Tinkerbell after School
Am I the only one who thought this sounded like an ecchi title? And while it does have an ecchi in it his female friend keeps him firmly under control. Which leaves some space for an interesting combination of high school drama, shoujo and a murder mystery.
We begin the story by getting to meet quite a lot of characters. And given that this is a one off you've got to start learning who's who pretty quickly. The leads are a high school girl and boy who have been friends since childhood and get on pretty well. Although if the guy could keep his mind on the romance, rather than thinking about the consummation of it, he'd get a lot further. And thus, having received his latest reality check, he's not completely delighted to find that one of his friends is dating the beautiful DJ from the school broadcasting club.
However when she vanishes things get a little bit more involved and our two leads get dragged into the story. Needless to say the friend is dramatically devastated. The announcer had also been feuding with an over-zealous school monitor, has been working with a somewhat obsessive fan, and had to deal with the motorcycle death of her boyfriend. And when a note turns up, from the deceased boyfriend, claiming to have killed his girlfriend so that the two can live on in a `peter pan' world the tone gets deadly and the need to find out the truth more urgent.
What can I say, I'm a sucker for this type of shoujo character work, so I quite enjoyed this. And the combination of character drama and criminal drama actually works quite well. When the characters are strong and interesting on their own merits, but also have a strong background story that forces them to act and interact, it makes for a pretty decent show. And the writing and dialog is quite entertaining with some nice scenes. There's also quite a few characters and twists that I left out of the synopsis which add further to the story.
On the other hand I must admit that the fun character work is also, paradoxically, a negative to the story. There is so much pleasant character work that it's hard to take the murder investigation as seriously as it deserves. Partly because of the way the character work slows the pace, partly because you don't really believe anything too bad will happen to the leads and perhaps also because the story is a touch too convoluted to build urgency. And, in the end, their actual investigations do not take them too far towards the solution. And this lack of `power' is somewhat surprising really, because the background story proves to be surprisingly dark and serious once all is revealed. And the reasons and actions behind what has happened generally make sense.
Still, while it's not the most successful crime drama I've watched it's still an experience worth having, as long as you can cope with the pace and style of shoujo material. And there's some really nice dramatic scenes and character moments between the two leads (although they take a while to grow on you). There's also a very interesting sense of `reality' to it, somewhat helped by the translation notes. Unlike many animes this actually feels like a drama with `young' kids set in Japan. The idea of a broadcasting club, school lunches, the `school monitor' system and the progress of a relationship all have some rather novel bits of detail to them.
The animation is solid and supports the story well, but it's low on flash and there is very little action. The characters look good, especially the females of course, and express emotion quite well. There's also one rather intense bishounen to balance that out I guess. The setting of scenes, complete with lots of detail in backgrounds and incidental characters is good. It may well be this level of detail that gives the interesting `very Japanese' moments. The dialogue is solid, setting the characters well, and the voices are capable. The music didn't particularly call itself to my attention.
Like Del Power X, which was on the same tape, it looks like this title has not attracted many reviews at all, let alone from my regular sources.