First Impressions – Meiji Tokyo Renka

Meiji Tokyo Renka (明治東亰恋伽) – Meiji Tokyo Lover/span>
Animation Studio: TMS Entertainment Premiere Date: January 9th, 2019
No. of Episodes: 12 Airing Time: Wednesdays at 11:30 pm (JST)
Genre: Historical, Romance, Fantasy, Shoujo Airing Channel: Tokyo MX
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia, Meiji Tokyo Renka Official Site

Based on a popular romance otome game, Meiji Tokyo Renka follows the story of Mei Ayazuki (Jap: Sumire Morohoshi (Kyōka Izumi – Bungo Stray Dogs); Eng: Madeleine Morris) a Tamayori who was born with the ability to see ghosts. Having no friends due to this weird power, Mei wishes for a place where she could be herself. On the night of the crimson moon, however, Mei comes across a strange traveling magician named Charlie (Jap: Toshiyuki Morikawa (Akaya Inuki – Lord of Vermillion); Eng: Ian Sinclair (Sha Gojyo – Saiyuki Reload Blast)) and finds herself transported back in time to the Meiji era, where she has a romantic chance encounter with famous surgeon and writer Mori Ougai (Jap: Daisuke Namikawa (Lord El-Melloi II – The Case Files of Lord El-Melloi II: Rail Zeppelin Grace Note); Eng:
Christopher Wekhamp)
and his artist friend, Hishida Shunsō (Jap: KENN (Tamaki Yotsuba – Idolish7); Eng: Daman Mills). Noticing that she has amnesia and because they have a prior engagement, Mori and Syunso invite her to go to a party with them until they can get her some help. After a series of strange encounters with other famous Japanese historical figures at the party, Mei meets up with Charlie again and discovers that she has been transported back to the Meiji Era. Soon afterwards, an incident occurs where Mei ends up almost being arrested by Gorō Fujita (Jap: Jun Fukuyama (Ren Amamiya/Joker – Persona 5 the Animation)): for trying to save a fox spirit when Mori swoops in and saves her by calling her his fiancee. The story then continues with Mei trying to adapt to her strange new environment until she can find a way to get back home.

For a first episode, Meiji Tokyo Renka doesn’t fail to impress. From its sexy big band, colourful yet lively opening which is sung by Shunso’s voice actor KENN, mysterious yet lively settings to all of the handsome bishies, each episode has been a delight so far. Mei has been a adorably enjoyable ditzy heroine so far, whose pension for devouring beef dishes and lack of decorum is one of the funnier moments of the show, however, she is still identifiable in her problems which viewers can relate too. While Mori Ougai presents himself as a gentleman who despite being one of those handsome men that girls swoon over has a few eccentricities that makes him hilarious especially when he gets excited over Mei’s skirt.

KENN is also wonderful as Shunso, the serious painter who paints Japanese paintings that are above their time while Toshiyuki Morikawa’s rendition of Charlie is hilarious to say the least. Then you have the other potential love interests which include the germophobic spiritualist and writer Kyōka Izumi (Jap: Nobuhiko Okamoto (Accelerator – A Certain Magical Index III); Eng: Aaron Dismuke (Montmorency – Ulysses: Jeanne d’Arc and the Alchemist Knight )), the handsome pretty boy actor, Otojirō Kawakami (Jap: Kousuke Toriumi (Lion Christian Yuzuriha – Starmyu Season 2); Eng: J Michael Tatum (Rintaro Okabe – Steins;Gate 0)), the bubbly ghost story writer who loves all things related to ghosts, Yakumo Koizumi (Jap: Shinnosuke Tachibana (Aby Ssinia – Boarding School Juliet)) , the stern but scary serious police officer Gorō Fujita and the mysterious Tōsuke Iwasaki (Jap: Yoshimasa Hosoya (Kakeru Tengenji – Starmyu Season 2)) who has yet to appear in the show and who was a new character that was added to the 2015 anime films.

Unlike Hiiro no Kakera which had a terrible first season due to several problems with its poor writing and battle scenes, Meiji Tokyo Renka like ‘Nil Admirari no Tenbin‘ and ‘Kamigami no Asobi’ is definitely one of the better otome game anime shows out there. Despite the main pairing being Mei x Ougai in this version of the show, the plot is written so that the main heroine Mei gets equal bonding time with all of the other main love interests and even the show creators made sure to sum up each of those characters’ arcs in an entertaining fashion. Additionally, one of the things that I’ve definitely liked about this show is how the original creators set about creating their rendition of these historical figures. If you are a fan of Bungo Stray Dogs, then you will definitely love this anime set apart their Ougai’s and Kyoka’s looks and personalities especially with Izumi Kyoka.

Animation-wise, this show’s use of colours especially with the symbolic crimson moon to highlight the difference between normal day to day life and the supernatural night side of its world is amazing. The designs for the ghosts and youkai are mostly cute, so its not really that scary, but I love the adorable fox spirit in the first episode. Another best part of this show is the active use of jazz and big band music in its background instrumental music which does an amazing job of setting the show up like a Noir detective film only Detective Mei’s job is to solve supernatural cases which starts off with a search for the ghost of a black cat. The ending theme song is also pretty alright. But, one of the downsides is that most of these cases aren’t really that scary, but it does serve as a natural plot device to show Mei’s interactions with the other characters as well as to explore these characters’ backgrounds and problems.

So, if you think that you want to try this anime, then you will definitely find it an enjoyable experience!

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