Ushinawareta Mirai wo Motomete Review

This is review number four hundred and nineteen. This anime is part of the Fall 2014 lineup, and it’s called Ushinawareta Mirai wo Motomete or In Search of the Lost Future. It’s a twelve episode anime about a girl being run over by a bus while Yuki is stuck in the endless eight arc. I don’t know what it means either. Let’s just read on.

Story

The anime follows the Astronomy club preparing for their cultural festival activity. They were also asked by the student council to help break up fights during this time. While stopping one scuffle, one of them ends up spraining her ankle. On the way home, she tripped because of her injury and an out of control bus hits her. Time resets and it looks like the game is on to do fix that one wrong thing in the past.

Taking the Pants Off

First of all, this anime sucks. I don’t think it’s up for debate. Well, unless you like really awful VN adaptations. Secondly, this is an awful VN adaptation. Right from the start, you just kinda really wondered just how much the anime will suck. Turns out, it’s a lot. Thirdly, and this fact broke my poor heart, the anime is presented by Studio Feel. In the previous season, Studio Feel gave us Locodol, the best idol anime but also the best anti-idol anime. It’s a genius show that proved how genius the studio is. Well, for the next season, they apparently gave us this steaming pile of a VN adaptation. This anime is so hard to watch that it took me two weeks to finish the entire thing. The show just feels really empty and boring. It also doesn’t help that the animation is really awful. It’s Gonzo level of bad, and flash animated cartoons are better than anything Gonzo. I’ll talk about everything in detail, but I would just like to say that I am actually glad this anime sucks. Yeah, let me just do some sweet lemoning here.

You see, this is my standards for a VN anime. Of course, it’s going to be bad but it’s really a matter of how bad is it going to be. Of course, the game’s story will be turned into soft cheese because that’s how VN adaptations should be. You just cannot do a good adaptation of a very complicated medium. I’m glad that this anime reaffirms my already established belief towards VN anime. The boring parts, the horrible parts and the convoluted parts, these are all things VN adaptations suffer from. This particular anime is an extra level of horrible though, because some VN anime really do try their best to capture the spirit of the game. I’m very forgiving when it comes to VN shows, but gawd almight, this one was a challenge. It’s one of those shows you can’t really fault people for dropping, and I’m actually more of a sucker since I’ll now be doing a very lengthy review about it. Let’s…not prolong this.

The Mildly Interesting Game

For some reason, PC Visual Novels are easy to research. It’s those PSP VNs that are hard to track down. I managed to find a lot of reviews about the original source, and it does give a better idea of what the f*ck happened in the anime. So let’s start from the beginning. This anime is about a guy, he finds a naked girl on the fifth floor of his school, the naked girl joins the astronomy club and then sex stuff happens. Ok, I now understand that anything eroge really does have sex in it. I know it’s obvious given the title, but I have seen a lot of harmless characters in some eroge and I always wonder if they really show their naughty bits in the game. Turns out, yeah, they do. As the review states, there are a total of 17 H-scenes, because I guess that’s important to people playing the game. Anyways, the astronomy club is contracted by the student council to settle disputes for them, since the clubs get feisty during the cultural festival season. While that happens, we follow a route, some supernatural things happen, some sci-fi stuff is thrown in and then we crawl to an ending. There are a bunch of bad ends, some alternate endings and then the TRUE END all typed in caps to show its importance. The fun thing about this game is that you play routes in order. You start with one girl’s route, finish it and then you unlock the next one. Each route kinda gives more clues to the overall story until you unlock the true ending. It sounds tedious, but the game is actually visually striking so it’s engaging to play. The mouth and eyes blink, apparently, and that’s a big deal for a VN. Waaah~

A lot of reviews states that the routes aren’t really that connected to each other. One girl also has a longer route than the others, and the true end is apparently not really a happy ending. They complained about the sci-fi aspect being an unnecessary add-on, but they do agree the story is really good. They really make it a point to tell us how gorgeous the VN is. I’ll just get an excerpt from one review. “Also realised this artist has a taste for different tones from reality. Like lots of purple and blue are in the picture. It makes the image seem surreal which is a good thing, since it is art after all. Wonderful stuff.” And now I’ll post some pictures of the VN below, like this one:

And this:

And this:

They certainly look visually striking, and I can honestly play an OK visual novel with amazing visuals with no problem. I’d do my best to reach the H-scenes and then stop playing because I already satisfied my curiosity containing the sex stuff. Since we’re on the topic of visuals, this is one from the anime:

Yes, it’s awful! The quality of the animation is inconsistent, but can you just imagine the reaction of someone that played the game when they see this pile of crap? So yeah, I wonder if the mouth moving and eyes blinking can be awesome in the anime too?

