“Am I dreaming?” -Arata Hinohara

Summary: Poor, picked-on Arata Hinohara has had a tough life, and after his only friend betrays him, he just wants to disappear. Meanwhile, in another world, another Arata is told that he must disguise himself as a woman in order to succeed Princess Kikuri as ruler of the land in a special ceremony that happens every 30 years. When the Princess is killed in front of his eyes by Kannagi, one of the twelve Shinsho who are supposed to guard her but have secretly been plotting a coup d’état, Arata has no choice but to flee into a dangerous forest, where magically the two Arata’s switch places! Arata (from the human world) is now a wanted man, and must quickly adapt to his new world if he wants to survive.

Tenderfoot’s Impression:

I grew up on a steady diet of Yuu Watase’s work back in the day (I think I’ve actually read and/or seen (in whole or in part) almost all of her work except for the manga this show is based on). Hers isn’t the most intelligent or best of work, but if you’re just looking for a dumb shoujo manga to read with pretty art and lots of drama, you can always count on her to deliver in spades. So because of that I was kinda excited to see something of hers adapted into anime form again (considering Ceres, Celestial Legend came out back in 2000? (shit, that was a long time ago. I’m so old!). I should have known better than to get my hopes up, because boy was this a hot mess.

Eyes on the prize Kotoha, eyes on the prize.
Eyes on the prize Kotoha, eyes on the prize.

We’ve got two Arata’s here, the human-world one (from here on out he’ll be Arata H.), and Arata, the one from magic land. Arata H. is a nice, kind-hearted kid (or so were told by his mother and sister in one of the most stereotypical and dull openings I think I’ve ever seen) but apparently he’s been bullied in the past. He’s got (a) friend now, and seems to be doing better, but we can’t have that now can we? So, for apparently no reason, Masato Kadowaki (who used to be Arata H.’s friend) decides that Arata needs to learn his place, and get’s Arata H.’s one friend to say that he was never friend’s with Arata H. in the first place blah blah blah all while Arata H. is conveniently there to hear it all (he just happens to be standing behind the door where this is happening? Just randomly passed by there? Oh come on). Now, bullying is a very real problem, but my god, what exactly is the point of it here? What did Arata do to these guys to make them suddenly feel the need to pick on him some more? What, did he win a track race and Masato got jealous? To me if feels like they needed a way to have Arata H. seem more sympathetic, or somehow less of a cardboard cut out, so they decided that making him the victim of bullying would be perfect. Look, he’s got problems! No, that’s just lazy writing. There’s no rhyme or reason to it, and the way it’s presented is so poorly and hurriedly done that I end up not feeling anything towards Arata H. at all.

...and then I'll emerge a beautiful butterfly!
…and then I’ll emerge a beautiful butterfly!

The sudden jump from “boo-hoo I’m so sad” Arata H. to wacky hijinks with Arata, Granny, and Kotoha (who’s annoying high-pitched voice almost made me stop it right then and there) was such a complete 180 that I wasn’t even sure I was watching the same show. The whole back story (“only you can do this, family honor, we don’t have a girl child so you must go in her place”) was boring and such lazy exposition that quite frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn. After Arata’s grandma conveniently has a heart attack and almost dies, he agrees to go to the palace dressed as a girl.

After meeting the princess, who looks nothing like a 60-year-old woman but more like a little person, the ceremony gets underway (complete with the worst and cheesiest fire animation I’ve seen since The Hunger Games). But since this wouldn’t be a good story without some kind of conflict, enter Kannagi. He and the other twelve Shinsho have been plotting to overthrow the princess for some time now (no real reason, I guess they were just borred at work one day) and decides that instead of offing her at some other time, when say, nothing really important is going down, or maybe at night in some dark hallway, he’s going to kill her in the middle of the ceremony with a witness around. Poor Arata, whose true gender is reveal, runs from the palace, while Kannagi tells the everyone that Arata killed Princes Kikuri (please note that he does this while still holding the blade he slashed her with which would logically still have her blood on it). As both Arata’s wish to be somewhere else, magic!, they switch places.

The story goes from there, as Arata H. (who looks to everyone except the audience like Arata) suddenly gets magical powers of teleportation? (which other Arata didn’t have) and meets up with Kotoha, who takes him back to their village. Granny quickly accepts that Arata is from another land, Kannagi shows up (1. how does he know where they went? and 2. how the f did he get there that fast?), Kotoha is taken hostage (because hey! she’s a girl and that’s really all she’s good for hahaha), after about five milliseconds Arata H. get’s over his “No I don’t want anything to do with any of this” and decides to fight for Kotoha, the rusty sword get’s unrusty, there’s more shitty fire, end of episode. Wow.

