Airing a full month earlier than the rest of the spring shows, Hiiro no Kakera is an anime adaptation of a popular female romance game by the same name. For anyone unfamiliar with reverse harems, the set up is pretty similar to regular harem shows, only with several hunks surrounding one girl. There are the standard archetypes for the gallery, including the male versions of the kuudere, genki, and silent moe Our protagonist also fits the bill for most reverse harems, being as weak-willed and bland in personality as possible. This assumedly makes it easier for the viewer to insert her/himself into the story. While that may have worked in the video game, the game to anime transition feels as if it has lost whatever it was that made it so popular in the first place.
Some of my favorite reverse harems include La Cordo d’Oro, Fushigi Yuugi, Yumeiro Patissiere, and Ouran High School Host Club. While they did mostly adhere to the standards of the genre, there was something unique about each plot that helped me overlook the weaknesses, be that a blah protagonist or a less than original setting. When I first read the premise for Hiiro no Kakera, I thought it might be the same. It includes a pleasant setting that is both secluded and colored with fall, centers on Japanese mythology, and features some of my preferred male archetypes. However, there is a distinct lack of feeling for the whole.
The characters for Kasuga’s bodyguard unit are introduced so quickly, and with such little grace, that I felt no immediate draw to any single one of them. I actually felt a little repulsed with the first three due to their reactions to Kasuga and her reluctance to shoulder the burden as Tamayorihime. That might have been alleviated a bit with careful art and animation, however the ball is dropped there as well. Their movements, Mahiro’s in particular, are awkwardly animated and have an uncanny resemblance to marionette puppets. I could almost see the strings as he flipped from the rooftop.
Another major blank was the absence of music. For an anime with such pretty backdrops and the voice work of Hanasaku Iroha‘s Shijima Sui, there is a noticeable scarcity of mood music. The most minimal of background nature sounds come out each time Kasuga is outside, but the only times I noticed music were when she came into contact with the supernatural. I wonder if that is intentional. If so, then I hope she stumbles into ayakashi and youkai more often. And if you’re about to point out, “Uhh, but Marina, there’s music each time she meets another member of her harem,” then remember that Oomi clearly defines the Shogogo clan as non-human. As this early episode did not include opening or ending sequences, maybe more music will come along with those themes.
The most interesting aspects so far are the explanation for gods and ghosts and the role the Tamayorihime has to play. For this alone, I’ll stick it out for a few more episodes. Hopefully by then, there will also be a more uniform presentation of plot, character, and atmosphere.
Note: If you liked Hakuouki, then you’ll probably enjoy this anime, as the original creator, animation studio, and original character design are all the same as in HnK.