Review – H2O ~Footprints in the Sand~

chigaimasu-48.jpg 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~

H2O Title

 

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?

Review

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***

H2O - Hamaji

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.

H2O - Otoha

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.

Review Summary

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.

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16 Responses to Review – H2O ~Footprints in the Sand~

  1. CCY says:

    I think H2O is a series deserving of a better rating than this, but your complaints are quite valid as well. I suppose it’s up to the standards of the viewer.

    I liked how H2O baited you along with the hints of “something’s not right here”, especially with, say, how Hotaru jumped all over Takuma at the beginning, or Takuma’s backstory. Maybe I enjoy the “shoot first, ask questions later” motto more than you do, then, in trying to figure out what the show is getting at before they out-and-out explain it. I’m a mindscrew person. XD

    The pointless episodes, I agree, episode 4 made me reach for the rusty spoon, but I’ve never really seen a show go without a few filleresque moments.

    The ending…a bit of a cop-out, yeah, I was hoping with more of a “life goes on” ending like the one in sola. But in the end I thought it was passable if you interpreted it the right way, in that it was kind of a “reward” for Takuma’s hard work and ability to move on after seeing Hayami get mowed down … some more time spent on this would really help it, as the time jump kind of forces you to imply all this stuff in between.

    Also, Otoha = yes. I definitely agree with that.

    H2O’s biggest issue is that it forces the viewer to make a lot of leaps of faith in order to create a more dramatic story, something that I enjoyed but maybe not everyone will. I liked it for this concept, this willingness to be different (in the multiple mindscrews, in the new concepts of Takuma standing up for himself and going insane, and for touching on some touchy Japanese issues such as social outcasting and bullying).

    The other problem is that it’s going up against a lot of tough competition, such as the aforementioned True Tears, and maybe Clannad and KimiKiss as well in terms of visual novel adaptations.

  2. Shin says:

    Hamaji’s the most memorable trap for me since Jun. But of course, my all time favorite would be Otoboku’s Mizuho ヽ(;´Д`)ノ

  3. chigaimasu says:

    CCY: I can understand where you’re coming from with your arguments, and they’re certainly valid, especially if you’re are that kind of viewer. For those people, sure then H2O is definitely worth looking up. I just found it upsetting that Takuma would ask, and he would just be told to stay quiet. Why? If he wants to know, then tell him. I think he has the right to know. And I hold a greater animosity toward the kiss in episode 3. She’s done nothing for her to justify a kiss that early in the anime, and, maybe I stand alone on this, if I were Takuma, I’d feel like my personal space is being violated. Sure it’s by a clumsy, yet charming, girl, but where does she think she gets off? With the regards to the ending, you shouldn’t have to put a theory together to make it work. It’s a lot like the rushed ending to Myself; Yourself last season, when you could argue that there’s no real justification that Sana and Nanaka stay together, it’s just assumed. In H2O, there’s no question that they deserved to be together, but to use that as a justification for the ending in that way is quite far fetched. As you will probably see with my Dragonaut review (still pending), just because it’s supposed to end one way, doesn’t mean it can without justification (and the power of love is not justification).

    Shin: Hamaji doesn’t even hold a candle when compared to Mizuho. Mizuho forever.

  4. John says:

    hmmm lemme see.. well i have to admit i liked the anime.. demo…… i didnt quite like the last few episodes….. i mean come ON!!!! does one of the main characters have to die?…… anyways ill give it a thumbs up…. oh does anyone know if theres gonna be a season 2 of this H2O?

  5. amethyst269 says:

    I wanted the episodes on You Tube. I did not understand the last two final episodes. Did the Hirose get his sight back temporarily or not? Is Hayami really did? If she is did a train hit her or did she actually get shot? If she is dead then how can she move in with Hirose in Tokyo and pretend to be his mother? Is every episode a representation of Hirose going insane along with his blindness? Hirose going insane is the only answer that makes sense to me.

    • marissa says:

      she died when the train hit her when she was trying to save that kid. Hirose connected that to his mother and figured out that its the ame thing that his mom did. But the little girl( forgot her name) the sprt brought her back to lfe afew years later. And he got his sight back and kept it sense he learned the lesson that the spirit girl was tryng to teach him.

      Hope that helps LOL!!! 😛

  6. amethyst269 says:

    I just noticed I put “did” instead of “dead” in a couple of places in the message above. In order to stop the confusion I am correcting myself here.

  7. […] Title: H20 Footprints in the Sand Number of Episodes: 12 Summary: Takuma Hirose, a blind young male high school student, though the cause for his blindness is undetermined. After his mother died an unexpected death, it left a deep emotional scar on him, which caused him to become very lonely and reserved. Due to this, Takuma and his father move from the city out into a rural area and Takuma is enrolled into a new high school. At his new school, he meets several new girls, though three of whom he gets to know the most out of anyone else. They are, the firm and obstinate Hayami Kohinata, the kind and obliging Hinata Kagura, and the cheerful and mysterious Otoha. As Takuma interacts with these girls, his medical condition gradually begins to heal. Source. Review: Anime Academy @ WordPress […]

  8. Densebrains says:

    Analysis:
    From seeing the last episode I believe Hayami-chan has died. The scenes after her being killed shows the 4 girls opening up the tin containing Hayami’s diary. Seeing that and with them all wearing black (althougth it is part of their school outfit) to me seems to reinforce the idea that she has died.

