I got trolled, in a good way. After reading the synopsis for this series, I half expected it to be somewhere along the lines of Another with mystery as the main genre going for it. I was deceived!
The opening minutes of the show looked pretty normal, which falls into what I had expected out of it. Introducing to us first main character Okonogi Momoe (Fukuen Misato), she comes across as the ditzy type of character especially when she fails to notice that a certain poltergeist is in the room when it is dead obvious once a key-chain starts swinging around in the air with no support.
Next to enter is the male lead (hopefully not harem) Niiya Teiichi (Yonaga Tsubasa) who is supposedly able to see the ghost in the
shell room since he is able to converse to an unseen being, though Okonogi fails to realize it once again. Last to enter the room is Kanoe Kirie (Kitamura Eri, I hear ya!), who seems to be able to to see the existence of the “another” “extra person” in the room given her annoyance.
At this point the show feels quite normal, except for that one or two comical facial expressions. The premise is about group of students in a paranormal investigation club investigating paranormal incidents, seems legit.
However this is where the fun begins. My emotion meter went from: “This is normal” to “Wow this is so sick” after watching this particular segment. Basically the story is retold in very much a deja vu like manner, only this time round we are able to see the Dusk Maiden herself Kanoe Yuuko (Hara Yumi) who now has a proper voice and personality. Ordinarily it would be boring to sit through the same 7 minutes or so again but her interactions with the rest of the club members were very amusing to watch, especially since Okonogi still has no idea what is going on.
The way the story is told from another point of view reminds me of Higurashi with the question and answer arc, in this case the same 7 minutes was told with Yuuko added into the picture and that to me made all the difference in the world. It is a strange feeling, but I guess I have a soft spot for the “before and after” way of storytelling. Re-watching the same scenes from another perspective makes it so fascinating even though it is essentially the same thing.
Just think of it this way, if this episode skipped the first part and just showed us directly with Yuuko visible would it be as entertaining to watch? Since Yuuko herself is such a tease and a quirky character, I wouldn’t say that the entertainment factor will decrease too much but that’s not my point. My point is: story retelling + Yuuko = win!
The next scene follows after Niiya gets kicked into the elevator, the way the sequence of events unfolded here also won approval from me. Like how a real elevator works when going up, the visuals alternate between pitch black and stuff like this. The dialogue here helped immensely in setting up the mood as well. Similar to adding icing on top of the cake, there is a couple of fan-service elements which didn’t feel too forced. I don’t harp on this enough but when fan-service is shown in a way where it doesn’t shove it down the throats of viewers it causes a positive reaction like “woah, that’s a surprise” instead of a “damn, not again” reaction. To some it may feel a little out-of-place in a series such as this but to me I felt it was a nice little addition.
When any series is able to mix in seriousness and comical moments together (Zombie and Rinne no Lagrange comes to mind), it also gains points in my book. While I wasn’t breaking out in laughter, it was masterfully done. It is not easy to blend contrasting genres together without having it feel awkward, but so far a good job done right there.
Since Yuuko has amnesia and therefore she has no memory of what happened to her or why she is a ghost whom only Niiya and Kirie can see, this sets up a plot device, albeit a common one but given how much this pilot episode has impressed me, I’ll overlook that. Could the bell symbolize something as well?
All in all this series has gotten off to a good start for me, I was pleasantly surprised even though I already had moderate expectations for this show just based on the premise. Even now I am tempted to read through the manga and when I get that sort of urge (accel world worth a mention but not quite there yet), it goes to show how much I really like a series such that I don’t mind spoiler-ing myself right now. I’ll restrain myself this time though, hopefully the subsequent episodes will maintain the aspects that made this episode a treat to watch.
Animation wise it is done by the studio Silver Link, whom seems to have discarded the art style seen in Baka Test and C3, which I am thankful for. While the latter isn’t that all bad, I don’t think that sort of designs will suit Tasogare Otome. Music wise I am already digging the OP (seen as ED) sang by 15-year old Suzuki Konomi. Damn, kids these days sure can sing well. Me jelly.