Let’s Talk Kuzu no Honkai — Episode 1 Review

​This is putting your best foot forward.

A tale is a statement — a simple linear progression from one point to another. This happened, then this happened, then there was an outcome. A tale exists with no greater sense of its self, no greater purpose beyond a simple rehashing of events. Thoughtful explorations of thematic issues are out the window within this form of fiction.

But perhaps the most startling aspect of the tale, particularly within the context of anime, is that it doesn’t need multiple viewings. Any watching beyond the first become a process endured only by those with a head over heels love for the subject matter. Kuzu no Honkai does a solid job of reeling in its audience with its rather simple tale. The lack of motivation to watch a second time exists because Kuzu no Honkai doesn’t try to say anything. It doesn’t argue a position. The tale of what happened and how it happened becomes more important than the sum total of what happened. Entertainment surpasses purpose and I absolutely love it.

Right from the start Kuzu no Honkai was checking off all the boxes of a smooth production. Wonderful sound design? Check. Aesthetic prowess? Check. Fine shot work and framing? Check. No matter which way you looked you can tell that this series was cared for. This may not be applaud worthy to some, but with today’s anime there’s so many titles that simply fall short in the effort department. More studios are focused on emphasizing the cliffhangers and plot hooks of their projects rather than building a well polished product from top to bottom. What makes this surprising is that Lerche is the one behind all of this and I must say, this is their best effort yet. Not Ranpo Kitan, not Gakkou Gurashi, not Assassination Classroom and definitely not Magical Girl Raising Project. You see this? This right here? This is Lerche’s coming out party as a studio that can take their effort to the next level.

If this premiere has any short comings, it’s in its characterization. This is honestly more of a nitpick than anything, but given Mugi’s role in our narrative — I kind of wish we saw more of his character. Don’t get me wrong, there’s enough there to move our story forward. You get a sense of who he his and his desires, but I’m left with the impression that there’s a lot more to him to be discovered. I’m sure this issue will be fixed simply by watching more.

Despite this, Mugi still makes for an excellent complement to Hanabi, and their on screen chemistry shouldn’t go without note. The roughly five minute sequence in June accomplished more in the romance department than most anime in the same genre achieve in two cours. This was a nice lead in to really drive home the premise in the waning minutes of show. By the time post July rolls around, the audience has a solid understanding of what exactly is going on here without being drenched in exposition or having their hand held through it.

Purposely, I didn’t want to go into too much detail here as I feel this first episode is better experienced than told, so I’ll just be leaving my thoughts at that. To craft something with power, something with emotion, something that lives and breathes on its own is rare. That’s what I want from my anime and that’s what Lerche is giving me. The only question is, will it stay this high?

Originally published at seasonalprattle.com on January 13, 2017.