August 2016. Hashiba Kyouka’s run has finally come to an end. After the game studio he’d been working for closed up shop, leaving him penniless, he had no choice but to take the midnight bus back to his parents’ house. Twenty-eight years old and out of a job, Kyouka’s dreams of becoming a creator are slowly slipping away from his grasp. He wonders: maybe things would be different if he had gone to college for art instead of economics? Maybe he’d have been able to work alongside some of the stars of the so-called Platinum Generation, whose work had forever transformed the video game scene. Maybe he could have done something like that.
But there are no second chances in life. And Kyouka knows that. In resignation, he begins job-hunting again, and after a fortunate coincidence, he lands his dream job: a position at SucceedSoft Studio, working on a game with none other than Akishima Shino—a Platinum Generation artist whose work he’s admired for years. Things finally seem to be looking up. And yet, after a few months, history repeats himself. The project falls through, and Kyouka finds himself on the same midnight bus back home. No more dreams of creative fame. There are no second chances in life.
But when he wakes up the next morning to find out that it’s March 2006, he begins to wonder: maybe his dreams aren’t so far off after all.
Lots to say about this first episode. For one, I wasn’t expecting the fifty-minute runtime, though I appreciated the lingering glance at Kyouka’s life before the time-reversal. Not many of these time-reversal stories do that, and it helps to bring some of Kyouka’s misgivings about his old life to the fore. And lots of us can relate to these misgivings: frustration with how unfair life seems, regret at not having chosen a different path, bitterness at our inability to change our present lot. Kyouka’s character shines in this first half, and I was looking forward to seeing where they would take things in the second half.
Unfortunately, I have to say that my hopes were quickly dashed. With the time-reversal, the story quickly devolved into a standard school drama set-up. Kyouka’s old misgivings are quickly stuffed under the rug to welcome a barrage of new characters, most of whom felt lacking in originality. Aki Shino, for instance, talks and acts just like every other airheaded female lead who’s secretly a genius in some particular subject (even if she is the famed Akishima Shino, a twist which I saw coming from three miles away). And while I’m a little curious about how Eiko Kawasegawa transformed from her cold, studious past self into the outgoing, trustworthy director of SuccessSoft, it seems like the show’s more interested in setting her up as a foil for the other two female leads. To its credit, the show does boast some captivating artistic work and clever direction. Maybe I should wait another episode or two to see if it manages to develop its characters. Then again, as Kyouka loves to say, there are no second chances in life.