Wednesday, November 23, 2005
I've read the manga, watched the drama, watched part of the old anime, and now this new anime comes to improve the story once again. Ayumi becomes an even more wonderful character. Hayami Masumi comes close to the manga, for the first time. The magic of Maya's acting is best presented in the manga, where it doesn't have to be reproduced, but the audition in this episode works well. And this episode contains some of the animation highlights of this clunkily-animated series: the visions of Maya in the cosmos near the end, and the fire rising when Ayumi thinks that Maya may be ready to compete again.
Is this a "harem anime" or isn't it? There are at least two girls who desperately want the protagonist, and more who like to be with him, so I think it is. But it is so much more. The relationships are strong and make sense. Erisu is a wonderful imouto and Nazuka Kaori projects her emotions beautifully. Nabatame Hitomi does a great job with Kiri; she and the character design conspire to make Kiri such an attractive person. And the side-characters have interesting stories themselves. Hagino, the loli-looking senior with a writing career and a mischievous nature. Sumire the youngest sister in a family of prodigies, who is scared to perform for fear she doesn't live up to her family. Tomoko the aggressive and talented invalid. And Tomoko's goth-loli swimsuit is an instant classic.
This show just keeps getting better. Not only is the animation fabulous, especially in battle scenes and in the Lacrima world, but the voice acting is terrific. Kudou Haruka (who plays Haruka) is a 16-year-old model in only her second role, but she has improved drastically from playing Hagu in Honey & Clover through the spring and summer to her performance in episode 7 of Noein. I give some of the credit to Chiba Saeko (Ai), who has some great scenes with her. Chiba-san is now an old pro. Her recent roles include brutal angel Dokuro-chan and sensible little sister Chika-chan (Ichigo Mashimaro).