade
Genre: Romance/Drama
Company: Picture Magic/Trinet Entertainment
Format: 12 episodes
Dates: 11 Oct 2005 – 27 Dec 2005

Synopsis: Tomosaka Kenji lives in a small town on the coast with his sister Suzuka and his father. He lives next door to Konoe Nanami, an eccentric girl that has trouble getting up in the morning, and the two share an extremely amiable relationship to the point that their friends call her “the wife”. While Kenji and Nanami have been close since their early childhood, most of their friends around them think they should become a couple.

The Highlights
Pacing: Slow… very, very slow.
Tone: With the exception of the final two episodes, almost totally lacks urgency or drama.
Characters: Simple personalities, but all are well explored.
Romance: Heartwarming, but hardly momentous.
Ending: Conclusive, yet melodramatic; doesn’t sync with the rest of the series.

There’s no shortage of slice-of-life moé anime out there and no shortage of such titles that are slow paced, but Lamune may well be the slowest paced series I’ve seen from the genre. There’s almost no semblance of urgency and the story has no qualms about stalling its momentum and moving the focus onto its side characters in the same formulaic style one generally sees from dating-sim anime. I’ll be blunt: there are times when this series is flat out boring, but there are equally moments featuring charming character interactions and engaging romantic developments. Whether this is enough to redeem the series will depend purely on one’s tastes, but there’s no arguing that this is a genre piece.

Like most in this genre, Lamune’s strength is characterization. The personalities featured in this series aren’t exceptional by any stretch of the imagination, but Lamune spares no efforts in revealing backgrounds, not just for characters, but to relationships. With the exception of the last, every episode begins with a flashback to the characters’ childhood, generally featuring interactions which establish the state of relationships, most frequently between the two lead characters. Most episodes end with a resolution that references the flashback, usually to highlight how the characters have grown. The main problem with this is that most of the time this development, especially for the side characters, comes off as quite trite or inconsequential. Then again, the aim isn’t really much more than to make the audience feel good, and more often than not it succeeds there.

The main two characters receive far more focus and, as such, have a far more elaborate relationship (though that’s not saying much), but the romance is, much like the characters, rather simplistic. It’s not until the penultimate episode that we see anything that even resembles drama and while this is fair enough, the drastic change in tone between the rest of the series and the melodramatic final episode is almost jarring. One character in particular goes through a bizarre range of emotions that are arguably out-of-character, and several months pass in a series that had only followed the course of a few weeks in its previous episodes.

There are numerous similarities between Lamune and another title in this genre, To Heart, and anyone who’s seen the latter will have a fair idea what to expect from the former. While I’d say To Heart has the more charming cast, Lamune has (believe it or not) the tighter story, and, unlike To Heart, doesn’t require you to go through a mediocre sequel to get a conclusion. With sound visuals and an adequate soundtrack (with the exception of “Summer Vacation” by Murata Ayumi, which may well be the worst ED song I’ve ever heard), Lamune knows what it is and delivers what it promises. One pretty much already has to be a fan of slice-of-life moé anime to enjoy Lamune, but, provided you are, there’s no obvious reason why I can’t recommend this.

The Rating: 6
6/10

Reviewed by: Sorrow-kun

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