There are obviously reasons to be interested in Kimi no iru Machi above and beyond the series itself. It’s hard to think of another manga that inspires the level of sheer venom from the readers – yet something keeps them coming back for more. Above and beyond that there’s a certain curiosity factor involved whenever Gonzo takes the lead role in a series, a rarity since their financial meltdown a few years ago.
I’m pretty much an outsider to all the insider rage about A Town Where You Live. I’ve seen the OVA but that’s it; in terms of the anime, I know it engendered yet more controversy by electing to bypass the entire opening portion of the manga (set in Hiroshima) and focus on the “Tokyo Arc” (which seems to be widely hated more than any other portion of the manga). I know the bones of the story but the premiere doesn’t give much help in terms of premise; frankly if you’re not a manga reader I think it’s pretty hard to figure out exactly what’s going on, though the broad generalities are clear enough. Whether that’s enough to get any emotional buy-in to the story, we’ll have to see.
Kirishima Haruto (Yoshimasa Hosoya, who seems to be making a career out of provincial dialect roles) has just moved to Tokyo from Hiroshima when we meet him, where he moves in with his irresponsible older sister Aoi (Takahashi Chiaki). Neighbor girl Mishima Asuka (Sakura Ayane) when she tries to kill him with a baseball bat, mistaking him for a burglar. Asuka is also a transplant – from Iwaki – and the two of them feud about (among other things) their respective accents (Asuka is far more self-conscious about hers). We also meet Asuka’s friend Kyousuke (Ono Daisuke) who seems to play the role of the classic popular kid who takes Haruto under his wing and tries to help him overcome his odd personality and fit in.
The truth of all this, of course, is that Haruto has come to Tokyo more or less in pursuit of an old girlfriend from Hiroshima (who herself had come to Hiroshima from Tokyo) though the premiere suggests all that only in Spartan terms. Things are going to get messy – that’s where the “rage” part comes in – but without any context (I’m not sure a recap ep is going to cut it) I can’t say whether the events that transpire in Tokyo will carry a lot of emotional weight. As for the premiere itself I admit I was a bit worried for the first ten minutes or so, which had an odd, stilted manner to them. But the atmosphere grew on me, and in the end the overall impression was modestly positive. It’s a remarkably conventional-looking show by Gonzo standards, though the character designs (as befits mangaka Seo Kouji) are quite striking. Gonzo has gotten the supremely experienced Yamauchi Shigeyasu (Casshern Sins, Yumekui Merry) to direct, and his extensive work as both director and animator reveals a consistently interesting and unorthodox visual style. I’m not making predictions, because this show could end up anywhere on the map – disaster, mediocrity, sleeper – but I’m certainly curious enough to follow it for a few more episodes.