- Release Date
- Winter 2008
- No. of Episodes
- P.A. Works
There are most certainly going to be peaks and valleys throughout one’s life, but if you’ve lost someone you’ve cared for the longest time. Those valleys suddenly turn into bottomless pits that cause so much pain; the only cure for it is time, slow passing time. Sometimes the best thing that one could do is focus on themselves during this time of healing, but sometimes wanting something and putting it into action are unattainable for multiple reasons. However, if done correctly, then it’ll be a fantastic outcome that will bring you joy and pleasure all at the same time.
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True Tears is a 2008 Romantic Drama series and the very first anime creation from studio P.A. Works. Though the most impressive facet of this series is that it has been loosely based on a visual novel of the same name, so loose that it’s completely different – the only thing that happened to be kept the same seems to be the name. While on the surface, it seems to give off the typical made-for-television premise that one could expect on daytime television, but that’s the decoy within this series. Don’t judge a book by its cover, and this series is no different.
Though one would expect a romantic drama story to focus on “love at first sight” or “love conquers all,” this series would be considered the black sheep of the genre. True Tears revolves around a high school student named Shinichiro Nakagami with a fantastic ability to draw. He lives with his estranged mother, father, and classmate Hiromi Yuasa who moved into his house after her father died. Though her father was extremely close to the Nakagami family, it was only natural to stay with them; by this point, it’s been one year since she came to live with them.
Shinichiro has known Hiromi for several years, but before he had always cherished her smile, she has now become cold hikikomori – a person who avoids social contact – at home. When at school, Hiromi is very popular, always smiling, and is very talented in sports, but the two different faces she puts on give Shinichiro a need to help her. On top of all that, he is cursed to misfortune by another girl in school, the eccentric Noe Isurugi. Shinichiro regularly tries to juggle his day-to-day problems, family problems, and at the same time learning about love and the sadness from those around him.
As alluded before that this is the black sheep of the Romantic Drama genre, though it does have some typical elements – what genre doesn’t? The biggest positives within the series are that the pacing is moderately practical to any real-life experience one could encounter. There are moments when the main character would have devastating blows, some minor triumphs then setbacks. Having those problematic areas realistically paced was a surprise when most series within this genre has so many problems with story progression.
Another enjoyable part of this series was that it wasn’t a stereotypical high school romance story with melodrama. A majority of the series will continue to tell its story through exposition, usually creating perfect moments of drama and producing a decent amount of ethos and sometimes pathos. True Tears uses silence between characters to expand its story creating the ideal trifecta of ethos, pathos, and even logos. Though what this series has done quite well is that the characters act like their age group. They sometimes do things without thinking, overthinking at times, even ego-driven, which seems to seldomly used in a way that uses all three appeals to connect one another.
Unfortunately, the negatives of this story are that it’s more or less predictable, especially if one has seen more than a few romantic series, then you’ll be able to see where it’s going to go. While predictability isn’t always a negative aspect, but in this series, it seems to be problematic for any viewer due to the viewer possibly knowing the ending before the series gets there. Another negative this story had was that it was very transparent throughout the entirety of the series. Transparent meaning that it didn’t show its entire hand in the first few episodes, but it confirmed enough to know you’ll either win or lose. Having shown most of its cards at the beginning of the series somewhat defeats telling a story, because the viewer already knows how it’ll end.
This series’s art style can be argued as one of the high points, and rightfully so. Having an anime series with stunning artwork is a treat for any genre, and this is no different. It’s colorfully drawn scenes, mixed with the individual character designs are what make this stand out. Another positive aspect of this artwork is that it doesn’t rely on overtly cute imagery. It relies more on realistic elements; for example, something depressing happening during a bright and colorful scenery; it happens in life. If one desires to view this purely due to the artistic side of things alone, there are plenty of other alternatives to choose from, and there are plenty of better possibilities.
