Memories Off 3.5

November 19, 2011

If you are wondering why the third instalment of the Memories Off anime series is weirdly named this way, that’s because Memories Off 3.5 is what the game is also called. Okay, so perhaps the other reason is that the story is made up of 2 different love stories but overlapping characters. In fact, some of the characters do overlap and appear in other sequels of the game itself.  This time round, you’re not going to experience different alternate endings with the guy ending up with different girls but a straight-to-the-point drama romance. You can easily guess that the main guy and the main girl will end up together. Just that there are some little issues cropping up and how they overcome it before all’s well, ends well. We love this kind of happy romance stories, do we? At least I do. Why else keep watching the same ol’ genre year after year?

Omoide No Kanata E arc

Episode 1
Shougo Kaga dreams of his girlfriend Neo Kashima tempting him in bed. Too bad it was just a dream as she wakes him up for being late. Shougo meets up with Neo who works at Cubic Cafe along with his other friends. Hibiki Kodama is happy to see him and flirts with him but wheelchair-ridden Mifu says Shougo belongs to her sister Neo. It took long enough for that airhead to realize so she starts crying, blaming her love chameleon. Upon realizing that charm is missing, she dashes out to find it. Yeah. Shin Inaho even suggested he be her boyfriend but she’s clearly not interested. Neo has Shougo taste a yoghurt mousse which turns out to be from a rival store. Seems it has received good ratings in a magazine too. Neo is not amused that they are stealing their ideas and stealing their customers and wants to investigate. Shin proposes that he has an idea and to leave it up to him since if left to the duo, they’ll be like scouting around. As Shougo cycles his way, he nearly crashed into a yellow car. Thankfully nothing happened. He meets up with Neo and Shin and recognizes the yellow car. Turns out to be Shizuru Shirakawa and her sister Hotaru (from Memories Off 2nd). They apologize for their reckless driving and it seems they are the people Shin has ‘recruited’ to investigate. Shin, Shizuru and Hotaru go off so Shougo and Neo kill time by spending time together. Back at Cubic cafe, Hotaru tastes the puddings and though feels Cubic Cube’s is better, she still prefers her sister’s. Neo suggests to the cafe’s owner Tanaka to get a write-up in the magazine but he said though reporters came, he turned them down. He is happy with the customers he has now.

That night after the cafe is closed, Shougo cycles Neo home to catch some drama. His mind starts to wander, remembering a similar girl he once dated, Kanata Kurosu. Luckily Neo snaps him out before they crash into a construction area. Thankfully only his front rim is crooked. Neo stays at Shougo’s place for the night. Can’t say if anything passionate happened. What are the chances if you see a girl just dressed in an unbuttoned long sleeved shirt? That evening, Shin seems to be discussing with his pals to put up a surprise birthday bash for Tanaka, which is 2 days away. Suddenly Kanata comes in. Shougo is surprised by the sight of her. Now you can tell a lot by Neo’s look that she is deeply troubled. Call it a woman’s intuition. Seems everyone else knows about Kanata since she is a popular model. Shougo didn’t know because he doesn’t watch TV. Say what? Flashbacks reveal how Shougo first met Kanata in a train. Her skirt was stuck in the door and he accompanied her till the end. Then they hit it off, dating and possibly more. Yeah, even sex. Maybe. Then she broke it off and went away. However Kanata is here not to see Shougo but talk to Tanaka. Even Shin can guess Shougo is bloody troubled. But whatever it is, don’t make Neo cry. That’s not possibly seeing that this is a drama romance show. It’s bound to spill a few buckets of tears. Later Shougo tells Neo about Kanata but she’s okay with it. Really? Can you sense the sadness in her smile? Obviously Shougo still can’t get Kanata out of her mind. At least the sex part. Yeah, he is seeing visions of her tempting him to come to bed with her. Did that really happened? Or is it his mind just went crazy? Shougo and Neo go shopping but he gets distracted by Kanata’s recently released music video. That was enough to make Neo increase her worry level. Mifu tries to cheer her up by giving Neo a pair of tickets to the movies.