Aside from the totally bland character designs, low-budget animation, terrible pacing, and the god awful writing (generally, I don’t pay attention to the characters dialogue, but oh my god was this show painfully bad) we’re left with nothing really in the “good things about this anime” pile. The story of “girl or boy transported to magical land and is expected to fight for X reason” is about as common as you can get (Watase herself has used in at least twice in her work before), and Arata Kangatari doesn’t add anything new to it. The ending is pure fangirl bait (lots of two boys almost kissing) coupled with the fact that other than the annoying Kotoha there are no female characters in sight leads me to believe that this show knows full well what demographic it’s aiming its piss-poor excuses of an anime towards.

TL;DR: Bad animation, flat, boring characters, little-to-no-explanation of events, tacky music, horrible pacing: this anime is stuffed with everything bad and little good. This episode was a prime example of putting in way too many things in order to try to hook the viewer, with the result that everything just falls flat and that I was unable to feel anything towards anyone. I’ve got too many better things to do than watch something this mediocre.

Oh, and on more thing. If their clan hasn’t had any daughters for 30 years, where the hell did Kotoha and her assistants come from? Mars?

Possibility of Blogging: No way in HELL.
Possibility of Watching: I’d rather watch paint dry than another episode of this steaming pile of poo.


Eva’s Impression:

Ahhh man, where should I start? A lot happened this episode.
This was definitely significantly different than how I imagined it to be, and it was quite confusing. At least they managed to clear a few things up…
Honestly watching the ED only confused me even more so I probably should have passed on that part- nor will I mention it any further.

First thing first, to avoid any sort of confusion between the two Arata, I am addressing them by Hinohara and Uneme’s Arata (the clan’s name) so we can tell them apart.

We are introduced Hinohara Arata in the modern world. He isn’t our happy-go-lucky guy, nor is he striving for love! No, our protagonist is at the verge or already in a state of depression. He is a victim of bullying by no other than his former track teammate and has just been recently back-stabbed by Suguru who he had thought was his friend.

I haven’t read the manga, so I’m part of the new audience who doesn’t have a clue about what triggered the tension between Hinohara and Kadowaki. It appears that they used to be friends and teammates, but something had happened that made them drift apart. I think it has something to do with speed since Hinohara caught himself and slowed down at the last second during a quick run and Kadowaki grew irritated seeing him do that. Thus ever since that incident had happened, Kadowaki has been ferociously attacking Hinohara.

aratakangatari-episode1-07Then we have our Uneme’s Arata. Unlike Arata he is pretty carefree and is willing to put himself at risk to buy time for his clan to escape their deaths since he is most likely to be caught for being a male. Their clan had been threatened that if they didn’t provide a new Princess, they will be killed off. However they haven’t had any one who possesses the Amatsuriki, which makes them eligible to be the next ruler. Unfortunately things do not go according to plan as all twelve Shinsho had planned to assassinate the Princess during the ceremony (where she is the most vulnerable) as well as her successor. Kannagi (one of the twelve Shinsho) decides to take advantaged of the fact that Uneme’s Arata had managed to get away and cast the blame on him for the Princess’ assassination.

It is when Hinohara wishes that he could just disappear that the Kando Forest in return reacts. As result Hinohara and Uneme’s Arata meet face to face for a brief moment and then whoosh, switched places. However the one thing that is different in this “soul swap” is that while each Arata still have their own respective bodies, they are still seen as the same original by those around them.

It appears according to the preview that Hinohara and Uneme’s Arata are going to be bale to somehow communicate with each other. However we do not know whether this will be their only chance, or they were communicate every so often.

Amatsuriki is very important, as it’s what apparently suppressed the Hayagami, the main weapon that the Twelve Shinsho uses. Now that the Princess Kikuri is dead and there is no new on in place, the Shinsho are no longer suppressed and can begin their era of power.

However what is the difference between the Amatsuriki and Hayagami? Why does Hayagami need to be suppressed? Oh and Tenderfoot makes a VERY GOOD POINT about the whole daughters thing. With that case, I’m just going to assume these are people who have joined their clan individually or were adopted.

I give props to Arata for coming out to face Kannagi in order to ensure that Kotoha would not be killed after having cried out that she trusts Arata. His resolve awakened the Hayagami and I must say that I really liked his tone of voice when he said, “Appear”. We are so used to hearing characters shout out the magic word/phrase, but he said it in a shaky, quiet voice- I didn’t mind it. It was different than what we’re used to. “RELEASEEE!!!”

Overall, honestly this didn’t really leave an impact on me. There were no ‘wow’ factors, the characters are so-so, and the animation isn’t that great. Like Tenderfoot had said, it’s pretty flat and bland. While I know for certain that I will probably be watching this, I am not that interested in covering it.

Possibility of Blogging: No
Possibility of Watching: Yes

PS: Oh God, I just read a bit of the manga after I wrote this – wow, they REALLY CUT OUT A LOT. Ughhhh… I feel terrible for the manga fans. What a great way to start an adaption. ¬___¬;;;

Stay tuned for Linzz’s First Impression…