Da Capo has a lot of nostalgia for me - I remember watching the original series back in 2003, in crappy Divx 3.11 fansubs, and being mesmerized by the world, the story, the characters, and everything else. It had Shirakawa Kotori, bishoujo extraordinaire, who would knock off the heroine in any other game-to-anime series - but in Da Capo she's only a side character. The original Da Capo had Sakura vs Nemu on the school roof, coughing up sakura petals, hell, it even had a Urusei Yatsura reference in the beach episode. It was pretty much impossible not to like, for me in 2003 at least, just five years into the revival of my anime fandom.
But since the original, the Da Capo franchise has been more of a mixed bag - D.C.S.S. had its entertaining moments and I loved the cast, but it really felt like they were trying to milk the exact same story over again at the end. Da Capo II I was eagerly looking forward to from pretty much the moment the game was announced, assuming correctly it'd also make the jump to anime - but honestly, it disappointed the hell out of me. The male lead had maybe 10% of Junichi's character, the drama all fell completely flat, and the feint where Yoshiyuki is "dating" (in a third grade sense) one of the side characters in the first cour was a train wreck. So when I heard Da Capo III was coming, I honestly didn't know whether to look forward to it or not. Would it be awesome? Just OK? Terrible?
So if this was the end of a episode of Denpa Onna, what kind of seishun points would I give Da Capo III's inaugural episode? Read on...
(-1) Animation Quality is kind of...well, adequate. I mean, it's not terrible, and the cast is easy on the eyes, especially for all the Imadoris out there who are floored by "D power". It's not Yoakena bad, my eyes aren't bleeding, but the quality seems a notch down from both the original Da Capo and from D.C.S.S. and D.C. II. Again, not horrible, but it's kind of disappointing to see a first episode look this average, especially compared to, well, the first episode of Chuunibyou or Sakura-sou last season, or even Maoyuu this season.
(+4) It's f**king Hatsunejima! There are cherry trees! They're all blooming at once! I realize these are really just nostalgia points for me, but it's like watching Star Wars I and seeing a lightsaber in a new movie for the first time since Return of the Freaking Jedi in 1983. I'm dating myself here, but you get the idea.
(+2) Suginami. He's back. AGAIN. It's impossible - he's got to be the biggest enigma in the Da Capo-verse, spanning three series, and multiple decades, he always looks and acts the same, and is always going to the same school. He's like Evangeline in Negima or something, maybe like Eva this is his punishment, I don't know.
(-2) Lack of realism. By that I don't mean the sakura tree thing, I mean Sharuru (I can't bring myself to type "Charles" for her name even if it's official wanting to sleep in the same bed as Kiyotaka and when she does, Kiyotaka not tapping that with the force of a thousand burning suns (which you all know is exactly what a 16 year old guy would do in that situation, unless he'd had his family jewels severed in a freak wheat thresher accident.)
(-1) Character designs. They're not bad, they just...seem off. It's hard to put my finger on but they just seem kind of generic - I guess this really goes back to animation quality, if they had DCSS / DC II's character designer I think they'd look a lot better, but this is just personal preference. Maybe the insane proportions are what bugs me, Sharuru in particular is going to have serious back pain.
(+2) Kiyotaka > Yoshiyuki. Yoshiyuki, the male lead from Da Capo II, had the personality of my toaster oven, so this was an easy bar to clear, but after D.C. II I actually worried about this one going in. I wouldn't say he has a *lot* more personality, but I think Kiyotaka wins the matchup here so far. While bishoujo series are mostly all about the bishoujo, if the male lead sucks, it ruins the whole story because you have a bunch of hot girls after a complete tool, which destroys any sense of realism. I'm thinking that guy who was allergic to girls from some bad anime a while back, but I don't want to remember enough to Google Seiren to find out what it was called because it'll just bring bad memories back anyway if I do.
(-1) Kiyotaka < Junichi. Honestly, Junichi in the original Da Capo's kind of hard to beat, since he was a slacker but genuinely had some funny moments too.
(-1) All the side character girls < Yoriko. Seriously, Yoriko in the original Da Capo made me cry like a little girl when she starts going on to Junichi about how she's left food in the refrigerator for him. You kind of have to see it to get what I mean, but so far none of these side characters look very memorable. None of them have nekomimi either.
(+2) Ricca. She's just Haruhi like enough to be interesting without being obnoxious, at least so far. The whole thing about the past life and being a wizard then makes me think maybe she has chuunibyou, but she's promising as a heroine. It's too early to get much of a read on her yet though.
Your reward for getting through the wall of text above. Note Sharuru's huge tracts of land.
Total seishun points: +4
Which means...it wasn't a bad start. Not as good as the original Da Capo, but I'm cautiously optimistic it'll beat Da Capo II and come out somewhere between original and II flavor. We'll see, I'm hooked enough to see where they go with it next week.
I should really blog about Maoyuu too, which honestly was more interesting and better animated in my opinion, and threw in some econ for the geek in me who still gets the Economist every week, but it's time in RL to put away laundry and go to sleep.
Sakura Tree: Bring it.