Welcome to Kazamatsuri, a city in Japan that has devoted itself to trying to promote a greener Earth. The city is surrounded in forests, is home to companies devoted to afforestation, and holds a massive annual festival devoted to nature.
It is in this city that our story begins with protagonist Kotarou Tennouji awakening from a strange nightmare. In his nightmare, he is running through a ruined version of Kazamatsuri and when he enters the forest on its borders, he encounters a strange girl with ribbons, who promptly kills him. After he awakens, he starts seeing this girl for brief moments, and one day he wakes up with bitemarks on his arm. In his pursuit of some explanation, he’s drawn to the Occult Research Club at school.
The Occult Research Club is the center of Rewrite’s story. Fortunately, it provides a grounding influence that is important as the show seems extremely confused as to what it wants to be. It switches gears suddenly and dramatically, with very little explanation. This often left me feeling kind of unsure what I was watching, especially at the end where it just goes full crazy. The season’s ending is so absurd that we were prompted to do some research into the show’s background to make sense of it.
That’s not to say it was all bad. During the first 9 episodes or so, even though the show’s had some rather sharp turns, I found myself truly enjoying the ride. The characters were very interesting, the overall plot was clever and had me guessing where it was going. Even when the twists happened, things were still interesting… and the show’s events did a great job of drawing emotions out. There were a few parts in the middle where I was on the verge of tears. It was just at the ending that everything went downhill. What should have been an emotional rollercoaster ended up feeling really hollow due to a variety of pacing and plot clarity issues.
Rewrite pretty strongly resembles a slice of life show with an interesting and somewhat mysterious premise at the start, as there is very little action. However, after the first major tone shift, we end up with some pretty fun action sequences. As things start to pick up, this becomes more and more the norm. The art really helps to sell the show’s faster side, with relatively interesting creatures ranging from standard fantasy staples to some crazy designs like a tiny, puffy mammoth that can change colours.
The art is very stylized and incredibly pretty. I loved the scenery in and around Kazamatsuri. In fact, even the strange wrecked city that our protagonist finds himself running through during the nightmare at the beginning creates a gorgeous backdrop. And as pretty as the show’s visuals are, they’re far outshone by the music design. This show is a pleasure to listen to overall, and it’s first opening scene is one of the best opening sequences I’ve ever seen. It has a great song, the pacing matches the song well, and it does a great job of encapsulating certain parts of the show.
When a visual novel makes the jump into anime, sometimes things get lost in translation. Rewrite is a clear victim of this, as a lot of the show’s concepts are completely unintelligible without the context of the core story as found in the novel. While I did really enjoy the show, I would recommend waiting until the second season airs this winter as hopefully that will provide greater clarity into the concepts that it was unable to impart initially. If you don’t, I can’t be held responsible for the cries of ‘WTF is this?’ that you’ll direct at the season’s ending.