If I See You in My Dreams: The TV Series
Fuguno Masuo is 24 years old, a virgin and has never had any romantic contact with women before. He has a crush on schoolteacher Shiozaki Nagisa, but due to some coincidental circumstances, the affections of his co-worker and well, everything else, he always fails in wooing her. Keep going, Masuo, because *I* won't be sticking around to watch you.
I really, really, wished If I See You in My Dreams: The TV Series would be good. I had this naive idea that since it predated stuff like Love Hina and other coincidence-driven romantic "comedies", it would have been able to take on the newer romance titles without much of a fight. That's because once in a while, you get this really good title that redefines the quality of its genre and then it is followed by a slew of mediocre imitations that serve only to stereotype the very things that made the original good. Deep down in this glazed and jaded heart of mine I hoped Dreams TV would be of the former. But after seeing it all, I can say only one thing :
Cut my heart into pieces. This is my last resort.
No, *really*. The truth hurts, and in this case the truth means that Dreams TV is just as bad as the rest of them, and frankly my heart can't take any more of this (and what am I - 20?).
Okay, we all know what the stereotypes are so I'll try not to focus on them. I keep stressing that for romantic titles of *any* sort, character development is the most important thing that determines my enjoyment of the series. Believe me, I *am* a big Love Hina fan, but while I love the manga I found the anime to be less than appealing. Why? Because the manga did a much better job of handling the "balance of characters" (so to speak) and the length was suitable for enough character development.
But this isn't Love Hina. This is Dreams TV, right?
You'd be forgiven for not being able to tell the difference. I would be tempted to say that Masuo looks EXACTLY like Keitaro, but it should actually be the other way around. Masuo has all the things that Keitaro had - endless failures with women, rock-bottom self-esteem and a general wussiness that could grate cheese. Right from the start we see him falling for Nagisa-sensei, who is very beautiful, and... *thinks hard* ..., and ... words fail me for the simple reason that Nagisa has absolutely no personality. She is obviously cold towards Masuo from the start, but as luck would have it (oh, yes it does >_<) she starts to warm up to him because, well, he's a nice guy.
Nagisa has just one little problem. She is so indecisive that she'd send a magic-8-ball into a spinning frenzy. Everyone (including Masuo) is sending all these signals saying "MASUO LIKES YOU, YOU BLOODY IDIOT" and yet she really can't make up her mind, choosing to hate him every time she catches him in the usual awkward situations. Of course, we need a 3rd party to "create" these situations and so the much nicer (and oh-so-innocent) character of Hamaouka is introduced. While the girls never face-off over the subject of Masuo, the love triangle thing keeps going all the way to the end.
As you would pick up very early into the show, the general idea is that Masuo suddenly finds his long-lost balls and does something manly so Nagisa likes him. Then he *loses* his balls somehow and gives in to a situation or to Hamaouka so Nagisa hates him. He finds them again and they make up, then later she hates him. They make up, then she hates him. All in the span of 7-minute episodes.
WHAT THE FORCE...7 MINUTE EPISODES? Oooh, you're getting scared now, aren't ya? The plot cycle happens ONCE IN EVERY EPISODE, and a quick calculation shows that 16 episodes of 7 minutes each = 112 minutes, which is about the length of a two-hour movie. Can you even *begin* to fathom how incredibly annoying it is to have the main characters makeup-breakup-makeup-breakup SIXTEEN TIMES IN TWO HOURS? It's like going to the toilet 24 times during Lord of the Rings, and it sucks/blows (you choose).
It isn't any wonder why many new anime fans don't like to watch old stuff. The animation and art quality are obviously dated, and while I don't mind it, some people who are used to spiffy CG and pre-rendered backgrounds will be appalled by this old look.
If they're not appalled by the useless nudity, of course. In a step up from the OVA, Dreams now includes nudie shots, bath shots, panty shots and ... naughty shots, all for the sake of entertainment (please, please, PLEASE do *not* mention the Super Bowl halftime show EVER again). I kid you not, if someone were to summarize Dreams TV in two phrases, it would be "Masuo is a wuss" and "Nagisa keeps bathing". And while Masuo isn't as perverted as usual, the story *is*, and likes to lead you on thinking that some ecchi stuff is happening when it really isn't. "Only Jedi use mind control" my foot.
Okay, so you're now drowning in the horribly awful plot, and the least that Dreams TV could do is toss a large lifesaver to rescue you. It can't, and tries to compensate with little Lifesavers instead. Just minor things that prolong the inevitable drowning. For example, there's Isobe, the "meddling" secondary character that helps out both Nagisa and Masuo in her own scheming way, and there are the numerous ways that Masuo expresses shock/disappointment (collapsing in a sand heap, flying away *by himself*, flattening out, etc) instead of the usual Naru-punch-homerun thing.
Ironic isn't it? Such a long review for such a short TV series. I'm not into S&M or anything, but Kate Beckinsale should really come here and impale Dreams TV with a silver stake. Thank Kami there's more to life and anime than this.
Now, will the real romantic comedy please stand up?
On March 15th, 1912, the Titanic hit an iceberg and sank with great loss of life. On February 8th, 2004, If I See You In My Dreams TV was torpedoed and sank with (thankfully) no loss of life (except for a certain THEM reviewer's near-drowning experience). Please do not salvage the wreckage. — Enoch Lau
Recommended Audience: This show was intended to appeal to adult males and romantic comedy fans, but fails miserably doing the "appeal" thing. It's true there are people who like this, but I don't think anyone would say it's the greatest romantic title ever. If you are one of these people (and I really, really hope that you are not), switch off the computer and go outside. NOW.
Version(s) Viewed: digital source
Review Status: Full (16/16)
If I See You in My Dreams: The TV Series © 1998 Noriyuki Yamahana / Shueisha / Tokuma Japan / TBS
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