Next day at Cubic Cafe, seems Kanata is there too but she’s not bothering them. Shougo accepts the movie tickets from Neo. That night as everyone prepares for Tanaka’s party, he never showed up. Two hours later, everyone is still waiting. Then Hotaru gets a call from the police. Tanaka and Kanata are injured in a car accident and are at the hospital right now. Kids, remember no matter how much you are in the rush, never speed on a bicycle in the pouring rain. When Shougo, Neo and Shin arrive, they see Kanata walking in a daze. How the heck did the hospital staff let a patient wander outside the building at this hour? She is heavily bandaged and when asked about Tanaka, when a woman can only answer you in tears, you know what this means, right? Kanata breaks down and cries so hard that Shougo had to embrace to console her. Oh Neo, this is not the time to worry about those petty things. Oh wait, sorry. I guess she can’t help it.

Episode 2
Shougo and co attend Tanaka’s funeral. He notices a map in Shin’s pocket. They are marked places that Tanaka travelled to. Kanata continues acting in her drama while Neo continues to feel gloomy. Kanata comes over to Shougo’s place one day on pretence to help her out with her drama script. Then she gets bored and rests on his back on a while before leaving. Shizuru, Hotaru and Shougo see off Shin at the train station. He is going to make a map that is better than Tanaka’s. As Shougo walks back, he sees his friend Shinkurou Rikimaru AKA Maguro lively working at the fish store with Tamaki Momose helping out. He wonders if he is okay like this and that if he can just forget all that has happened. Maguro believes Tanaka won’t be happy if they put on a sad face. Plus, Tamaki said Maguro has been crying a lot since his dad too died in a car accident. Maguro has confidence that Shougo will recover since he is not a weak person. Cubic Cafe is temporarily closed. Shougo meets Yue Imasaka. He apologizes for eavesdropping her and Tanaka talking about their childhood friend times. She also speaks metaphorically about Tanaka like the rain. Though it’s hard at first and tough to forget, that memory is also important. Shougo feels it’ll be hard for him to think like her but she says they have to accept reality and these things take time. Neo’s depression is so obvious that it annoys Mifu. She even threatens to take Shougo away if she continues like this. Of course she won’t. She finishes knitting a scarf and gives it to big sister so that she can give to Shougo.

Neo goes watch a movie alone. At the end, she sees becomes happy upon seeing Shougo as they both embrace. They also apologize to each other for not believing in each other enough.  Shougo comes clean and makes clear his feelings for her. He was afraid to face the truth because he was scared he would hurt her. But now he has sorted his feelings and that she is the only one he loves from the bottom of his heart. Neo takes a shower and change at his place. After she leaves, Kanata pays him a visit. She is dressed in a nostalgic school uniform. Then she starts undressing and tempts Shougo to make love. Tempting indeed but Shougo is strong enough to reject her. He’s now a different person. Kanata buttons up and leaves in her cheery self. Shougo and Neo date during the Christmas season. She gives him the knitted scarf, albeit it is a little too long. Then he gets a call from Kanata to meet. Must he? But Neo is okay with it and will wait for him because she will no longer run away. Shougo meets Kanata at the bridge, the place where they broke up. She tells him that she is going overseas and will be away for a long time. Shougo starts spouting about change and memories. But the Kanata in his heart will not disappear even if she will change into one that is no longer the same in his memory. Before he could rant a speech lasting for hours, she puts her finger on his lips. What does she has to say? The scarf doesn’t suit him. I guess this means goodbye, eh? Shougo goes back to Neo. She wonders if she’ll turn into his memories. He replies she’s doing that right now. But she is the one he will always want to be with. They embrace and he wraps his scarf around her neck. Hey, it’s long enough, right?

Six months later, Cubic Cafe’s rival, at Narazu-ya Cafe, Isshu Sagisawa and Nonoha Haya notice their owner in a gloomy mood. Nonoha goes into some scientific rant about the Moon (light and darkness reflecting thingy and no air. Damn science!) because his back looks like its Sea of Tranquillity. Inori Misasagi comes rushing in to hand him his test review sheet he forget. He isn’t too happy since he has to study now. However it’s not nice to disappoint somehow who ran all the way to bring you something so he treats her to a drink. Then Shizuru comes in and Isshu realizes she is looking for a part time job and brings her to see the owner. Inori recognizes her.

