Tokimeki Memorial ~Only Love~
Aoba Riku has transferred to a new school due to his father's job. On the very first day, he gets thrown into the complete chaos that is his new school.
Even though I've never actually played any of the Tokimemo games, somehow I find myself fairly familiar with the concept of the whole thing. My colleague Tim has already covered the original OAV, which, according to him, was a bit of a disappointment, especially compared to what is actually known as a rather compelling game. Having seen an episode of the OAV myself, I didn't find it notably impressive either -- mostly consisting of the grand prize of the game; Shiori, talking on the phone for the better part of the episode.
But this isn't about the OAV. Or the game, for that matter. No, this anime is a completely different beast, only related to the original game and its OAV adaption by name and concept. As befits an anime adaptation of a dating game, the story is mainly about the main man and his quest to find love by the end of the last semester.
Enter Aoba Riku, a particularly whiny pushover of a main character. In fact, I think Yukinari of Girls Bravo fame has finally been ousted from the top spot of the "romance harem anime starring complete wimps" top ten list. (I don't have that list now, of course, but I swear I'll complete it some day. It shouldn't be too hard.) On the very first day, almost to the second he enters the school, he becomes the target of curiosity for just about the entire student community.
Less than a minute later, he's wearing cat ears and being chased down by the entire school's male populace. At the time, I thought him to be the target of a gang beating, or maybe that was just what I was hoping would happen. Either way, this will pretty much become the show's running joke, no pun intended. And if you feel the same as I did, you will be sorely disappointed each and every time.
Of course, we can't very well forget the main romantic interest, whom I was directly introduce to in the very first episode. Her name is Amamiya Sayuri, and she's basically the virgin Mary -- nay, the goddess of this unworthy school. No, seriously... everyone -- and I mean EVERYONE -- in this show thinks she's the most fabulous person on the face of this blessed earth, right to the point where two total geeks carry her bible on their laptops. I'm dead serious! These people will break out into monologues in most of the episodes -- testaments, even, at the will, the grace, the glory of miss Amamiya, for her light shall surely shine brighter than anything you have ever seen. Her tales are known far and wide, and in them, you will learn about She Who Cannot Fail In Anything. Kittens will throw themselves into eternal fire and damnation for her, so that she may be spared. And maybe I went a little overboard here, but Jesus... we get it already. She's utterly perfect. A boon to feminine charm and ladylike grace.
Of course, before She Who Will Come Before All falls in love with our lovable loser (except not lovable at all) other girls will have their turn. In this case, we got two candidates; both of them doing sports, amazingly enough. So, naturally, inbetween the numerous slapstick chases and chicken shenanigans, Riku must date them both in turn and make them fall in love with him, so that there'll be someone who he'll need to reject when everything is said and done. First up to bat is Kasuga Tsukasa, a somewhat hyper member of the volleyball team. She's the kind of girl who truly believes in destiny, so when she crashes into Loser-kun after reading about it in her horoscope, she immediately latches on to him. And, of course, she's the really clingy type who immediately feels the need to start making boxed lunches despite never having cooked anything before. I think she's cutting the vegetables with her voice, but that's just a guess, so don't quote me on it.
The other competitor is Hina Yayoi, the token quiet and reserved girl. Needless to say, she's a bit more reliable than Tsukasa, but on the other hand, she's also far more clingy than Tsukasa too, if you can believe that. Not physically, mind you, but more of a needy, weepy psychological kind. Seriously, the girl has one episode dedicated to her turning the city upside down because she doesn't have Loser-kun's cellphone number, and waiting until they meet in school some days later is apparently not an option. The whining reaches a crescendo, however, when Loser-kun leaves on a school trip with everyone else, and through the power of chance -- braindead, harem-related chance, mind you -- he never answers her calls or messages her back for a whole two or three days, which sends the girl flying into a cesspool of angst and depression. And then, when he returns, they immediately meet, acting as if nothing had happened. Gah!
