What They Say:
There are far worse things than having to deal with your ex-boyfriend’s little sister or your older brother’s ex-girlfriend. But that’s something Karada Iokawa and Shoko Nogami have to learn the hard way when a magic wishing stone inexplicably grants Karada’s wish to be older—and does it by stealing the years from Shoko! Now Shoko, who’s already graduated and studied overseas, is Karada’s age, just about to enter junior high school. Meanwhile Karada must suddenly face the real facts about what being grown up entails. And just to make a bizarre situation even more awkward, there’s the issue of how to handle their existing romantic interests!
The audio presentation for this show brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo and is encoded at 224kbps, which is pretty standard fare for most shows and especially simple slice of life series. Almost the entire series outside of the opening and closing sequences is about the dialogue or pregnant pauses so the show doesn’t exactly flex its muscles at all. It’s quiet and well placed though, which helps the atmosphere when appropriate. Dialogue driven shows tend to be underwhelming in general and this one even more so as there’s hardly a raised word throughout most of it to give it a little more impact. The dialogue we do get, as well as the opening and closings, come across well though. Placement does occur in a number of scenes but often it’s a single character on screen talking at a time so it has a full feel. The track is free of problems as we had no issues with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2006, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The show is split evenly over two discs with six episodes on each which works well. The series design is pretty much a slice of life piece and what we get from it here is a good looking transfer that captures the soft colors, the detail and the general beauty that’s infused into the backgrounds. It’s not a heavy motion show as it’s generally characters sitting around talking or walking about, but it’s a very clean looking show that avoids significant problems of noise, cross coloration or line noise during panning sequences. It’s the kind of show that looks solid but isn’t a standout. The transfer represents the source material well and leaves you pleased with it.
There’s something different about the cover here that causes you to look at it twice. That different is the character design for Shoko which feels decidedly off in a way, where she doesn’t come across as pretty or attractive in a standard way because of the hair cut and her expression. Karada makes out better with a standard cute girl design and the use of flowers between the both of them adds a little more life to it, but I can’t help but to look at Shoko and wonder what wicked things she may be thinking because of her expression. The back cover uses the same color scheme and reverses the characters ages for the artwork on the left side which looks much better. Shoko’s childlike appearance looks cute and more normal while Karada has a solid design here that still keeps her innocence about her. The cover has a lot going on with several shots along the right side, small but helpful, while the summer through the center fleshes out what the show is about fairly well. The bottom has the usual production credits and a solid technical grid that covers everything cleanly and clearly. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menus for this release use the color schemes from the cover with the yellow, blue and white where it’s sectioned off slight to have the navigation on the left and character artwork on the right. The colors in general have a very soft and atmospheric feel to them that sets the mood for the show just right while the character artwork adds to that nicely. The designs are appealing enough in that they don’t feel exactly standard, especially for Shoko, so there’s a draw in that. There’s precious little else to the discs outside of the extras sections on each and individual episode access to navigation is a breeze and defaults are a non-issue.
The only extras are on the second disc with clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the manga by J-ta Yamada which ran for only five volumes, but finished after the anime came out, Living For The Day After Tomorrow is a twelve episode series animated by JC Staff that has solid production values behind it but a story that is so slow moving and seemingly aimless for so long that it’s hard to really maintain a focus on. Age changing stories are nothing new and some have carved out a unique angle here and there but most tend to flounder without really trying to work through what the real issues of such an event would be like. And the issues that do get presented tend to not work all that well depending on what kind of social aspects you were brought up with an open to. It’s not like we’re watching Koi Kaze but there’s still a creepy factor involved.
The series makes things complicated along the way with its ages, dates and design at times. The focus is on a core group of three people, though a fourth makes a stronger appearance towards the end. The initial focus is on the arrival of twenty-four year old Shoko Nogami who has returned to the town of Kanocho to live. She’s not found work yet and hasn’t done much since her return as she’s barely unpacked. One of the reasons for her return is that her “no good loser boyfriend” from when they studied abroad and met in Boston (which has some great scenes for this Boston native to see represented so well). Their relationship ended when he wrote back after returning home to Japan that he wasn’t coming back so she’s at long last decided to confront him.
