We continue our look at the newest anime shows for Spring 2011 with Bridge to the Starry Skies, an anime adaption of the visual-novel game published by Feng.
Kazuma Hoshino's a good older brother to his sibling Ayumu—because of Ayumu's frail constitution, he decides to move back to the countryside that he was raised, all to give him fresh air and peace. However, the town of Yamabiko is not exactly the easiest place to maneuver. While chasing down a monkey who has taken his brother's hat, Kazuma meets Ui, a beautiful green-and-blue-eyed(?) girl in the forests. Of course, like many adaptions of visual novels and eroge, Kazuma accidentally kisses Ui when he trips over his feet.
Kazuma's embarrassments don't finish there. He's kicked in the face by Ui's angry friend Ibuki, who naturally flashes her panties in the process. He's seen naked in the bath by the inn's assistant and the innkeeper herself. At least the next day of school is decent, but of course the small town of Yamabiko has only one school, and all the new friends (tsundere and not) share it.
So what's new? Bridge to the Starry Skies (Hoshizora e Kakaru Hashi) is Yosuga no Sora without the creepy incest angle, although seeing Ayumu in the opening sequence making cute smiling faces towards the camera with the other female characters doesn't help. There's no real plot to the first episode, except to establish Kazuma as the main character and his friend Daigo as the token "perverted friend". Other than that, there's nothing but sightseeing, and if you can't sit through a slide show and pictures from vacations to the Grand Canyon, you're not going to be able to sit through this.
Yes, we have the entire Crayola box for this series. The animation is depressingly simple with hues that were never thought to exist being used to color in the lines, and it's a wonder that the characters' glasslike eyes don't break in the process. There's some good background shots that likely came from research, but is the animation here to sell the show or the towns that no one goes to anymore?
1. Normal high-school male.
2. Central female with a black hole for a stomach.
3. Childhood friend of normal high-school male with a fear of men.
4. Tsundere friend of the central female.
5. Assorted other females.
6. Incredibly jealous and perverted male friend.
Well, if you had all those on your Bingo card, come up to the front and claim your prize. There's nothing new about the cast here, and I shouldn't be wasting your time explaining why.
For the first time this season, I've come across a soundtrack I would try to pawn off in an instant. The opening theme "Hoshikaze Horoscope" waffles between keys and melts from syrupy warbled lyrics, and the ending song "Dash do Cinderella" is unexcited karaoke. The acting itself from the voice actors is quite uninspiring, and the selection of voices is confounding.
The only hype from this show might be from its sales as a visual novel and the reputation of its animation studio, Dogakobo. Their main body of work is comprised of visual novel adaptions (11eyes, Koihime Musô, Myself; Yourself), so having them work on Hoshizora makes too much sense. This is also Takenori Mihara's first attempt at directing, so the staff looks a bit lacking in experience.
I wish I knew why Japan keeps going for the sort of animated show Hoshizora would qualify as, but perhaps there's a chance it's due more to the idea of reminiscence than sheer moe appeal. It's unofficially categorized as being a "soothing" game (iyashi-kei) where the main character is transferred to the countryside, so it's possible that the creators were looking to send otaku back to their hometowns. that doesn't belittle the point that the show has no direction and no objective in mind. It's just a harem show that glorifies the towns people have left.
If you miss your home enough to watch Bridge to the Starry Skies, here's an idea—turn off the TV, put down the remote, and give your mother a call.
(Bridge to the Starry Skies is simulcast on Crunchyroll every Thursday at 1:30 PM EDT.)