Fortune Arterial: Akai Yakusoku
In an attempt to put an end to his involuntary status as a wanderer, Hasekura Kohei enrolls in a high school that has a dorm. There, he's planning on making friends and generally enjoy what school life has to offer.
However, during the first couple of days, he learns that the school itself houses vampires, and, as main characters are won't to do, he becomes involved in their lives.
What is it that compels someone to sit through a show they know they'll most likely strongly dislike if not outright hate? Is it schadenfreude? Has the influence of shows like Mystery Science Theater reached further into our souls than we thought? Because Fortune Arterial is definitely one of these shows. Its aggravatingly formulaic setup only enhances the tedium of its boring characters and tepid storyline.
In the beginning, there was Hasekura Kohei. He rode in on the morning train, his resolute stride bringing him up to the school where he is greeted by the school representative, the gorgeous Sendou Erika and her incredibly nasal voice. However, when Kohei tries to shake her hand, she has a fit of sorts and runs off, and the mystery deepens.
But, of course, he's lived there before, and within minutes of arriving, he meets up with some childhood friends of his. (Both of which are girls, of course, because he can't just make childhood promises underneath the giant Zelkova tree to anyone who isn't -- well, he could, but then this show would draw a completely different crowd. It's also worth mentioning that this tree also grants wishes because it's got the spirit of a girl with an incurable disease inside of it. Or something. And I probably lied about this being important, because it's never brought up again.)
From here, Fortune Arterial does its best to bore you out of your mind. Oh, it tries to keep viewer interest by playing the vampire card early on, but then proceeds to do absolutely nothing with it for over half the show. It's apparently a huge catastrophe that the main character learns about Erika and Iori being vampires, yet he doesn't really seem to care all that much, nor is there any indication that he's going to tell anyone else. But the student council still feel his knowledge about the situation is such a huge threat that he's given a choice: join the student council or have his memory about this place erased. Yes, all two or three day's worth, consisting of the whole moving in and unpacking, plus a jaunty little trip to the town with the girls. Initially, Kohei didn't think much about these memories -- they were less than a handful, and including stuff like walking in on Erika in the shower thanks to a prank of Iori's, after which she embarrassed him publically during the student introduction meeting -- but this brazen disrespect for the time spent with her and the other girls didn't sit well with Erika, and her tears quickly changed his mind about having them removed. But she's the kind of vampire that can dress in a swimsuit and go to the beach in the middle of the day, so it's alright.
And so, it's back to getting involved in the minute lives of the girls in the show. There's Tougi Shiro, a prepubescent little girl who has to worry about things like finding her runaway bunny and serving the council their tea, and her shyness might very well be the result of her big brother being more protective of her than strictly healthy. There's Kuze Kiriha, a taciturn and generally quiet girl who doesn't really care about anything. And then, there's the aforementioned childhood friends; Yuuki Haruna and Kanade. Kanade is the older one, despite not really looking any older than Shiro. Its sense of humor includes things like the aforementioned walking in on a naked Erika in the shower, odd intro themes to Sumo Sentai shows, miss Taciturn pouring too much chili on her ramen and nightly auction sessions where porn magazines go under the hammer.
If it sounds like I'm rambling, you'll have to excuse me, but it takes until episode 8 before Fortune Arterial remembers that vampires are walking in its midst. Wary of having to steer the plot away from school festivals, sporting events and enough sayings of "do your best" to drive me out of my goddamned mind, the topic of Erika's little fit at the very beginning of the show is finally revisited. Of course, Erika's problem is solely centered around the existence of Kohei, lovingly draped around her desire for his blood and her reluctance of making a servant out of him. (Which is more than a bit ironic, since he's basically already making a life out of following everyone's whims.)
But don't expect any rewards for sticking to every second of their minute lives, because Fortune Arterial is frustratingly short on closure. The reason for Erika's fits of craziness are explained and played up, but never resolved. And watching this for the romance is also a waste of time, because none of the relationships are ever resolved. We learn that Kohei is apparently special due to some blood test early on, but this plot point is never revisited. We learn that bad things will happen if Erika doesn't take a servant, but the show ends without really resolving this. There's also a whole lot of loose threads, like Iori's relationship with the nun. Those are usually just mentioned in passing, though, so don't grow too attached to them.
Not that it matters too much, because it's hard to care about what happens when the only reason why I didn't hate the characters in the show like I did the ones in Kono Aozora is because they were too boring to even dislike. The only one who distinguishes himself is Erika's brother Iori, mostly because he actually manages to eclicit a wry smile from time to time. Outside of that, the only rewarding aspect of the show is the art itself, which isn't bad.
In the end, like so many shows before it, Fortune Arterial is merely a waste of time. It's not going to hurt to watch, but it will leave you feeling empty inside. Which is also quite ironic from a show whose main message seem to be "cherish your memories down to every single minute and never throw them away". Because one day, long after Kadokawa has taken it off Crunchyroll, I may be allowed to forget I ever watched this show. And that will not be considered any kind of tragic loss on my part.
The antics of Iori save it from the bottom pit, but otherwise, this is as generic as they come. — Stig Høgset
Recommended Audience: Some of the vampiric aspects of this show might be considered unsuitable for the preteens, but otherwise, this show is as mild and dull as they come. Fanservice is kept relatively light, and the aforementioned scene where our main lead walks in on Erika is obstructed by so much fog that you don't really see anything. The most fanservice is actually in the ending animation, where the girls lie in water with wet fabric clinging to their curvy bodies.
Version(s) Viewed: Crunchyroll stream, sub only.
Review Status: Full (12/12)
Fortune Arterial: Akai Yakusoku © 2010 ZEXCS / August
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