The main male protagonist.
The audition to choose the inaugural winner of the ‘Anime of the Year 2011’ title continued with the review of Yumekui Merry, the seventh title in the audition. It has a beach episode in it, therefore the question is can this anime challenge the best ever beach episode ever seen outside hentai, which is also the current front runner in the audition, Highschool of the Dead OVA – Drifters of the Dead?
The main male protagonist who has this strange ability of predicting what kind of dreams someone will have when they sleep at night, has a chance meeting with the main title female protagonist when she fell onto him from a tree. He then found out that she comes from the realm of dreams, and offered his help to send her back to where she belongs. But there are many of her brethrens that prefers to come to the human world instead, and they have to deal with them first…
The storyline isn’t exactly an original or even a spectacular one, but at least it (the storyline) is solid and has no apparent weaknesses that I can see. It is less predictable then other titles in the audition such as Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica and Dragon Crisis! and is better in quality too than the latter and also Infinite Stratos. I have heard this anime deviates quite a lot from its source manga, but IMO this anime doesn’t really become crappy as a result.
BTW, the beach episode in this anime is basically just the same as they are in countless other anime titles. It advanced the story a little but nothing revolutionary like the one you see in Highschool of the Dead OVA.
For presentation, the flow of the storyline is flawless but the pacing is a tad too slow for my liking. The ending is just your cliché-laden typical shounen ending though (with powerups coming out from nowhere), but it is written to accommodate a second season at least. There are plenty of loose ends remaining, and the main goal for the two main protagonists haven’t been attained yet.
Character developments understandably has mixed results, considering the way the story unfolds. Only the main male protagonist has visible character developments, especially near the end. The main title female protagonist just has a little bit of developments, while other characters simply none of them. If a second season comes out, there is plenty of room of more developments. As an example, surely that guy who wrote poems all the time isn’t written in just for comic relief isn’t it? I call first dib for him to be the vessel for that Pharos guy!
Unfortunately, the beach episode in this anime is nowhere as good as what you can see in the Highschool of the Dead OVA.
Character designs in this anime, while decent, is just your standard cookie-cutter shounen design. Black hairs are rare, of which I think it shouldn’t be.
Voice acting in this anime is surprisingly good most of the time though. Another thing I have noticed is that those characters on the evil side has much better voice acting gigs than the characters on the good side. That home room teacher, his dream demon and the other dream demon with plenty of cats are good example of this phenomenon. The main title female protagonist has also done well, but the main male protagonist is just average. Even that poem writing guy is better than him. A positive aspect for this anime.
The OST is decent, but not so for the OP/ED themes.
This anime features the best ever fire animation I have ever seen. Mainly because those fires are real.
This title is the fifth consecutive title that employs the usage of the blurry animation technique that I really don’t like. Therefore, as usual, I will dock one point off the final evaluation. And in the case of this anime, that animation technique actually make another problem that this anime has become even worse.
That problem I mentioned is the very poor character animations quality, especially in fast-paced scenes. By the way, I want to stress that general animations are OK, even fast-paced ones. Basically, anime characters (whether humans or dream demons) in this anime are very poorly animated, just like it is in Mayoi Neko Overrun. This applies even in normal scenes, which I can tolerate a bit, but with the combination of the blurry animation technique above, it makes fast-paced action scenes basically unwatchable. At least Mayoi Neko Overrun (also afflicted by the blurry animation technique too) doesn’t have action scenes that it can mess around about.
Titles like Infinite Stratos may also use the same blurry animation technique, but that anime’s animation quality is actually good in fast scenes which make those battle moments watchable. That isn’t exactly an ideal scenario, but I will accept it than seeing that garbage seen in this anime. I think if this anime doesn’t use that technique, I probably can still see what really happening in those fighting scenes, especially the one at the ending arc.
2D and CGI animations are not seamlessly integrated unlike Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica, but I have to give two thumbs up for that real-life fire animation usage as shown in the screenshot above. I actually paused on that scene, rewinding it a few times just to see whether I need to visit my optometrist or not. This anime may have choreography sequences that surpassed Avatar: The Last Airbender, but I for sure I cannot comment about them because I cannot see it properly. The directing is decent, using some good camera angles but need to improve on the presentation if a second season is coming.
6 out of 10. Yet another anime title being short-changed just because they are using that blurry animation technique. I think it is hard for newer titles to be able to get a perfect score if this trend continues. Even as of today, there are no 2010 titles that managed to get one. The current ‘Anime of the Year 2010’ title holder Katanagatari would have succeeded if it doesn’t use the said technique.
To end this blog post, I want to announce that I plan to replace either Fractale or Moshidora with Gosick in this audition. I haven’t decided which title I will remove though, you will know about my decision in the next blog entry.