Don't you just hate spoilers? I do, too. That's why I always try to include warnings. However, I sometimes ramble a bit too much here or there and maybe a few (or many) key plot points slip without me giving proper notice. So I'd like to include a blanket spoiler warning for the weary internet travelers of the world: Here There Be Spoilers. You've been warned.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

H20: Footprints in the Sand

Cutesy wide-eyed anime gets old after a while, but in small doses it doesn't hurt. I am currently watching a bleak as hell and riveting anime called Attack on Titan and since I have to wait each week to see a new episode, I have basically been killing time on Netflix, Crunchyroll, and FUNimation just trying wait it out between installments. I tried watching an episode of a Tenchi Muyo! spin-off called Sasami: Magical Girls Club, but I couldn't make it beyond the first episode. If there is one thing that I can't stand more than the overuse of Super Deformed (which also goes hand in hand with the cutesy wide-eyed style more often than not), it's the overindulgence of Magical Girl genre. Sasami: Magical Girls Club is guilty of both. I just couldn't stick with it. Not saying it's bad, but it isn't for me. Plus it was only available for streaming in English so that was also an extra buzzkill.

I was browsing on Crunchyroll when I came across H20: Footprints in the Sand (named for a poem and the three main characters of the show) and while one of the still pictures used to describe the show didn't look all that spectacular (cutesy-eyed effect on me in action), the initial premise description did seem intriguing or at least different than the usual fanservice-filled harem anime. Basically, I thought it would be about a blind kid who moves into a village and forms a harem with some of the girls he meets there. And, hey, that's not a bad way to kill some hours, is it? 

I got something a little bit different, though. There is some fanservice and there are some harem-like moments, but this show is something else. This show, despite its animation style, is a tough show to watch at times. One thing I can't stand is bullying and child abuse. Can't. Fucking. Stand. It. When I read descriptions of abuse in books or see it on TV, I try really hard to remind myself that what I'm seeing or reading is fiction and therefore not real. I know getting pissed at a fictional character and wanting to beat the dogshit out of said fictional character is kind of silly, but this kind of thing really makes my blood boil. 

The central story follows Hirose Takuma as he comes to a small town to live with his uncle. After his mother died in an accident in his childhood, Hirose became blind and has since remained so. In the first episode Takuma is introduced to everyone in class at his new school. Where he is seated places him between Kohinata Hayami and Kagura Hinata. This is actually very important information to know because Hayami is the village pariah and she is forced to live on the outskirts of town even though the residents of this town would prefer that she didn't live in town at all. They claim she is a demon because of who her family was and they shun her for it. In more than a few instances they beat her for it. Indeed, all of her classmates make fun of her by calling her a cockroach and a few beat her quite badly as the teacher stands idly by, pretending not to notice anything. Hayami doesn't fight back. She takes it all in as if she has just accepted this treatment as part of her natural life.

Takuma sees (in a figurative sense, of course) this going on and feels obligated to help Hayami out because he doesn't get just why the people of this village hate her so much.

Hinata, on the other hand, is the granddaughter of the most powerful man in the village and she doesn't want Takuma to have anything to do with Hayami. It's up to her to teach him the ways of the village. 

Enter Otoha. Otoha is a supernatural being and at the very end of the first episode she gives Takuma his sight back and calls him "Promised One." As the "Promised One," Takuma must essentially use his new sight to free Hayami and heal the bond between her and the village. But this won't be easy at all. 

It is kind of bizarre that no one notices that Takuma can see the very next day, but these things will be explained later. While it can be coughed up to deus ex machina it wouldn't be quite so accurate to do so. So just give it time.

When Takuma's sight returned in the first episode I was kind of bummed, but I was still intrigued enough to keep going. I really wanted to know why the village acted like a bunch of pricks around Hayami. 

Okay, there is your basic story outline. Since there are only 12 episodes I really don't want to spill too much. I certainly could. This show made me think quite a bit. I really wasn't expecting this show to have quite the psychological edge it had and the final episode literally took my breath away. I didn't cry, but I almost did. Yeah, there go a few more of my man points off my man card. I thought about the last episode while I was at work that night, trying to come to terms with everything and work out my interpretation of what I had seen.

Because this show ends in a way that leaves a few questions. I think everything gets resolved perfectly. This show has the perfect ending for it and I wouldn't change a thing. I applaud the folks who made it. However, it is the way the show gets resolved rather than the resolution itself that made and still makes me wonder. Essentially, it's the meaning of the resolution that is worth reflection. 

And that poem... I didn't realize that Footprints in the Sand was a poem. In the context of this show it work perfectly. The first half is told in the first episode and final half is told in the last episode and by the time you hear those final verses in the last episode... it'll be like niagra falls if you are watching this with your girlfriend or wife. Might come from you, too. It almost got me to reach for my hanky, okay? And I'm a deviant little antichrist. 

I can honestly say that I really enjoyed this show. Sure, Takuma's voice actor could have tried to make him sound less like a total wuss, but that really is a small complaint. There is an episode that is a trippy parody of the Magical Girl genre as well as an almost pointless beach episode where all the girls wear bikinis (both of these things I would call "almost complaints"), but the rest of this show is fairly serious and not so overdone with fanservice after the first few episodes.

Quite a few of the characters, while initially very unsympathetic, become very much worth caring about. Even the crossdresser. 

Yep, there's a crossdresser in this show. 

This show is currently only available in Japanese with English subtitles and since this show came out in 2008, I highly doubt there will be a sequel or a dub in the near future. 

But I could go for a sequel if there is ever one. 

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