First Impressions

The episode with the worst animation quality is the first episode. I don’t even know why the quality is so different from the rest of the show. It’s like Studio Feel is telling you to run away as fast as you can. Animation aside, the story is also setup badly. We focused on characters not properly introduced, thrown into an established status quo, and we don’t even know what the anime’s main premise is. We just followed the Astronomy club just doing whatever, and no sign of a story structure is being setup. Given how complicated the story is, and how some of it is locked when you start, I’m not really surprised that the show can be this messy. If you can manage to finish the first episode, then the premise is quite clear. You see, this girl named Kaori, is well…

She dies. That’s how the first episode ends, and the second episode starts on a reset. Ok, this is groundhog day. We’re going back in time to save Kaori and all that bullsh*t, but we’re actually like Okabe from Steins Gate realizing messing with time gets your Mayuri killed. It’s an OK premise, and I guess it’s enough for the anime to work with for now. But wait, something stupid happens as a new girl is added to the story. It’s the naked girl the main character discovers passed out on the fifth floor. She joins the astronomy club, and she seems to have a “mission” but her convenient amnesia made her forget it. Once again, I like the premise of the show. So, it’s groundhog day but we’re not Okabe from Steins Gate but more like Yuki from Haruhi Suzumiya during the endless eight route. Meaning, we’re all going to suffer and there’s nothing we can do about it. In episode two, I kinda already understood that this naked girl is sent from the future to stop Kaori’s death. We just need to hurry along and actually see her try to prevent the death. Except the anime isn’t rushing things.

October the 14th

Kaori dies on the 14th, so we just need to go to that date. The anime does not immediately go there though, and decides to just f*ck around for a long time. Episode three to eight features a bunch of random things. While the sequence of events in the first episode is still done, other stuff is also revealed to have happened in between the events of the first episode. I think the events we first got is the astronomy club breaking up a fight between the judo and karate team, the astronomy club going stargazing, Kaori confessing, and then she gets hit by a bus. Episode 3-8 features a trip to the woods, the main character going on a date with the astronomy club president, the gang hunting for ghosts, the gang baking cookies and assembling their cultural festival thing, and replacing three broken laptops for the student council. These are all tedious, boring and absolutely awful stuff to cram in between the already tedious, boring and awful stuffs. Wha- what the f*ck is happening?

I do get it. I get it. We’ve entertaining the other routes, and we’re exploring the stuff for the true ending. There are four girls, so they needed time to state their case. We need the “gist” of their route, and I think they even happen in the playing order in the game. It’s a nice touch, I guess. We start with Kaori in the first episode (where she dies), then the panty flashing vice president of the astronomy club, then the president, and then the naked one. We also setup the events that’ll lead to the true end, like the ghost, the camera, and that black box thingy that serves a purpose for something. The problem with the anime is that the focus is scattered. We go from focusing on one thing, like a certain girl/her route, then focusing on the ghost that haunts the school, then focusing on some slice of life school goofing off, then focusing on some other random BS. As the show kept progressing, the whole deal about Kaori getting killed is shoved to the side. The show didn’t set up the entire thing like a mystery, wherein the random things focused connects to an overall story. There is no foreshadowing, no escalating of events and no urgency. Again, she f*cking died. Will that ever be brought up again?

Apparently yeah, it is revisited in episode eight where she, yes, once again gets killed by the bus. That was a lot of random BS episodes just to reach a point where she dies again. Well, let’s reset it then. Huh? What’s that? The story doesn’t reset? Oh, we explore the events after she becomes brain dead. That’s pretty fun? I guess.

Just Let Her Die

Episode nine features grown up versions of the characters. They have graduated high school, they all entered their professional fields, but the main character is still hung up on our brain dead girl. He dedicates his entire life trying to save the girl until some more pieces of the overall story is “unlocked”, I guess. Of course, it’s pretty obvious at this point what he did, so you guys can watch the anime yourselves if you aren’t clued in. The journey to get to the other point of the story is really stupid though. Quantum turing machines, artificial intelligence and the theory that time splits then reconnects when a certain action is done, are all utilized to prevent one girl from being run over by a bus. It’s pretty stupid, because the anime hasn’t really made me personally care for anything or anyone. The main character is devastated that the girl died after she confessed, so now we should feel for him too? Um, No.

