This is review number two hundred and thirty six. This anime is part of the Summer 2013 lineup. There is a lot of anime in this lineup and I’m barely catching up. I’m doing my best and I am determined to finish my goal. Apologizes again though because I can only crank out one review a week. It’s the best my limited time can provide. Anyways, the anime I’ll be reviewing is Genei wo Kakeru Taiyou, or Day Break Illusion. It’s a thirteen episode anime about a bunch of girls and a talking magical pet that gives them a life of despair. Oh, wait. Wrong show. Oh, wait. It’s not. Let’s read on.
This anime is about a girl named Akari that was destined to become a magical girl and fight off evil creatures known as Daemonia. As she slowly realize the burden of her responsibility, Akari finds herself doubting if she should continue doing what she things is truly wrong. After killing her cousin, Akari vows to save everyone. She plans to save the innocent people that are being harmed by the Daemonia, the Daemonia themselves that were once humans and also save the rest of her friends. It’s all too much for a little girl to handle. Akari is determined though to fight till the very end and to help as many poor souls as she possibly can.
Taking the Pants Off
There’s something you should now about TPAB’s little journey to one thousand reviews. To this day, I refuse to watch and review Ano Natsu de Matteru. The reason is pretty simple. It’s a recycled version of “Please Teacher” with a few of the staff from the previous show doing Ano Natsu. Almost everything from Please Teacher was copied onto Ano Natsu. When I first watched it, I absolutely hated it. I was angered even more when people started pointing out how original and romantic the show is. Little do they know that it was a recycled version of an Ecchi show with relatively the same content. I’m an open minded guy but I am still not convinced to give Ano Natsu a chance. I think my otaku instinct just starts kicking into gear and tells me not to re-watch a show I’ve already seen before. This was the case as well when I was watching Genei wo Kakeru Taiyou. My otaku instinct was nagging me that I’ve already since this before and I shouldn’t waste my limited anime time on it. I’m sure everybody sees the connection. This show seemed to have borrowed a lot of Puella Magi Madoka Magica’s content. I’ll write a lengthy comparison later on but it was certainly a bit distracting seeing the same kind of nihilistic magical girl show without a proper storytelling structure. I did not like it. As a guy who believes that every show is good, I can tell you though that the show does have its merits. It takes a bit of patience though to see the actual beauty of the show. It also takes a bit of delusion on the viewer’s side to make the experience worthwhile. As I was watching this show, I kept telling to myself “I have not seen Madoka. I have not seen Madoka. I have not seen Madoka. I will write a drawn out review of the original elements of the show after I finish watching it.”
The issue of the show ripping off Madoka is with merit though. After all, this was an original series made by AIC (the studio). Original Screenplays are anime that wasn’t adapted from any manga or light novel or whatever. It came from the minds of the anime creators and nowhere else. The main core of this show is about a bunch of girls forced into being magical girls. They were destined to fight evil creatures that threaten to harm innocent people. There are a lot of dangers in their job though but they’re hog tied to their duties. The creatures they fight are people that get their souls consumed by evil and they become monsters. These humans become monsters because they sold their souls for a wish to be granted. Here’s the catch. These monsters would attack people but ordinary people can only see them as disasters like earthquakes or a terrible accident rather than the menacing monsters they actually are. The girls are now tasked to kill the monsters that were once human. They can kill but they can also be easily killed as well. I’ll stop right here because I’ve just explained the premise of Madoka. There’s a lot more elements the two shows have in common if you nitpick hard. I have a show to critic though so I’ll that to you dear viewers when you do decide to watch Genei wo Kakeru Taiyou (GKT). Do you see the similarities though?
