Ok, I didn’t expect this first episode to be 48 minutes long. It makes judging it as a first impression more difficult, because a lot happened in those 48 minutes. There was a post-apocalyptic dream world in which the main character is killed by a girl wrapped in red ribbons, strange supernatural things happening in the main character’s bedroom, and alternate dimensions in the school building. For an anime based on a Key VN, this feels unusually sci-fi/fantasy-heavy right off the bat, at least to me. Sure, the show doesn’t do much with the sci-fi/fantasy stuff in the first episode, but just the existence and portrayal of it makes me excited.
The majority of the first episode is spent on establishing characters, of whom there are many. Their archetypes are not particularly novel, the main character is charismatic like Tomoya from Clannad and the main heroine is something of an airhead (like Nagisa from Clannad), for instance, but I found almost all of the characters more likeable than I do Key VN characters in general, and that was a bit surprising. I think one of the main reasons for this is that the main heroine, Kotori, is voiced by Chiwa Saito, who makes the character feel like an actual human when it comes to her airheadedness. The main character also doesn’t have many opportunities to use his charisma for patronising and condescending conversations, which I found pleasant. In fact, I found the episode pleasant in general, especially some of the jokes.
Unfortunately, with Rewrite being animated by 8bit and not Kyoto Animation, the characters aren’t as… “animated” as in, say, Clannad, but I still mostly liked the visuals in the first episode. If they can keep this up, and if the story manages to carry the later parts of the show, I think I might end up liking it a lot. The music, on the other hand, was not good. Sure, I liked it in its own right, but it was very clearly VN background music, and it did nothing to enhance any of the scenes that actually used music. But, at least the music wasn’t emphasised, so it’s not the most annoying thing. I can live with it.
Verdict: Yeah, not perfect, but I liked it. I’ll watch it.
What an episode! The cold opening with the football match that apparently takes place in the future (compared to the timeline in the rest of the episode, that is) I disliked, but other than that it was probably my favourite first episode of a “new franchise” so far. There was cute friendship-making, a cool indoor football match (they call it “futsal”, but that’s technically a different game) and some moving character introductions in the form of a training arc for one of the main characters (because he’s a complete beginner).
And boy did I love the characters. The aforementioned beginner, Tsuku-chan, is a shy and small boy with few friends, but he does seem to have an immense amount of willpower. While his character archetype isn’t the freshest or most original, the acting and his cute character design were more than enough to make me like him. The other main character, Jin, seems to take the role as Tsuku-chan’s “mentor” (he’s an experienced football player), but unlike usual senpa-type characters in these kinds of shows, I feel like he’s much more lively and positive, and he doesn’t have a “bad personality” (compare, for instance, to Azuma from Cross Game). Sure, there are moments when Jin gets disappointed and even angry at himself and Tsuku-chan, but Tsuku-chan’s seemingly endless willpower always cheers him up again. It doesn’t feel like Jin invites Tsuku-chan to the indoor football match out of pity, it feels like they actually have good chemistry and want to become friends.
And speaking of friends: My favourite element of the first episode was the fact that Tsuku-chan doesn’t go to the indoor football match alone, he brings a friend as well (specifically, his childhood friend Sayuri). This seemingly small detail helped defuse the indoor football match scene for me, because initially I was afraid that Jin would end up bullying Tsuku-chan. Fortunately, that didn’t happen, and it was also nice to have an additional non-player character on scene to downplay the fact that Tsuku-chan really sucked at playing football, at least at first. In addition, this action of bringing a friend when you go to meet someone you don’t really know is just smart in general (in real life). I think it’s very smart writing.
Visually, the show looks really good. The character designs of the boys wasn’t as creepy as in reverse harem/otome game shows, and the style wasn’t sterile, it actually gave me some very nostalgic feelings (kind of reminding me of Cross Game with some of the lines, but in retrospect not so much when it comes to the character designs). The quality varied a bit from scene to scene, especially in the faster-moving scenes, but I thought it looked good. I’ll probably be disappointed if the quality drops later on, but fortunately I think the characters’ personalities will still be able to carry the show even in that case.
Verdict: Loved it, especially the characters. Also, my favourite “pretty boys” show so far.