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Elegantly transposed "josei manga"
on 9 May 2014
I am a huge fan of Shinichiro Watanabe and Yoko Kanno - for me, the latter has to be one of the most versatile and gifted composers working in Japanese animation. When I saw that these two had come together to collaborate on a musically orientated anime I bought the box set without a second thought. I was anticipating Watanabe's usual display of complex and intriguing characters, beautifully executed drama, intelligent screenplay and that ineffable quality which his work has to unexpectedly move the viewer, so that the anime somehow lasts internally long after the end-credits have rolled away.
Unfortunately, for all its crisp animation, talented (Japanese) voice acting, and even despite the stonkingly amazing jazz performance scenes, I found myself ultimately bored by this series. I struggled to get to the end and will probably end up selling my box-set as I doubt I will ever re-watch it. The story played out like an endless labyrinth of confusion, indecision, teen-angst and pubescent lust. I found it hard to comprehend or empathise with the incessant emotional to-ing and fro-ing of the lead characters and, by the end, couldn't have cared less what happened to any of them...
I only realised after starting to watch the series that the original manga was serialised in 'FLOWERS' - a monthly publication which, as you can probably deduce from the title, is marketed mainly to teenage Japanese girls. After the triumph of 'Cowboy Bebop' I suspect Watanabe and Kanno could not resist the temptation to bring their talents together to work on a project which would allow them to explore their love of all things jazz. Unfortunately, despite the admittedly wonderful music scenes, I just don't believe this teen-romance material really offers this talented pair the right quality canvas on which to produce the kind of masterpieces we have seen them execute in the past. Disappointing.