It wasn’t just the premise that felt the same. I can very much say that the cinematography of both shows is similar. The girls fight the monsters in a closed dimension that is warped just like the witch’s dimensions in Madoka. I honestly think that the creators of Genei wo Kakeru Taiyou wanted the audience to see the similarities as well. I mean, I certainly recognized this scene:
As someone who enjoys watching anime, I certainly had a hard time convincing myself that I should watch this show. Let me spin the concept of “ripping off” a show around though. One thing Madoka told the world is that magical girls, no matter how cute or pretty, can also die when they fight. Before Madoka, the worst a magical girl can endure is a tentacle rape scene (I am not joking). Madoka gave us a grim and dark expression of the magical girl experience. It replaced the sugary sweet content of magical girl shows with a lot of nihilism and despair. Madoka’s structure went like this: (1) Nihilism. The girl’s aren’t cute girls out to defeat evil. They’re burdened individuals forced to sell their soul for a single wish. (2) Character Driven Story. The show focused on the consequences of the girl’s choices and documents their regrets step by step. (3) Magical Premise. They’re transforming cute girls in pretty outfits that awesomely kill evil for good to forever thrive. I also think that GKT ripped Madoka’s content off. That’s not entirely true though. I would like to think that GKT was a great example of the effect of Madoka’s genre shattering approach. It was a fan of Madoka so it wanted to honor what the previous show boldly presented. The greatest form of flattery is imitation, right? Genei wo Kakeru Taiyou’s intentions aren’t really that bad but I think I just loved Madoka too much to let another anime copy its content.
GKT’s structure is entirely different. It goes like this: (1) Magical Premise. First and foremost, the story is about a bunch of girls on the side of good that fights evil. They would eat cake, tease each other and display their strong friendship yet they also go into battle trying to defeat evil. (2) Despair. The familiar concept of the girls being plunged into darkness, much like Madoka, still applied. I personally think the style is more of the characters experiencing situations that would make them curl up like a little ball. In Madoka, there was a significant absence of hope. In GKT, the structure of the show suggests that good will still prevail over evil despite the amount of despair the characters experience. (3) Action Driven Story. It’s hard to grasp but the show progresses through the sequence of events involving the interaction of good and evil. Despite being dialogue heavy, all of these dialogues are just setup for when the story executes the important scenes. While both Madoka and GKT are conceptually the same, there are differences in how both show approaches the idea. Madoka broke the mold of the magical girl genre by replacing familiar elements with uncomfortable ones. Genei wo Kakaeru Taiyou merged the idea of a magical girl show and that of the uncomfortable themes Madoka explored. In a way, the two are pretty different. Of course, I wouldn’t blame you if you can’t get over the fact that GKT took way too much from Madoka. Even I had a hard time adjusting.
With that being said though, it’s time to finally review this damn show. Again, I ask you to look over the similarities between this show and Madoka. That’s important because the show needed ample time to set everything up. The first half of the show was a bit weak because it was trying to lay the groundwork for the second half. There is also a notable difference between the first half and the second half of the show. In the first half, the show was trying to introduce the basic premise. The anime is about this cheerful young girl named Akari Taiyo. One day, she was attacked by a plant monster that she somehow defeated. The next thing she knew is that her cousin was laying on her bedroom floor covered in blood and very much dead. Akari soon realized that she had special powers that made her kill her cousin. An organization soon invited her to join their cause. Sefiro Foire is a group of people that was given the abilities of the tarot cards. These powers are used to defeat Daemonia, or evil creatures that cause harm to innocent people. Akari liked the idea of beating bad guys to save people but there was a twist. Daemonia were once humans and they sold their souls to make a deal with the devil. When Akari found out that she was killing innocent people as well, she started to hesitate killing them. To make matters worse, once a human turned into a Daemonia and was killed, these humans are wiped of the face of the Earth. Their existence is deleted and the people they care for no longer remember who they are. Akari kept being reminded of her cousin she killed. She doesn’t want that kind of fate for anybody yet she must weigh their lives over the lives of innocent people. It’s a big conundrum for a cheerful girl like Akari. Here’s the thing that complicates it even more. Akari can hear the Daemonia and the human beings they once were. “I want to save you” is what Akari would always say but her teammates don’t share the same sentiment. “If you get in the way, I’ll kill you too” is what most of them would say. How can a newbie like Akari convince her battle hardened friends that the Daemonia are crying out for help if she is the only one that can hear them? It’s a bit too much for a girl to take all in.