Inori No Todoku Koro arc

Episode 3
Inori invites Isshu to go to the Ashikajima Fireworks Festival with her but he declines citing busy with his work. He chose his job over a girl? Well, it’s not like they’re officially dating or anything. Though Inori is okay with it, you can tell by her sad face that she isn’t. Shin pays Narazu-ya Cafe a visit. He did say he still doesn’t like this place but with Shizuru as assistant manager, the place is coming nicely about it. He also teases Isshu for looking at other girls when he already has a pretty girlfriend when the latter’s mind starts to wander. Of course he denies all of that. Then Sayori Rikimaru passes by. She’s going to the festival but with Yukari Sagisawa. Shin teases her about her boyfriend. She gets worked up and denies having one at all. Her body language indicates she likes Shin. Nonoha brings Karin Hanamatsuri to the cafe on her day off. They talk about Kanata who hasn’t returned yet since she’s busy. Back home, Inori is deeply troubled of Isshu’s decline. See, it’s really getting to her. Sayori and Yukari patron the festival. Sayori thinks Isshu can’t come because he’s staying with his girlfriend. Yukari didn’t like her saying that so she gets back at her about the person she likes. Sayori flusters and walks away. Inori walks alone on the beach. She remembers the time she and Isshu were fixing some furniture at the chapel. He injured his finger and since it was bleeding, she instinctively sucked it before pulling back upon realizing what she’s doing. They rest for a while. She says to always come here to watch the fireworks together. They start holding hands and the mood seems to be right so they got their faces close to each other. Before they could really kiss, the bench broke and they fell off. Bad workmanship? Or God didn’t want to make them do anything unholy? Anyway they laughed it off.

Miyabi Fujiwara beats a senpai in a kendo match. She tells them all not to get cocky and never let her do useless training. Seems she doesn’t like doing club activities during summer vacation and prefers staying at home. Hotaru is coaching Inori on piano. Seems she also becomes her love coach, offering advice to low self-esteem Inori. Seems she is afraid of confessing because she’s happy that they’re friends now and if the confession fails, they won’t be even that anymore. But Hotaru advises to quickly confess or else some other girl will end up stealing Isshu away. Hotaru relates her own love problems with Ken and how she overcame it. She encourages Inori to confess and ask him out to the festival. Back home, Hotaru tries to perk up her confidence and prays on her Buddhist charm, Souchin-yan to give her the courage to confess. As she is walking on the streets, she is happy to see Isshu coming out from his workplace. However that turns to despair and all her courage down the drain when she sees a girl running up to Isshu as he pats her on the head. She gets so disheartened that she is convinced he is seeing some other girl. Was she that shocked that she had to drop her umbrella?

Episode 4
That girl turns out to be Yukari. She’s here to pick Isshu up. We see her onii-chan complex because she got so happy when he says to share the umbrella when she forgot to bring another one. However Yukari will soon be left in despair as Isshu leaves her after thinking he can’t leave Inori like that after spotting her turning away so abruptly. He catches up to her and soon Inori asks who the other woman is. Isshu can even joke that he got caught with something embarrassing. When Inori wonders if she is his lover, he gives off a heartily laughter and lets her know she’s his sister. Now do you feel relieved? Inori manages to ask him out to the festival and to her surprise he agrees. Isshu meets up with Inori and compliments her yukata, causing her face to go red. They had their fun as Inori thinks the place is too crowded and wants to go somewhere quieter. She spots Yukari and Sayori and panics so she takes Isshu to turn around and go somewhere else. Sayori thought she saw Isshu and starts ranting how cool Yukari’s brother is. Perhaps she crosses the line when she says he may be having a lover. Yukari throws a fit and starts hitting her like a kid. Hotaru is out with Ken and sees Inori with Isshu. She gets happy and starts hugging surprised Ken while asserting how much she loves him. Inori’s confidence must be fluctuating like the unstable share market about advancing her relationship with Isshu. She mentions they can’t get a good view of the fireworks so Isshu brings her to the chapel at the top of the hill. Isshu then said the most heart-breaking words ever. Though this is his favourite place, he has never brought anyone here. Eh? Did he forget he was here fixing stuff with her? Was the bump on his head hard enough to make him forget when he fell? Was it another guy? WTF?! It’s no surprise that Inori starts shedding a tear or two. As they watch the fireworks, she asks him if she could hold his hand. After that, she confesses that she likes him and collapses into his arms. She also gets the green light to make this her favourite place.

