Asakura Junichi and his sister, Asakura Nemu, live together and study at the same school. However, only the two of them know that they are actually not blood relatives - a secret which they do not wish to reveal. The story that follows basically shows how everyone falls in love with him. Which one will he choose? How will his relationship develop with his sister? Are we going to see To Heart's evil clone form out of the spawning pool?
Have you ever tried to force two jigsaw puzzle pieces together? You push and push, but nothing fits. Sooner or later, something will snap.
It's the same here. Da Capo is just one of many attempts to combine popular anime elements into one title, and like most of the rest it falls short of the ten-foot pole by about ... thirty-two centimeters. It pushes, it pushes, but something just doesn't seem to fit. Eventually, your patience might snap. But read on, because it might have enough appeal to get you to like it.
First, look at the nice shiny blue bar on the right, and pay attention to the "genre". Given the current state of the generic romantic comedies that flood our TV/movie screens, it's totally unsurprising if you'd be turned off by looking at those words. It's also unsurprising that we have a male lead loser to start off the romantic chaos : Junichi is about as fun and interesting as drinking soup with a fork, but he cares for his sister as if she was really his family and she in turn has some nice warm feelings for him [Genre : Romance]. Unsurprisingly (am I the only one beginning to sense a pattern here?), as the story goes along more girls are introduced as fodder for the romance [Genre : Harem]. The girls are certainly varied in personality, but for each of them you can find another anime's character that is almost *exactly* like them, but much better.
First into the food processor is Sakura, who used to be very close to the Asakuras when they were younger, but moved overseas, only to return to join (and annoy) them in school. If you've watched Happy Lesson before, then the similarities of the character with Uzuki-sensei are obvious, (short, cute, blond, looks *exactly* the same) but unlike Uzuki, Sakura is annoying, childish and gets Junichi into all sorts of awkward situations of the Love Hina type [Genre : Comedy]. Next, we have two sisters Moe and Mako. Moe is the ultimate fusion of Mutsumi (Love Hina) and Osaka (Azumanga Daioh) - slow, spaced out, and has an incredible obsession with "nabe" (a hot pot dish). She fills the show with descriptions about different types of nabe, their ingredients and how they taste [Genre : Cooking show], and usually Mako is there to eat with her. Then there's Yoriko, the cat-eared Chobits-lookalike maid (I'm absolutely serious), who can't do a *single thing* a maid usually does, i.e. she's absolutely useless [Genre : Maid]. Don't stop counting, there are *more* girls - enough to rival a dating sim, but I think I'll stop listing them for your sake (and mine).
Speaking of dating sims, Da Capo certainly goes like a dating sim. Each episode features some girl with our lucky guy, and through some thing that happens they start getting warm, fuzzy feelings for him. Eventually, he'll have to choose one, but deep down you just *know* he's going to end up with Nemu [Genre : Dating Sim]. Besides having such a wonderful anime predicament like this, Junichi also has a special power - he can see other people's dreams (though this serves no purpose whatsoever). In fact, one or two other characters also have "special abilities" that serve no purpose other than to confuse me further [Genre : Sci-fi/Fantasy].
Plotwise, there is no plot (ooohhh, Matrix reference!). The story just shows events like going to school, the beach, the cultural festival, the shopping mall and so on (it's about romance, after all). Even Love Hina had a main plot of Keitaro getting into Tokyo U, but Da Capo doesn't. To cap it all - instead of getting a more solid plot, the malevolent forces behind this anime chose to devote about 8-10 minutes of each episode to something else OTHER than plot development. For the first 7 episodes, we get *live-action* music videos of each seiyuu singing a cutesy generic character song [Genre : MTV], while the following episodes have "side stories" that are no more than short scenes involving certain characters. This puzzles me to no end, and you're only getting about 15 minutes of actual story.
Notice that I've touched an awful lot on the characters and not on the other aspects of the anime. Well, that's because for a relationship-based title, character development is top priority (Please Teacher reference!), but Da Capo is missing the fries in this Happy Meal.
The animation and art are the usual average for a title like this, although the characters do show better detail than the backgrounds. The music doesn't blaze any new trails, and if you've heard one song you've heard 'em all.
Now scroll back up and count the genre elements I've listed. I've managed to find stuff from seven genres in Da Capo, but there could be more. Does this unorthodox hybrid of anime components work? I think not. Basically, all I'm saying is that putting good things together doesn't always yield good results (sorta like baked beans and a space suit). Look at Azumanga Daioh - there's NO plot, NO character development, NO spiffy CG graphics, NO cryptic pseudo-religious meaning behind it all, but it worked. On the other hand, Da Capo has a good deck of cards to play, but it's still too early for it to shout "UNO".
What can I say in conclusion? In music theory, "Da Capo" is a term placed in a score and tells the musician to "skip this bit and jump to the end". It's used when you've already played that part before and you want to end it. No bonus points for guessing the implication :
If you're not a dating sim/romantic comedy fan, then Da Capo.
It's between 2 and 3 stars for me, but your view could swing either way. If you like romantic dramas that go like dating sims or you enjoyed To Heart, then you could probably add a star. If you don't, then you'd be better off doing as the title says. — Enoch Lau
Recommended Audience: This is pretty much preteen stuff. There's some fan service, but it's not too much compared to other dating-sim anime. It would be fine for little kids, but they probably won't get it.
Version(s) Viewed: Prerelease fansub
Review Status: Partial (10/26)
Da Capo © 2003 Circus / Da Capo Production Committee
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