The first part of the anime is really all over the place. While the story of the first half sounds pretty cool, it’s all pretext for the show so it can properly introduce everything that will be important later on. The characters, the status quo and the story for the second half are being set up in the first half as well. Take into consideration that the show also ripped off Madoka, and you’ll have a very convoluted show. The show was busy trying to do everything while still trying to progress the story of the first half. It’s a bit messy but I also admire how they handled it because the anime does show clarity as it progresses. As each character is introduced, the implications they have over the story started to really make it more exciting. As you see the overall status quo of the show, you soon see how important Akari’s position is in regards to the fight against evil. The way the villains move about in the shadows, the way Sefiro Foire handles things and the way the girls are placed in such complicated situations really helped make the story of the first half more intriguing. The little sprinklings of the events for the second half slowly introduced also helped greatly in improving the anime. It really just takes a little time for all the ingredients to join together and it comes to a point where you no longer care if the show is a rip off because it’s still compelling despite the fact.
The first half’s story has two plot points. These two comes together hand in hand and strengthens each other as the show progresses. The first plot point is about Akari’s relationship with the Daemonia. Akari couldn’t get over the twisted fact that vulnerable people with weak hearts are to be killed. She tries to find a way to save them and feels cornered when the rest of her super powered comrades don’t believe in her overly positive look at the situation. Akari couldn’t get over the fact that she killed her cousin and it’s been haunting her ever since. If there was a way to save both the human Daemonia and the innocent people, Akari would explore all possibilities. The familiar theme of despair is happily tagging along Akari’s journey to save people though. It’s a pretty unique plot point but I honestly think that if the show continued it all the way to the second half then it would’ve been all the more exciting. Sadly, the show was just handling too many things at once.
The second plot point for the first half is Akari’s relationship with the other girls. Magical girl shows are all about friendship and being cute. This was the concern of this plot point. Yeah, they are serious and they bleed when you stab them, but there also times where the girls bond and enjoy their time together. This was one of the major problems of the anime for me. One second the girls would be talking about how life is complicated and we are all going to be dust when we die then they’ll be going all cute and funny in the next second. It’s a bit disorganized and it often throws me off the story. The anime seems to be having a hard time establishing mood because they’d have a girl badly hurt in one episode then they’ll feature her eating takoyaki and blushing as she chews them in the next episode. It’s a bit hard to get into the rhythm of the show. It’s especially hard if you’re used to Madoka’s familiar progression where the cuteness and the comedy dies after the third episode. In GKT, the dark themes are awkwardly mixed in with the cuteness. It takes a bit of getting used to and it’s honestly a bit hard to do so. This plot point is also about the rest of the girls accepting Akari’s views about the Daemonias. The battle hardened girls believes that only weak people can turn into Daemonias and they should just die. Akari doesn’t believe so and she tries her best to convince the others. Of course, each girl has a story to tell that is as dark as Akari killing her cousin. It seems all of them had the same kind of experience and they try to run away from it. Akari is here to help them face their problems though. Some are very hard headed but a little nudge by Akari can help tremendously.
This anime certainly hits a high note though in the second half. This is where the anime really became exciting to watch. The second half is where the villains finally make a move. All the buildup of the first half now becomes the focus of the second half. Much like the first half, the second half has two plot points as well. The first one is simply about the villains and their ultimate motive. The people who were hiding in the shadows finally make a reveal and now threaten to end the lives of the girls. Yes, cute girls will die and it will be awesome. The wonderful part is that this isn’t as straight forward as it seems. The villains won’t just device a plan then the girls will counter it. No, the villains control the progression of the fight and excessively throw a lot of despair towards our heroes. The girls were really backed in a corner and some of them showed their fangs in the most unpleasant way. It’s pretty damn powerful considering how much the anime build it up. There was a good amount of despair in the second half to truly choke the girls to death.
The second plot point is about the fate of the girls. The villains getting aggressive aren’t the only problem the girls have. Sefiro Foire is also facing internal problems as well. The girls realize that they are nothing but pawns for the higher ups and they can’t do anything about it. A lot of them would drop like flies and the higher ups would just find the next replacement. It’s another strong dose of despair for the show. While the villains are out making their lives miserable, the girls are also forced to doubt their beliefs and the responsibility placed upon them. It’s a pile of problem on top of the other and you can’t help but wonder how the girls can crawl out of the situation. The focus on Akari trying to hold things together while it tears apart at the seams is pretty great to watch. No matter how positive she tries to be, there’s just too many things going on and not even a truckload of cheerfulness can cancel it out. Seeing the other girls give into their despair is also something I really enjoy. It soon comes to a point where you’re waiting if Akari herself would give into despair.
