2009 in anime: The lost chapters

by Grungi

Hum. So I told you my last post was long overdue ? What about this one then ! But still, I feel the urge to express at least something for the remaining two moments of the 2009 in anime project, so I’m gonna write this post anyway, even if 2009 has now come to pass, and we are already well into 2010.

So let’s get down to it.

At spot number 2, there’s a rewatch. I know, that’s cheating, but in all honesty the hour I spent watching Byousoku 5 Centimeters for the 6th or 7th time at the beginning of winter was just so perfect that I couldn’t pass it up.

First, you have to know that 5 centimeters per second is still my favorite anime of all time. Makoto Shinkai’s movie hit home the first time, and I don’t think any number of rewatches could ever take away its magic. But this winter’s watching session was second only to the first time I saw it.

The conditions were absolutely perfect : no one around, heavy snowfalls outside as the sun was slowly setting, and this warm fuzzy feeling you get at the end of a lazy winter sunday. I was recovering from a cold, and on I just felt like watching “the” masterpiece again.

And once again, it was perfect. Once again, that ending hit me like a punch in the stomach, and left me empty yet happy. I don’t know if I really can explain that special feeling correctly… If you loved the movie, you probably understand, and if you haven’t… What are you still doing here ?

Oh, right, you’re waiting for the big winner ! Well, here it comes…

2009’s #1 moment is one that probably stayed in the mind of many viewers long after the end of a seemingly generic harem/”slice-of-life” anime that aired in the winter of 2008. This was a series based on a visual novel, like many others. But strangely nothing in it beside the title followed the original work. It had a totally different universe, cast, and plot.

This was for the best.

This allowed for some true tears to wet the eyes of many.

The thing that drew me to True Tears was an AMV (Anime Music Video) titled “in watercolours” (found by Pascale, did I mention how awesome she is?). The character designs looked good, the animation too, it seemed sad and tragic, and the AMV was so expertly made that I felt the show would be good.

Then I read a review on Anime Diet titled “The Sum of All Tears” which pretty much sealed the deal.

And boy was I not disappointed.

The whole show was great, and felt quite “emotionnaly authentic”, if that makes any sense. The drama didn’t feel too contrived for the most part, and the characters behaved mostly normally. The show refrain from overusing misunderstandings – well, there are some, but it’s not as over-the-top as it could easily have been – and concludes the love triangle in the most heart-rending way possible.

And if True Tears characters do cry throughout the series, it’s at the end that the anime earns its title. In the end, our main protagonist has to make a choice, and, well, forgive me for quoting the review I was referring to earlier :

What impressed me even more than the choice Shinichiro made–it was the emotionally honest and clear thing to do–was how he expressed it. In a triumph of believability and emotional nuance, especially for romance anime, Shinichiro managed to demonstrate to Noe how his mind can be made up and can still be in such pain at their parting, to the point where he speaks what is perhaps the best line in the whole show: “But when I look at you, my heart wavers.” […] That he is still able to move forward with his choice is a mark of his new maturity. It was beautiful to see how he realized that she can both be an inspiration and important part of his life and still not be his lover. He perfectly expressed this by singing Noe’s song, between sobs, as an ode to his true love Hiromi. If anything, it reminds me of the recent film Once, which also showed how the product of deep love need not be hugs, kisses, and dates; it can also be a song, which lasts even after the man and woman leave each other. Or it can be a picture book about a chicken who wants to fly.

Those words aptly relfect my feelings about the show’s ending. Sure, it was painful, maybe more painful than ef – which is arguably more emotionnally taxing on the whole -, but it felt so right. I really can’t say enough good about True Tears. It’s a shame that such a wonderful show will probably stay obscure, because romances that ring so true are way too hard to come by…