Final Review: Hiiro no Kakera Season 1

It’s so cute~ This show should be about this thing instead.

DISCLAIMER: Anime reviews on this blog will attempt minimal to no spoilers unless other noted. If a review seems dull or shallow, it’s because I’m trying to make sure not to go into too detail for those who are actually interested in the show before or after reading the review or those who have yet to finish the title. If you want further details, there are usually tons of reviews that can be found elsewhere on the internet. Furthermore, anime reviews in general are the sole opinion of the author writing it and thus differ across the users. There is no such thing as a “right answer” only a majority agreement. You are free to have your own opinions and thereby free to state and/or argue/debate in the comments section below or on the Fansub TV Forums. The review is not necessarily meant to serve as a recommendation but rather a personal opinion of having completed the series.

Hiiro no Kakera is based off the otome romance game of the same name. Originally the show was planned for a 26 episode run but announced to be split into two seasons at the end of the 13th episode. This is a review of the first season that ran from April 2012 to June 2012. Season 2 will premier in Fall 2012. Hiiro no Kakera is directed by Bob Shirahata, who has worked on Gravitation and Hetalia Axis Powers, and animation provided by Studio DEEN, the studio who is also behind Kore wa Zombie Desu ka? and Sankarea this season. Otome (or reverse harem) titles have rarely been able to succeed in the anime industry not just because of a more male dominated audience base but also due to lack of interesting content. Otome games tend to move slower and have uninteresting developments. So will Hiiro no Kakera break this unfortunate chain of fate?

Tamaki Kasuga is the heroine of the show and is supposedly next in line as the Tamayori princess. I’ll be blunt, the story is slow and as slow as it is, the show never really explains what’s going on very well. At best we learn that the “usefulness” of the Tamayori princess is to keep the seal on the Oni/Onikirimaru but the story fails to explain why really this needs to happen. Like many shows of this kind, the protagonist is thrown into a “world” that she has no idea in and has to lead her protectors/followers. Think Fushigi Yuugi in this case (in fact, it’s probably an incredibly accurate description). The story of then of course revolves around everyone whining and telling the heroine to become something no one has any idea of. In this case, everyone tells her to become the Tamayori princess…and of course, she magically gets access to her innate powers at the end of the season with the catalyst of her beloved Takuma gradually becoming a demon. To sum it up, as “cool” as the opening video was the story itself is a flop. Poor action, too much useless talking, lack of explanations, and worst of all boring from beginning to end. I’m surprised the show decided to split it up into two seasons. Given how poorly the “cliffhangers” are in this show (if you can even call them that), postponing the second season until the fall really only hurts the show as there’s no surprise element to keep users watching. This isn’t like Fate/Zero where dialogue actually drives the show. If you’re going to do a dialogue heavy show, at least make it interesting and relevant. A lot of times we simply see the cast goofing off or getting all depressed.

Art is basic and lacking in detail and I’m not really surprised there. Character designs for the female cast is decent. The main hero group is very repetitive in design while the antagonist cast is actually a little more diverse. Surprising if you ask me since it’s basic logic to at least make your heroes unique (unless the antagonists are the true heroes of the show). Animation is by Studio DEEN and is slightly better than Kore wa Zombie Desu ka? Of the Dead but not as good as Sankarea. Flashy effects and decent lighting in dark scenes made the show at least look pretty even for a bishounen title. Of course, not even the decent animation is enough to really save this show from its miserable story.

If there’s one thing about this show, it’s the OP theme. The OP is a piece of work even though it really does not fit the context of the show (not counting the fact that it’s a slow song and that ironically the show itself is slow). The ED theme is not that good…I expected better from Shuhei Kita having performed the Persona 3 Portable game openings. It looks like it may have been a one hit wonder for him at this rate. As for the rest of the score in this series, none of them are really memorable and if I recall correctly, the series is mostly silent, which is likely what also added to the bore factor of this show. Seiyuu wise you have Marie Miyake, who was Ringo Oginome in Mawaru Penguindrum taking on the lead heroine and Tomokazu Sugita taking on the hero role. These two are okay at best with Tomokazu really taking the lead and carrying the remaining dead weight cast. The rest of the cast really lacked any proper emotion. Most of the time I hear either nonsensical screams/complaints or monotone dialogue for about 5-10 minutes straight. There really is not much redemption here.

