Akane-iro ni Somaru Saka
Junichi Nagase (also known as "Geno Killer", since he was a rebel in middle school) is a regular teenage boy who attends a prestigious high school and lives with his sister Minato in peace as their parents travel around the world. One day a new girl named Yuuhi Katagiri attends his school. In order to protect her from danger, Junichi kisses her, causing her to scream and slap him. Later it is revealed that Yuuhi is Junichi's fiance, and that she will be living with him and Minato! Unhappy with this predicament, Yuuhi made a deal with her father earlier: she would live with Junichi for a month to see if he really was the guy for her. If he isn't, the engagement will be called off. And thus the story begins.
Final Approach? Again?
Not exactly, but it's not much better than that series. Akane Iro ni Somaru Saka is yet another visual novel anime in a sea of recent visual novel anime that have all become the rage in Japan as of late. But how does it fare against most others of its type? Not very well, honestly. Despite cute character designs, a decent cast of actors and actresses, and a few humorous bits here and there, most of the series spends 12 episodes saying things it could have said in half that.
Part of this is responsible by a single character: Yuuhi. If tsundere was an actual part of the English dictionary, you would probably find a picture of her there (along with nearly every other role done by her actress, Rie Kugimiya). Frankly, I'm sick of romance series plagued with these kinds of heroines, as these characters come off less as girls who are shy around their love interest but act mean or violent as a way of hiding their true feelings than robots that have switches on the back of their heads that allow them to change emotions at will. One episode she's being shy, flustered, and helpful, the next she's being a grade-A bitch.
Not like Junichi is much better. He's surprisingly careless when it comes to those around him (especially to his sister), and comes off less as a teasing but well-meaning guy like Yuichi from Koyoto Animation's Kanon and more like an ass who only thinks of himself, only having a venerable change of heart when the show needs him to open up to Minato and Yuuhi. Oh, and let's not get into how he lusts over his sister a couple of times in the series, even fighting his inner demon at one point to resist the urge! As for Minato herself, she's domestic to a tee. It's less cute than it is disturbing, and Aya Hirano doesn't sound all that interested in her character as she reads from the script (can't say I blame her). So already Akane Iro ni Somaru Saka fails to tell a decent romance story by having a couple with no chesmisty or any reason for them to get together other than the writers making them do so.
As a comedy, it's not much better. Akane Iro ni Somaru Saka attempts to be funny by having Nagomi, a weird pink-haired girl, randomly pop up in places and jot down data concerning Junichi and Yuuhi's relationship. While a fairly amusing character, she is underutilized and doesn't really do much until the final episodes. The rest of the "comedy" revolves around the same tired jokes you've seen in stuff like Love Hina and Girls Bravo. Like the boy walking in on the girl while she's naked, or the lights go off and the guy falls on top of the girl and touches her breast, or the girl getting embarrassed by something and slapping the guy in the face. (Stuff the Japanese consider to be "comedy gold".) The only genuinely funny moment I found in the entire series was when Minato told Yuuhi about her older brother's porno collection, keeping a straight face through out, even when she reveals to her his second stash of porn. It doesn't sound funny when you read it, but trust me: that one scene is funnier than 90% of the series hands down. I rarely laugh out loud when I watch anime, but I did then.
Okay, so the humor is (with the exception of the above scene) stale and not all that funny. But hey, this is a visual novel anime adaption! Surely there are other girls that you can attach yourself to and like, right?
Again, not really. There are other girls in this series, but since they all think Junichi and Yuuhi should be together, it takes a lot of the tension that could have build up between them. Again, this wouldn't bother me so much if Yuuhi was a likable character, but she isn't, especially when Junichi's childhood friend, the snoopy Tsukasa (voiced playfully by Marina Inoue) is a much nicer girl overall and (in my opinion) would make a far better choice as a girlfriend for him. The rest of the female cast isn't very interesting. There's Karen, the rich, pampered girl, Mitsuki the cutesy student body president, and various other supporting girls. The show mainly revolves around Junichi, Yuuhi, and Minato, and they never let you forget it.
Eventually Akane Iro ni Somaru Saka gets serious and stops playing with kiddie gloves when it comes to Junichi and Yuuhi's relationship, but not until the final two episodes. The writers waste whole episodes on stupid filler (like the obligatory school festival and the obligatory "haunted" house) instead of utilizing the time they had to flesh out the characters more (main and supporting alike). You know who I found myself liking the most in the series? Junichi's amusing parents, who are explorers and travelers by nature, infrequently arriving in helicopters to talk to their son about what's going in his life. They're cool, calm, and collective (unlike the rest of the series' cast), which is part of the reason I attached to them pretty quickly. Every time they came and left I felt a little annoyed, because I knew that I would be going back to the Accidentally Careless Boy Lives With His Annoying Fiance and Overly Domestic Sister Show soon after.
Bah. Akane Iro ni Somaru Saka is a mediocre "romantic" "comedy" that spends 12 episodes on delivering a message it could have said in half that, with an unappealing couple and mediocre side characters. The show has little to offer unless you have to see every visual novel anime adaption known to man, because there are better romantic comedy anime, better visual novel anime, and even better eye candy anime out there, honestly. Don't waste your time on Akane Iro ni Somaru Saka.
A few cute, humorous scenes here and there are all that save it from the bottom of the barrel. If you love Rie Kugimiya and/or Aya Hirano, you can easily add one or two stars. — Tim Jones
Recommended Audience: The TV edit is appropriate is for teenagers and up, not containing much more than typical slapstick (although there are some themes in the series that are a little, well, too suggestive for kiddies, such as the subject of incest). The DVD version of the series is reported to have uncensored nudity, including the showing of nipples (which were edited in the anime's opening theme on television, as well as from the bathing scenes).
Version(s) Viewed: Pre-license digital source
Review Status: Full (12/12)
Akane-iro ni Somaru Saka © 2008 feng / Marvelous Entertainment
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