Title: Mashiro-Iro Symphony: The Color of Lovers
Genre: Drama, Romance
Summary: The traditional girls-only Yuihime Private Academy is considering the possibility of starting to accept both genders and has thus made an agreement with a neighboring school to receive some of its students as an experiment to see the reaction to this adaptation. Shingo Iryu is one of the many students transferred for a ten month experimental phase at Yuihime Academy. He, his sister, and his fellow relocated colleagues are impressed by the sophisticated campus, but even more by the resistance of many students who don’t want the boys over there.
Review: I’m starting with this review because I feel that all the hate and anger I have built up inside me over the weeks of its airing needs to be released soon before I start flipping tables. Yet another romance that has brought me to the verge of giving up on romances. You see, in most romance the key element is to have the audience like the different characters. I don’t mean just the final two who get together, but everyone. There have been romance out there in which I didn’t like the main girl the most but still enjoyed watching them. For Mashiro-Iro Symphony there were characters that I liked quite a bit, and others that weren’t so hot. Although their personalities were in order (for the most part) the interactions between them I found flawed and overwhelmingly cliché. The entire anime I would consider to be one giant cliché after another, leading up to an inevitable punch in the stomach when the final romance unfolds. I feel that my rage is directed towards the predictability of it all. It didn’t help that everyone was constantly blushing every second of the series. God forbid there isn’t an awkward, sexual-tense situation. Let’s get this review started before I lose interest.
The art style for Mashiro-Iro Symphony is definitely the strongest point. I found it to be consistent in quality with a lot of strong, bold colors. It wasn’t breathtaking or new though. The character designs were strong, giving each one their own distinct look. Of course the series never took us farther than the school grounds so it is expected the only costumes worn were the school uniform. There were a couple episodes in which you see bits of change, but those outfits were kept simple. The backgrounds weren’t bad, just repetitive. There were three key places the anime always seemed to go to: the classroom, the club room, and a park. More specifically the swings at the park. The series was based off a dating sim so it isn’t too surprising that it took place in the same key point, but with an anime adaptation they could have done a lot more with it. Keep the characters, keep the general stories, but bump up the animation a bit. No one wants to see the same thing over and over again. Which brings us to why the story was so poorly done.
The story for Mashiro-Iro Symphony is far from perfect. There were a couple good points that made me a little happy. However, they were bogged down the absurd amount of filth to be considered diamonds in the rough. The series starts off decently by introducing males into an all female school (of course). Probably the one thing that changed was that it was a mixed school merger into an all girl’s school. So shockingly enough not all the guys were drooling and steaming over seeing a girl for once in their life. Actually they acted quite normal, realizing that going to an all girls school isn’t that big of a deal. With this little detail the series pulled me in with a false sense of security. Now comes the introduction of the characters. Pretty simple to see how the character will act for the rest of the series. The damsel in distress, the tsundere, and the why-not maid were all present. For the most part the characters weren’t too bad, with the exception of one. I digress though, because that all comes down to personal taste. I can’t help it that I don’t like a girl who always needs a helping hand and can’t seem to do a damn thing for herself; one that seems independent because she refuses to ask for help because she “Doesn’t want to trouble anyone”. Of course because everyone is that angelic. I mean stupid. Yeah, stupid. *cough* Sorry I seemed to have gotten a bit off track. Roughly half way through the series it was obvious who Shingo will end up with. I begged and prayed that the series was going to turn around, a secret twist ending that would make everything better. Alas, my prayers ended up unanswered as I watched the train wreck of a relationship unfold. Shingo wasn’t a bad main character. The typical nice guy who everyone seems to fall for. He didn’t stand out, nothing special or unique about him. Apparently if I have learned anything from romances like these I should just go around doing menial chores for girls because that will ultimately end in me being a player. The one thing that made me proud was he took initiative when it came to the romance. He didn’t sit idly by waiting for one of the girls to come up to him and confess. It was refreshing to see a guy disregarding the harem he formed over the months and finally picked one. However, my joy soon turned to embarrassment as the confession was far from spectacular. The next key point in a romance is the final confession. A powerful moment in the series’ career that can make or break it. The passion, the love swimming in the air as two people come together in a magical bond. Or in this case, a seemingly random left field confession during a rather sad moment in the girl’s life. A melancholy time that had nothing to do with human relationships or at any hint toward liking her significant other. There was no build up, no tension. I find that a confession that has you sitting at the edge of your seat yelling “You can do it!” gets the audience more involved. As Mashiro-Iro Symphony stands it is disconnected from its audience. At no point did I feel like I was in the shoes of any of the characters. I couldn’t feel the bond or resemblance which had me twiddling my thumbs as I watched this high school romance play out. Another mistake the series made was the weight they put on the characters before/after the confession. Instead of feeling happy for the newly formed couple I just felt sorry for one of the other girls. There will always be conflict of interests in a romance anime with multiple options, but at no point should the sorrow of one overwhelm the joy of another. Isn’t it the point of a romance such as these to make you feel good in the end? The scenes of sadness were powerful. However, that made the anime push away from the romance and dive deeper into the drama. Following episodes turned into a mix of pity-party and rubbing salt in the wounds. Since the confession wasn’t during the final episode, resolutions were in order. Another part of this series that had my scratching my head in confusion. The couple were still new to the dating game. They still blushed during physical contact and had awkward moments of silence in every conversation.
In episode eleven the couple were sitting in the clubroom alone (possibly a day or two after they started going out). Of course cute moment 361 had to occur. As they sat in the chairs facing each other, the girl decides now might be a good time to hold hands. Shingo immediately snaps his hand away seemingly afraid of physical contact. Like a scared cat he slowly warms up to the idea. This all happened at the BEGINNING of episode eleven.
By the end of the episode, which I can only assume was the same day, the couple end up (or hinted toward) having full on sex.
Now I’m not a veteran in the relationship department by any means, but I find that jumping from scared-to-hold-hands-and-awkward conversations to the horizontal-monster-shuffle in a matter of a few hours is a bit of a jump.
Right now I’m hoping that the series releases a series of OVA that take you down an alternate path. Thankfully enough though, through the drama came a shining character – Airi Sena. She is well deserving of our December 2011’s Character of the Month for her show of commitment and support. Quite possibly the most normal character of the whole series that developed very nicely. I suppose something good came out of this tragic series.
The soundtrack for the series was nothing special either. It had some good moments where background music began playing. They did a tasteful job of adding music at the right times, but overall it was nothing I will bother checking out for a second listen. After the opening and end this one is an average at best soundtrack.
Final statements: As a romance this anime failed to pan out for me. It isn’t about who he ends up with, it’s how. With only twelve episodes, some of which focused on the non-lead females I couldn’t get attached enough to care about any of them. My complete dislike for the final girl didn’t help admittedly. Due to my complete lack of caring for the characters and the anime’s genre I give this anime an avoid watch. Time could be better spent with other series of the same (or different) genre.
(╯°□°）╯︵ ┻━┻ Oops, guess ranting didn’t help.