Monday, 25 April 2011

ダ.カーポ / Da Capo (Season 1)

Oh, what a beautiful mess Da Capo is. It comes so close to being something great, but never quite makes it. The trouble is that the studio try to do too much, when really they should have focussed on just one story. But being based on a H-game, there are half a dozen extra girls that have to have their moments in the sunshine. If it were 13 episodes, it probably would have been great - but there just wasn’t a strong enough story to have 26, so we ended up with nonsensical side-stories, padding episodes devoted to bad characters, and poor pacing.

Asakura Jun'ichi is an ordinary student living alone with his sister Nemu. But the two are not blood related, and indeed, may have feelings for one another that go beyond those of siblings. When their childhood friend Sakura appears, still looking like a child and forward enough to tease Jun'ichi, things come to a head. This intriguing love triangle, with the added intrigue of the taboo of incest, could have made a great story in the style of Kimi Ga Nozomo Eien, but there is another element to the tale: a sakura (cherry blossom) tree is in eternal bloom in the town, and grants the wishes of those around it. So the love triangle becomes more of a Tate-Mai-Shiho from Mai-HiME affair, with all the angst of lashing out with supernatural powers, and even worse, the other girls in Jun'ichi’s life have their wishes come true – one can read minds, one is a robot who takes the first steps to becoming human, one…is actually a cat. Uh-huh. There are some very special moments, and there was great potential, but there’re just too many ludicrous elements, and Da Capo doesn’t quite manage to pull it off. But Sakura is very, very cute, and Nemu is also too sweet and too nice to wish heartbreak upon.

Season two looks to be better-produced, with beautiful animation, and takes place 2 years later. Will the story be better? I hope so!

(Originally written 19.8.05)

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