Series Review – Akanesasu Shoujo

Akanesasu Shoujo Cover Image

Spoiler Warnings!!!

With Akanesasu Shoujo now over, I can definitely say that Akanesasu Shoujo is definitely one of the main highlights of the 2018 Fall/Winter Season! With its elegant mix of both supernatural and slice of life stuff, Akanesasu Shoujo doesn’t fail in delivering an intriguing story about parallel worlds, self-growth and a fantastic coming of age story about growing up and dealing with one’s personal issues.

Now, the story of Akanesasu Shoujo follows Asuka Tsuchimiya (Tomoyo Kurosawa), a chikuwa loving member of her high school radio research club who spends her days regularly hanging out with her friends and helping out her family at their miso shop. One day, while performing the 4:44 pm ritual with a strange rock that they found, Asuka and her friends are transported to a strange world where snow bunny-like creatures called ‘Noizies’ exist. However, just as the group are about to be assaulted by a pack of Noizies, the group is saved by a strange girl resembling Asuka who uses a cassette player transformation device called an ‘Astral Module’ to transform into a superhuman being called an ‘Equalizer.’ After the battle, the group is transported back to their world by the girl who then collapses and is later taken to Asuka’s house to rest. After bonding with the girl a little, Asuka wakes up the next morning and discovers proof that the strange girl is actually an Asuka from a different world. Asuka then decides to follow the alternate Asuka dubbed ‘Seriouska‘ to various parallel worlds dubbed ‘Fragments’ with her friends from the Radio Research Club in the hopes of finding her brother and the truth behind the various mysteries surrounding the ‘Twilight’ which seeks to devour all worlds.

Onto the characters, all of the characters in Akanesasu Shoujo are a very diversified bunch with some more hilarious than others. Take the main character Asuka Tsuchimiya for instance. Asuka is basically your standard cheerful and ditzy 17 year old girl, who loves her family’s miso and chikuwa and also loves to pull pranks on her teachers and have fun with her friends at Octave, the cafe they frequent.

However, despite being a happy-go-lucky, girl, Asuka also has a dark past. One where her younger brother, Kyohei Tsuchimiya went missing without a trace, when she was just 6 years old. Blaming herself for letting him go missing and for not being able to cry for Kyohei, she puts on a fake mask and tries to walk the same path in life that her younger brother would’ve followed had he been alive and over the progress of the show, Asuka learns how to deal with that grief as she travels to parallel worlds with her friends and the alternate versions of herself (Seriouska) and Yuu (Ero-Yuu). It should be also be pointed out that all of the main girls become Equalizers at some point during the show.

Alongside Akane, are also her friends from the Radio Research club who follow her into these alternate parallel worlds. The first of them is Mia Silverstone (Nao Touyama). A really shy, gentle and quiet girl who keeps a strong sense of justice and who really wants to be a hero like the ones in her favorite Western and action films. But because of others mis-perceiving and misjudging her as a really girly girl who likes dresses, make-up and cute things, she lacks the confidence to pursue such a path.

Next up is Chloe Morisu (Marina Inoue), another quiet girl who is originally from France, but then moved to Japan because of her parents’ work. Chloe is a loner who regularly speaks in French when irritated and who likes reading books and listening to music by herself in spare time. Chloe’s problem is that while she values her private time and likes being alone, the cultural divide between what is acceptable in her country and in Japan throws her through a loop and leaves her questioning about whether to leave the loner lifestyle behind. She also really wants to be closer with the others and hang out with them, but is afraid that by making friends and forming attachments to others, she may be abandoned one day (which I can sympathize with).

Then there is the flirtatious and capricious Nana Nanase (Ami Koshimizu) who is your typical teenage girl who likes following the latest fashion and celebrity trends like Tomoya, wants love and enjoys having fun with her friends. However, she also tends to go along with the flow in order to keep up appearances and she rarely speaks what is on her mind which is her overall problem. She also has a bad relationship with both her mother and her new step-father because of the re-marriage and feels that she is in the way of her mother’s new life. She also initially starts hanging out with the Crystal Radio club because her biological father also once had one himself. Her journey is basically one of learning the importance of being honest with oneself, especially when she is almost forced to marry a Clutter version of Tomoya.

