Kita He: Diamond Dust Drops Episode 1

Kita He: Diamond Dust Drops

"Hakodate - Akanegi Atsuko - Part I"

The first thing that struck me, watching this show, is how incessantly grating and annoying Atsuko's voice is whenever she raises it. It's almost as though her seiyuu was instructed to give the most obnoxious performance she could muster, and came through. It's not always terrible, but when it is, it really sticks out.

On the bright side, the first character we're introduced to (presumably the main female character of the show) isn't your typical submissive anime female! (On the downside, it does mean that she's more or less your typical tomboy anime female. You can't have everything.) It's a refreshing change, though, and much of what happens in the episode draws from the fact that she has a backbone, is independent, and stands up for herself.

Another thing that sticks out--and this one's good--is the music. There are three or four very good tunes in this first episode, and they go a long way to completing the scenes they show up in. The animation is also quite good, though the style of some of the character designs doesn't really appeal to me (I feel like the faces have a bizarre extra "chunk" in them).

The story follows Atsuko, who has had a difficult childhood, filled with many hardships. She hasn't had much time to experience life like a normal person, and she resents that. On top of that, her living situation is somewhat precarious, running a fish shop with her mother, and it seems she wants to experience love, but is unfortunately already betrothed. Because she's spent so much time just getting by, she's confused about what she wants in her life, and events that are beyond her control aren't giving her time to try and figure it out.

So far, not your archtypical romantic drama, so it gets points for that. Interesting main character, good animation, good music. Outlook positive.

Rating: B

Posted by Kei at 12:30 AM | Comments (1)

Kita He: Diamond Dust Drops Episode 2

Kita He: Diamond Dust Drops

"Hakodate - Akanegi Atsuko - Part II"

There's a lot to be learned about love from this show. First of all, you don't impress girls by showing off the vast amounts of power you can bring to bear upon tracking her down, and finding out about people's pasts. (Especially when said guys pull up in a black car with heavily tinted windows wearing big, blocky sunglasses.) Girls find it kind of... freaky. And not the good freaky.

Diamond Dust Drops also wins the award for one of the weirdest character/voice actor pairups I've seen lately. Nothing like the old, gray-haired, fragile-looking barkeep to sound like a Japanese James Earl Jones.

So this two episode arc of Diamond Dust Drops explains why arranged marriages are bad, why an older man in love with jazz could never love a girl and about how a pretty girl who doesn't dress well can never make it in love.

I really don't know about this show. It was kind of interesting, but there didn't seem to be any point to this first story. I like the fact that the story ends at a different conclusion than most romantic anime, but with just two episodes, it all feels very shallow. It's pretty average, when it comes down to it.

Rating: C+

Posted by Kei at 09:12 PM | Comments (0)

Kita He: Diamond Dust Drops Episode 3

Kita He: Diamond Dust Drops

"Kitami - Shiraishi Karin - Part I"

This show is just more evidence that anime creators have no idea what "style" really is. You have this really serious, dramatic romantic series, and you give it the most ridiculous candy pop intro song with the characters bouncing around and generally being happier than you'll ever see them in the show.

Some other things of note. I commented earlier about how I thought the music for this show was really good, but this must (sadly) be qualified. There only seems to be two or three actual tracks of music (and two of them sound very similar).

Also, I'm not sure if the Hokkaido tourism board somehow invested in this particular series, but there's definitely a "check out how cool Hokkaido is" vibe to the whole show. Not a bad thing, especially if you're interested in what Hokkaido is like, taking a vacation there, or something.

On to the new story! We're introduced to a new girl in Hokkaido, and this one's stuck in a hospital living out the dream of being Meg Ryan in You've Got Mail (what, you didn't have dreams like that?). Unfortunately, her voice actress isn't the greatest, and is really unconvincing in some scenes, which takes away from pretty much everything dramatic about the episode.

Do we really need to hear the diamond dust explanation again?

Oh, don't read this next paragraph if you don't want to see a spoiler of some sort (that you really, really should have figured out yourself).

Okay, well, someone is mysteriously sending Karin fan mail that seems bizarrely topical. Gee, could it be the new intern who has a barely-disguised romantic interest in her? We don't know for sure, but let's just say it's a stone cold, lead pipe lock. And, it's not subtle at all. You suspect from pretty much the first letter she gets.

This show seems to have two intents. First, to educate you about Hokkaido. The other, to glorify the courtship between young girls and older men. (I wonder what's on the creators' minds?) I feel bad, because it's obvious this show is trying really hard! The only problem is that the sum total of all its parts is not very good at all.

Maybe story arc three (two episodes away) will be better.

Rating: C

Posted by Kei at 01:45 AM | Comments (1)

Kita He: Diamond Dust Drops Episode 4

Kita He: Diamond Dust Drops

"Kitami - Shiraishi Karin - Part II"

Alright, alright. So I was wrong about the source of the e-mails. But the nurse was a close second in suspicion!

So on the bright side, this show apparently isn't all about pedophilia, cradle-robbing and all that other good stuff.

On the other hand, that also makes it about really boring, mundane stuff. The issues dealt with in this story arc seem so tame. Fear of an operation, a family supporting Karin at great expense to themselves, while Karin doesn't realize the sacrifice. Two episodes really isn't enough to make much of an interesting story.

I really like the music, though.

Rating: B-

Posted by Kei at 11:00 PM | Comments (0)