May Peace Prevail in the World - Musings on OreTsuba

Once more, it's been a few days since I finished watching OreTsuba, and a lot of the inconvenient feelings of rage have subsided. I'm ready to tackle the disappointment that was this eroge-adaptation.

While initially my favourite character, Naru ended up tied with Kobato.

I had absolutely no preconceptions or biases going into OreTsuba, mostly because I caught much of the first episode by-and-by while Pearz was playing it next to me. Seeing the massive ecchi content in ep01 was a huge turn-off, and it just continued with the obligatory nonsensical scenes beginning the next few episodes. However, it was very clear that there was a story underneath and that the ecchi content was just the gift-wrapping, so I eagerly persevered. I was greatly disappointed not because the story or characterization was bad but rather because the anime failed miserably at telling it. It was obvious that the planning had been poor, turning a visual novel into a simple 12ep anime, and it showed very clearly.
(As usual, the headings won't have any ratings. I'm trying a new system, so there will be a tentative rating at the very end.)

The main heroines.

At the risk of making an unintentional ecchi pun, the animation was quite smooth. The breasts were disproportionately big, the skin was strangely reflective, and all hair was unwaveringly flowing. It was pretty much the classic ecchi, with very nice presentation. At certain points, I did wonder if maybe they had run out of creativity to make unique character designs, as two of the heroines (Haneda Kobato and Ohtori Naru) looked pretty identical except for the minute differences in their bangs, but I learned to just accept that. There may have been an in-depth reason for something like that in the game, since both of them were imouto types, but it wasn't explored in the anime.

How come we never saw Naru like this?!

The synopsis presented on AniDB was confusing (at the time of airing and even at the time of writing this), at best. It didn't explain what the story would be about at all - then again, I guess it might be too spoiler-filled to go any further than describing the three main heroes and their current workings in life. Here's my attempt: the three male leads (Haneda Takashi, Chitose Shuusuke, and Narita Hayato) are living in the same city with very different positions in life (student, part-timer, and odd-jobs worker, respectively), and will create their own harems. The first episode introduces the surreal world of Gretagard, set in medieval times, which the three heroes are also a part of. The interplay of the characters with each other and their surroundings (including the harems) is what this anime is about. That's all I can say without giving away too much. Suffice to say, I found the setting very, very interesting, especially when the twists in the story were introduced. The background was very carefully thought-out and incredibly well-planned, with every little detail making more and more sense with successive episodes. Although the final episode was terrible due to time mismanagement, it was quite clear that there was actually a lot more to the story than had been presented, due to various interactions the characters had with each other than remained unexplained. It was honestly almost enough for me to hunt down the game.

The main heroes.

Story Presentation
The story-telling was where the story began unravelling. The story itself was incredibly rich and 12 episodes really couldn't do it justice. Moreover, this was more of a character-based anime and less a story-based one, but 12 episodes once again really couldn't do the three men any justice. It was slightly annoying to realize that re-watching episodes after having watched later ones gave new meaning to the situations, because I basically watched the entire anime at least twice over, bordering on thrice. At times, I was frustrated at having to look back - however, in retrospect, it was done nicely. If I didn't want to look back, I didn't have to; I wouldn't be missing anything essential. The twists were presented nicely and at a good pace; even until the moment the twist regarding Gretagard was revealed, there was a good chance that it could go another way. That kind of presentation is very delightful. Unfortunately, there just wasn't enough time to cover things as thoroughly as I'm sure the game did, leading to a seriously rushed ending that was disjointed as it attempted to wrap up the serious matters and return to light-hearted harem-play. There were many little details, especially in that final episode, that were never explained; in a story like this, it's the little details that have the most impact, so I'm sure there were explanations that just weren't given. I was left wanting more.

This pretty much encapsulates the various harems. It might be missing some.

This anime did an exquisite job with the characters. It fell into certain cliches, such as certain characters having unique identifiers that no other character would share, but the backing of the setting made it more than acceptable. Despite the sheer magnitude of characters presented, there were only a handful of core ones (initially three males and three females). Unfortunately, the anime fell apart once again in presentation - the characters just didn't get the time that they needed in order to be shown properly. Kobato began as a background character, being the sister of Haneda, but grew in importance suddenly with absolutely no build-up. Without screen time, it was obvious that the characters were being stifled. It was sad to see, because this anime presented some very interesting suppositions and characterizations that I would love to see expanded.

Yamashina really grew on me. I would have liked to see more.

Final Words
It was a story with lots of potential and good writing. The anime messed it up mostly in its presentation. It had nothing to do with the ecchi content; that hardly got in the way. It was mostly the fact that it was condensed far too much, to a point where they just couldn't possibly have done a good job without taking out more characters (at which point the story probably just wouldn't make sense). Everything fell apart in the final episode, as if they had just suddenly remembered that they had no more time slots allotted to them and thus rushed to get everything wrapped up. The story did end "properly" - there were no major threads to be tied up, at least - but it was rushed and none of the characters, surprisingly, were given a proper ending. For something adapted from an eroge, which has multiple lines to follow and multiple endings, that's just maddening.

A handy chart to refer to.

Scoring - [5.5/10]
The story was excellent and the characters were very gripping. The delivery was terrible, due to issues with time and focus, and the rushed ending destroyed the meagre hopes I had. The anime was, thus, simply mediocre, with a slight positive feel. Like most adaptations, I'm entirely sure the game was better by leaps and bounds.