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Review Aloo - Rewrite (Dish #67)

Posted October 6th, 2016 at 8:48 AM by gimmepie

Review Aloo - Rewrite

Rewrite is a recent anime generally classed as a part of the action and fantasy genres and is based on a visual novel by Key. The anime follows a group of central characters who are caught up in paranormal events and has a strong focus on the relationships between the characters.


Plot
The premise of Rewrite isn't exactly revolutionary, but is certainly something I can get behind. At the beginning of the anime we are introduced to the main protagonist, a teenage boy with the power to seemingly permanently "rewrite" his own physical abilities to become faster, stronger and more durable. A series of strange events find him joining his school's occult club (because of course schools would let that be a thing), where he gradually discovers that not only do other students have abilities of their own but that more is going on in his city than meets the eye.

The first half of the anime sees the main character seeking to prove the occult exists to his club president, who says that it's all smoke and mirrors (without revealing his own gifts). As this part of the story progresses, he finds himself becoming friends with the other members of the club and discovering that some have powers of their own.

The second half of the anime reveals that a secret war has been raging between practitioners of the occult: a group with powers of their own and a group that control monsters. Of course, this secret war will determine humanities fate. The occult club end up caught up in the war and very in over their heads, which not only strains their friendships but puts their lives at risk.

The plot of this anime is strong enough, although by no means remarkable, but there's a lot of issues with its execution. The anime suffers a season-long case of Charlotte syndrome where it tries to cram too much into too short a time period too often. Additionally, the transition from the first part of the series to the second is extremely jarring as we're suddenly thrust from what feels more like a supernatural drama into something more like a fantasy action season. The transition could have been much smoother. Additionally the first half was much more enjoyable than the second and the poor pacing and transition likely has a part in that although I will give props for the twist at the end.

Considering that the premise is far from unique and that much of the plot isn't executed very well I'll give it a 5/10 here because it was still fun and I really enjoyed some of the earlier episodes.

Characters
The characters in this anime were surprisingly deep and were in general enjoyable to watch. There were a few who were quite tropey to be completely honest, but none were so cliche that they ceased to be palatable.

The problem here wasn't so much the characters, it was a lack of development. Early on in the series two of the primary cast got dedicated episodes where we learned their backstories and also got to see them grow a lot as characters and these episodes alone would have earned the series an overall much higher score. Unfortunately though the rest of the development is more teasing. There's a lot of character who would be really deep if their stories were ever given to us in full and not randomly jammed into episodes for a minute or two. I blame a lot of this on the pacing problems I mentioned before and on the shows inability to decide its genre. There was a lot of potential here that unfortunately wasn't tapped, but at least the characters were fun. 5/10

Performance
Continuing to further my belief that Japanese voice actors are almost always superior to their western counterparts, the performers did a solid job. Whilst I wouldn't call their work here breathtaking by any means, the cast did a very good job of portraying their characters and fit into every scene seamlessly without ever over or under-acting their parts. The humour in particular was very well done and is earning the performers a lot of extra points. The performances of Junichi Yanagita and Kana Hanazawa were in particular standouts to me. 6/10

Art
Like just abut everything else in Rewrite, the artwork is far from bad but is also nothing to write home about either (so I'll write to you lot about it instead). Parts of the art, particularly scenes at night and a few closer to the end, were really nice and Kagari in particular had a very pleasing character design. Most of the characters and scenes were pretty standard though.

An interesting choice was the use of a different animation style for monsters (looked like CGI to me). This was a double edged sword because it made the monsters look very otherworldly - something fairly important to the essence of the anime - but it was also rather jarring to look at and ruined the aesthetic in places. So I'm undecided if this choice was very clever or very stupid. 4/10

Conclusion
Overall, this anime had a lot of potential. Sadly though, whilst this series has turned out enjoyable so far and has been a lot of fun to watch, most of that potential went untapped. An interesting story was poorly executed and otherwise deep characters were barely explored. Rewrite has been good but far from great and is earning a 20/40 from me. The good news is that there's still hope for improvement with an eleven episode second season set to be released next year.
-gimmepie


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