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Midori Days
Volumes 1-3
Reviewed by Kevin Pezzano, © 2005

Format: Anime
By:   Anime Works
Genre:   Romantic Comedy
Review Date:   September 12, 2005
RevSF Rating:   7/10 (What Is This?)

“Why are there tits on my right hand!?” — Seiji discovers Midori attached to his wrist.

Midori Days is the heartwarming tale of an awkward romance between a rough-hewn juvenile delinquent and the shy rich girl who is attached to his right wrist in place of his hand.

If there is an anime out there with a more f[il]ked up concept than this, I don’t want to know about it.

Seventeen-year-old Seiji Sawamura, known as “Mad Dog” for his brutal fighting skills and his less-than-stellar intellectual capabilities, has gone his entire life without ever having had a date. Midori Kasugano is the only girl who isn’t deathly afraid of the violent, delinquent Seiji, but she is far too shy and sheltered to even talk to him. Then, one morning, when they both wake up, they discover that Midori has mysteriously transformed into a small living puppet, in place of Seiji’s right hand.

Midori Days naturally milks this bizarre concept for all its worth. Almost all the comedy in this series comes from Midori and Seiji having to adapt to their odd new situation, from cooking meals to taking a leak. Fortunately, most of the comedy is actually pretty funny. A lot of it is slapstick, such as when Midori, who can move around on her own and even drag Seiji around despite being essentially part of his body, has to fend off various visitors to Seiji’s apartment while he’s unconscious by hefting him around like a giant marionette. Some of it is bawdy situational humor, since Midori and Seiji, literally being attached at the wrist, have to change and bathe each other, neither of them quite prepared for that level of intimacy.

But the real core of Midori Days is the characters. On the whole, this is a very good thing, since this anime is blessed with a surfeit of amusing personalities. The funniest by far is Ayase, the uptight goody-girl in Seiji’s class. At first completely dismissive of Seiji, she finds her attitude changing after he saves her from a gang of thugs from a rival school. Her perfectionist nature makes her fumbling attempts to catch Seiji’s eye the highlight of the whole series, with everything from first dates to seduction attempts laid out in meticulous detail — and never quite going according to plan.

She’s not the only one to steal the show. Seiji’s former-biker-gang-leader older sister, O-Rin, is a violent, alcoholic, big-breasted, bespectacled hellion, who divides her time equally between making Seiji’s life hell and helping him and Midori out when they need it. Seiji’s classmate Takamizawa is a doll otaku, obsessed with anime figurines and never without his prized hand puppet Marin-chan; at first, he seems to be a danger to the doll-like Midori, but he quickly becomes a valued, if odd, friend (he knows where to get all the best doll clothes, after all). Seiji’s neighbor Shiori is the obligatory oversexed schoolgirl, but her crush on Seiji (while played for laughs) isn’t creepy, but tragic, since her obsession with him is rooted in her very sad family situation.

I’m sure you’ve noticed that there are two obvious omissions in that list. That’s because the two main characters in Midori Days almost drag the rest of the series down with their mediocrity. To be fair, Seiji himself isn’t too bad. He’s just unoriginal — there are dozens of blockheaded delinquent types who are the oblivious object of female attention in anime. Seiji’s basically an updated version of Ranma Saotome from the classic series Ranma 1/2.

The real problem with Midori Days is Midori herself. While she does have a few good moments, like when she secretly writes in her giant diary about her experiences or yells at Seiji during the more perverted moments of the anime, the rest of the time she’s just a gigantic lead weight dragging this series down. Most of the time, she’s a bland, boring nonentity, whose whole self-existence is wrapped up in her devotion to Seiji. This not only makes for pretty uninteresting viewing (especially during the episode where she briefly gets her real body back, which was so interminable it almost made me fast-forward through the thing), but it’s also a tad obsessive and creepy. It also makes me wonder just why Seiji decides to return her affections, instead of going for the far superior, interesting, and non-stalkerish Ayase. Even worse, on those few occasions when Midori does show a bit of spark and spirit, she’s basically a ripoff of all the other angry anime femmes out there. When the best thing you can say about your female lead is that she’s a pale imitation of Naru from Love Hina crossed with a pale imitation of Belldandy from Ah! My Goddess, your series has problems.

Luckily, the other flaws in Midori Days are pretty minor. The series is too short, lasting just 13 episodes, yet it’s an adaptation of a multi-volume manga. This leads to a rather rushed and unsatisfying climax, as the creators try to cram as much resolution into the short length as possible, and it doesn’t really work. The dub is also a little weak, though some of the English actors do come off well, especially the ones portraying Seiji and O-Rin. And, I gotta say, the music is really, really annoying.

Still, there’s more than enough good stuff in Midori Days to make up for all that. The setup is original, the comedy is genuinely funny, and the supporting cast is hysterically entertaining. The colors and animation are bright and sharp, and the original Japanese voice actors are perfectly suited to their roles. The whole 13-episode series is contained on just three discs, and there are even some nice extras here, like some audio dramas and dub outtakes.

Midori Days manages to be fun and enjoyable despite the mediocrity and lack of originality present in its main characters. It won’t make any “best of” lists, but it’s amusing, clever, and even touchingly sweet at times. At just three discs for the entire series, romantic comedy fans could certainly do a lot worse than to check this series out.

Anime Editor Kevin Pezzano managed to avoid a “right hand being a boy’s first girlfriend anyway” joke for the entire review. And let me tell ya, it wasn’t easy.

 
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