The animation production side of this series is a bit of a mix between flavorful and flavorless, and that is being extremely generous. In comparison, the opening and closing sequences were terrific and wonderfully crafted. The middle parts were almost like a lettuce sandwich, where the middle portions of the episodes were less helpful and devastatingly harmful for the series entirely. Much like most entertainment for the masses, sometimes studios try to cut corners by using Compute-generated imagery (CGI). Sometimes it is well done, and others look like an elementary student did it.
Now I won’t downrate any artistic medium for using CGI because we’ve all seen fantastic CGI created. One that comes to mind was the short film called In a Heartbeat by Beth David and Esteban Bravo. Though when a director, Junji Nishimura, who has done excellent work in the past, uses cheap rendering when there are large crowds and be easily spotted miles away. That’s rather unfortunate for any series, especially when a series has multiple music pieces for said series.
The characters within this series leave a positive mark within this series, and it possibly won’t work for every viewer. Each character is very relatable but not too relatable, where it seems fake or intentional. For example, Shinkchiro, a male high school student who enjoys drawing and even starts working on a picture book. He is living a regular life with his mother, father, and childhood friend until he meets a strange girl named Noe Isurugi. Added with being cursed, he is frustrated by not being able to see emotion from Hiromi, and other pressures from his family, such as being pressured to practice traditional Japanse dancing.
Noe Isurugi, a unique girl who attends Shinichiro’s school and her peers, avoid her at all costs. She likes chickens and only feeds one of them since she states, “it could fly” while the other cannot. After a tragic event, she becomes saddened, but doesn’t cry because she “gave away her tears.” Over time she develops feelings for Shinichiro and even goes out with him. At the same time, she is known to have a plain-spoken personality and speaks brutally honest with people. She seems to be highly empathic towards others, unlike most of her peers.
Hiromi Yuasa the other female lead within this story. After her father died, she came to live with Shinichiro’s family and has lived with them for a year by the start of the story. While she has been in the same class as Shinichiro since elementary school, despite being cheerful, she is now the polar opposite. She is notably exceptional in sports and is even one of the stars on the female basketball team. Though, when she is having a hard time focusing on games, it’s usually due to her internal dialogue.
Outside of these main characters, there are only two and possibly three secondary characters within this series. The first being Aiko Ando, though she continuously tries to get closer to him to no prevail. She happens to go to a different school. Though she is a year older than him, she happens to be significantly shorter than her friends. She is also dating Miyokichi Nobuse, Shinichiro’s best friend. All three have known each other since they were children and often hang out at her parents’ Imagawayki (Japanese dessert) shop.
I’m starting this next character as a possible secondary character, mainly due to her character development. Shiori Nakagami, Shinichiro’s mother, is an interesting character. She likes to do what she thinks is best for her son. She can be summed up as a helicopter parent, but even that is lacking in reality.
Throughout this series, one may go through many different moods, ranging from happiness to sadness. But upon finishing True Tears, the emotions one may feel like a sudden gift of enlightenment, though mainly pleasure of it being over. Some may consider this series to be pretty standard with nothing to offer, and that is quite fair. Although after watching this series, there are limited positives within this series. Particularly if one would enjoy an open-and-shut Romantic Drama series, if not, then one would probably enjoy anything but this.
True Tears isn’t the best in its genre, but it has a little something for everyone. It has likable characters, decently enjoyable story, great pacing, and at the very least, it has a decent original soundtrack. However, this series was moderately pleasant; it didn’t leave a lasting impact with someone who has seen a fair amount of other series of this type. Is it a terrible anime series? By no means, but if one is looking to watch something that could be easily defined as “generic Hallmark,” then this is the series for you. Outside of the points, I’ve pointed out this series was an adequate first creation, but it is highly forgettable. If one is starting anime or wanting to have an easy-to-follow series, this is a low recommendation.
Cody Senpai is the creator of BakaNow, an anime review website that specializes in spoiler-free reviews for everyone. He is an avid anime watcher who has traveled to Japan numerous times to not only experience the culture and history but also to build friendships with people through a common interest. He is an avid animation fanatic from birth and even went on to major in communication to help share the importance of the stories we love to watch and listen to. Cody lives in Denver, Colorado and loves to do anything adventurous.