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Anime / Uta∽Kata

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Ichika Tachibana is an ordinary 14 year old girl with two older friends who gifted her a yin-yang charm that she keeps on her mobile phone. Then one summer evening she finds her mobile phone is somehow on the other side of a mysterious mirror at school. Peering into the mirror, she sees another girl looking back at her, who promptly picks up the phone and emerges from the glass. This girl, Manatsu, claims to be a part of her, and Ichika's parents are strangely open to having her stay in the house. Manatsu promises to take care of Ichika for the summer holiday, but asks that she do her "homework" for her.

This means using the yin-yang charm to summon Djinn, elemental spirits whose powers can be used by Ichika for various ends. From now on she will summon a different Djinn each episode, accompanied by a Transformation Sequence that, unusually for the genre, puts her in a different costume each time. This thrills her at first, but the more she uses this power the more she finds that it comes with a heavy cost, and she starts seeing herself and the world in an increasingly negative light. Ichika also remembers some foreboding dreams about Manatsu that she had long ago, but she can't recall how they ended. Meanwhile a mysterious woman called Saya watches over her.

Uta~Kata ("Poem Fragment") starts out as an ordinary Magical Girl show, but gradually shifts to a darker tone. The 12 episode anime, broadcast in 2004, was given an OVA episode in the DVD release that brings some more closure than the finale did. The character designs and animation style are hallmarks of gímik, a creative threesome consisting of director Keiji Gotoh, character designer Megumi Kadonosono, and screenwriter Hidefumi Kimura, who are perhaps better known for their work on Kiddy Grade and Kiddy GiRL-AND. In August 2010, six years after its original Japanese broadcast, Section 23 Films announced a North American release of the series.


Provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Satsuki's step-father.
  • Adaptation Distillation: The manga. It condenses twelve episodes into seven chapters by cutting out a lot of the slice-of-life and several transformations, to focus on the plot-relevant parts.
  • An Aesop: People and the world around them can change day by day, and trying to judge the world or a person as irredeemable and corrupt even as they continue to grow is an incredibly myopic and flawed thing to do.
  • Attempted Rape: Ryou tries to force himself on Ichika, but his ex, Maki, stops him.
  • Beach Episode: Two of 'em, plus an additional swimming pool episode.
  • Became Their Own Antithesis: Happens to Ichika as the series goes on.
  • Between My Legs: Manatsu's legs frame Ichika during her fourth and seventh transformation. Also in episode two, again of Manatsu, when she confronts Ichika.
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  • Bishounen: Practically every male character on the show. But mostly Sei and Kai.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The series culminates in the heroine having to choose between killing herself or killing the entire rest of humanity. She chooses to Take a Third Option, but that has a catch of its own: Manatsu ends up reverting into the form of an inanimate mirror. And Saya has her eyes on another child to test in the future at the behest of her unseen boss, meaning they'll keep pushing kids through the Despair Event Horizon until they finally get an answer they like.
  • Bookends: The TV series starts and ends in autumn with Ichika remembering Manatsu.
  • Break the Cutie: Happens to Ichika over the course of the series, but many of the supporting characters qualify.
  • But Now I Must Go: Manatsu and Kai, in the OVA, see their counterparts again but at the end must return to the mirror.
  • Cherry Blossoms: In the last scene of the OVA.
  • Christmas Episode: The OVA, which skips ahead. Ichika was born on Christmas day, so the day has special meaning to her.
  • Class Trip
  • Clingy MacGuffin: Ichika finds that she cannot throw away the yin-yang charm, it will return to her.
  • Coming-of-Age Story: Ichika losing her powers symbolises outgrowing her childhood.
  • Crucified Hero Shot: Sei is shown nailed to the magic mirror in a flashback as he tries to get out of the forced choice, and Ichika suffers the same in the finale.
  • Curtains Match the Window: Michiru, making her stand out next to everyone else.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Satsuki was raped by her stepfather.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: The Djinn of Darkness, despite coming late in the series and looking rather foreboding, is one of Ichika's more pleasant transformations.
  • Distant Epilogue: The OVA. Now it's Christmas time, Manatsu and Kai return for a brief farewell.
  • Dramatic High Perching: Saya watches Ichika for most of the show, standing on rooftops or poles.
  • Dream Walker: Manatsu appeared in Ichika's dreams before they met. Even Ichika's parents had these, before she was born.
  • Elemental Powers: Many of the Djinn represent natural domains like the sun, wind and water, and their powers are based on their element.
  • Emotionless Girl: Michiru, somewhat. Though not actually emotionless, she does fulfill most of the trope requirements.
  • Everyone Has Standards: To some extent. Saya doesn't help Manatsu dispel the tsunami in the eleventh episode, but she's still visibly uncomfortable when hearing Manatsu's agonized screaming.
  • Evolving Credits: The end credits for each episode feature the costume Ichika wore in that episode, along with the name of the artist who designed it, and shows the yin-yang charm with its gems gradually lighting up.
  • "Fawlty Towers" Plot: This drives the storyline, but it's played for drama as Ichika begins to hate herself for lying so much.
  • Festival Episode
  • Foreshadowing: There's a very short shot in the opening of Ichika in front of a mass grave, looking very out of place with the rest.
  • Furo Scene: A few, but never blatantly fanservice-y.
  • Genki Girl: Satsuki, although not in a classical over the top sense. Manatsu is rather genki too, contrasting with the very serious Ichika.
  • Girlish Pigtails: Manatsu, whose energy and playfulness contrast with the more serious and introverted Ichika.
  • Here We Go Again!: The finale ends with a French girl seeming to be the chosen next to be given the power.
  • Homoerotic Subtext: While there is some in the anime, it's subdued; the manga goes much further, with Manatsu and Ichika kissing, hugging and groping each other, often in a state of undress. On top of that Michiru obviously has a thing for Ichika. Keiko and Satsuki get their moments as well, which even survives them quarreling over the same guy.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Ichika and Manatsu are impaled on opposite ends of Saya's life draining scythe.
  • Impossibly Cool Clothes: Ichika's twelve magical costumes, one for each episode. Each was designed by a different artist, known for their work on other manga, anime or figurines.
  • Invisible to Normals:
    • The Djinn, also Manatsu at first.
    • Saya can also make herself invisible, although Michiru's little sister Rui (and Michiru herself) can still see her.
  • I See Dead People: Michiru can sense spirits. When her friends joke that this is why she doesn't go near the sea, she doesn't disabuse them.
  • Interrupted Suicide: Ichika tries to kill herself in episode 10 but is stopped by Manatsu.
  • Kimodameshi: In episode 4. Manatsu shows herself to be easily scared, which reassures Ichika that she isn't a ghost at least.
  • Kissing Discretion Shot: The kiss between Sei and Kai is cut away from at the last moment, showing us instead an aerial view of the scene.
  • Last Kiss: Both Ichika/Manatsu and Sei/Kai, in the OVA, before they return to their world for good.
  • Lethal Harmless Powers: Ichika nearly kills someone with flower petals, as they're deathly allergic to them.
  • Lighter and Softer: The manga series doesn't have the darker elements leading up to the finale (the death by flowers and the attempted suicide), and the finale itself has its stakes lowered.
  • Lighthouse Point
  • Loss of Identity: Gradually happens to Ichika, by way of the Djinns' powers and perceptions of humanity.
  • Lucky Charms Title: Note that while it's commonly written (typed) as Uta~Kata, it actually uses the much more rare reverse tilde: Uta∽Kata. As for what that symbol means, God only knows.
  • Male Gaze: All the time, between panty shots, transformations, two beach episodes and focus on the girls' bodies in general.
  • Magical Girl: Ichika is given the power to summon spirits and use their power, with an accompanying costume change. Unusually, she takes on a different costume in each episode, to summon a different spirit.
  • Magic Mirror: How Manatsu comes into the world; she crosses over through a mysterious mirror.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Manatsu can be written with the kanji for "midsummer" (真夏), indicating the time in which she appeared to Ichika.
    • The kanji for "summer" also appears in Ichika's name (一夏), which literally means "one summer."
  • Memento MacGuffin: Manatsu's mirror shard and her soap bubble pipe.
  • Miko: Michiru and her younger sister Rui.
  • Misanthrope Supreme: Saya, as the Mirror Djinn, believes in the rigid idea that the world is a horrid place and enforces the test's two choices of which is more deserving of death, the world or the child being tested, for being so awful.
  • Motif: Cell phones play an important role in many of the episodes. Ichika also uses hers to carry the yin-yang charm.