Then the scene changes as we see Inori alone at the chapel. Wait a minute?! Was it all something that happened in the past?! Was it all just a dream?! That’s because Isshu is working at Narazu-ya. Shizuru wonders if he’s okay not going and yeah, he’s being a hero by agreeing to it. Obviously his spacing out is so obvious that even Shin seems pretty annoyed that he’s not honest to himself. Isshu is surprised to see Nonoha in her uniform seeing that today is her day off. She will gladly cover his shift. Nonoha starts spouting about that dark of the sea on the Moon (I don’t really get it). Shizuru agrees that it’s no good to make a girl cry. With that, Isshu gets permission to get lost. Oops, I mean to go over to where he’s supposed to go. He races all the way to the chapel. He passes by Yukari and Sayori. The latter thought she spotted him. Yukari’s interest peeked but falls into despair when Sayori says he’s already gone. Isshu reaches the chapel but doesn’t find Inori there. Actually, she’s hiding behind a tree. Why? She thought a stranger was coming. Though she’s surprised that he turned up, she becomes glad that he did. They both embrace and watch the fireworks. He agrees with her that they’ll be together from now on.

Memories On…
What the? The love issues here are so simple that it doesn’t amount to anything serious. So simple that you don’t feel that their relationship is threatened at all. Take for instance the first arc. Kanata returns. Shougo still has memories of her. But after a short failed flirting, she goes away. The end. So why the heck did she return for? Perhaps she has something to do with Tanaka but that case is history since he’s a goner now. By the way, news of Tanaka’s accident and death was the most distressful one. I don’t sense the ‘danger’ of Shougo being taken away (even with all the tempting) so perhaps it’s just all in Neo’s mind. Then for the second arc, it was just Inori’s memories of spending good times watching the fireworks with Isshu but when she learns this year he can’t make it, she turns into a worrywart. I’m not saying that it’s wrong to be concern if your boyfriend has something else to do on that special day but the way they show it lacks any punch to make me feel there is some sort of a strain or tension in their relationship.

I know the Memories Off boasts lots of other female characters as part of the game mechanics. However in the anime adaptation, they seem redundant. It’s like they try to fit in all the girls but it ends up and feels like as though they’re just doing it to fill in time or else the main love story could actually end in just 10 minutes or less. For example, that Hibiki girl just appeared in the first scene and then when she scoots off, you’ll never see her again. You’d be wondering who the heck is she, what the heck was her appearance, impact and prominence for? Comic relief? Then Miyabi’s kendo scene had no relation whatsoever to the story. It was so independent of everything else so much so in fact it could actually be left out and have no impact on everything. Then for Karin’s case, she was just hanging around with Nonoha. See, there is no relevance for these girls to even appear in the first place except for the fact to tell viewers that the producers haven’t really left them out (so fans of those girls won’t get mad, I think) and to make the OVA longer. Yukari is the most amusing one because of her onii-chan complex. I wished she had more funny scenes because the love story seems to be a drab but she manages to put a smile on my face with her comic relief. Nobody loves Isshu like she does. Now she’s got a rival in Inori so it’s time to let your brother fly, little girl.

As the anime produced way back in year 2004, the animation quality and standard is not as good but it’s an improvement from the first one. However the drawing, art and animation for both story arcs differ so much so I was wondering if this Shin guy is actually the same person in both stories. Plus, some of the recurring characters like Yue looked totally different than she was from the previous adaptation so I too thought if this was the same Yue back then. Remember, this game which the OVA is based on has characters overlapping in different stories. For the first arc, the characters’ drawings looked simple but come the second arc, they look much better with slightly more details given. I don’t have any qualms with the voice acting but I feel that some of the characters’ voice doesn’t fit. For instance, Yukari has that deadpan ominous look (which grey haired girl wouldn’t?) but when she sounds like your energetic onii-chan complex loli, it somehow doesn’t fit. Then for Sayori, she sounded slightly more mature for her age. The opening theme is Dry Words Dry Maker by Asumi Masano, a rock pop piece (which was also used as the promo video clip for Kanata). Maybe it’s my hardware because I feel the bass lines were too ‘deep’. The ending piece is Shining Star by Ayumi Murata, which is a slow rock.

Perhaps the underlying theme for this OVA is just like in its series’ name: Memories. Shougo had memories of dating Kanata but they broke up for reasons unknown while Inori had memories of times spent with Isshu and is worried if she could continue to make more beautiful memories with him. A person need not be gone to be turned into memories. You just need to enjoy the moment and that’s enough for you to make everlasting memories. Unless you have bad memory, that is. It’s sad that the third instalment turned out to be a yawn fest and thus nothing unique or memorable for me. But I guess you have to play the game if you want to appreciate everything from the scenarios to the characters. Now I need to recall good memories of good animes I have watched to replace this one.