Asatte no Houkou anime

4 06 2010

Oh dear, no new posts in ages!!  This is Laserwolf, making a post!  Just what have I been doing?  Well, I have read the whole manga series of Fullmetal Alchemist, 24 volumes in Japanese, since my last post, but since the manga is almost over (might as well finish it before making a post) and since Segue already has a post on that series (albeit the anime rather than the manga) I decided to wait until I had something different to talk about.

Asatte no Houkou (あさっての方向) literally “Direction of the Day After Tomorrow”

Author/artist: J-ta Yamada (山田J太)

Genre: drama, fantasy, romance

Number of episodes: 12 (finished)

Summary:

Karada Iokawa, 6th grader, and Shoko Nogami, 24, had never met, but their lives were very much intertwined (and would soon become moreso).  However, at the time of their first meeting, they had no idea.

Shoko has just returned to Japan after spending years abroad in America.  She had met and fallen in love with a fellow Japanese expat in America, who returned to Japan suddenly with the death of his parents a few years before.  He had promised to return to America to be with Shoko, but once he was in Japan, he decided to stay there.  He sent a letter to Shoko to end their relationship.  She came back to Japan years later, bitter and angry and without friends, in a new town, with hopes of a new start.

Shoko sees Karada at the side of the road praying in front of a small shrine.  Karada says it is a wishing stone.  Though famous locally for possessing the ability to make wishes come true, nobody can remember a time when it actually has worked.  Still, Karada has a wish.  What is it?  “It’s a secret.”

Karada’s adopted parents died several years ago, leaving her in the care of her older brother, Hiro, who she had never met previously, because he had been in America.  Hiro had planned to return to America after the funeral, but found that he felt drawn to care for Karada, who had no other family.  Karada, now in her last year of elementary school, is still very tiny for her age.  She always helps with chores but secretly feels she is burdening Hiro.  She thinks that if only she were to grow up, he would be free to do what he likes.

Not too long after their initial meeting, Shoko and Karada find themselves at the shrine on a moonlit night.  Shoko’s wish for a new beginning and Karada’s wish to grow up somehow come together and leave them in reversed roles – Shoko in the body of a child and Karada in the body of a woman.

Will Shoko, friendless and bitter, make friends with Karada?  Will she resent Karada because she is the reason Hiro left her?  Will Hiro even recognize them both now that they look so different?  And what about Karada’s classmate Amino, whose crush on her causes him to worry about her when she goes missing?  Will he keep searching for her until he knows the truth?  Will the two girls be stuck like this forever?

My Honest Opinion:

I really enjoyed watching this series, enough that I would like to read the manga now.  I felt it represented very well what it would be like for a girl to suddenly become a woman, vice-versa, and the ensuing chaos.  I know the whole “child turns into an adult” theme has been done before (Big, 13 Going on 30, etc), as well as the opposite (17 Again), but I found this to be a very original and touching story.

Karada’s initial reaction to her new body is not “Alright!  I’m finally tall!” but uncontrollable weeping: “This is not my body,” she says.  Shoko, who might have resented Karada as the cause of her failed relationship with Hiro, cannot resist Karada’s sweetness and innocence.  The new situation allows Hiro and Shoko to work through things previously left unsaid.  And finally, Amino’s crush on Karada and his determination to find her, without realizing she is right under his nose, is very touching.  Something about the genuineness of each character and their personalities really came through.  I cannot help but feel the writer understands people very well.

Pacing is also good.  With only twelve episodes, nothing feels too drawn-out.  Everything comes together well.  I thought the plot seemed a bit contrived sometimes toward the ending but all in all it was enjoyable.  I definitely recommend this one.

My rating: 4.5/5

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