In my honest opinion, I happened to think we were too generous with our reviews in the for the fall 2007 season. There are a lot of rationally justifiable reasons for why that’s the case: we were new to the blog scene, we haven’t done reviews before, etc. So the game plan for winter 2008 was to be a little bit more critical of what we watched. I took on the added initiative to pick a very assorted collection of anime to watch and review this season, including some that I would not normally watch had it not been for this blog. All of this so that I could develop, in some sense, the difference between a good anime, a mediocre anime, and a poor anime. There were some surprises, and some disappointments, but as is lots of forms of art. Anyway, with that preface defined, let’s get started on Winter 2008:
H2O ~Footprints in the Sand~
Plot Summary: Takuma Hirose is a high school student who moves into his uncle’s rural village carrying some emotional baggage. Blind for some unknown reason, Takuma begins to interact with the abrasive Hayami Kohinata, the endearing Hinata Kagura, and the mystical Otoha, the latter of the three giving him the gift of sight. With this newly acquired, but temporal, gift, can Takuma right the social injustice carried on from the previous generation to the present?
Plot: Oh, H2O, where do I begin about this plot. Hmm.. let’s see. For starters, let’s talk about the flow. Occasionally there are moments of complete WTFness. There’s an action, and you don’t get the explanation for the action until well after the action takes place. For example, you know something’s amiss between Hayami and the village from the very beginning. Even worse, everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, hints it to Takuma. But when do we actually find out why people hate Hayami? Episode 6? It takes too long for viewers to get what the actual problem is, even though they tease you with it throughout the first 5 episodes. WTF. Just let me know, or don’t bring it up. Hinata/Hotaru’s kiss at the end of episode 3 is another example of this. The disconnects in the plot come up too early and often in the anime for viewers to commit to it for the long haul.
Another problem is the fact that some episodes just.. don’t fit. You don’t really need to know anything about Hamaji. Regardless, they gave him/her episode 4 to unnecessarily explain him/herself. Even arguably the best episode in the series, episode 8, lacks any purpose and provides very little to the main arc. The change in pace was nice, but it reflects the lack of direction H2O has.
But let’s not stop there. For those like myself who stuck it out, let’s talk about the ending. Talk about disconnects. ***SPOILER ALERT*** Let me get this straight. Takuma sees his mother die because of a train, and then as he finally comes to grips with that loss, sees the girl he loves also get struck down by a train. And yet… years later, he’s helping his uncle build a windmill. So… magically, the death of Hayami doesn’t affect him at all? I’m not saying it’s not impossible, but I think I need more explanation. Why is it that he’s ok now, even though the death of his mother scarred him for almost a decade? Trains took away your mother and your first love, and yet, you’re fine with that? Why doesn’t this death push him to the brink? It’s not clear, and it should be. But even more ridiculous is the last 15 seconds of the series. Why does Hayami get a second chance? She died. There was Hayami.. and there was train.. and then there was no more Hayami. We all saw it. But there she is, all grown up, ready to begin her life anew with Takuma. Otoha’s explanation doesn’t cut it. Can you say “Instant Happy Ending”? Just add H2O! Haha… get it? Because the series is… oh whatever.***END SPOILER ALERT***
Letting go of the fact that this scene was absolutely disturbing, the sad thing about it is, it was completely unnecessary.
Characters: If there’s anything positive to say about H2O, it most likely will come from the characters. They are well developed, and you get to know them pretty much inside and out, albeit, as I’ve discussed before, perhaps not as in a timely fashion. They come off a bit polarizing, though, you either like them or you don’t. There really isn’t much middle ground. All that said, let me get my one bit of praise for H2O in now. I absolutely loved Otoha. She was the funny ray of sunshine that got me through the first 6 episodes of this series, and without her, this review probably doesn’t get written. Bro-ham can attest to the dismay I had when they wrote her off in episode 8.
Of the main 3 characters, the only seiyuu that may jump off the page at you is Ami Koshimizu for Takuma. The supporting cast brings some other noticeables like Emiri Katou and Rina Satou, but is primarily low-mid profile. Regardless, they do a very good job with the anime, and it’s very interesting to hear Koshimizu-san do a male role, even if it is a teen.
Oh my god, the dead girl! Otoha was the only character worth watching for the first 6 episodes, and perhaps the whole season. She made you temporarily forget you were watching a sub-par anime.
Production Value: Artistically, it’s a little lacking. When you also watch Shigofumi, True Tears, and Clannad in the same season, you begin to notice the lack of sharpness in H2O, in both colors and detail. It seems to fit the profile, though, so I don’t mind. One thing I do mind, however is the timing. At some points, art and voice don’t synch, and that should never happen. It’s more indicative of the unpolished nature of the series.
Musically, let me say, even though I loved what Yui Sakakibara did for Otome Boku, I am glad that I never have to hear the H2O OP ever again. I maybe sat through it for the first 2 episodes, and then skipped it after that. I don’t know, I guess it didn’t catch me like Beautiful Day or Again did. I enjoyed the ED, Kazahane, though. There isn’t really background music, as much a background sound effects, and viewers will probably pass this by trying to keep up with the dialogue.
The Good: The character development and voice talent, catchy ED
The Bad: The glaring plot-holes and lack of fluidity. Occasional Timing slip-ups.
Overview: 4.5/10 – Great anime start at the storytelling, and H2O just… dropped the ball. The beginning was uncoordinated, and some episodes were completely insubstantial to the main story. The middle was actually pretty good, but unfortunately most people won’t last long enough to get that far. The ending is downright illogical, and leaves viewers with the disappointment that, “I came all that way… for that?!?”. Add in the techinical errors and the lack of sharpness artistically, and even the seiyuu, who did a very good job, can’t dig this one out from the grave. I don’t even know if I can recommend this to people who enjoy this genre. You can easily find better shows elsewhere, even this season with True Tears, so you are probably better off leaving this one alone.