It has been a while since my previous post on Kimi ga Nozomu Eien, but I finally got myself to watch the next three episodes (i.e. episodes four, five and six). So what did I learn? Well, this show is a perfect example of anime studios lacking the guts to tackle an adaptation head on. First things first, I should make it very clear that I don’t really have a huge problem with the central plot to the story. Oh, there’s plenty to quibble with, but the love triangle full of anguish is hardly the worst thing about the anime. What ultimately dooms the show in my mind is how the adaptation half-asses the transition from a visual novel to a story it wants us to take seriously.
But before I proceed, let’s take stock. When I last left off, Haruka was still in a coma while her two best friends had found love in each others’ arms. Remember when Mitsuki suggested to Takayuki that they find an apartment to share as a couple? Our melodramatic lead is just now starting to take the idea seriously, but then he gets a phone call from Akane, Haruka’s sister. Not only is Haruka’s condition improving, she’s conscious for the first time in three years! What a coincidence! He immediately rushes to her side, but finds that due to her anterograde amnesia, he must mislead her into thinking that they’re still in high school, they’re still together, etc. Unfortunately, what I’ve described only covers the fourth episode; the narrative has not moved an inch since. Granted, the fifth episode is primarily composed of flashbacks, but this is where melodrama tends to rear its ugly head.
There’s a reason I typically abstain from watching melodramatic shows like Kimi ga Nozomu Eien: the whole thing plays out like BDSM. Once the miasma of anguish and despair settles into a show, it grips the characters like a vice and won’t let go until we’ve hit the climax. Unfortunately, there’s no safe word in anime. Y’see, catharsis isn’t just merely about achieving a certain high. It’s also about how high you can reach from the previous spot. 10,000 arbitrary happiness points might initially sound pretty impressive, but not so much if you previously had, say, 9,500 arbitrary happiness points. Clearly, we should shoot for 20,000 points instead, right? What a melodramatic show like Kimi ga Nozomu Eien will do is keep the goal posts in the same spot, but lower the previous position dramatically. The anime mires its audience in a pit of sorrow for so long that any ordinary catharsis has to feel utterly orgasmic by comparison. In other words… no pain, no gain.
Certainly, others can derive plenty of joy from experiencing a show like Kimi ga Nozomu Eien from start to finish. I’m not here to dispute that. And of course, every conflict has to be heart-wrenching on some level to make the resolution satisfying. I’m just saying that in melodramas, the despair seems forced and artificial. The anguish is a conceit to make the ending feel more substantial than it should. The characters take forever to resolve anything because all they do is cry and scream at each other for the time being. Misunderstandings arise because of a failure to communicate. For example, Akane thinks Takayuki has abandoned her sister without realizing that her parents told the guy that he’s not allowed to visit Haruka anymore. These contrivances make most of us want to scream at the monitor, imploring the characters to just talk, but they can’t. Not until the miasma of anguish and despair has done its job. In other words, I’ll keep choking you because the orgasm will feel super awesome when I finally let go.
But anyway, I started this post by saying how Kimi ga Nozomu Eien is the perfect example of anime studios lacking the guts to do an adaptation right. Despite what I’ve just written about the show’s melodramatic narrative, it is nevertheless the best thing that the anime has going for it. I mentioned in my previous post on the show that Kimi ga Nozomu Eien was originally a visual novel for the PC, and like most visual novels, the main character could bone every single female character (except for Haruka’s mom… but I could be wrong on that). For the adaptation, Studio Fantasia decided to focus primarily on the love triangle between Takayuki, Mitsuki and Haruka. This is ultimately a wise decision if you agree with me that the melodrama is the best thing about the narrative. So what am I still complaining about? All the extraneous fat that Studio Fantasia was too scared to trim.
In a story primarily about emotions — albeit usually just one emotion: sorrow — it’s such a jarring, immersion-ruining experience to suddenly have the narrative shift to Takayuki and his wacky hijinks at his place of employment. From the looks of it, Takayuki spends his working hours teasing a mega-tsundere co-worker in a cosplay-esque getup:
And these scenes add absolutely nothing to the main plot. Now, Ayu’s a love interest in the visual novel, so that’s why she even exists in the first place, but again, the adaptation wants to focus primarily on the love triangle at the center of the show, right? So if you’re going to do a proper adaptation, why even bother to keep Ayu’s character around? You might naturally say, “Gee, you’ve been ragging on the melodrama for the entire post, but then you turn around and complain about Ayu serving as a comic relief character?” Yes, because Ayu’s scenes add nothing, but filler which unnecessarily pads the story’s length. Every time I see her yell at Takayuki to eat cat shit — and no, I didn’t make that up — I just want to fast forward through the episode.
To a lesser extent, the other formerly-a-love-interest characters don’t fit either. Takayuki’s first trip to the hospital in two years should be fraught with conflicting emotions. How will he react when he finally gets to talk to her? What about Mitsuki? How does she feel about the whole situation? But on his way to Haruka’s room, Takayuki runs across a sexy, sultry doctor, a ridiculous reminder that this used to be a visual novel where every woman was — for a lack of a better word — bangable:
When he returns again, he finds even more babes:
And if you didn’t read my previous post on the show, that loli is supposed to be a grown woman ’cause anime just has to anime. So why can’t the adaptation just remove these characters completely from the show? Because the fans will get mad? One of the nurses doesn’t even have lines in the adaptation. She’s just there, so what’s the big deal if she disappears entirely from the show? Studio Fantasia has already gone to such lengths to tighten up the show’s narrative, but all of a sudden, the artistic license only extends so far? Why not just go all the way, then? You might think that these characters are so minor that they should not impact the narrative’s quality, but they completely ruin the atmosphere and aesthetics of the anime. It’s like the Ghost of Harem Past.