Enjoyment? It’s a snooze fest. Titles that are of the same otome genre yet do this better include Hakuouki (which is getting its prequel and 3rd TV series in July) and Fushigi Yuugi. You could also even throw in Pretear if you really wanted to. All of the above are far more interesting than this show. The show is really only around for its flashy effects if anything but even that can easily be topped by many other titles around.

Overall, Hiiro no Kakera is a failure. It’s incredibly hard to rewatch unless the second season really starts explaining some material but even then it would be difficult to show this to anyone and have them maintain attention spans for a minimum of 13 episodes. Even if it does get better, it probably wouldn’t be a huge turnaround like Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon. If you’re looking for bishounen titles, many other series do this much better like Hanasakeru Seishounen or Saiunkoku Monogatari. Heck, even Uta no Prince-sama Maji Love 1000% is better than this.

 

Story and Character:

  • Premise (0/1): Not engaging and no explanation or proper introductions
  • Character Personalities (0/1): All the male protagonists act the same “PROTECT THE TAMAYORI HIME!” Female protagonist simply decides to wander off.
  • Character Development (0.5/2): A little bit on the Onikirimaru and about Takuma but that’s about it. Everyone is just there claiming to have a family history with the Tamayori princess.
  • Character Usefulness/Presence (0/2): They all get beaten up the same way the entire season. Nothing ever changes.
  • Pacing: (0/1): The entire 13 episodes could really be condensed into 3 or 4 episodes of material. Nothing really stuck to me in this series let alone stood out.
  • Reasonable/Plausible (0/2): No explanation means no reason. Things happened and flashy effects occurred. They still had not yet explained the true significance of the Tamayori princess other than being a lock on a seal.
  • Conclusion (0.5/1): Cheesy and cliched but gets the job done with a reasonable conflict at the end.
  • Total: 1/10

Art and Animation:

  • Backgrounds (0.5/2): Basic and not very detailed. There were a few nice shots scattered throughout the series but there was a lot of recycling going on here.
  • Character Designs (1/2): Female cast is fine. Male protagonists look too much alike. Antagonists look fine and distinct enough.
  • Fluidity (1/2): Fair with nothing really abnormal here. CGI of the youkai felt out of place.
  • Visuals/Special Effects/Flashiness (1/2): Pretty but only average at best due to repetitive usage of the same scenes. Last episode was very pretty though.
  • Art and Animation “Expectation” (1/2): Better than KoreZom 2 but remember that KoreZom 2 was using last year’s animation as a base. Quality is worse than Sankarea.
  • Total: 4.5/10

Sound and Music:

  • OP/ED/Insert Themes (1/3): OP theme is good. Not one of the best this season and doesn’t necessarily fit the series. ED themes is bleh.
  • Background Music (0/2): not memorable.
  • Sound Effects (0/2): not memorable.
  • Seiyuu (1/3): Tomokazu Sugita carrying the dead weights in this show. Lack of good emotion.
  • Total: 2/10

Enjoyment:

  • Amusement (0/2): None
  • Weekly/Next Episode Anticipation (0/2): None.
  • Presentation (0/2): You make me sit through 13 boring episodes when this could have been done in less than half the length. Even for an otome game, that’s too long a setup.
  • Re-watchable (0/1): None
  • Recommendation (0/2): Fushigi Yuugi, Pretear, Hakuouki are all better than this. I should note that Hakuouki is not saying much either.
  • Value (0/1): None.
  • Total: 0/10

Preliminary Score: 4/10

Final Score: 2/10

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