What’s made the situation difficult is that she’s discovered that her former boyfriend Hiro has a younger sister that he never told her about. Karada, at age twelve yet looks much younger, has been in his care for the last four years after her parents died. Karada was raised to believe that Hiro was her brother but the two have no blood relation and Karada has not learned the truth, which caused Hiro to decide to stay with her and be the family that she needed. The two have bonded well since then and you can see the glimmerings of there wanting to be more from Karada as she’s been so dependent on him for so long, though she’s at least a strong enough character in that she does plenty on her own as well.
Shoko’s arrival throws everything off balance and the two girls don’t get along well at all. They’re forced to get along though when the two stop outside a small shrine and the wish that Karada made earlier in the day at the beach comes true and she suddenly becomes an adult of about twenty or so. The price of that though is that Shoko is reduced in age to elementary school or so. The two end up coping with this fairly quickly with Shoko having an almost blasé approach to it in that it’s something that happened, though she does try to research it. Karada is a bit more concerned about it but more because she’s forced to take Shoko’s place with several things by being the adult of the two as they try to hide what has happened until they figure out how to reverse it.
Much of the show then delves into the feelings of the main characters while also bringing in a middle school student named Tetsu who has feelings for Karada as well and goes on a search for her since they’ve decided the best cover is that she’s gone away somewhere for awhile. The feelings side of the show ends up being dragged out since in a lot of ways this would have worked a lot better as a tighter six episode OVA series. Shoko still has strong feelings for Hiro but his focus was on taking care of his younger sister to the exclusion of all else. He handled that poorly and never figured out a way to correct it, or even gave indication that he wanted to correct it. Hiro’s got almost no personality here because of what’s happened and it’s only in the flashbacks that we really get a sense of who he is. He’s given up a lot to support Karada and that’s hugely important but it ended up defining him instead.
The trouble you get is with Karada as she’s now in an adult body but dealing with the feelings of a twelve year old. Thankfully, they do avoid any serious issues here with relationships as Hiro doesn’t make a pass at her and she doesn’t throw herself at him even though she loves him and wants to make him happy. A lot of her feelings revolve around the belief that she’s a burden to him and she wished to be an adult so she wouldn’t be anymore. There are other feelings in there as well but these are the primary ones that she’s aware of. When she learns she’s not really related to him, it only exacerbates it and she ends up leaving in the middle of the night to find someplace else to be. It’s a difficult situation for a twelve year old who isn’t familiar with the ways of the world nor has anyone to really guide her along it as well.
Like a lot of slice of life shows, Living for the Day After Tomorrow has a good look to it with the real world approach. There isn’t the dreamy atmosphere we get from some shows like Air but there’s a softness to it at times and in the color palettes chosen for the backgrounds. There’s a lot of nice detail in these areas and the interiors and exteriors feel like there are people living there, though of course a lot of exterior shots are shy of a lot of people when it comes to the city. The character designs for the most part are good but I continue to look askew at Shoko’s design as she just has this quality that makes me do a double take and wonder if they got the design right. The hair cut, the usual expressions she wears as an adult and the way she carries herself simply doesn’t feel right. She works better as a child as opposed to Karada who works well both ways, though at times she feels shorter than she should be.
At the end of this series with far too long of a name that’s no longer one of the longest ones out there, I can’t help but feel that the series itself is too long as well. It takes awhile for it to really get anywhere and there’s a dragging sensation to a lot of it as well. When really thinking hard about it, I’m hard pressed to find a lot of positive things to say about it outside of the look of the show for those who love slice of life relationship style series. There’s always potential with these kinds of stories but it comes across as if they missed the boat on it and went for something more predictable. They did at least avoid making it a huge fanservice show as there’s really very little here that could be considered titillating or exciting. Some mild moments where you have Karada realizing what she’s got and some cute clothes changing scenes, but that’s all handled well. This isn’t a badly done series but rather one that doesn’t have much meat to it and it’s made all the more apparent as it goes on and on and on.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Content Grade: C+
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: April 13th, 2010
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.