The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Touka Gettan

Title: Touka Gettan
Genre: Drama
Company: Studio DEEN
Format: 26 episodes
Dates: 3 Apr 2007 – 25 Sep 2007

Synopsis: In the mystical land of Kamitsumihara, where anything can happen, there lives a young man named Kamiazuma Touka with his mother, Yumiko and their maid Midou Nene. Boarding in their mansion to attend the local school are two close friends, Inukai Makoto and Kawakabe Momoka, the latter of whom has a severe crush on Touka. Each of them has a mysterious and supernatural past.

The Highlights
Story: Ill-paced and incoherent; too many unanswered questions.
Atmosphere: Fittingly surreal.
Chronology: Reverse chronology isn’t used as well as it could have been.
Pacing: Far too many pointless episodes.

Touka Gettan is the third Yamaguchi Yuji directed anime I’ve seen, the other two being Yami to Boushi to Hon no Tabibito and Fate/Stay Night, and following this, I’m starting to form an opinion about his directing style. I’m not going to disagree that he’s got a talent for manipulating visual effects and atmosphere in a way that’s distinct and engrossing. But, from what I’ve seen, the man couldn’t put together a cohesive and coherent story to save his life. I can say with confidence that I’ve never seen an anime like Touka Gettan, and while I’ll always be partial to titles with a level of uniqueness, I value a well written story so much more, and, in this respect, Touka Gettan falls on its face.

Touka Gettan‘s gimmick is that it goes in reverse chronology. This is neither a good nor bad thing of itself, unfamiliar as it may be, but there’s only rarely any attempt to utilize this to enhance the plot. Rather than slowly unraveling the mysteries and questions of Touka Gettan‘s universe (of which there are numerous, many remaining unanswered at the end) by revealing events one by one that lead to the state we see in the initial episodes, Touka Gettan is happy to be pointlessly episodic for a large portion of its run. Ignoring the few episodes that made an impact on the larger plot (most of which were gone by the half-way mark), on average an episode’s contribution is stating a point that has been made before or expounding the equilibrium and, at worst, nothing past meaningless filler and fanservice. Too much time was spent on its significantly weaker slice-of-life component (which was mostly an exercise in the bizarre than an attempt to develop characters and relationships), and not enough building up what I thought was an intriguing and promising mystery plot, which almost becomes an afterthought in the second half of the series.

The poor use of time and lack of focus are Touka Gettan‘s biggest sore points, but they’re not the only ones. The relationship between the two leads goes nowhere, owing to the fact that it started (or ended, depending on which way you look at it) in a rather preliminary stage. Aesthetically, the anime is a real mixed bag. The visual directing is constantly erratic, which does a great job of establishing a surreal atmosphere, fitting for this title, but the animation fluctuates wildly, and will either be visually delightful or uninspired, depending on which episode you’re watching… or whether the scene has a fanservice shot, in which case the detail in the art will suddenly shoot up a couple of notches. I’m not going to berate the music, though; Tada Akifumi puts together a great soundtrack, even if his songs aren’t always used in the right scenes.

I see Touka Gettan as wasted potential. What starts out as a surreal, intriguing mystery involving the supernatural turned into an incoherent, unfocused mess of unanswered questions and pointless episodes. My advice is to approach this with severe caution, which is how I’ll be approaching whatever Yamiguchi works on next. I have no question that he has talent and imagination, I just haven’t seen anything to date that indicates that he knows what to do with it.

The Rating: 4

Reviewed by: Sorrow-kun

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