The show honestly had a lot to offer beyond the Madoka similarities but I do feel that it wasn’t properly utilized. There was a lot going on in the anime and it was a bit hard to make sense of it all. There was also a lot of information being dumped that you often can’t process it all. Some of them appear out of nowhere just so the anime can have a Dues Ex Machina moment. A lot of the conflicts and the problems in the anime seemed to be handled sloppily. The thing that bothered me the most is that the story still felt a bit ordinary and predictable despite the amount of wonderful components it had to elevate itself. The anime would rely on the same Madoka themes yet it still clings on to the magical girl elements that the genre truly holds. So the anime will have a nice story about the power of friendship while it is busy killing off the girls but not before a slumber party with the girls in their pajamas. It feels a bit disjointed and it’s that kind of awkwardly mixed styles that really hurt the anime a lot. There’s honestly a better way to handle this. Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni also had cuteness and darkness nicely mixed in. The trick is to pull the viewers in with the cuteness then scare the pants out of them with the dark elements. This wasn’t the case for GKT because no matter how much they struggle and despair, good still triumphs over evil. It’s a hit and a miss as far as I’m concerned. If you can’t properly establish mood then how the hell can you expect to properly establish an engaging story? For this show, the parts are better than the whole though. Certainly some plot points are fun to watch and certain characters are fun to see struggle. The overall experience for the show though is a bit subpar.
The characters are all pretty decent but they were a lot of them and it did mess the anime up a bit. There are four main characters though but the side characters all had important roles to play in the overall story of the show. Akari Taiyo is the protagonist of the show. She has a bright disposition and she is the newest member of Sefiro Foire. Her belief that everyone can be saved is one of the main cores of the anime. She was the ray of light in the darkness and seeing her fight against the inevitable is what makes her pretty special. Her cutesy demeanor does get a bit annoying though. Basically, seeing her in pain is what makes the anime experience pretty great. The other girls on her team nicely create a balance among the group. Seira Hoshikawa is the cold girl that sees things in black and white. Daemonia are evil and they should be killed. She was the harshest of the four in terms of how to battle the monsters. There is no talking to her. She will kill because it’s her duty. Seeing her clash with Akari was pretty fun at first because, deep down, you know that this girl is deeply troubled. She has a nice serious attitude though that adds variety to the group. Luna Tsukoyomi is the meekest of the group. She has a severe inferiority complex because she had a pretty troubled childhood. This was made even worse when she was given the task to become a magical girl. She is shy and timid. Her gentle personality often comes off as a weakness because of how the despair in the anime can be. It’s often interesting to see the weak willed among the group crack first. Luna is very supportive but she often holds herself back to accommodate others. The last girl is Ginka Shirokane. She is the mega-loli of the group. She is the loudmouth that acts all cute and tries to be funny all the time. She breaks the tension in the group when things get a bit heated. She has a strong sense of responsibility though and that’s what makes her special. To what end will she go to uphold her responsibility is something you’ll enjoy in the show.
The rest of the cast are one dimensional but they do play their part well. The other members of Sefiro Foire are pretty interesting as well. They are in contact with the superiors and it’s often interesting to see just how restrictive the group is. The superiors aren’t afraid to tell the girls that they are mere pawns. Throughout the anime, the stuck up regulations of the superiors often clash with the belief of the girls until it hits a breaking point. Despite the limited time provided for them, the anime was able to give the side characters justice. The villains are interesting as well. The anime downplayed most of the details about the villains and I find that a bit annoying. I can’t help but admire them though. The heroes often become nothing more than dolls with strings with the way the villains play with their mind. In the second half, I often find it interesting that it would often just need words to weaken one of the girls. A few stabbing words from the villains and the girls are pretty much defeated. They could’ve been more effectively developed though and I was hoping they explored their background or feature some flashbacks about them as well. It would’ve made the final moments of the anime that much more interesting.
