Photograph of something out of place violently forcing its way into an otherwise serene setting.
Yes, that’s right. I did not forget about this show. While it’s true I never did plan on covering it beyond the first impressions, I think it’s worth it to give Kimi no Iru Machi a parting shot in the form of a final review. So here we go.
Not so Bad
If you remember my first impressions, you probably think that I didn’t like how KNIM turned out. But actually the show went on to surprise me. As a manga reader, the first problem I noted going into the anime is that this adaptation was to begin in the middle of the manga as opposed to starting from the very beginning. If everything before this point were pointless, that would be OK. But instead, the first arc contains pretty much the heaviest character development of the entire series. The adapted arc builds off of this by inserting a heapload of romantic drama (in case you didn’t notice), and then later arcs have just devolved into slice of life. Anyway, I was prepared for KNIM to be a disaster due to this lack of the crucial first arc. But lo and behold Gonzo proves me wrong by adding it in piecemeal in the form of flashbacks. That’s not to say the show couldn’t have used a 2-cour with one half dedicated solely to the initial character development and setup; that would have been great. But all things considered, the adaptation went better than I expected for only 12 episodes.
Back to the Drama
If you look closely,
So potential adaptation problems aside, how did the show do? Well, it being very faithful to the manga, we got exactly what I expected. In that way, my foreknowledge of everything that happens is indeed useful. But I think it’s instead more relevant to consider the perspective of those with no background on the series. First of all, we would have no preconception about the relationships or developments beyond “this guy chases a girl to Tokyo”. From there, the show does a 180 by having him move on to another girl after failing to again court his first love. Okay, that’s a little annoying but we can still work with it. Here it’s worth noting that I recall people commenting that Asuka would make a better match for Haruto than Yuzuki. And looking back, I’m certain us manga readers thought the same thing at the time when this arc was still ongoing. From her annoyingly secretive nature and seemingly wishy-washy attitude, Yuzuki just looked like nothing but trouble. And I’m sure there was no shortage of complaints about her character. So at this point we’re probably quite pleased that Haruto has gotten over her.
-you can almost see
But not to be outdone, the show does yet another 180 and we find Haruto together with Yuzuki in the end. Which is technically appropriate enough, since this really is the end of the arc being adapted. But here lies the problem. For everyone not following the manga, this double reversal can only come across as aggravating. “What is he thinking?!” and “why did he do that?!” are two common outbursts I expect to see. Again, that being pretty much the exact same reaction everyone had when the manga chapters came out. But the difference now is that the manga readers have material beyond this point to help smooth things out somewhat (the slice of life stuff starts getting pushed really hard to make their relationship the norm) while the anime viewers are just stuck with this jarring ending. Think about it: after finally getting over the whole Kazama love triangle ordeal, we’re given a fresh start only for it to be tossed aside like it was a bad idea? What was the point of it all then? Just a bait-and-switch?
Within this arc, I can say with complete certainty that absolutely no one would have supported HarutoxYuzuki. Them getting back together is not only unnecessary, but would also fly in the face of everything else. So why did Kouji Seo make it so? I really have no idea. What could have been a nice little love story is instead derailed into a needlessly convoluted farce about “true love” and “complicated relationships”. In effect, he kind of bombed the whole thing by forcefully pushing Haruto and Yuzuki as a couple. Yes, I know this is his story and he can do whatever he pleases with it, but that doesn’t excuse bad story-telling. And before anyone so much as thinks it, let me say that I don’t even feel that strongly about HarutoxAsuka being the better couple and I’m not just butt-hurt about their fallout. The story just didn’t need this many twists and curves at this point.
So in the end, is KNIM a good show or a bad one? Well, I would say that it turned out to be a good adaptation, limited only by the unfortunately poor quality of the source material. As you may recall, I pretty much made the show out to be a rage-fest in my first impressions. And I still stand by that. I must praise Gonzo for turning my expectations around with their clever use of flashbacks at appropriate moments to help bridge the enormous gap left by the absence of the first arc. That much was excellent. But as well as they’ve made the anime, it ended up being pulled down by its faithfulness to the manga. Which is quite ironic, considering the state of most anime-original material nowadays. Seriously, if Gonzo decided to go ahead and leave Haruto and Asuka as a couple here, I would have been completely fine with it. And don’t even get me started with Rin-chan. Anyway, would I recommend Kimi no Iru Machi for anyone’s viewing pleasure? The honest answer is no. And unless you have a thing for forced drama and badly written romance, I would suggest you steer clear away.