  • Multiple Demographic Appeal

  • Mundane Utility: At first Ichika uses her powers for fairly mundane tasks, like finding her father's lost watch or retrieving the scattered papers of a windblown school report.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Ichika begins to repeatedly suffer this the more she finds herself using the power of the Djinns for selfish reason. Especially when it starts happening against her will.
  • Mysterious Watcher: Saya. She watches Ichika from afar for most of the series without making any moves until the end.
  • Not Blood Siblings: Sei and Kai are ambiguously romantic and they pass themselves off as twins. Kai is actually from the other side of the mirror, as Manatsu is.
  • Not Himself: Happens to Ichika over the course of the series; she begins as someone who hates lying and slacking off, but increasingly tells more and more lies as it goes on — coinciding with a loss of morality.
  • Old School Building: Setting for the first episode, in which Ichika comes across the mysterious mirror.
  • Ordinary High-School Student: Sei and Kai.
  • Painful Transformation
  • Paint It Black: Ichika's final costume is a black coloured inversion of the white one she wears in the Opening Theme.
  • Parental Abandonment: Satsuki's mother and step-father are almost always away.
  • Pinky Swear: When Manatsu asks for Ichika's help, they promise in this fashion.
  • Plot-Based Voice Cancellation: We see the dreams in which Ichika first saw Manatsu, but what was said is obscured from both the audience and Ichika.
  • Principles Zealot: Saya follows rules laid down by her higher authority and will not hesitate to harm innocents to enforce them.
  • Proper Lady: Keiko.
  • Proper Tights with a Skirt: Michiru in her school uniform.
  • Real-Place Background: Most of the show takes place in Kamakura, reproduced with care. Used to great effect in the beach scenes.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Ichika in the later episodes; her eyes glow red when the magic becomes dangerous.
The Reveal: Several, actually.
  • Scenery Porn: Kamakura's landscapes used as backgrounds. They are often more the focus of shots than the cast.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Manatsu eventually rebels against Saya's arbitrary rules and uses her own power to dispel the tsunami Ichika accidentally summoned with the Sea Djinn.
  • Secret Test of Character: Apparently, Saya is tasked by some unknown higher authority to test human children. However, the rules of these tests are that the children may not be let in on the fact that they're being tested.
  • The Seven Mysteries: The mirror is one of them. The others aren't important (or mentioned).
  • Sprouting Ears: The manga has animal ears appearing on characters at times, usually to show embarrassment.
  • Shrines and Temples: Just throwing a rock in Kamakura will likely make it land in one of those places.
  • Sinister Scythe: Saya turns her scarf into a scythe when she means business.
  • Snow Means Love: In the OVA.
  • Take a Third Option: Ichika's choice is that she won't choose, explaining that yes there are things she dislikes about herself and the world around her but that she is still changing every day just like the world and everyone in it changes day by day. Neither are deserving of destruction because Saya wants them both judged based on a single instant. Unfortunately, Saya views this as a violation of the rules and is willing to execute Ichika anyway.
  • Taken for Granite: Sei is turned to stone by Saya in episode ten to stop him interfering.
  • Title Drop: The very last line of the OVA compares the girls' lives to a "bubble", which is what <utakata> as one word means.
  • Transformation Sequence: A completely different one for each of Ichika's costumes. They gradually become less and less elaborate as the series goes on (for symbolic reasons, rather than budget). Manatsu also gets a short one which is shown a couple of times.
  • Transformation Trinket: The yin-yang charm. Unusually, it doesn't require a catchphrase to activate it.
  • Virtue/Vice Codification: Part of Ichika's test is to experience the seven virtues and corresponding vices, as the Djinn see them manifested in humanity.
  • Wild Magic: In the final episodes, Ichika stops calling upon the Djinns, but the transformations still happen.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Continued use of the Djinn's powers takes a heavy toll on Ichika's emotional and psychological health.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Michiru in the last episode gently informs Ichika that, whatever happens and whatever she's done, Ichika will always be loved by her friends. Being reminded of this and seeing messages on her cell phone are what convince Ichika not to accept Saya's Sadistic Choice, both in that she regains faith in herself and in the world.