Final Review: Shouwa Monogatari TV

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.

Shouwa Monogatari TV is the “full story” of the Shouwa Monogatari movie that premiered in Japan in January 2011. It is an original story that follows the Yamazaki family in Tokyo around 1964, the year of the Tokyo Olympics. The show originally premiered during the Spring 2011 anime season and never received a simulcast nor US license.

So after one year, Shouwa Monogatari TV is finally complete and “available” to an English viewer. The story can pretty much be summed up as a drama slice-of-life series set in the early 1960s. People seeing this in 2012 can effectively compare this to the recent Sakamichi no Apollon or even Kokurikozaka Kara (From Up on Poppy Hill), both of which are also set around the same time period. Therefore, for the purpose of this review, it is assumed that no title beyond July 2011 exists for a “fair” review. Premise wise, it is relatively unique. It’s not every day you see a historical drama. Unfortunately, it’s pretty dull beyond that. The conflicts set up in this show are generally well done but resolved seemingly too easily. While I have yet to see the movie that “summarizes” this series, hopefully it does keep events concise and remove all the “seemingly filler” material. Characters are not exactly interesting but at least they managed to keep the historical form of speaking/dialogue, which is something that many historical shows often ignore. Overall, the story is linear but tells it in an unnecessarily convoluted manner with a bunch of “filler” in between.

Art is pretty crisp and characters are drawn rather well. In contrast, the animation is pretty simplistic and generic. For Wao World, it’s a definite step up from their atrocious and utter failure in 2005 with Hametsu no Mars.

OP/ED themes are generally forgettable. Background themes and sound effects are average. Seiyuu wise, the cast is composed of older seiyuus, which definitely brought out the feel of the setting. However, emotions were fairly monotone making it a snooze-fest at times to even watch/listen. I really had expected more coming from experienced seiyuus.

Enjoyment? It started off decent but gradually became more and more uninteresting as the series went on. The show felt like it was being unnecessarily dragged on. Maybe the movie will fix this by condensing 13 episodes of material into 100 minutes.

Overall, the show is not a gem but certainly does have the value of being “one of a kind” when it aired. Obviously it can be replaced by the likes of Sakamichi no Apollon or Kokurikozaka Kara currently but at the time of airing it was fairly unique. The major problem, as stated many times already, is it lacks the ability to keep an audience engaged or interested. It’s not a bad show, but it’s one that will potentially fail in being able to complete in one sitting. If I had to recommend a post WWII set series, Rainbow is the first one that comes to mind as the best one, which is levels beyond this title.

Story and Character:

  • Premise (1/1): Different and nice change of pace.
  • Character Personalities (0/1): Bland and dull. I constantly hear kids whining.
  • Character Development (1/2): For 13 episodes, I expected some serious in depth exploration of each member of the family. At the end of the day, we get about half if not fewer.
  • Character Usefulness/Presence (1/2): Main cast is relatively small. Outside that, the rest of the cast is forgettable. People seem to not use names very often in this show.
  • Pacing: (0.5/1): Could use some work given all the “random” events that happen in between, but otherwise fine.
  • Reasonable/Plausible (1.5/2): Conflicts are built up nicely but resolved in “too nice” of a manner for a 1960s setting.
  • Conclusion (0.5/1): Fine overall. Could be better.
  • Total: 5.5/10

Art and Animation:

  • Backgrounds (2/2): Very well done
  • Character Designs (1.5/2): Appropriate for the context. Characters should look more differently when not part of the same family.
  • Fluidity (1/2): Average
  • Visuals/Special Effects/Flashiness (0.5/2): Colorful, and that’s it. Nothing particularly special that stood out.
  • Art and Animation “Expectation” (2/2): Wao World has improved dramatically from their 2005 failure…
  • Total: 7/10

Sound and Music:

  • OP/ED/Insert Themes (0/3): Unless you were born/grew up in the 1960s/70s in Japan, the music is generally forgettable. A lot of Enka
  • Background Music (1/2): Average.
  • Sound Effects (1/2): Average
  • Seiyuu (1.5/3): Experienced seiyuus but lack of emotion in any of the dialogue. Nice at keeping the 60s and 70s dialect/form of speech though.
  • Total: 3.5/10

Enjoyment:

  • Amusement (1/2): It has its perks
  • Weekly/Next Episode Anticipation (0.5/2): The first few episodes were alright but inconsistent afterwards.
  • Presentation (0.5/2): Lots of room for improvement. Some episodes were clearly episodic and lacked overall value. There wasn’t a proper “timeline”
  • Re-watchable (0.5/1): Some…I guess
  • Recommendation (1/2): Rainbow is a better title but completely different at the same time. This show is really for those modern history fans. It captures nicely the type of conflicts and hardships that a 1960s Japanese family goes through.
  • Value (0.5/1): Certainly underrated/overlooked but not a title that will be remembered dearly a few years from now.
  • Total: 4/10

Preliminary Score: 7/10

Final Score: 5/10

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