I'm dumbstruck by all the raving reviews for this anime; I mean really people, did we all see the same show? I am so utterly confused as to why people consider a sub par anime like this and Elfen Lied: Diclonius Report Complete Collection to be great tragic animes which I've been told are guaranteed to make anyone with half a heart cry. I laugh in your faces. Siakano is nowhere near that good, and although it has its moments, overall it fails almost entirely to deliver on its promise to make me cry. Anyone with a halfway decent sized brain can penetrate the emotional fluff on the serface and see that this emperor isn't wearing any cloths at all, and is instead quite literally walking around naked everywhere. Almost everything is overdone and seems forced, from the plot, to the characters, to the bizarre ending which takes a page from Neon Genesis Evangelion: Platinum Collection play book with horrendous results.
Chise and Shuji are high school classmates in a small beach town somewhere in southern Japan. When the series starts they have just begun going out, but Shuji doesn't seem to care about the relationship while Chise becomes severely attached to him. Meanwhile Japan, for reasons unknown, is caught in the middle of a war with the United States and its allies (one can only assume it's the US, they never say but the "enemy" uses American style weapons) and is, obviously, losing ground. To counter the invasion of the American forces the Japanese military creates its "ultimate weapon." What is this ultimate weapon? Well it's Chise, the clumsy, small for her age high school girl from some random small town in southern Japan. Sound strange? Well don't expect an explanation about how and why she was chosen; those details apparently aren't of any importance to the story. This lack of an explanation is more then a little annoying though when the war takes center stage and grows in importance. By the end of the series nothing is left untouched by this devastating war, and yet we STILL don't know who the enemy is and why they are fighting. Was the war provoked by Japan or not? I want to know who to root for in the battles but how can I do that when I know nothing about the war?
Don't make the mistake, however, of thinking Saikano is an action series, it most certainly is not. Although the war plays a pivotal role the series it focuses on our high school sweethearts Chise and Shuji. One day while walking down the streets of a major city a squadron of planes comes out of nowhere and starts dropping bombs on the unsuspecting people below. Shuji and his friends are caught in the crossfire until a streak of light shoots across the sky and destroys the planes. Chise. From that point on most of the story is about Shuji and Chise crying nonstop about how she's a super weapon and doesn't' want to be. It was sad during the first volume, but as the show progressed and the same scene kept repeating itself over and over and over again it got REALLY old REALLY fast. Chise would say she has to kill because she's a weapon, Shuji would call her a dummy, lights or bombs or something would come out of her back, she'd say she doesn't want to be a weapon, and then they hug, or sometimes he'd rip of her shirt. What a guy.
There is also a comical absurdity to the whole love story. Shuji loves Chise but also loves his former teacher, whose name eludes me right now. Chise loves Shuji but loves a soldier named Tetsu on the side, who just happens to be married to the teacher that Shuji is banging back at home. Meanwhile Shuji's best friend, Akima, the one who introduced Chise and Shuji in the first place, is secretly in love with him, while Shuji's other best friend is in love with Akima, all the while Shuji is hopelessly oblivious to everything going on. Ha, how more soap operaish can you possibly get? Warning, warning, cheesy romantic overload, does not compute, brain ejecting from head.
Spoilers ahead. But that's not even the worst of it. There is one instance when Tetsu is lying on the ground all shot up, his guts lying on the ground like hamburger meat, and Chise comforts him by, get this, putting his hand on her breasts. Yeah, almost dead Tetsu then climbs on top of her, no joke, spits up blood all over her face while calling his wife's name and then dies. I guess the healing powers of female cleavage doesn't always work (oh God I hope Amazon lets this review go up). Oh, but it gets even better my friend. Another scene stars Akima lying on her death bead after an earthquake destroys their town, finally telling Shuji that she loves him. Sounds sweet and heartbreaking, right? Well it would have been, had she not started talking about how much she'd always wanted to sleep with him. But it gets BETTER. Shuji, being the sensitive ready to please guy he is, then RIPS OFF HER SHIRT and straddles her. She's dieing, and he's ripping off her cloths. Man, I love this guy (that was sarcasm people). As you can see Shuji isn't the most likable guy in the world. He's totally oblivious, indecisive, somewhat of a pervert, and hits girls. Now the first three vices I can somewhat forgive (come on, all guys are perverts to a certain degree) but any guy who hits girls deserves to die. You hear that Shuji? I'm coming for you!
So now I have to say something good, and despite all the fun I've been havening at this shows expense there is some good to report. It's not ALL bad, there are some genuine moments of tragedy that tugged at my heart strings quite a bit, as well as some characters who it seems to me should have been the main characters to begin with. Lets start with Akima, Shuji's best friend. She seems to me to be the only strong character in a show plagued by weak, indecisive wimps. She's a jock for one thing, a track star to be exact, but her personality is so charming and overbearing at the same time that I found myself loving her character every time she walked on screen. Along with her, the boy that falls in love with her, Shujis friend (no, I don't remember his name) is also a pretty good character who brings the war to life in a pretty real way midway through the series.
The music ranges form magnificent to annoying. The opening song is sub par while the closer is a beautiful melody which is perfect in every way; but the background music is what I had issue with for the most part. Too many electric guitars when it should have been a violin, way too many hard strings when there should have been soft strings, stuff of that nature. Animation was also somewhat less then note worthy. Nothing flashy or really great, just average overall.
So, if you want some REALLY depressing anime watch Kino's Journey, Now and Then, Here and There, or EVA, and give this one a pass. It isn't that great, not in the least bit, and you'll never get that time back.