Hourglass of Summer
As the summer approaches, Makimura Koutarou has his eyes on his shy but beautiful classmate Serizawa Kaho. The last week of school, he decides firmly that he will ask her out, although his friends do not believe this will work. He goes to sleep with thoughts of summer and Kaho in his head. But when he wakes up, it is the first day of the next school year.
When he arrives at the opening ceremony, he is greeted by his grief-stricken classmates, who mourn the untimely death of his girlfriend, Serizawa Kaho! When did he and Kaho start going out? How did she die? And why did he skip his entire summer? As he faints from shock, he wakes up on a day in the middle of summer. He now must live his entire summer, with each day in random order, while trying to answer all of his questions. And finally, once the cause of Kaho's death is known, can he use his "day dropping" miracle to change the black future he glimpsed at the Opening Ceremony?
The above synopsis works for the game and the anime. But if you're watching the anime, be sure to fast-forward all that x3.
I would like to open this review with my thoughts on the game that this anime is based upon.
A good way to describe the Hourglass of Summer game is immersing. It spans an entire summer, and you must live out each day of that summer (though not in chronological order) from the viewpoint of Makimura Koutarou, the main character. This is a VERY long game, folks, and I personally enjoyed every minute of it. It definitely takes its time building up the characters and situations, and it's all one big puzzle that you have to piece together (and of course, in the tradition of all ren'ai visual novels, the decisions you make on each day ultimately decide what type of puzzle you end up building). It helps that it has such great, developed characters (no pun intended). Another thing I would stress about the Hourglass of Summer game is that it takes its time. By becoming such a commitment for the gamer, it reaches unprecedented heights as both a game, and just an entertainment experience period.
The one thing I continually thought as I played the game with delight is how good of an anime it would make. There was one thing though: unlike almost every other title in this genre, it would have to be a long anime (26 episodes at the minimum) to be anything other than a disaster. I soon found that an anime version, this OAV, did in fact already exist. Then came the bad news: two thirty-minute episodes. Things were not looking good.
The poorly drawn full-frontal nudity in the opening did not help to assuage my fears.
Although I knew that the incredible, almost "epic" storyline of the game could not be told with any quality in one hour, I had no idea it would be this bad. But alas, the Hourglass of Summer anime looks like a preview. In other words: very quick scenes shown on the screen with no transition between them, and little coherency whatsoever. For a fan of the game, such as myself, it was absolute agony, because those "scenes" were right out of an excellent game, as well as those "characters", but hacked and rearranged almost beyond recognition (and certainly beyond quality). To have to accept this as the one and only anime (or adaptation of any kind) of the Hourglass of Summer game is painful. But I realize most of you haven't played the game, and may not have the bias that I inevitably do. But I really don't think you're going to like this ... thing ... any more than I did.
After all, a preview is a preview, regardless of whether you've seen or not seen what is being previewed. By bouncing around so much without trying to maintain any order, this anime loses the ability to entertain (which is always a bad sign, don't ya think?). You really don't have time to breathe during this show. Sure, you are taken over the period of an entire summer during the anime. But you do it in ONE HOUR (and no, I'm not commending them for that feat)! Forget "rushed", forget "forced', forget "pacing problem", this anime goes far beyond any of that! It doesn't rush, it splats. Imagine the entire game (which is 50+ hours if you include every story arc) put into a bottle of ketchup, and a few blotches of ketchup splatted in no particular order onto a plate. That is a perfect representation of what this thing is. And after it splats for an hour, it finally tries to top the whole thing off with something that looks like an ending. I say "looks", because I’m not entirely sure that’s what it is. It was the last scene of the OVA, but after all, that doesn't necessarily mean anything in this case.
One other thing to top off the insanity: this anime's art has major issues. Not the backgrounds as much as the character designs, although the backgrounds certainly weren't stellar. The characters, however, look like sort-of-good fanart a lot of the time (fanart of the game's character designs, that is, which are superb). By the way, sort-of-good fanart is sort-of-bad when it's used in an actual show. But that's not really the reason I mention this show's visuals. No. Why I mention them is because of a very bizarre problem: They are not correctly proportioned (and I mean that in an entirely non-perverted way). They are not drawn at the correct heights, at least in my opinion. The characters (especially the main character), are supposed to be in high school. But they honestly look about the size of 6th graders a lot of the time. I don't mean in a bad way (even though in most dating sims, characters who are drawn below their age are a bad sign). That's not the case here. I just mean it's weird to see an averagely drawn high school sized head on top of a middle school body. But then sometimes the head looks middle school sized too. And sometimes, they actually look the right size. The problem is lack of consistency. It's all really, really weird.
The best thing I can say about this OVA is that it's a rather sloppy preview of a fine game. Too bad it's an HOUR-LONG preview. And if you're anything like the rest of us, you don't have enough time to watch a preview that lasts an hour. Having played the game and enjoyed it immensely, it makes sense that I would have a personal disgust towards this OVA. For people to whom the game is completely foreign, this is just a horrible, horrible dating sim (just like all of those other horrible, horrible dating sims). Except for one difference: it's based on source material that's actually GOOD. And by watching this anime first, I can't blame you for being permanently alienated from the game. My advice to everyone: play the game; it's everything this could have been, and more. (Or if ren'ai games aren't your thing, then don't.) Whatever you do, don't watch the preview (shudder).
Bottom Line: Due to this anime, I lost two hours this Daylight Savings Weekend. Thanks a bunch. — Connor McCarty
Recommended Audience: Absolutely nobody. When the exact same thing is presented so much better via the game, why waste your time on this? As for age appropriateness, with general romantic themes, on top of a bunch of forced fan service that certainly WASN'T in the game, I'd say teens and up.
Version(s) Viewed: digital source
Review Status: Full (2/2)
Hourglass of Summer © 2004 Princess Soft / Hourglass of Summer Production Committee
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