As for the rest of the class, they can be neatly sorted into two categories: girls and morons. The girls... well, I guess they're pretty normal for the most part. However, the boys are -- with VERY few exceptions -- a bunch of inbred, drooling wastes of space. I am utterly convinced that they're there to make Loser-kun look good by comparison. And when these morons aren't trying to chase down Loser-kun in yet another hare-brained chase cooked up by the student council for the sake of some Amamiya-related memorabilia, they're just... there. When the inevitable school festival episode makes its arrival, they even go so far as to demand that the girls dress up in maid costumes, up to the point of begging for it while having the crap kicked out of them by said girls. The worst part is that the girls eventually gave in to this pathetic display of leg humping, so you people are in luck. You get to see the maid costumes after all.
I would go into the roster of teachers on this school at this point, but the show didn't spend many episodes making me relish their every apperance -- from the crazy professor type to the vaguely transsexual-looking drama queen. From the constantly-on-the-verge-of-death teacher to the flamboyantly homosexual PI teacher who is also a track runner. But do you know who in this show eventually gained most of our respect? Do you know?
This one! THIS! It's a chicken! A CHICKEN, I tell you?! A badass fighting chicken, perhaps, but even so.... just look at it. THIS is the true star of this show. A chicken! Incidentally, there's also Inukai K�ya, the only character among the males who has actual interests and plans for his future (even if the show doesn't really go into them overly much.) At about all times, he comes across as somewhat aloof, and he always has a sarcastic or dismissive comment about the shenanigans in the class, and to see him so criminally underutilized is aggravating, as he just about outshines everyone by a wide margin. A veritable oasis of characterisation in this sand-blasted hell.
If someone out there is hoping for some eye candy to compensate for this travesty of an anime, then you're out of luck. While the show is animated fairly well, the character designs -- that is to say, the FEMALE character designs -- might very well be the most sterile, dull and vapid designs I have ever seen. They all look like molded dolls with different hair attachments, which makes a frightening amount of sense, come to think of it. Their face designs are all ridiculously smooth and flawless, it almost makes me want to rifle through the file cabinet of the crazed professor teacher in an effort to uncover his nefarious plans involving the cloning of harem archetypes.
To add insult to injury, this anime is supposedly based on the game Tokimeki Memorial Online, which I'm assuming is a game that lets you role play as a student in a school, much in the fashion of the other games. Whether said game is anything like the one featured in one of the episodes, I can't really say, but evidence points towards it. Even so, the thought of actually being able to live out my fantasies of taking place in what amounts to this anime makes me positively giddy, including meeting everyone in the show. And yes, I'm lying through my teeth.
There's nothing more that needs to be said. Just talking about this show is like picking on a scab that would better have been left alone if I want it to heal. Of course, even a show like this has a target audience; people who fail to understand that relationships takes some effort on both parts, efforts that transcends "being nice" and handing out compliments like candy at halloween. The relationship between the main couple -- two ciphers representing some sort of ideals -- just... happens. There is simply no characterisation whatsoever with either of them. We never learn about Loser-kun, simply because he's too busy running errands for the girls (or going on dates with them) or running for his life from the boys. And we never learn anything about Amamia-SAMA, because she's constantly spending her time being the perfect student, the perfect class president, the perfect role model and the perfect girl. Watching the two of them get together is like watching two cars being set off in opposite directions on a rollercoaster; it's a harrowing ride that will eventually and unavoidably lead to a crash.
To anyone who reads this review after having seen the series; for your sake, I hope you found some enjoyment in it. At best, it bored me to tears. At worst, it made me want to die.
A soulless retread of an online game, played out as if by a bunch of rudimentary AI programs. I can not stress this enough; DON'T watch it! — Stig Høgset
Recommended Audience: Not much, really. There's some fairly light fanservice in this; mostly bounching breasts and lingerie/swimsuit shots. That's about it.
Version(s) Viewed: Prerelease fansub.
Review Status: Full (25/25)
Tokimeki Memorial ~Only Love~ © 2006 AIC A.S.T.A., Konami
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