Series Name: Asatte no Hoko (Translated as: Living For The Day After Tomorrow)
Genre: Drama, Slice-of-life, Romance, Fantasy
In recent years, it has become increasingly more difficult for me to find anime titles that I might have picked over in the past and further more, ones I can be satisfied with investing time in. Most of the time, rather than turning my attention toward series that I said “I will watch at some point” and complied into one continuously expanding list, I leave it up to complete chance encounters. Luckily enough, Asatte no Hoko (Living For The Day After Tomorrow) is one chance encounter that I never regretted stumbling upon that year and half ago and much like Uta Kata, would have most likely never discovered it until later if I did not stray from the norm. Despite being somewhat obscure, it was a nice hidden find for me and surprisingly, one that mixes slice-of-life and drama elements into a desirable union – unlike many titles I have had the displeasure of dealing with out of stubbornness.
To sum the story rather quickly, it revolves around three principal characters: Hiro Iokawa, his ex-girlfriend, Shouko Nogami (with a tattered childhood), and his little sister, Karada Iokawa (that hates being treated like a child) who Hiro cares for and main reason for breaking up with Shouko. The latter two switches bodies through a precedent method of most fantasy stories and that is what sets the stage for things to come. You can sort of think of it like the Lindsay Lohan film, Freak Friday that is not so unconventional in its unraveling. Yes, Karada does struggle to learn what it means to be an adult, Shouko gets a chance to relive parts of her past, and the two get a better grasp of each and their feelings toward Hiro (who seems to be in the most precarious position), but it is more than that. It is more about repairing relationships, facing reality rather than turning away from it, and letting your heart do the talking when words often fail – all of which points the show expresses and pulls of moderately well in a mature and pensive manner – while of course, avoiding melodrama and awkward angst most titles seem to drip with.
While the show does tackle the slice-of-life/drama elements aggressively and nearly flawlessly, there are a brief few segments of comical relief such as the earlier and later episodes with Karada’s job searching and Amino, Karada’s classmate never-ending quest to finish his studies. Obviously enough, the writing and planning has little to take issue with; expect maybe its hasty and awkward epilogue that tightly fits in a few last minuet details before going for an implied ending. It is sort of better this way and no really that hard to figure out what happens before the final fade out.
While I can say that the actually writing and direction is clear and defined, J.C Staff with respects to aesthetics is where the series falls short. This is noticeable by all sorts of oddities: such as ceramic, buggy-looking eyes and washed out color schemes as an example. It is not a tragedy, but is rather disappointing, since J.C Staff misses some unique opportunities, especially during the first three episodes to dress up the series. Instead, it is more of the bland and transparent art that J.C Staff is known for with some of its semi-earlier productions. However, where the animation and largely, art falls short, the musical accompaniment works well; featuring some nice piano pieces that are sentimental and balanced by some upbeat tracks that are common in tune and timbre to most slice-of-life/drama mixtures. Wonderfully as it is, Sentai Flimworks gives the series a nice packaging job, but unfortunately, just comes as a subbed release – which for a series like this is justifiable.
If you definitely have some time to spare and want to find a title you might have missed, Asatte no Hoko is one of the best offerings in the realm of “romantic-drama done right” you can possibly find in anime from the earlier years. It is also a Godsend for those looking to avoid the typical romantic and hormone stressed realities of the teenage kind to be replaced with something mature in nature. If you can and willingly sat through all those other romantic-dramas you thought were too trite and slice-of-life titles that do something a little different, then you might consider Asatte no Hoko your own hidden treasure.
Pros: Interesting concept and execution, nice soundtrack, great for older viewers
Cons: Animation and artwork is lackluster