    When Otoha reappears as a younger child than when she was at the start of the whole anime, it gave me the impression that she gave up something and has therefore reduced/changed. I think that Hayami’s reappearance implies that she has now become a spirit. It could be that Otoha has given Hayami some of her spiritual power/life force? Hayami also doesn’t not seem to have grown up at all when compared to the moment she died. Everyone else seems to have changed and grown up a little. This, to me, further supports the idea that she has become a sprit.

    Comment:
    I don’t mind the mindscrewing, touching of social issues and bullying but I’m afraid I agree with the review, I think it was poor. I personally would be devastated to witness the person I loved the most to die infront of me upon regaining my sight, especially when it was the death of his mother which emotionally scarred him in the first place.

    Maybe he was able to accept his mother’s death by the end of the anime but I have to be twisted to imagine being alright after seeing Hayami-chan die.

    Hmm… thinking back he has grown up a little, so maybe it has already been a few years after Hayami’s death and he has already recovered and decided to build a large windmill on the top of the hill (probably the hill where they sat next to each other during the outdoor sketch in episode 3) in memory of her.

  9. Canon says:

    So, did Hayami even save the kid from that train? It looked to me like she just wrapped her arms around the kid and took the train head on.

  10. Pieter Drahn says:

    I feel emotionally raped after those last episodes. I was really into the series, and I really liked it. But god, those last few episodes… *spoiler* we watched as his blindness came back while it pushed Hayami away. Then he begins to doubt himself and starts to go insane, and she almost is killed. In the nick of time she is saved, but only to realize he’s gone to the deep end. Then she’s hit by a train, or not, at this point i’m not sure what’s up and what’s down because I’m afraid it’s all apart of his delusions. So let’s say she died, I’m freakin’ out, I totally thought it was going to be a happy ending. It turns out Hirose years have passed and he has learned otoha’s lesson and has accepted the death of his mother, and now his first love. He build’s her a windmill and then she comes back… A spirit or resurrected? You don’t know. Maybe he’s still crazy. *spoiler*
    Gawwddd…. I agree with the review too though. There were too many times when I had to stop and think and assume something happened here. You kind of had to guess at times. The ending did seem like a cop out. It would have been great if they put more time into it. *sigh* But I didn’t mind how long it took for the secret of the village’s hate toward Hayami to come out. I thought they did a decent job with that. And when Hinata kissed him in ep. 3 i think, that was just to stop him from crossing the bridge if anything. She’s was being forced to get with him, so it came across as forced. I understand that. So overall, I think i’m glad I watched it. But to be honest I think I would have enjoyed a simpler ending, like ending it after ep. 9 when they kiss and are ‘together’. But that would leave some things unsolved I guess. Oh well. Thanks for letting me rant. I’m hoping to find some good anime now. Let me know if you have any happy ones in mind you’d like to share. I’d appreciate it for sure. Teehee =J

  11. Rachel says:

    hey whatabout that little baby that woman, Maki, was holding? it looked awfullylike Takuma.

  12. Eccentric Berserker says:

    I’m going to be blunt, I hated this anime. I think the review may have been a little too generous. This anime had poor construction and its twists were poorly executed and left inconsistencies EVERYWHERE. *Spoilers* Lets start off with the biggest twist, the fact that he was always “blind” but could see. I was completely lost here, why didnt he just prove he could see before by stating something he would need sight for, such as a characters appearance or something that was written. As well, at the end when he builds the windmill, is he cured? I assume he can see, so why is it the twist of him being blind even needed if we see later on that he can be perfectly fine. Certain elements like this left me very frustrated, such as him relasping back into a child (I mean cmon that was the stupidest thing I have ever seen done in an anime) and there was very few moments I did NOT want to kick the protaginist in the face. It started off fine and, to
    me, it ended as a trainwreck. 2.5/10. Stay away from this anime.

  13. anime blog says:

    anime blog…

    […]Review – H2O ~Footprints in the Sand~ « Anime Academy[…]…

  14. Hi, I log on to your blogs regularly. Your story-telling style is witty, keep it up!

  15. Dave says:

    The anime did have you guessing, but I think you guys are hating, it was still a good show, they did rush somethings and they showed have had more episodes to get everything out, but it was still a good show. The only issue was the baby in the last episode, whos’s is it? That has me guessing. But this show wasn’t all that bad. I liked it and you should watch it. There was a lot of mystery in the story and they should have filled it in, but don’t get me wrong, none of you really hayed the story truly, it was too good, just with some holes in it. I would give it a 8/10.

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