Yume de Aetera
With the title being translated as something like, "I see you in my dreams". This title is a strange tribute to the fact that, thanks to the rise in internet distribution of anime, some very strange titles are making their way out of Japan. I must admit I'm not a fan of this sort of thing, but it certainly is interesting.
No schoolgirls, super-powers or fantastic dreams in this one. This anime is instead concerned with a lower rank worker in a very big company. Deep down he's got a good heart, but up front he's got low confidence, social skills and very bad luck. In addition he has a complete lack of experience, or skill, in dealing with women. Something he'd deeply like to change. Although it is difficult to change the sort of person you are.
And then, suddenly, he's actually got woman trouble to spice up his life. On the one hand the beautiful, but insecure and touchy, nursery school teacher he adores is finally giving him some faint signs of hope. Meanwhile a beautiful and young office lady, who seems likely to win an award for `woman most likely to be sexually harassed', falls for him. Between his efforts to fight his own nature, to win the teachers confidence, and to keep the office lady from the dangers that lurk (or manage) there is suddenly lots happening in his life. And fate has a definite hand in it, since coincidence never gives this guy an even break.
I guess it makes sense really. We've had some anime dealing with the life of a mature Japanese woman (such as Ebichu, Momoiro Sisters) and this is basically the male equivalent. There's definitely enough fan service to let you know who the target audience is. As such it doesn't appeal to me, I like dreams or hope in my anime, and there's precious little here. Combined with 5 minute episodes, the guy endlessly getting caught in compromising (but ultimately innocent) positions and some aggressively paced writing it can be quite hard to watch. If this describes the future and dreams a Japanese male can see for themselves it's a sorry tale indeed.
I must also admit that it's quite unsettling. While there are moments of comedy, such as when the lead turns into sand, into stone or floats around the office in response to his changing fortunes, the overall mood expresses insecurity. The lead character lacks confidence and at times is inexplicably dense. The teacher also, deep down, lacks the ability to trust men and deal with her own feelings. Meanwhile the young worker is strangely pliant, almost accepting, when advances are made on her. One can't help but feel that she pursues the lead because she finds him safe, helpless and unthreatening.
Then again, the picture of Japanese office life is bleak beyond words. This is especially true for the sexual harassment of the young office lady. I don't know about you but in Australia this stuff goes well beyond offensive. Watching her get pawed by a client, fed alcohol by her boss and led up to a hotel room, is... nauseating. And the fact that she, for some reason, accepts this treatment is horrifying. Sure, the lead rescues her (and gets in trouble with the teacher again) but that she should feel powerless in the face of this abuse just makes me sort of angry and depressed at the same time.
Those who are thinking that I just don't get this sort of stuff are almost certainly right. The mixture of real life and soap opera, with comedy and drama based on human weakness, insecurity and co-incidence just isn't my sort of thing. The limitations in the story brought on by the short episode duration, and need for lots of `accidental' nudity, just giving me a reason for my dislike. On the positive side it is nice when the lead finds his confidence and makes some progress, or when a ray of light hits, or perhaps love and happiness may be possible but it's not enough for me.
The animation itself is quite reasonable. It's relatively soft, in terms of detail and color, but it suits the story quite well. The character art is lovely and the girls are cute. There's relatively little action but the motion animation is quite good for what there is. Some of the character movement is quite expressive, including when the lead goes a little super deformed or shows his feelings in how he appears or acts. And it is sort of nice to see young adults, and adult environs, in an anime. The voices are good, dialogue has its moments, and I didn't really notice the music.
None of my regular sources have a review of this anime yet...and it may be a while before they do.