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I actually like the girl dead. She is weird, and she isn’t really the type to feel sorry for. Don’t get me wrong, a childhood friend dying is pretty horrible, especially if you love her, since Okabe felt the same thing for Mayuri. Steins Gate made us care though. The story drew us into a false sense of security, pulled the rug from under us, and we were like Okabe desperately clinging on while slowly realizing he f*cked up big time. Could this anime have done the same thing? Yeah, it could have. Those random BS moments of frolicking in the woods, gazing at the stars and baking those cookies could’ve made us care. I mean, I hated Mayuri going “tuturuuuu!!!!”, but damn it I’d be lying if I said I want her to stop. I guess that’s the biggest thing missing for this anime: empathy. For the whole thing about keeping her alive, we needed some good amount of empathy for the characters and that was just not possible. The story is just too awful to have any of that.

I do love the big reveal of the overall story. I also like the sci-fi stuff, even if I didn’t really follow any of it. It had a certain potential that I personally respond to, and it’s a wonderful change of pace from the boring slice of life episodes that came before. As I watch though, I just kept thinking that they should just really pull the plug. Her state of being brain dead is ruining a lot of lives, and they should just learn to let her go. I was a bit miffed that the option is never really brought up. The story just default wanted her alive, even if it means destroying a lot of happiness in the process. I mean, that’s really why the true ending isn’t really a happy ending. By not letting Kaori die, none of the characters deserved happiness. I guess 17 H-scenes can make up for that, but there’s a lot of build up for a very unsatisfying ending. I wonder if there is a bad end in the VN where she really did die. I hope the anime explored that instead.

A Convoluted Endless Eight

Anyways, episode nine is a weird one. It’s the only one that featured the grown up versions. I would’ve personally loved to see the show alternate from the high school story and the grown up story, so we can establish some foreshadowing and keep focus on important things. Of course, that would deviate from the game so I do understand the decision here. One single episode to explain the main premise can work too, and then we go back in time one more time. This time, the remaining episodes focus on the true end and the main girl in it. They explain the ghost stuff, the complications of doing a reset, and we also explore the main girl. She has an interesting story, born out of a convoluted one, but I guess it works. It came to a point where she realized happiness should also factor in her decision, but whose happiness should she really fulfill? If the characters were given some weight and empathy was really established, then I would’ve loved the true end’s story. It feels very real, very heavy, and it does culminate all the emotions leading up to it. But when that bus goes on a final killing spree, I do believe everyone ends up a loser, including the audience. I wouldn’t mind a non-happy ending, but this seriously could’ve been written better.

Characters

I normally don’t talk about characters in length in my reviews anymore, since characters are there whether you talk about them or not. I mostly wanted a space for my favorite “other guy” in visual novels. You know how most VNs has two dudes, but only one gets a lot of ass. The same formula is done here, except the other guy is actually a pretty interesting character. He is half American, so he blurts out English from time to time, and he also has a girlfriend back in the states named Jennifer. He always holds up a picture of her, and while we never see her entire face, the picture is that of an obese girl. One of her pictures is her in a hotdog eating contest. I find that brilliant, the other guy being fleshed out and not the hotdog eating, because it kinda feels like they realized as well that Tomoya got all the ass in Clannad and Youhei got none, and we all like Youhei. Why do all the girls have to be wooed by one guy in VNs? I find the whole thing tedious. Like, dating one chick is hard enough, but now I gotta date five? Eh?

The main character is disgustingly bland. They also never explain why he lives in Kaori’s house, but it turns out his parents actually left him there. The anime is so awful that even little details like that are glossed over. Character work is the main point of the show that really could’ve made the entire experience better. I understand VN main characters are bland by design, but you could’ve at least given him some dimensions so his grown up self being hung up on a dead girl wouldn’t be so jarring. I will give points on giving us the “gist” of the individual arcs though, and showing us a glimpse of the characters in their routes. While we could never entertain them, the general vibe and relationship they have with Sou does give you an idea where the route goes. Like for example, the president’s route apparently doesn’t really have the pair grow to love each other, but she does get some H-scenes out of the 17 total, so that’s something. I really think this anime could’ve been done better, and it’s a shame it turns into such a horrible car wreck.