Finally, there is Asuka’s best friend, Yuu Tounaka (Lynn) who is your standard “arrogant honour student” and the club president of the Crystal Radio club. Now, while she maintains the appearance of a perfect honour student and tends to act like Asuka’s berating older sister, the truth of the matter is that she is unsure of her own future while also being secretly in love with her best friend, Asuka (which is indicated more clearly in Ero-Yuu’s behaviour). She also has trouble voicing what she really wants to say and her words and actions often get misconstrued by the others.

Helping the group along the way are two alternate versions of Asuka and Yuu. Alternate Asuka who is dubbed ‘Seriouska’ in the show is an Asuka from an alternate world which is being devoured by the ‘Twilight,’ a mysterious phenomenon which sends Noizies and transforms people into monsters called ‘Clutters’ in order to weaken and devour worlds under the control of the ‘Twilight King’ whom Asuka seeks to destroy. Seriouska like the main Asuka, has also lost her own world’s version of Kyohei when she was six too and has since developed a strong and serious personality, hence the nickname, Seriouska.

On the flip-side, you also have Alternate Yuu, who is a much more flirtatious and sexual version of Yuu and who habitually hits on Asuka in the show, hence the nickname ‘Ero-Yuu’ or ‘Sexy Yuu.’ At the start of the show, Sexy Yuu secretly sends frequencies to the girls to allow them access to other worlds for some unknown reason. The reason is later revealed to be that she is in search for her Asuka who was snatched away by someone, maybe the Twilight. However, she later helps Yuu comes to terms with her feelings for Asuka because she doesn’t want Yuu to suffer the same heartbreak and loss that she did.

Now while the plot doesn’t exactly answer all of the mysteries regarding who the Twilight King is or where Sexy Yuu’s Asuka is or what exactly happened to Kyohei on the day he disappeared, which is really disappointing. It does provide the viewer with enough action, themes and characterizations to create a juicy story that allows viewers to get fully invested into the show. The idea of also using a cassette and record player as transformation devices is also quite novel and is rather interesting from a historical standpoint, making it apparent that this anime is set somewhere in the early 1990s.

With the cast, all of the main cast members did a wonderful job with both voicing their own characters and creating the voices of all of the alternative Asukas, Mias and Yuus in Akanesasu Shoujo multiverse. I especially applaud Tomoyo Kurosawa who had voice both Asuka and Seriouska at the same time for certain scenes. Additionally, the level of animation is also of an excellent fairly high quality. The visuals of the townscapes were really lovely and the opening and ending sequences were also really nice especially the shot with Asuka listening to her radio near a window with snow outside in the ending. Also when paired the instrumental music, the animation brings a new level of excitement to show, especially with those smooth amazing action battle sequences. The character designs are also rather stellar with each of the main girls’ Equalizer designs looking especially fantastic in CG!

Another part of what makes this show so good was how the directors and the staff took each of the main characters’ personalities and characteristics and tried to interpret them in different ways depending on the alternate worlds they travel to. For one example, in one of the worlds that the girls travel to, all of the girls including the Radio Research Club are expected to be married off at 17 and are interpreted to be more upper-class lady-like with Chloe being especially more shy and emotional than usual. The girls also travel to a Western world version of Akeyuki City where Mia is a brave heroic deputy, Yuu is a barmaid, Asuka is a serious lone bounty hunter and Nana and Chloe are both bank robbers who also run a orphanage for children who have lost their parents in the cruel duel trials. With the villains, well, the director and the staff did switch-up their personalities, but it was mostly the same, just in different ways. I also can’t really talk about the Twilight King either because he doesn’t appear in the show either.

Music-wise, the battle instrumentals and overall instrumentals were all very vibrant and action-packed. They all fit with the alternate worlds that they traveled to. Some were slightly more stereotypical than others, but it does impact the viewer’s emotions. As mentioned before, the opening ‘Soranetarium’ by Michi, does an amazing job at creating the almost etheral, but eerie supernatural tone of the show, while the ending ‘Kowarekake no Radio (Broken Radio)’ does an equally amazing job at highlighting Asuka’s emotions as she is a broken radio.

So overall, Akanesasu Shoujo was an incredible series to watch! While it does have some negative aspects mostly in terms of plot, I hope that all of you will watch and enjoy it!

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