I'm not entirely sure what to think.
(This is my collection of thoughts after watching the first three episodes of the anime.)
My feelings of the series are entirely polarizing, even internally. It's hard to remember the last time I've felt this simultaneously positive and negative about an anime. Let me get my biggest problem out of the way first:
It deals with serious issues the same way it does jokes about how old teachers are.
In the episode I just watched, the show dealt with rape and androphobia, and it wasn't believable in the least. The character who was almost raped was just far too positive
overall. She angsts for a little bit, but she gets help from another person, and she's suddenly all better, at least from what I can see. It was far too positive - there was none of the complexity or nuance that the issue should've been handled with, making it seem like a slap in the face to anybody who's been a victim of attempted rape.
That said, once you get passed that, the show is actually really, really good.
The characters are the best part. They sort of remind me of something from Animorphs
- they're based off one central idea, but they're fleshed out beyond that and handled with depth. These are real, genuine teenagers here. I especially enjoyed the show's handling of sex through these characters, despite my complaints about the rape above. I liked that it wasn't afraid to face the fact that, yes, teenagers think about sex the way that most of us think about food: necessary, beautiful, and only allowed in small amounts without disapproval from others.
I also liked the magical realism on display, the way that the supernatural plot backed off when there were personal issues to be faced. The combination of the supernatural and the realistic has been a problem in the likes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer
and Den Of Shadows
, but here, it's off seamlessly.
That being said, the core concept made everything a bit confusing. It took me a really
long time to get a handle on who was who; due to the constant switching, you couldn't always rely on someone's body to get an impression of who they were. This meant that I often struggled to figure out who was who, making the experience distancing and confusing.
In conclusion, this is a great anime... that really needs to handle rape better.