Kawamata, Hosada and Studio Feel

Here’s an interesting tidbit about the anime: it is series composed by a “Rei Kuwamata”. This person has not done anything else in the industry after this anime. This is the only thing they’ve ever worked on, and it makes me wonder why the person’s career stops here. I mean, more people have been given several chances to do bad anime. I say we give this Rei Kuwamata another chance to suck. It’s kinda depressing their career ends here. Anyways, this anime is directed by Naoto Hosada who also directed Mirai Nikki and Shuffle. He’s certainly not that prominent or noteworthy, but I say he did give us some solid works. For a guy with an extensive career as a key animator, I’m a bit baffled he produced sh*t like this. You can tell it’s an easy paycheck for him. That’s really the odd thing about this anime though. It felt like a contractually obligated project for the director and the studio. Of course, I have no proof but it feels like such an alien project for them. Whatever the case, minimum effort was given to this anime and it is obvious. This is like A-1 Pictures and Mahou Sensou. This anime feels like a weird standout in Studio Feel’s list of titles. I guess the thing that hurts the most is that the VN’s main asset is the visuals and the studio didn’t give two sh*ts about it. I’m a bit sad and annoyed that such an anime exists, because you already made the effort of making the show yet you didn’t have enough to make it look good? That’s just crummy.

Sight and Sound

Original character design is done by Shinobu Kuroya and Kurehito Misaki. This awesome duo gave us the one element of the game that reviews unanimously like. It’s a combination of their amazingly detailed characters and different art cut scenes that really bring the game to life. I’m mostly amazed at how they give some blur to the colors, so it comes off as light to the eyes and it draws you in instantly. You’ll then be encouraged to gaze at the detail work done in the cut scene and be completely engaged with the characters. I guess one minor nitpick I have is that the character faces look too small, and they do a weird angle sometimes where you look at the girls from below, because of your height. This results in some wonky angles, but I don’t think it really detracts from the experience. But yeah, it certainly does in the anime.

What the f*ck happened here? The animation is actually inconsistent. Some episodes are OK, some are good while some are just downright awful. The first episode is a notorious example where the club room feels empty, the dialogue is dull and the animation just feels weird….and bad. Characters would often morph faces because of the lack of consistency, and there are often some weird poses the characters do. Any movement feels awkward, and scene transition feels abrupt. This is the director on his lunch break absolutely giving zero f*cks for quality control. The animation does get better, or maybe I was just numbed by it all, and the scene where naked girl appears actually looks fine. The true ending also looks good, and I guess the animation only steps up during important scenes. The close ups are also decent, but they don’t really make the characters look appealing. For the most part, it just feels like a smart way to cheat animation by constantly focusing on the faces. The entire thing is just a mess, but I guess it’s not really something that’ll turn you off. It’s just obviously bad, and I guess Studio Feel is really giving you a chance to opt out. If first impressions are so bad, then you can’t really expect gold from the rest of the episodes.

The anime’s OP is “Le jour” by Satomi Sato. She voiced the pop idol in this anime, and I actually love that little detail. The song itself is pretty good, mainly because of Satomi’s beautiful voice. She puts so much conviction that the generic lines do come off as epic and grand. The song itself is an uplifting one about believing in hope and trusting the impossible, which nicely fits the anime. The OP sequence is also pretty great. I am mainly impressed at how well thought out it is. From the mysterious future setting, to a shot of the club members in the room, and then the star gazing to match the chorus, the entire thing is just storyboarded smartly. They even had Kaori dance under the meteor shower, and it’s honestly better directed than the actual show. The anime’s ED is “Ashita Mata Aeru yo ne” by Kaori Sasaki (CV: Hatsumi Takada) and Yui Furukawa (CV: Akane Tomonaga). It’s pretty much the same song as the OP, but it’s more serious and melancholic. I guess it’s a nice way to feature Kaori and Yui, but I personally don’t like it. It’s too slow for my taste, but the lyrics are pretty good. The ED sequence features a minimalist style of Sou and Kaori going to school. It’s hard to describe, but it does look awesome and I urge people to watch it.

Overall Score

2/10 “Horrible and forgettable, let’s not go back in time to fix this one. Just let it die.”

There is very little to redeem this anime. I guess I should just point out that you’d have a much better time with the visual novel than the anime. This show is directionless, lazy and awful sure to deliver a very numbed anime experience. It’s one of those bad shows that you don’t really care enough to actually get mad at. You should all just avoid this one. I do not recommend this.

One thought on “Ushinawareta Mirai wo Motomete Review

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