Back in January I did a couple of Bite-Sized thoughts-reviews as time was a little bit of a concern. I intended to do it for 3 different anime series, but I couldn’t get to the last one in time. So I’m going back to finish up the third bite-sized anime series.
I wanted to save the best for the last – Yes, I thoroughly loved this series so much, I’ll give it my love on a scale comparable to Spice and Wolf, but in the modern setting. Perhaps a bite-sized thoughts-review wouldn’t do it justice, so I will consider expanding on the themes and reasons why I really really really loved this show so much.
Now that makes 3 anime series (not counting movies) which I’m absolutely twitterpated with.
What does adulthood mean to you? An endless cycle of failures and rejections? A life full of work and accumulated wealth? A chance to achieving one’s dreams? A journey of finding your life partner? Or perhaps a humble career coupled with a home that greets you ‘Welcome home!’ at the end of every day?
Meet Fumihiko Matsumaru, a marketing staff in the food and beverages (snack) sector. Holding a stable, but tiring and discouraging job, he looks forward to his movie date with a colleague one evening. Unfortunately he even got the short end of the stick in dating, as his date ditched him for someone better.
Meet Onda Aka, an aspiring voice actress inspired by Audrey Hepburn. One day while waiting for a new opportunity to rise at her doorstep, she practiced her voice acting skills while idling along the streets. Upon encountering a distressed young man, she started an impromptu scenario play-through to relieve the man of his plight – that is of course, not before she took the full opportunity of a free movie experience to study and practice voice acting herself.
The encounter of a cute but strange girl; The fated meeting of a disillusioned man – Aka and Matsumaru started an unlikely acquaintanceship, but it is not long before the world that they knew to be huge and foreign, became smaller, narrower and homely.
RomCom, Drama, Work-Life Balance
(February 2006 – March 2006) 9 Episodes + 1 Special
[(Main) Songs List]
1] Cheer! ~Makka na Kimochi~ (OP)
2] Devotion (ED)
[Recommendation] – 9.8/10 (You know what this score means)
(Spoiler-less) I thought it was a better idea to re-watch the series before I do this review, even if it is a short series (15 mins each), to ensure that I do not miss out on any impressions. I remembered this series as one which I absolutely admired, and I need to check with the facts from the show again.
Rec may be a short series, but it doesn’t mean that the story is lacking in plot, themes, material or logic in any way. Rec shows why it is a better love story than Twilight (ok… I think this joke has been overused actually) by covering the essence of what it means to support the one you love, and to maintain a healthy relationship. While that is the main plot of the series, it also discusses various themes ranging from the struggles of work-life balance, the seiyuu industry & the challenges faced by aspiring seiyuus, corporate reality and the boons & banes of fame (just to list some theme examples).
Rec paces itself very well, giving important scenes sufficient exposure plus exposition, while distinctively cutting the duration of humor-inducing segments (and maximizing the effectiveness of said humor at the same time). Thus, it achieves a fair balance of both goofy moments, lovey-dovey scenarios as well as brooding instances which are all well highlighted by the background colour palette, use of effects, and the underappreciated background sounds (the background music itself helps relate the viewer to the mood, and is lovely itself). In particular, I prompt potential viewers to pay attention to the background sounds. Just like the subtle visual cues in the series, they are valuable details which add meaning to the events that follow and reinforces the connection to the events that precede as well.
I cannot praise this enough, but I’ll keep it short for now.
In some way, Rec is like a combination of Spice & Wolf, Isshuukan Friends, Kareshi Kanojo no Jijyou and Shirobako. The romance aspect is as pure as you can expect, the comedy short-lived but timely, and the drama provoking yet not too overwhelming and draggy. If I have to sell it in a sentence – It’s like a perfect open book with no twists nor needless distractions for a Saturday evening date.
Also, Aka looks like Holo to me. :3
I really liked the VAs who voiced Matsumaru and Aka. For Matsumaru, Makoto Yasumura brought out the bachelor aura of the character, which included both his gentlemanly (note: all gentlemen are patient wolves) personality and his flaws which made both internal dialogues and conversations realistic and convincing. Kanako Sakai provided her voice for Aka – Much to my surprise, she doesn’t cover many roles in anime (most of them are supporting roles even) despite her dynamic vocal range as shown in Rec. The two of them made the viewing experience lovely and heartwarming, thus making Rec a memorable show, even though it is just a ‘mini-series’.
The other supporting characters aren’t pointless in the series too! They include Aka’s manager Yoshioka, and Matsumaru’s colleague/rival Hatakeda. They are equally important in supplementing the humour, and in driving the MCs towards their goal – either as a mentor or as a umm… ‘warning indicator’. All these characters combined made the series very comfortable without derailing into cringe-city.
Also, this series has some mild (unimposing) nudity. It is in no way ecchi-flavoured or fan-servicing. The series takes a very mature approach when showing the characters’ skin. This is done with a properly written script, and by utilizing an objective camera/directing focus. It is worth noting that SHAFT worked on this project – You don’t see the mind-boggling abstract style (although some minor abstract effects are included) but the incorporation of minute details which viewers may sporadically need to infer to understand why the characters feel and act the way they do. Oh, did I mention that the art of the series is really aesthetically delightful? These screencaps should be enough as validation!
Should I mention the music too?
The opening is diabetes. 🙂 (It might sound a little annoying for some though)
And with that I’m closing this series of bite-sized thoughts of three v. short anime shows. There is a 200% probability that I will return to Rec once again for a more detailed (spoilers included) analysis of the series and further discussion.
But, before that, have any of you seen this gem? What are your thoughts on it? Was it too bland or did it create a heartwarming fluffy feeling when you watched it? If you haven’t seen it, perhaps you can give it a try and tell me what you think of it! 🙂
I really should do some research on Audrey Hepburn’s works.