Shards of Summer: Nanatsuiro Drops

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Nanatsuiro Drops has always been somewhat of a paradox to me.

It's background is an eroge, which usually means that the anime adaptation will have a generally male target audience. Not necessarily fanservice up the behind like Shuffle or to a lesser note Da Capo, but sometimes just a moe flood of cute characters in shows like Kanon. While the latter show arguably worked just as well for both genders, the fact of the matter is that both types of shows are ones guys don't mind being caught dead watching.

Now, Nanatsuiro Drops is pretty much straight-up magical girl stuff. Think about it. Eroge + magical girl = confused audience.

Sometimes magical girl shows can work for a male audience, in the case of raw loli-fests (I'm tempted to say Moetan, but I have no actual experience with that show), but NanaDrops pretty much plays the magical girl card straight, at least in the anime.

It seems that the anime has pretty much renounced any tendencies for fanservice or whatnot in favor of attracting a target audience of an age probably not old enough to buy the PC game NanaDrops was based on.

It's not to say that Nanatsuiro Drops is expressly one of those Not For Guys shows, since magical girl shows have worked for a larger audience in the past; not sure what is the draw of Nanoha, not having watched that, but it has a simply ridiculously huge fanbase, and even old-school, straight magical girl shows like Cardcaptor Sakura (it's by Clamp, shouldn't that be enough of a warning to straight guys?) are generally acknowledged to be one of those Top Tier shows. CCS was simply one of those shows that got people into anime.

NanaDrops, though, coming ten years after Sakura's adventures, may be what some consider "behind the times". While it may have worked long ago, now tastes seem to have changed away from the sugary, fluffy, heartwarming stuff towards, well, whatever it is you like today. Loli shows, fanservice shows, slice-of-life, moe, dramatic shows...none of these can really fit NanaDrops, which in an era of anime where there are No Girls On The Internet, really just doesn't click with at least a lot of people in the English anime crowd.

Nevertheless, NanaDrops does have it's devout supporters, both on AnimeSuki and on local anime blogs. Supposedly it's not as Magical Girly as it looks, rather turning some typical tropes on its head and generally poking fun at the cliches of the genre. Supposedly the relationship and character development is handled quite well and creatively, unlike the usual "rivals who fall in love" or the "boy meets girl in awkward situation; hijinks and crushing ensue" found in this genre.

But there are always going to be the rabid fans of any series that will stand up for it to the bitter end. Show me a moe harem show and I'll show you unhealthy levels of adoration. Show a lolicon Moetan and they'll show you the "merits" of a show like that. So perhaps it's possible that the fans behind NanaDrops are overhyping it.

As usual, the only way to find out is to watch a show, and thus embarked an second adventure into the cavity-filled sugarland of magical girl shows. Full opinion and perhaps some discussion of the actual show and the first 3 episodes after the jump.

First point, there's really no getting around it; Nanatsuiro Drops is made to rot your teeth to hell and back. If you cannot handle bright, peppy genki girls, if you cannot handle random chibi transformations, if you cannot handle sparkles and shinies and posing and funny magical words, NanaDrops will send you running for the hills and you won't come back.

In that sense NanaDrops almost is like a CCS 2.0 in that it features a heroine who is bright to the bitter end. Sumomo is like Sakura in that she shows her emotions very clearly; they'll be uber-shy around the ones they like, they'll be uber-happy when they're in a good mood, and when they're nervous and discouraged, yeah, they'll tear up.

Granted, Sumomo is a bit more of what one might term a "crybaby" than Sakura perhaps ever was, but she still shows that trait of "I shouldn't cry," "it'll be all right," "I've got to do my best," etc.

The other characters are somewhat typical fare as well. The male protagonist is every bit as aloof and antisocial as ever, there's the Adult Figure Who Secretly Knows Everything, the Heroine's Bestest Friend Ever (who's also in on it), and the Very Evil And Ominous Rival. Nothing horribly standout in personality.

Ironically enough, one of the places where NanaDrops shines so far is in the magical girl part of the show. While the premise is like every other show of the genre (or for that matter, Sonic game) with the "collect them all" deal, the little aspects are where it has a little fun. Being based originally on an eroge it's quite possible that the producers knowingly messed with the magical girl formula slightly, if only because guys simply can't stand straight-up monster-of-the-week, transform-and-attack shows.

In a sense, NanaDrops is kind of like "Magical Girls For Dummies". It's pretty hard for Sumomo to do things wrong, even if she tried. The magical book of rules pretty much covers everything, from how to get stardrops to how to keep a friend in on the secret to how to hax their way into a building. Even the rival seems a bit annoyed with Sumomo's incompetence, insisting that she improve herself so that they can have a fair and exciting conflict. The ring Sumomo wears pretty much points her straight to the stardrop every time, so that collecting the stardrop is about as easy as pressing a button.

As such, the focus is barely on the "magical" aspect at all, and more on the characters. The premise in having the Obligatory Stuffed Animal be the male protagonist puts a nice twist on things, in giving him a lot of a behind-the-scenes look at Sumomo in public vs. Sumomo in private.

The character development possibilities certainly seems promising. Sumomo has a lot of courage to gain and it'll be interesting to see just how Tsuwabaki (first name what?) handles the Obligatory Slow Falling-In-Love Sequence, not to mention revealing his identity (or not).

The two antagonist-type characters still have a lot to be revealed about them, to see how their personalities and conflicts play out. Not to mention that one mysterious masked guy from episode 1.

Again at the quarter mark in the show all I can really say is that it's a promising but not brilliant show; the developing relationship between Sumomo and Tsuwabaki (or just Sumomo's development in general) will be key to determining the success of the show, as well as how much it deviates from it's magical girl (and eroge, natch) roots.

Needless to say this show is not one of those shows everyone can watch. I wouldn't say that those adverse to magical girliness will be able to handle this at all, even if it does improve; the raw sugar content of this show will turn a lot off, perhaps deservedly. But those who can handle shows orientated more at girls - or, believe it or not, are girls themselves - just might find something to like in this show.