Review: Musou Kakyo - A Summer Day's Dream
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Spoilers/plot synopsis: on/off
As this is only the second Touhou anime, comparisons with the previous work are inevitable, so I'll get that out of the way: Musou Kakyu: A Summer Day's Dream is a doujin-anime, made by the doujin group Maikaze, which made TPSS its bitch, and Maikaze does just about everything right that Sound-Holic did wrong. Short version: it's great, with only a few minor issues that, in my opinion, don't really detract from the whole.
The story goes something like this: Reimu and Suika are preparing for a festival at the shrine, something mysterious happens, and Reimu goes nuts, taking Marisa and Aya along the way to beat up everyone she runs into. She is then given slightly more information, and announces that this must be an Incident!
In other words, it's basically the exact same kind of plot as the first few stages of a given Touhou game. That's part of the beauty of it: fans of the Touhou games will be instantly familiar with it. It also remains cheerful and lighthearted throughout, which also fits the general Touhou "atmosphere" if you can call it that; one of the most giggle-worthy moments, if you're paying attention, is that one of the books in Patchouli's library is apparently called Wikipedia. It has a fairly relaxed pace, too. Really, they aren't taking themselves seriously, or at least any more seriously than the games themselves, and that's a good thing.
The backgrounds are gorgeous. They clearly put a lot of effort into this — effort made by someone who had a great deal of skill and knew what they were doing. Unfortunately, you then immediately run into the fact that the characters (and objects with which they interact) are ... very distinct from the backgrounds. It greatly suffers from Conspicuously Light Patch (Warning, link leads to TVTropes. Muffin will not be held responsible for hours of time lost as a result of following it.But see also this disclaimer) there. The characters themselves also look somewhat off; occasionally, they look a bit too chubby, and apart from Remilia's fangs, everyone's faces were identical.
Another "professional" bit is the fact that pretty much all the actresses1 are big-name ones, although since there's no canonical standard, your mileage may vary. Heck, looking at peoples' reactions, I've seen just about every possible combination of opinions as to whose voices were good and whose were bad. My own personal reactions: Everyone was just fine, really. Patchouli and Remilia took a few minutes each to grow on me; for some reason, I'd expected Remilia to have, er, an older-sounding voice, which doesn't make sense. And Patchouli goes "Mukyu!" at one point, which is awesome.
Characterization-wise, I only found one major flaw (in my opinion), which is that Sakuya ... acts a bit too much like a Mikuru-type maid. I mean, in the games, she's a no-nonsense can-do Elegant Battle Maid, fiercely loyal to Remilia and ready to stab intruders to bits at the drop of a maid-headband. In here, she acts a little too ... cute and down-to-earth. I dunno, maybe they're taking cues from Silent Sinner in Blue or something, where she also acts a bit less Elegant than necessary.
One of the most surprising aspects is that the DVD includes English subtitles — and that KirbyM proofread them and is thus in the credits. For Western fans, this is a great bonus. It's those little things which they did even though they didn't need to do it which enhances an already-great product.2 Bottom line is, it's a great find, and something you should buy if this is at all possible. I can't wait to see where the series goes.
Oh, yes, I forgot to mention: after the credits, the announcer says "The second episode is called 'Yukarin is 17 years old!' ... Just kidding, we haven't decided on a name yet!" This has become a miniature meme, it seems ...
1All women, of course; there's no sign of Rinnosuke in this story.
2As an aside, someone in the Maidens of the Kaleidoscope thread about this got all butthurt that the English subtitles on the pirated version which was uploaded to Youtube (yes, Youtube, which always has lower quality and resolutions) weren't perfectly legible. They then tried to claim that the illegibility was Maikaze's fault.
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