Wednesday, 26 December 2007 22:42

Myself; Yourself (TV, 2007)

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Overview

This is the story of a girl... err, wait, sorry, that's a song, isn't it? But actually, it's not so far off from what I'm reviewing today, as you'll see in a few moments. The Fall/Winter season this year hit like a masonry full of bricks, and I found myself in a somewhat rare situation: Not only were there a lot of series that I was interested in, there were so many that I could barely keep up. Traditionally, the fall/winter season is loaded more with romance genre series - that's not to say that action can't be found, as Dragonaut and Night Wizard are proving, mind you. This year's offering included not one, but five exceptional romance series, and every damn one of them is proving good enough to require waiting until the series wraps just to ensure I don't miss anything. The first of those, Myself; Yourself, finished its run in my player not ten minutes ago, and I don't mind admitting that I'm sitting here with the same sort of warm fuzzies that Ah My Goddess TV left me with... Damn, this is going to be a long review season...

Review

Myself; Yourself revolves around a young man named Hidaka Sana, who moved away from the town he grew up in when he was still just a boy. The story opens on a going away party with his closest friends: Wakatsuki Syusuke and his twin sister Syuri, Oribe Aoi, Sana's cousin, and Yatsushiro Nanaka... you know there's a reason that I named her last, right? Hold on to that thought, I'll come back to it. The main plotline of the series involves Sana returning on his own to the small town, Sakuranomori, alone, and finding again his childhood friends - and seeing how they've grown up. Aoi's mother owns the small dorm that Sana moves into. Got the basic setup? Yes, it really is as simple as that, and I know that you're already calling this a Harem series. Guess what: You're dead wrong.

You see, Myself; Yourself plays itself off, on the outside layer, as a pretty light hearted story. In fact, even after finishing the series, I still consider it to be pretty light hearted overall... but actually, at times it makes the characters of School Days look well adjusted. Now, don't get me wrong... Nanaka doesn't go sailing away at the end of the story - far from it, in fact. And that's what makes Myself; Yourself so remarkable, actually... Every single character in the series has seen some really, really lousy times - terrible things, even, things that would rightly break some people. Not all - and that's an important distinction between School Days and Myself; Yourself. Kotonoha was broken right in half - and anybody with her personality would have. Yet the characters in Myself; Yourself face their own trials, a couple of which are just as bad in their way as what Kotonoha went through, but not only manage to stay sane... they even manage to thrive despite them. Not without a little bit of struggle... but as I said, even after everything... I can't call this a dark series. Instead, these events provided a level of realism and humanity to the characters that generally isn't present in storytelling.

The series deals with a number of darker themes while maintaining an overall positive storyline, but the great thing is that nothing is laid outright in front of you - the storyline builds into several events. For instance, one of the new people that he meets is a young girl named Hinako. Though little more than a child, she's a brilliant girl - but she's also on her own a lot, as she's a single-parent child and her mother is an upper-level business manager. Hinako's tough enough to deal with it - she's surprisingly well adjusted, in fact - but that doesn't mean that the situation doesn't lead to some good laughs for us when she decides to move in with Sana on one sudden business trip. Don't worry, I haven't spoiled too much here - it's an early event in the series.

Something else that the storyline does is keep the darker stuff from being too overbearing. The first half of the series splits itself between introduction and setup of the longer running lines. One of the three major lines, involving at some point all of the main characters, takes turns alternating with lighter material that helps to keep the storyline from getting depressing. The writers did a great job of this - the serious material isn't used as a bludgeon like in some series. *coughSchoolDayscough* Instead, because of the mix of humor and enjoyable moments, the darker stuff can do its work without being overwhelmingly nasty, which in turn freed the writers up to focus on the development of the characters themselves.

Ok, I think that I've raved about the storyline enough, so let's take a closer look at the characters. As I said, Sana is the character that the plotline revolves around, but I find myself considering Nanaka to be the main character. However, that's also a little unfair, as the plot itself really takes into consideration all the characters. Each of them gets their time, and each does get a resolution by the end of the series. The main reason that I single out Nanaka and Sana is because their line takes up the full span of the series and because their line sparks off most of the others. On his own, Sana is fairly unremarkable at the beginning of the story. He's a nice guy - and so are a lot of anime males. K`thardin calls them Standard Anime Wusses. Sana doesn't quite fit that description, but he doesn't really stand out - at first.

That actually suits for a lot of the characters - at the beginning, none of them really stand out from their archetypes. Nanaka is the childhood sweetheart. Syuri is the tomboy. Syusuke is the boyhood friend. And Aoi... well, heh, you get the point. However, as each character develops through the storyline, they grow out of their archetype roles. Part of it, I've already mentioned - those dark things that Myself; Yourself allowed itself to touch flesh them out. And part of it is that the characters really do mature through the events.

I really like the art direction in this one, though a lot of the characters ended up looking fairly similar. There's not really any anime hair colors to be found in this series, so that's alright - the other portions of character design add plenty of uniqueness despite everybody having either black or silver hair. The visual settings are excellent, well above par compared to the average modern series. The artists did several particularly spectacular sunsets too - not as great as ef's... but that's an unfair comparison, heh. Good, smooth animation with solid character designs, so high marks here.

The music is probably the only low point in the series, and that only in comparison to the series itself. It's good, mind you, just that some of the themes seemed a little threadbare compared to the quality of the rest of the series. That's not to say that it's a complete wash, though - far from it. Nanaka's theme is pretty good, as is the violin piece that is first introduced in the very first episode - and then finally completed in the very last. The opening theme is standard, if a pretty upbeat, rocking standard. Hey, one question... what is with the trend lately of having the casts of series play rock concerts for the openings lately? Heh. Voice acting was good and solid, no complaints there at all.

Overall

Do I even have to say that I loved this series? No really, do I? Alright: I loved the series. Damned good storytelling combined with great animation and characters that grow out of their archetypes equals an awesome series. I've read a lot of complaints that the final ending left somethings rushed, and some things unspoken, but actually, I have to say that I liked that. The major issues for the characters were taken care of - and some of the darkness that was touched on was left for somebody else to deal with too, instead of trying to make the characters do everything themselves. It's just another little hint that the writers knew what they were doing. We got to see resolution and even hints of better things to come with the way that the series wrapped, and that's great, I think.

I will say that there are some very dark moments in the series, as well as some violence, but it's pretty mild compared to some things that we've seen recently. It's better to say that unpleasant themes take a central role at points, though not a controlling role save for one particular plot line. Overall the series is pretty light, with the more serious, dark stuff reserved for fleshing out the characters. There are a lot of really good twists, though, so don't just write the early stages off - you need to watch at least to episode six for the main story to really get fully set in.

High recommendations! Grab your girl, pop some popcorn, turn down the lights, and cuddle up on the couch to watch this one!

Additional Info

  • Title: Myself; Yourself, Maiserufu; Yuaserufu, マイセルフ;ユアセルフ
  • Genre: Romance, Drama, High School
  • Director: Yasuhiro Kuroda
  • Studio: Dogakobo
  • Network: Chiba TV, TV Aichi, TV Kanagawa, TV Osaka, TV Saitama
  • Format: Television
  • Episodes: 13
  • Animation: TOASTY! (+4)
  • Writing: Groovy (+5)
  • Pacing: TOASTY! (+4)
  • Voice Acting: Very Good (+3)
  • Soundtrack: Average (0)

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