Anime: In Search of the Lost Future
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: October 25, 2016
Retail Price: $54.98
The anime series In Search of the Lost Future has bountiful qualities to mix genres, as a series that centers on a lighthearted Astronomy Club that takes serious sometimes inappropriate and bizarre directional changes. Centering on Kaori and Sou (two best friends over the course of their childhood), you begin to feel an initial vibe similar to a romance/harem, but, by the conclusion of the first episode, a grim turn becomes a major part of the ongoing plot. Now, stay with me — the concept of time travel and alternate timelines is also thrown at us as if it’s nothing in the premise, going back earlier in the week before the death of Kaori. To complicate matters more, the appearance of a mysterious (and fan service introduction style) girl named Yui is something that deviates from what they had all previously experienced.
From a character-observing perspective, Kaori, Sou and the anomaly known as Yui have the most potential invested in them. From the first few moments, you learn that Kaori is deeply in love with Sou; however, Sou leaves things unanswered before Kaori had met her untimely demise. That alone creates a hinged plot line to bridge an overarching narrative in addition to the new face unbeknownst to the group. Sure, there are clear or overt inclusions of a traditional anime love triangle but in a way that is explained differently (and would delve into obvious spoiler territory). Luckily, the three have minimal to no conflict amongst each other, which gives more time for a build-up without requiring misplaced drama.
Yui is certainly a significant part of the plot from beginning to end, ultimately providing her with a complex position to be in — along with the hope of changing the future for the better by saving Kaori. During her introductory moments in the anime, I was very displeased by the revealing fan-service choices made (typical in multiple ways), but the explanation of her existence and addition to the Astronomy Club does give viewers a satisfactory method to wrap up mysteries throughout the 12 episode series. Yui is an example of a character I initially would have disregarded (because of poor writing); however, things were surprisingly able to turn around by the end of her character arc.
There is a good amount of frivolous time spent trying to make you feel for the history between Kaori and Sou (understandably), but it doesn’t always give them enough time to show more to their personality by the series’ end. Kaori is the straightforward loving/caring person with a well-rounded heart, consistently reminding viewers why it would be a hard loss to handle for the characters lives she’s in — or, at times, how she simply doesn’t deserve a short life. Sou wasn’t specifically one I was pulling for in the beginning because of a situation he handled less than well, but, when all is revealed, you see a different spark within Sou that changes things drastically (but not entirely enough to make him better than Yui or Kaori). The plot may have scenarios we could do without, but the idea and use of timelines (while preposterous to begin with) is handled with traces of thought and care — a welcomed ending that feels somewhat proper and interested in what could have happened moving forward.
The animation from In Search of the Lost Future doesn’t push for greatness but avoids failing as well. At best, it could be stated that the storytelling production was much grander than the artistic contributions to the anime. Colors too easily blend without any conscious choices to standout, making many of the characters and background settings repeatedly become forgettable. Perhaps, more animation efforts would have helped push In Search of the Lost Future into a more noteworthy anime title as the art felt sometimes lazy, a disappointment given the different use of storytelling. All in all, the series has more than meets the eye for a good twist towards the eighth/ninth episode that will make the time investment more appropriate. It may not be a cult classic in the making, but it had nuances that strived for becoming a series to re-watch when the truth is revealed.
Overall Score: 6.7/10
Aedan’s Final Thoughts:
– I was pleased to have my opinions shift on occasion for characters and the anime as a whole.
– The ending was one that felt partially confusing, as well, due to the past and present version of a certain character with deviating feelings.
– Astronomy, timelines, romance, drama and slice of life? It could be said that this bites off more than it can chew.