I think the anime is pretty good but it certainly could’ve been better. It’s often not enough to just rip off elements of a successful show then mix in cliché. They should’ve done more with the show considering how wonderful it turned out towards the second half. It honestly needed a few more touches and I bet no one would complain how it seemingly looks like a Madoka clone. I’m guessing the studio wanted it to be a clone though. I’m not sure. I don’t understand Keizo Kusakawa though. A lot of the anime he directed often feels like it needs some heavy editing. I remember he directed Dog Days. That’s another weak show that had tremendous potential. I often feel like he doesn’t like his job at all. Anyways, this anime is entertaining if you look beyond the Madoka similarities and I’m pretty sure the second half can give you a pretty worthwhile experience. There are some things to enjoy though but the overall experience is something that doesn’t hold up as much.
Sight and Sound
Character design is something I am up on the fence with. I both hate it and love it. I love it because it’s overly moe. Gomoku Akatsuki seemingly gave us a disgustingly cute design of cute girls in cute outfits. Gomoku’s style is pretty nice though. The combination of bright colors and sharp edges really give the characters some needed personality. The loli design coupled by their short height and big expressive faces really captures the magical girl aspect of the show. The way the hair flows wildly and the different outfit the characters have shows the wide range of Gomoku’s design. If you’re into the magical genre then I’m sure you’ll adore the character design of the show. There are a lot of moe characters to choose from. It’s pretty insane. I hate it though because it’s one of the reason why it’s so f*cking hard to establish a proper mood in the anime. They’re moe, for godsakes. No matter how dark you make the anime, you can’t seem to get over the fact that they’re cute. Even the one shot characters are cute and I find it a bit distracting. All the characters have short heights whether young or old. They all have big heads and a small body. They also have huge eyes which is really distracting. I often can’t get into the story of a father whose child died because the design of the dad is moe. Even the cats and the other animals in the show retain their moe. The great design of Gomoku actually works against the anime, in my opinion.
I am a fan of the monster designs though. There is a nice combination of a wild imagination and a heavy acid trip when it comes to the Daemonia. They often take the form of some object but make it horrifying. From a boat to a train, there’s no limit to how the monsters can be. I really like it because it makes the fights exciting. It feels like you’re on a boss level of an RPG game. The fight themselves though aren’t that good. It’s limited and there is no decent pacing on the battles. The girls just throw projectiles or swing their sword then the monsters would just take it. Even if there is some decent pacing on the fights, it only serves to progress the story. The characters and the monsters are flashy. The sequences themselves aren’t as lovely. I do like the way the anime uses flashy camera angles on the fights but it’s really not enough. The animation is good but isn’t something worth noting. AIC isn’t really that well known to deliver high quality animation. I’ve seen a lot of their works and the animation would probably be the last thing you’ll notice. It’s not a big deal when the content of the show is truly good.
The anime’s OP is “träumerei” by LiSA. It’s a decent OP song. LiSA’s sound voice nice and the instrumentals are pretty great. The song has a nice intensity to it that it does give off a nice action feel for the show. The OP sequence features all the characters and a nice summary of the events in the show. It covered all the plot points nicely without giving anything away. The chorus hits with the girls showing off their moves. It’s pretty great. The anime’s ED is “-Mirage-” by Natsumi Okamoto. This has the same feel as the OP. Natsumi’s voice sounds lovely as it paces the song down. I like the verse more than the chorus though. The ED sequence features all the characters and some cute poses between the cast. It’s pretty cute.
4/10 “The anime doesn’t really come together. Even though the various parts are intriguing by themselves, the overall experience the anime gives you leaves a lot to be desired.”
I like the fact that AIC tried to give us another nihilistic magical girl anime. It’s a shame it just isn’t that great. The whole anime just feel disjointed and the uninspired story it gave us, despite the wonderful concepts, was just disappointing. If you enjoy magical girl shows then you’ll like this show. If you like cute girls in your anime but with a little bit of blood then you’ll enjoy this one. The anime takes a little bit of patience though so, if you do watch it, patience is certainly required.