Asatte no Houko Review – B+

Summary: Karada lives alone with her brother Hiro after her parents die, and wishes that she were an adult so that she could help her brother more. Shouko, Hiro’s girlfriend from when he lived abroad in America, comes to their town and meets Hiro again, who abandoned her to take care of Karada. By the power of an ancient shrine, Karada and Shouko’s wishes are granted as they switch ages. They are forced to deal with the consequences and learn to accept themselves as they search for a way to return to their original form.

Discussion: I had been hearing good things about a Asatte no Houko for a while, but had kept putting it off because of its premise. Swapping ages does not exactly sound promising, particularly when my mind somehow associates it with the gender-swap genre. Asatte no Houko’s premise is ridiculous but the execution is excellent and more than makes up for it.

First of all, the characters are fantastic, particularly for Shouko and Karada, the female leads.  The viewer is able to see why Shouko and Karada do the things they do, which differ drastically between the two  – there are no big surprises here since the viewer is really able to understand the characters. This enables the drama to come through and turns this show into quite the tearjerker. The pacing was excellent as well. I’ll often find myself losing interest in dramas like this and end up fast-forwarding, but I felt no urge to do so here.

 

The way the creators used the premise of swapping ages was masterfully done in spite of how ridiculous it seems. As one would expect, there were plenty of jokes about the age swap- Shouko trying to smoke cigarettes and picking fights with adults and teenagers who treat her like a kid, and Karada trying to get a job. But despite the humor surrounding the situation, the creators are able to turn it into a serious, heartwarming drama as well. I should also mention that little girl Shouko is extremely cute.

Overall, Asatte no Houko was excellent, but there was one thing which annoyed me a lot- Hiro, Shouko’s ex-girlfriend and Karada’s brother. Most of the cast was very well-developed— except for him, and he is central to the entire plot. For most of the show he didn’t even have eyes which was extremely creepy. They had me convinced he was going to end up raping someone (spoiler: he doesn’t). I assume the creators were going for the “now he’s transformed and his eyes are open” angle, but I wish they could have found a more subtle way to do so. He also has about the initiative of a doorknob, although he does improve somewhat by the end of the show.

My only other complaint is that there were too many deus ex machina in the plot. People conveniently running into each other is one thing, but Karada just happening to run away from home to the bed and breakfast her friends would be staying at was just too much. Still, a relatively minor problem which is easily overlooked as part of the whole.

  • Plot / Script –  9 / 10 – Excellent pacing, dialogue and humor.
  • Characters – 9 / 10 – Great development of the cast excluding Hiro.
  • Production –  9 / 10 – The artwork is good but not too special, and fits well with the story. But the background piano music is exceptional.
  • Overall – B+

Recommendations – Kashimashi (good), Myself; Yourself, H20 (these two aren’t really that good, but have a similar feel)

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