I think this show needs a rewrite.
What’s the Story?
Err… I honestly have no idea. Well, let’s see… there’s this kid who’s really lonely and can give himself super powers by rewriting his body and later on he gets these glowing wolverine claws that come out of his hand. Also there’s this secret organisation out to end the world and this super secret group out to stop them. Oh and there’s these little critters from another dimension and the bad guys can summon monsters and the other group has super powers. And about halfway through this new girl shows up who likes cheap coffee and is actually the key to the end of the world. And… and… and… I give up.
Okay, who put the ten year old with the short attention span on script duties? I know this anime is based off of a visual novel (one I’ve never heard of and really have no intention of playing after this show) and from the look of things and the hints at the end I’m guessing said visual novel has multiple routes that act as separate story lines but build into a larger narrative, kinda like Fate/stay night. Now like I said I haven’t even heard of the visual novel so I can’t judge this as an adaptation, but as a stand-alone series it is abysmal. There are so many different plot elements and characters all competing for screen time and not getting it that everything just ends up forming this cluttered mess of a story where no body wins.
What really kills the story is how disparate everything feels. I mean for one you’ve got the goofy high school hijinks with the occult club as our main character Kotarou gathers his harem of oddballs and stereotypes. Then you’ve got the preaching bad guys who want to save the world by ending it (seriously I haven’t heard environmental preaching this bad since the 90s) and apparently they can summon monsters by using their life force ‘cause they’re all wizards or something. Then we have the group opposing the bad guys who are all skilled warriors that stick to swords and guns with the odd super-powered individual thrown in. Not once did I believe any of that belonged in the same world together. The tonal whiplash alone from the school stuff to the more serious two groups battling over the world is enough to do you an injury.
I think a lot of the fault comes down to the fact that there’s just too much stuff and not enough explanation for what’s happening. As far as I’m aware the magic stuff and the super powers are never really explained, why do some people have abilities, where did they come from? Why can the bad guys someone monsters? How do they summon monsters? I mean we at least get to see how the druids do things (oh yeah, there’s a druid too), but really this could have felt a lot more cohesive if I just understood the rules this world is supposed to be working under. There are some explanations later down the line, but a lot of them are either info-dumps or have been strung along for so long that they’re completely unsatisfactory as a conclusion to a plot point. It takes the entire series for the show to properly example that little flashback at the start of the series with Kotarou and frankly I didn’t care by that point, I’d almost forgotten it. Even then, there are still some questions hanging around it, which considering that this was the last episode had me asking ‘well what was even the point of bringing it up?’ (you know, outside of trying to trick me into buying the visual novel).
Kagari’s role in the story is another problem; it kind of exemplifies one of the major problems with the series because it’s just so random. From the flashback we know she has some kind of connection to Kotarou, but we have no idea what it is and she spends the first handful of episodes floating around as a ghost and nibbling on Kotarou’s arm (another thing that isn’t explained until the last episode!), then about halfway through the series she’s just suddenly dropped into the plot with a completely new personality that we’ve never seen before. If you wanted this to be the Kotarou and Kagari show, why didn’t you start the series like that? Why bother building up a harem of girls if they’re just going to be relegated to the background for the majority of the series! So many plot points and plot elements feel completely random like the people who were writing this got a room full of kids, asked them what they wanted to see and then decided to do all of their suggestions at once.
Even when we get to ending I have to question the point of this further, I’ve already said how some of the conclusions just don’t satisfy me in the least and that’s without going into the myriad of questions that still hang over the series, but that ending, really? That’s how you’re ending the show? Spoiler time! Everybody dies. That’s it, the environmental bad guys win, everybody ascends (whatever that means) and the world is taken over by trees. No character arcs are brought to a close, outside of a few token lines. No grand conclusions are reached. It just end then the after credits scene shows it didn’t really matter because there’s a dozen other routes that you could take instead of that one the next time you play. Also, thinking back, I think Kotarou is probably one of the most useless protagonists in anime history. I can’t remember a single person he saved or a battle he won. He did practically nothing and he couldn’t even manage the cliché convincing the all-powerful deity to save the world because of love, friendship and other sappy emotional things.
I will give some credit though there are a couple of interesting ideas, like the one about the collective memories and personality that are passed down from person to person, and the weight of all that leading the person who gets the memories to lose faith in humanity and want to wipe us all out. That’s a good villain motivation, pity it only gets about two minutes exploration before we move on to the next random thing. Though of course the few points earned are then deducted for putting Shizuru in that god-awful outfit.
In the end Rewrite is a terrible anime. Maybe it’s a good visual novel, never read it, don’t really intend to at this point (so the anime has failed in one of it’s core motives). Its story is a cluttered mess with too many random and unexplained pieces that don’t probably fight together, the characters are too underdeveloped for me to care about and our main protagonist is pretty much useless. The animation does its best but it’s never anything really amazing. I’d skip this one and go find a review of the visual novel.
Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday.