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[Diamond Daydreams box art]
AKA: 北へ。~Diamond Dust Drops~(Kita e: Diamond Dust Drops), Northward: Diamond Dust Drops
Genre: Drama / romance
Length: Television series, 12 episodes, 23 minutes each
Distributor: R1 DVD from ADV Films
Content Rating: 10+ (adult themes, emotional intensity, excessive references to diamond dust)
Related Series: N/A
Also Recommended: The Place Promised in Our Early Days, Please! Teacher, Sentimental Journey
Notes: See first opinion.
Rating: Four StarsFour StarsFour StarsFour Stars
 

Diamond Daydreams

Synopsis

See first opinion.


Review

This title may be more familiar to fansub junkies as Kita e ~Diamond Dust Drops~. Frankly, I think the title change makes a bit more sense in English, though they do recite the whole "legend of the diamond dust" at least once an episode.

That being said, I actually rather liked the beginning of Diamond Daydreams. It may have something to do with the dub, which was generally competent, as long as you don't think too hard about the Japanese names being mangled a bit. Or perhaps the fact that it isn't a harem show at all, but rather, a series of essentially short stories regarding the lives of each of the six young women profiled in this show.

The characterization, at least in the English language dub, is generally competent, though I can see even early on where it may become uneven. With twelve episodes, each character really only gets two episodes to shine, and since they're only tangentially connected, there's no sense of a real overarching narrative here. This may partially be caused by the varying ages of the protagonists -- a 15-year-old girl is not going to be dealing with the same types of problems as a 20-year-old or 30-year-old woman, and therefore there may be a question as to who this series is really even targeting. It's a little too well-written and (dare I say it?) respectful for the pure fanservice crowd ... but I don't see this as particularly attracting the girly romance fan either.

Granted, this is still light years better than the norm, which is to shoehorn them all into a harem. Even better is that this show isn't even entirely a romance show, opting more towards the pure drama end of the spectrum. Granted, if romance is what you're expecting, Diamond Daydreams may be a bit of a disappointment, as quite often, many of the characters and love interests are either unromantic or even somewhat stifled.

Furthermore, while some fairly heavy topics are addressed (one character faces a surgical operation, another is in the middle of an affair with a married man), the plot does occasionally rely on some convenient coincidences to keep things going, or to resolve certain plot points. This would be much more of a stinging criticism if Japanese live-action dramas weren't so notorious for doing just that. You're not going to find anything truly tragic here, but you're not going to find the "expected" ending either.

In the original review, Jeremy compares the setting design to a "travelogue", which I agree is a perfectly fair assumption. It makes sense that Hokkaido itself is one of the selling points of the show, as it is featured in "school trip" subplots in other series, such as Marmalade Boy. However, the setting depictions aren't nearly so detailed and well-drawn as those in this show. I'm surprised this wasn't at least partially funded by the Hokkaido Tourist Association. The emphasis on realism in setting really sets the bar for everything else in the show, which might be slightly unfair to the character writers, but does make for occasionally good storytelling. It does help things to know that every locale is real, much like that of the Please! series, but without all the SF bells and whistles.

Granted, this show isn't perfect, by a long shot.

It's rare to see an opening song, for example, that so blatantly differs from the overall tone of the show ... as a slice-of-life romance occasionally dealing with some fairly dark emotions and topics, Diamond Daydreams really doesn't warrant a substandard, cheesy pop tune like "Hop Step Jump". The effect is really jarring. Thankfully, the end song is okay, but I won't be rushing out to buy the soundtrack, in any case.

The animation itself is merely average, but the girls are cute, and the drawn backdrops are stunning, which is about all you can ask for.

Essentially, what it all boils down to is that Diamond Daydreams completely eschews the usual tropes of mid 00s "lotsa girls / one guy" harem show storytelling, opting instead to present something that looks and feels far more like a traditional Japanese live-action drama than an anime series. Having seen my share of said dramas, I can't say I haven't seen a lot of this material before, but many newer anime fans may see this as something of an innovation.

It is, at least, a breath of fresh air.

While each episode varies depending on who is in the spotlight, the overall experience strikes me as positive. Two tickets to Hakodate Airport, please?Carlos Ross

Recommended Audience: In terms of actual displayed content, there is very little objectionable. There is one brief incident of violence, and a brief shower sequence that only shows a girl's upper back. There are several more adult themes dealt with in some stories such as stalking and adultery. In general, I would actually say it is alright for older children, though I seriously doubt they would be interested in watching this type of show.



Version(s) Viewed: R1 DVD
Review Status: Partial (3/12)
Diamond Daydreams © 2003 Studio DEEN / AT-X / Hudson / Red Entertainment
 
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