Monday, December 22, 2014

Ushinawareta Mirai Wo Motomete (In Search Of The Lost Future) Review

"The world we saw that day, let's create it once more"

I honestly have no idea how to start this review, considering that anything I say in this first sentence will not be able to properly convey how let down I am at this moment in my life.

In Search Of The Lost Future (Or Ushinawareta Mirai wo Motomete if you have enough time in the day to read the full Japanese title) appeared to be a diamond in the rough of the Fall 2014 lineup. It showed remarkable promise and sported a seemingly convoluted story line by the end of its pilot episode. Everything you could possibly want out of a pilot was displayed right then and there, making it a contender for the more major productions of the season. Love, tragedy, an unconscious and naked silver-haired girl, comedy, etc. It was all right there. But as Robert Frost said once, "Nothing Gold Can Stay."

Ushinawareta is the newest piece from director Naoto Hosoda (Mirai Nikki/Shuffle!), and from what I've gathered, it is also the worst. It follows protagonist, Sou Akiyama, as he tries to (SPOILER ALERT) essentially turn back time and prevent his childhood friend from meeting her inevitable death. And of course the best course of action in doing this is to create another human being in a lab somewhere that is somehow capable of time traveling back to when Sou was in high school and hanging out with him and his friends in the Astronomy Club and basically telling inevitable-death-girl not to die.

As I mentioned previously, the pilot for this show sets you up for what looks like is going to be a trip down a tragic and twisted pathway on the way to heartbreak and despair. But everything you will receive after that first episode will either put you to sleep or make you question why you even bother watching anime anymore. BUT, if you're cool with watching a show composed of nothing but filler and exposition that isn't even relevant to the story, go ahead and watch the rest of the season. And without giving anything away, I'll try to separate this review into a few key components to better illustrate my disappointment.

Music: 7/10
The music for Ushinawareta really wasn't terrible (Apart from the opening which was borderline horrendous). The soundtrack, though not extremely varied, fits the overall tone of the show and is equal parts despair and mystery. This can easily be credited to one of my personal favorite sound-directors, Satoshi Motoyama. Considering the show an adaptation of a pre-existing visual novel, it is obviously going to sound at least somewhat decent and hold on to some of the music that readers have grown accustomed to.

Characters: 7/10
The cast of this show wasn't that bad either, to be honest. All of the characters were at least slightly original and not directly copy/pasted out of other anime. The thing is though, none of them matter. Only three out of six main characters are actually linked to the main story line of Ushinawareta, and the rest are essentially there to extend each episode to 22 minutes. And I still don't get what Hosoda was thinking dedicating an entire episode and a half to a girl that, once again, made absolutely no impact on the story as a whole. And even though I liked that character more than all of the others, I was still angry that I had to watch her and be pulled away from what was supposed to be a tale of alternate universes and unrequited love. 

Art: 4/10
Studio Feel isn't exactly known for their art, which is fair because it really isn't all that good to begin with. More care was put into the characters than the environment, but it isn't even that evident because they all look mediocre anyway. Animations were slow and lacked fluidity, and more times than not, it will appear that some of the objects were kind of just scribbled in rather than drawn with passion. Great art needs to focus on every aspect in order to be received well, and Ushinawareta falls short in this department.

Story: 5/10
Starting right at the end of the first episode, viewers are filled with suspense and shock. But immediately afterward, the story screeches to a halt and makes no progress until the second to last episode, where everything is essentially resolved. Ushinawareta is a prime example of how bad pacing can ruin a story that could otherwise be great. There was so much promise in this show, but it felt like it just gave up after delivering one good episode. I had basically given up any desire to watch the show three episodes in, but I still kept coming back in hopes that it would start to pick up. It just never does, and instead it feels more like one of my good friends betrayed me and severed our friendship.

Long story short, this show isn't really worth watching. And unless you are a fan of the visual novel, I can't imagine you having a good time. There are so many other shows out there that do what this one tried to, but properly and with good pacing. In Search Of The Lost Future essentially gets lost within itself and forgets what it wants to be almost every episode. The studio gets lazier and the show goes on, and the viewers are the ones that have to pay for it in the end.

Overall score: 5.5/10

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