12/18/2007

Twelve Moments in Anime 2007 - #8: Tokimeki Memorial 25

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The "12 Days of Christmas" series is a joint feature by some members of the Anime Blogging Collective recognizing twelve moments, twelve series, or just twelve things about anime that we've enjoyed over the past year, that really make us enjoy loving what we do, and that is being an anime fan. Feel free to join in the list-making fun too if you wish. We hope you enjoy this feature.

You've heard it before - two days ago to be exact - but a moment doesn't need to be serious to be brilliant.

Sometimes it just has to bring that 'awesome factor' to the table, that feeling that you wouldn't be able to experience this anywhere else.

It's that moment where it just clicks, where you realize why you've been watching a show all along and that you've been loving it the whole way. It might be a ridiculous moment or a funny one, but it's one that really sums up the feeling of the anime as a whole, condensed into one top-notch scene.

Quite often these moments come in the closing periods of a show, when the side characters, the side stories, the plot all comes together for one final hurrah, one last great burst of enthusiasm before drawing the story to a close.

And what better show to emphasize the side characters, to give them a fitting send-off, then Tokimeki Memorial in its final episode.


12 Moments of Anime 2007
#8 Tokimeki Memorial ~only love~ - 25
"Bread Girl's Last Stand"

In a world in which harem anime is becoming increasingly dramatic, one anime stands between the fandom and... wait, wrong script.

But in all seriousness, light harem shows are getting increasingly ditched in favor of tension-filled visual-novel adaptations; perhaps School Days and Myself;Yourself isn't enough to mark a trend, but certainly there are very few anime out there now which step lightly on the drama scale.

Or at least, there are very few that don't go off the deep end of fanservice.

Tokimeki Memorial is one of those shows in the middle, offering both mild plot and mild fanservice for a easily-digestible watch that some might describe as a touch tepid. Certainly if you're looking for something that's going to excite your senses (one way or the other), the slow-paced, easily-choreographed TokiMemo won't be incredibly attractive.

But there's something to be said about a truly light-hearted harem/romance these days, and TokiMemo is a great example of an anime that one can watch for fun and entertainment, above all else.

It's a show that never really takes itself seriously. Even some of the most dramatic moments have been aborted by a running joke, or sudden comedy; something that may be a bit jarring to some, but once you get used to the style of the show it's not that horrible.

Since, to be honest, you don't watch TokiMemo for the romance.

You'd be rather dissapointed, because you could tune in to the show for about 5 minutes, figure out that Sayuri's, the mostly boring school idol, was going to win the heart of Riku, the mostly boring male lead, and cross another show off the 'finished' list.

The secondary main characters were mildly more interesting. Tsukasa and Mina were both equally enamored with Riku, but had entertaining twists on their personality archetypes. Tsukasa was the genki girl with a touch of pensiveness. Mina was the shy girl with a touch of courage.

They were both very good characters to root for, but eventually one remembers that the two of them have Nayuki Club stamped all over them. There's only so much fun in rooting for the minor victory, the battle won with the war inevitably lost.

However, the side characters, to be honest, are what make TokiMemo shine, what make it a truly enjoyable anime. TokiMemo, more than any school anime in recent memory, really feels like a fully-fleshed out school. As opposed to the infamous One Teacher Schools of many anime, there is more than just one classmate, one principal, and so on.

There's a full class set of teachers, from the typically pleasant homeroom teacher, to the sickly classical lit teacher, to the mad scientist, and a wide range of faculty.

The clubs all have charismatic leaders; the narcissistic track runner, the energetic volleyball captain, and the oh-I-wish-I-weren't-so-endowed swimming star.

The classroom is full of personalities, from Sayuri's gently goading friend, to the obligatory Hopeless Friends (plus the macho variant), the soft-hearted delinquent, the meganekko, the unforgettable chick (literally) Piyoko, and all the other assist-characters for the main heroines / hero.

A lot of these had one, if not many, sub-plots devoted to them as well. Mi-chan's (Mina's friend) quest to snag the heart of delinquent Inukai, the homeroom teacher's online adventures, something involving that one afro-sporting goddess; some might pass this off as filler, but in the largely aimless domain known as Tokimeki Memorial, it's just more of a broad focus than anything else.

It's the full package, a smorgasboard of characters that, even if they didn't have distinct story, showed up often enough and had actual speaking roles often enough to prove that, yes, they existed, and really contributed to making this show.

The infamous Bread Lady is one of the characters that symbolizes this attitude of TokiMemo. No one knows her name (perhaps Kohaku?), but everyone by the end knows her reputation as the vengeful person who never drops that almost mischievous smile.

Throughout the course of the show she sets fireworks under the stage of a school event, drops an entire room full of jocks, and tricks more than her share of gullible students. It all caps off in the final episode (yeah, there's a moment in her somewhere) where, together with Riku's loyal if not inept friends, she vows to hold off the hordes of Amamiya fanboys...with weapons straight from the military.

I'm pretty sure an automatic weapon wielded by two students and a bread lady would be the last thing I'd see in a harem/romance, but in a show with a light-hearted, zany demeanor such as TokiMemo, it just works.

It's so ridiculous, so over-the-top, so - fitting - that I consider it completely brilliant. It's one of those moments that really confirms why I watched TokiMemo; for the reality-mocking, no-holds-barred, wild sense of humor it has, with a dash or two of simple-style romance. TokiMemo is what I consider THE year's example of side characters done right.

Sanae Furukawa, here's what you have to live up to.

-CCY

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