It’s not as if this is an especially packed season (though it is deeper than it originally seemed, in a sneaky way). Nevertheless I find myself more and more selective in deciding whether a series is worth my time. Maybe it’s just a concession to my having done this for over a decade, but I suspect there was a time I’d probably have covered Ooyukiumi no Kaina without too much deliberation. Or maybe I’ve become jaded, and it takes more to get a critical rise out of me than it used to. There’s some things here that pique my interest, but the whole package isn’t quite there somehow.
Does familiarity breed contempt? Maybe to an extent, because there’s really nothing about this series that doesn’t feel familiar. The way the characters look, the way they’re voiced, the premise, the backgrounds – every element is something I know like the back of my hand. Nihei Tsutomu can be like that generally – he’s old-school sci-fi to the core – but this one is especially, well- familiar. It might help if the visuals were really outstanding – this is the sort of story that could really benefit from a Production I.G. or Kinema Citrus style treatment. But Polygon plays into that familiarity vibe too – everything they do looks basically the same.
It’s frustrating in the sense that hey, I love old-school science fiction – fiction-wise it was probably my first love – and I would love to feel that spark here. The premise is what it is, but within it the execution is perfectly sound. The art design is the strongest part of the production and the canopy is nicely-wrought visually. Ririha and Kaina are likeable enough (though Yoshimasa Hosoya isn’t really working for me), and the old villagers actually have quite a bit of pathos to them. They’re staring down the barrel of the end of the world, and they best they can hope to do is make it somewhat less desolate for the youngster in their midst.
What did strike me as odd and unsatisfying was Kaina and Liliha’s departure from the village. Under the circumstances – Kaina was leaving his guardians and the only people he’d ever known to die as he escaped with the princess – their parting was incredibly antiseptic. It bespoke an attitude that the character side of the story just isn’t that important. That can be as issue with Nihei too – his series are often a curious mix of cold indifference punctuated by brief moments of emotional overload. I still feel as if we’re in the prologue phase here, and I’d still like to find a reason to like Ooyukiumi no Kaina more than I do, so it’s still in the “maybe” pile for now.