Midori no Hibi
I saw a still image of this in an Animag someone was reading. While I couldn't understand a word of it the image was fascinating enough that I had to find out more. It certainly is one of the weirdest foundations for a series.
The story starts with a young, blond haired, guy called Seiji. He's a rather interesting character, strong minded, independent and very physically capable. Indeed he's known as "mad dog" and has been in no shortage of fights with the delinquents who (if you believe anime) plague the school system. Most people don't realise that he's generally doing it for good hearted reasons, such as protecting his friends, and that he never picks on the weak. All they see is the violence and the fact he doesn't fit in. Which has made it hard for Seiji to achieve his dream of having a girlfriend, who would want to get involved with such a person?
One answer to that question is Midori, a young girl from an upper-class school who has a deep love for Seiji, who feels she's seen the good heart behind the rough exterior. Not that Seiji will ever know this because she's so painfully shy she can't bring herself to actually talk to him and thus for years has watched him from afar. If only there were some way she could get closer to him, something that would bind the two of them together so that she could overcome her fear. Perhaps something like taking the place of his strong right hand, but things like that just don't happen (except in anime).
What a weird concept. Basically Seiji wakes up and he suddenly has a miniature girl (from the waist up) where his hand used to be. There's no indication of how such a thing could happen, and the anime doesn't even bother trying to come up with a reason. It's just something for the two leads to deal with. I'll also note that certain biological and physical issues are likewise ignored, which is about all that stops mini Midori from taking rather severe injuries in the first minutes. Although it also helps that Midori has some control over the arm to which she is attached.
So in essence we have a buddy movie in the closest possible physical sense. Two strangers suddenly, and inseparably, connected to each other. Fortunately they're both pretty interesting characters and seem to adapt pretty fast to the bizarre situation in which they find themselves. Seiji has lost the use of a hand, and has to protect Midori's secret, but is not altogether distressed at having a cute girl around. Meanwhile the physical bond allows Midori the chance to overcome her shyness, parade her love and discover that she read the mind of the man she admires correctly. She's perfectly happy to be the right hand of such a man. Clearly love is in the air.
.... except it isn't. They're both interesting people, but the relationship doesn't seem to fire as one would expect. Indeed it settles into a relatively domestic relationship. Seiji tries to live his life as normal and ends up actually settling down a little due to some female influence on his life. Meanwhile Midori learns some things about strength of character from Seiji, even to the extent of expressing herself physically. However in terms of interaction between them it's pretty uneventful. It's possible that Seiji is trying to encourage her to return to her body, although that seems unusually empathic for him. It's possible that being so close, and his hand rather than a girl, he can't see her as an actual partner. But that interpretation makes him seem a little too insensitive. In either case it was sort of weird to see him, with a girl who loves him a part of his body, still working on finding a girlfriend.
The creators seem sort of lost themselves. Having formed this couple through artificial means they're not sure what to do with them. And the answer is to introduce some other characters who can add action and comedy to the mix. They also, perhaps intentionally, chew up a lot of screen time. We get to meet Seiji's sister, perhaps one of the most scary women in anime and certainly largely responsible for Seiji's rogueish character. There's also a figurine collector who gives new fear to the word Otaku, and the `control' freak girl at school who actually finds herself in love with Seiji and struggling to express it. Oh, and a character from Midori's past, and a young girl in Seiji's neighbourhood.
They, and others, are quite entertaining. Not the most subtle characters I've ever seen, and the comedy is also a bit simplistic at times, but it's quite watchable. It's not exactly what I expected, I wanted to see the story revolve around the two mains, and at times they almost seem like minor characters in their own show. It's partly because they're the stable core that the rest of the events rotate around, but it's also because we don't see any growth between the two of them. In fact the vast majority of the romantic content occurs as Midori keeps her diary while Seiji sleeps.
Of course it's valid to say that it was my fault, that I should judge the material as it is rather than based on my assumptions. That's true, but it's hard to do. I do think it is fair to say that the story elements that take up the majority of the screen time aren't anything special. Likewise the `special' hook of the show doesn't actually end up living up to the originality it seems to suggest the show will contain. Sure, they're both interesting characters, they both grow a bit, and the conclusion was charming but at the end of the day there just wasn't enough to make the experience sufficiently worthwhile. It's definitely watchable, and quite enjoyable, but nothing more than that.
I also noticed that one web site called this Ecchi. There certainly are some fairly gratuitous boob shots, and the anime is not done with a shoujo sensibility (ie. it's not very subtle) but I didn't find it too worrying. Sort of pointless perhaps, because those hoping for some sexual titillation are unlikely to find that 50 seconds of breast makes them like the series anymore.
The production is not amazingly impressive. The character design is fine, but not particularly detailed, for the mains but becomes far more simple for the supporting characters. Some quite odd looking people, relatively sparse linework and uninspired coloring. It's not particularly attractive but works well enough. It's completely without shoujo style though, so it can seem a bit flat, although on the positive side we do get some action and it's pretty good. Not really enough of it to keep the action fans awake though. It can manage a nice sense of calm, but too often that is dispelled by some hyper-active supporting character or an outbreak of super deformed action. Did like some of the little visual effects though, like the `horror movies' of Seiji's imagining (complete with credits). Voices were fine, but once again lesser characters hammed it up a bit and the dialogue lacked flash. Music listen-able and didn't really notice much incidental sound of interest.
Ah, the many ways a shy anime cutie and a strong but misunderstood anime male can meet. Although having the female suddenly become the right hand of the male certainly is a new one on me. They get on pretty well, so well that the show has to add lots of incidental characters to keep things moving, but some of those aren't that subtle or all that interesting. The end result being it's a very pleasant watch, but nothing special and it could be said it doesn't even live up to the originality of the premise.
Doesn't seem to be any reviews from my regular sources...