Don't leave me alone Daisy
Wow, what an effort this one has been. For one reason or another I've had to watch this series four times. However I felt it was necessary to see the full series so that I could explain, and confirm, my deep antipathy for this anime. I'm still not sure I can do full justice to what is wrong with this title, but I'll do my best.
Oh, and thanks go to Scott from AnimeZone for lending me the DVD release of this title. Especially impressive because he knew I was going to write a negative review which would make it even harder for him to sell the thing.
The story begins when an innocent, but busty, young schoolgirl goes to recover her hat from what she thought was an abandoned house. But within that house, spying on her, is a deranged madman. Seeing her he becomes obsessed with controlling her, owning her, bending her to his every whim. He, and his array of high tech tools, will threaten her with death, mutilation, control, humiliation and the loss of her own will and identity. Terrors biological, chemical and nuclear will come into play in the nightmare that is her new, controlled, life.
A plot that could be out of any hentai nasty. The strange thing, the thing that really starts to spook you, is that it's meant to be a light romantic comedy. However in tone, and content, my first synopsis is much closer to the true spirit of how it feels. However in the interests of fairness...
Techno is a young boy who has spent the vast majority of his life living in a nuclear shelter, albeit luxuriously equipped, awaiting the end of life on earth. Still he had never cared, being happy to stay in the bunker and perform exotic experiments in order to extend his unlimited scientific genius. Until, one day, the security systems detect an intruder on the ground. And the sight of the intruder, a schoolgirl retrieving her hat, fills Techno with emotions he can barely understand. The only thing he is certain of is that this girl is vital to him, someone he must come to know, someone he cannot afford to be without.
So how to tie these two very different stories together? The trick is that it honestly believes it is creating a meaningful and touching light romantic comedy. A winning tale of young love blooming, of a sheltered youth coming to understand the world and perhaps a little super scientific mayhem when the pace slows. The truth is that, in reality, it is cold and shallow with a surprisingly nasty edge to it. An edge that makes you wonder who stuffed up. It's almost impressive that a competently produced anime has so little heart, life or likeability of character in it.
To begin with the characters are shallow, non-reflective and un-original. Techno is, supposedly, a super scientific genius but instead comes across as incredibly dense. He has clearly had some exposure to the real world, should have an ability to learn during the course of the show, but in actuality he remains unbelievably oblivious to his actions. He puts Daisy (he renames and claims ownership of Hitomi) in amazingly dangerous situations, hurts her deeply, and never realizes. Heck, he never even works out that she has a name in all 12 episodes of pain. In addition he torments a social misfit for fun, rejects all efforts at control and even attempts to psychologically injure himself during a time travel episode. He's hopeless, heartless and fails to grow, change or exhibit a real personality during the show. And the reason why he rationalizes his attraction to `daisy' is stupid.
And then there's Daisy. She comes across better because she's painted as a reflective female, but in truth she's as shallow as Techno. No hobbies, no life, no character. The only thing that comes across is that she'd prefer not to be stalked, terrorized, threatened or accidentally killed in a scene of super-scientific hi-jinks. She's also a complete doormat, being astoundingly passive to Techno's advances and threats. Even worse she begins to doubt herself, she becomes worried that Techno will dump her, accepts the name daisy, surrenders to his fantasies. It's so unbelievable and, taken seriously, really sad. This is a girl with a deep psychological problem, amplified by her intensely cruel friends who also begin to call her daisy and play upon her lack of self-esteem. And this is supposed to be a comedy?
Still, I thought, perhaps the conclusion would make it up. Perhaps we would get an insight into why things worked out the way they did. Techno would finally realize what a monster he is, and the warmth humanity could offer him. Hitomi could realise that she must believe in herself and stand up to Techno. And together the two could actually find affection and love as equals. Nope, didn't happen. To the very end Techno remains a blinded moron, daisy a doormat and humor and warmth completely absent. There's a double helping of smaltzy sentiment, which is intensely corny, but it seriously wasn't worth the trouble to get there.
I've over emphasised the negatives quite a lot, partly because of the displeasure of having to sit through the series several times. But the fact remains that this is a surprisingly cold, un-exciting and un-amusing anime series. The producers went through all the motions, but failed in an almost impressive manner, to produce a light romantic comedy. Only the most generous, tolerant and, I suspect, shallow anime fans will find this title to have any value what-so-ever. Anyone with a shoujo sentimentality will likely find it chillingly unpleasant. And there's lots of negatives I haven't bothered to go into, the use of nuclear missiles as pets, the incompetent teacher, the teasing of Yamakawa X and the sheer lack of action or comedy that are all sizable irritants in their own right.
This is aggravated by the fact that the production is quite decent, the artwork looks good and the box suggests a relatively fun story. In some ways it is the waste of perfectly good animation on such a lame story that really hurts. The character designs are generic but reasonably attractive, backgrounds and color are simple and the motion and action are minimally sufficient. The `mad science' is offensively stupid and the action that results not nearly as entertaining as they seem to think it is. Ability to express emotion is decent, but would be better if it made more sense and we cared about the characters. Voices are decent and music is minimal. In all ways much better production than it deserved.