Hmm…you know what this series needs? A rewrite. (Yes, I know I used this joke already, but it’s still super relevant.)
To summarize, Rewrite follows the story of Tennouji Koutarou and his quest to save the earth by aiding the Key, named Kagari, in her quest to understand humanity and save the world from its attempt at restarting itself. While doing this, Koutarou must fight the two factions known as Guardian and Gaia from ‘saving humanity’, which their methods entail destroying the Key and destroying the world respectively.
Rewrite is a very dense visual novel. Featuring 9 different routes, each of which hold a fraction of the overall story, it’s no wonder the series has a slew of problems due to trying to adapt roughly 100 hours of gameplay and textboxes in a grand total of 24 episodes over the course of two seasons. Focusing exclusively on the last two routes of the game: Moon and Terra, this season of Rewrite fixes a large portion of the problems the first season had, but also has similar pitfalls and wavers in quality in different ways.
As far as content goes, Key’s doing what Key does best, and that’s romantic visual novels that have a story pertaining to one individual learning about the world/themselves, usually with magic involved, while providing an overarching lesson to the player for them to think about once they’re done with the game. Contrary to the first season, Moon/Terra feel a lot more concise and focused because it didn’t have to do the background work that its predecessor had to fulfill. The entire runtime focuses solely on Koutarou and his growth on what he’s trying to do in order to save the world, and while it does get a little messy at times, is something that’s much better written than anything it was before. The plot gets a lot more serious, a lot of the pieces start falling into place better, and it’s just overall a better story. That however doesn’t say very much because being better in context to its previous season isn’t a very high mark to surpass.
The biggest problem that stands out to me for Moon and Terra at the beginning is context and continuity. The anime thrusts the viewer in an unfamiliar scene and setting that, when continuing on from season one, doesn’t really click right away. Indeed, the series is beginning a new route, and thus a new story, but from the perspective of someone who hasn’t played the visual novel and is going into the new season blind, this break in continuity hurts more than helps.
Another thing that doesn’t help is pacing. Dense content, small time frame, pacing issues ensue. A lot of what this season is about is both personal and public conflict from either Koutarou or the rivaling factions. But due to how much conflict they need to show in order to get to the end properly, a lot of it feels meaningless. A character you learn/get to know about may be introduced in one episode is offed soon after. There may be a dramatic showdown between two characters that have history with one another that ends in a flash before moving onto the next scene. The lack of proper pacing doesn’t give the viewer time to let a person’s death or a tragic event sink in, and that creates a lot less value in whatever trials may ensue. This problem plagues the whole show, and is even more so shown in the end of the series once again where it’s clear that they were trying to get to the ending by making scene after scene go by at a snap’s notice.
Overall, Rewrite’s story is another case of an adaptation that bit off more than it could chew. The sheer amount of content that needed to be told in such a small time frame muddled the story’s philosophies about humanity and our place in this world and cut away a large majority of the story without much return. I really saw the potential for redemption in this second season, but there honestly isn’t much I can say when it’s clear that what was shown was only a fraction of the whole story.
+ Interesting story/philosophies
– Hard break from the end of S1
– Some of the worst pacing I’ve seen (even by 8bit standards)
– Still difficult to understand for those who haven’t played the visual novel
Characters take a dramatic shift in Moon/Terra. They take such a dramatic shift that it makes my job a lot easier since because everyone but the MC is a side character.
Tennouji Koutarou. The player character. The MC. The arbiter of the world who has lived through 9 different routes. Koutarou’s character is the defining trait of Moon/Terra. Rather than focusing on the individual girls and largely the conflict between Guardian and Gaia, Koutarou takes up almost all of the series’s runtime due to the sole fact that the entire series is told through internal monologue. We understand a lot more about Koutarou’s thoughts and understand his actions a little more by hearing how he thinks. This dramatic change in turn is how the series makes his struggle and his motivation a lot more personal and in-depth. However, he still suffers the same pitfalls as the story. Due to his character being so dense, the pacing made him feel incomplete, as a large portion of his decisions at the end of the series feel like they have lacking motivation due to missing context. He’s better, but there’s still something missing. And the explanation as to why his powers work they way they do still aren’t explained. Koutarou has definitely improved, but he’s still far from being the complete character that he should be.
The rest of the cast…yes, the literal rest of the characters are all side characters that serve as wrenches to Koutarou’s plans, characters who help influence Koutarou, or allies that seem familiar to those who’ve watched the previous season. As far as they’re concerned, they only help to move the story along. They’re no longer a part of the main cast and have no real weight in the situation aside from being the puppeteers who help dictate what Koutarou will do in any given situation. They help shape the story, and that’s a role they do very well. Beyond that however leaves a lot to be desired.
+/- Koutarou is a lot better of a character (though not as good as he probably should be.)
+/- Side cast isn’t impactful character-wise, but impactful story-wise
8bit comes again and mimics the Key style very well. Using the same style that they did in the first season, Rewrite comes back with a mix of Key’s normal style with a touch of CGI in order to make those monsters feel like they seriously don’t belong in this series.
Art looks like Key’s, CGI is still kinda jarring to look at, animation for the fight scenes are semi-fluid, and the quality is standard fare. Nothing really spectacular, but nothing that looks terrible either.
+/- Decent art
– Stop using CGI. It looks awful.
While Key works usually have great, memorable OSTs to coincide with their works, Rewrite doesn’t really have the same feel. Admittedly the tracks aren’t pushovers, and Terra’s OP in particular has the sense of urgency that coincides with Koutarou’s journey to try and fulfill his duty. They’re just not anything that I would regard as a memorable track that I could listen to on repeat.
I’m a firm believer that you don’t need to read or know about the source material before watching an adaptation. An adaptation should be able to stand on its own merits, and should instead be another medium that you can watch the story through. As someone who went into Rewrite’s adaptation blind, I can safely say that I have no idea what the fuck is going on. I had to do my own research of the story in order to get any handle as to what in god’s name I was watching, and doing that entails that the adaptation didn’t adapt the source material correctly, and in my eyes, is considered as a failed adaptation.
Did I like this anime?
I didn’t like it. While I admit the content was good and Key’s adaptations are things that I’m a fan of, its piss poor pacing ruined any form of enjoyment that I may have had from this anime.
What didn’t I like about it?
Pacing. Damn you pacing! Aside from that, I’m not really a big fan of Gaia’s ultimate plan because it really doesn’t make any sense. Saving the world by offing humanity, and there are many, MANY people who are ok with that concept/idea. That doesn’t really make sense to me.
Would I recommend this anime?
Honestly, I can’t see myself recommending this to people, even if they’ve played the visual novel. The pacing screws up a lot of its content that I honestly feel like the show could use more than a few passes on how the story should be executed. It may be a really overdone joke that Rewrite needs a rewrite, but there are so many problems with it that it honestly could really use one.