Manglobe, lacking a major success for a while, wades into the adult VN adaptation waters again with their take on Mashiro-Iro Symphony. Based on the first episode, there’s some potential here – both good and bad.
OP: “Authentic symphony” by Choucho
This is a genre that’s been mined pretty heavily in terms of anime adaptations over the last few years, with varying degrees of success. I suspect if you’re going to watch this, you’re already intimately familiar with the tropes and limitations this kind of adaptation carries with it, and you’re fine with that. Formula is part and parcel of what shows like Mashiro-Iro are all about, and while you’ll occasionally see a series like Yosuga no Sora do some quite different things with it, success basically boils down to how good a job the source and the adaptation do molding what’s essentially the same clay.
So far, this looks pretty solid. The character designs and animation look completely standard for an adult VN adaptation. I did like the setting, which is a fictional town called Kagamidai that seems to be based pretty closely on Kanazawa. That’s a lovely city to look at and so is this one, with it’s mountains, canals and historic district of walled samurai and merchants’ houses. While the premise looks absolutely stock – an all-girls high-school is admitting boys for the first time, and hero Uryu Shingo (Mizushima Takahiro) is one of the first crop of boys to attend – the first ep had a nice rambling quality about it. Much of it was spent following Shingo as he tried to find lost little sister Sakuno (Goto Mai) in the rain. Sakuno gets help from kindly passerby Sena (Ono Ryoko) until the siblings are reunited. Naturally, it turns out Sena goes to Shingo’s new school, and she doesn’t take kindly to the notion of boys crashing the party.
You have most of the major points checked off. We have the dependent, naïve younger sister – in fact, I almost thought there was something wrong with her at first, as she seemed so helpless. You have the tall, blonde and horny male friend to provide comic relief. The tsundere Sena, a maid, and I’m sure all the other tropes were covered by the girls we saw cameos of late in the episode. You also have teachers who’re apparently terrified of anything male and a strange cat-like creature that bounces around town randomly and appears to live on campus and possibly possess some kind of magical powers.
Like I said, don’t expect any wheels to be reinvented here – this is very familiar territory. It’s really just a question of execution to decide if this is worth watching, and so far that’s pretty solid. There’s some sense of style to the direction, the backgrounds are pretty, and Shingo doesn’t come off as an especially annoying lead. Will there be quirks to set this apart, like the omnibus and twincest of YnS or the shotacon gags in Hoshizora? Probably a few, but I don’t get the sense we’ll see anything that edgy here.
ED: “Suisai Candy (水彩キャンディ; Watercolor Candy)” by marble