‘Rewrite’ Gets a TV Anime
And all the reasons why it shouldn’t have.
(All the animation in this PV comes from an old, animated PV created by White Fox way back when the visual novel first came out)
Rewrite is set in the fictional city Kazamatsuri where treeplanting and afforestation have caused the city to become overgrown with trees and flowers in much the same way that other cities are filled by buildings. However, while most of the city appears to be rural, there are many traditional city elements as well. While set in a modern setting, the city also gives off a strange sense of nostalgia.
Tennouji Kotarou lives here. He’s a high school student who has the ability to rewrite his own body; he can become stronger and faster at any time he chooses. He investigates supernatural mysteries with five girls from his school.
Rewrite (2011) is a visual novel produced by Key, the studio responsible for visual novel-turned-anime hits such as Air, Kanon and Clannad. Rewrite is one of their most recent works – all they’ve produced since then is a VN adaptation of Angel Beats (2015), which isn’t a new IP, Charlotte (2015) which ended today, and the yet-unreleased kinetic novel Harmonia (2015). According to Wikipedia, its genres include action, fantasy, romance and tragedy, which is about right but should really also include school and a tiny smudge of slice-of-life. Around this time last year, I did a series of posts covering the visual novel. It was lots of fun, and Rewrite is probably my favourite visual novel to date. So I care about this anime adaptation, a lot.
Unlike most of what Key produces, Maeda Jun has nothing to do with Rewrite. Its various routes were instead written by Tanaka Romeo (Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita), Ryukishi07 (Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni) and Tonokawa Yuuto (Little Busters!) who all contributed to different degrees.
The anime adaptation of Rewrite will be produced by 8-bit, and directed by Tensho (Kiniro Mosaic, Grisaia no Kajitsu). The script will be written by Tanaka Romeo and Kai from Visual Arts (Clannad).
I don’t know, money? With this, all of Key’s main visual novels will have had an adaptation. I’m sure Harmonia will get one too, a few years after it’s released.
If I had to guess, I’d go for Winter 2016 or Spring 2016. I don’t see it being dragged out for any longer than that, given that it’s being announced now.
This is the main problem. It’s the reason this post even exists in the first place – for me to vent my frustrations and speculate on exactly how the hell they’re going to pull this off. During my coverage of the visual novel, I distinctly remember saying (more than once) that Rewrite should never get an anime adaptation. I stand by those words. Even now, I really don’t think this is a good idea. If it turns out that this is all a joke, my response would be to sigh with relief and carry on with my life.
Rewrite has multiple routes – there’s the common route, which is the beginning of the story, then there are five character routes for the heroines Kotori, Chihaya, Lucia, Shizuru and Akane. After that there’s Moon, which is best described as a stand-alone acid trip, and Terra, which serves as the ‘true’ route tying up all loose ends and explaining everything. It’s like what After Story was to Clannad, or what Refrain was to Little Busters.
So there are many routes. That’s not the problem, though. The problem is that none of these routes can be depicted in a linear format – in any way, shape or form. This is because of several reasons. First, the romance aspect makes it impossible for them to continue the anime after one route is over, because that would mean the main character Kotarou is five-timing at the very least. Second, even if all the romance is cut out (which would mean character development is butchered into a gory mess, because the girls develop precisely because of their romantic interaction with Kotarou) it cannot be a linear anime, because the issues of all the heroines are not separate from that of the plot. Take Clannad for example – after the Fuuko route was done, Tomoya could return to school and the story could begin to focus on Kotomi’s issues.
Rewrite can’t do that, because a wider plot exists – and each heroine is developed in a way that’s parallel to the plot. So by the time a character route is over, the plot is over too – and along the way, the world itself will have changed and become a different place. In Lucia’s route, Person A might be Kotarou’s most reliable ally – but in Chihaya’s they may be his worst enemy. He can’t simply go back to school and begin the next route, it just doesn’t work like that.
But the most important reason is this: Kotarou himself undergoes irreversible changes throughout each route. His mentality itself becomes that of a different person – even the way he chooses to rewrite his physique is different depending on who he falls in love with. His page on MAL says just as much:
“As the story progresses and gets more serious, Kotarou undergoes great changes. Depending on which heroine he decides to follow, he becomes a whole different person with a different goal and a different mindset.”
So if Kotarou embraces a certain way of thinking and certain values during one route, this may be completely incompatible with how he’s supposed to act in another route – in one he may decide he’s okay with killing others for the greater good, but in another he may be completely against taking human life. It would be impossible to retcon Kotarou #1 and Kotarou #2 into being one, linear Kotarou the anime can work with, because by that point they’re not the same person any longer.
So, what’s supposed to be done? For one, 8-bit could just ignore all those issues and go ahead with a linear adaptation anyway, which would not only be a bullshit solution but would also be tantamount to ignoring the fundamental themes and values of Rewrite. It would also make Moon and Terra both pointless and impossible to adapt, for reasons which would be very spoiler-heavy. In fact, that’s another problem – it’s freaking 8-bit. And not only that, it’s 8-bit with Tensho at the helm, who ruined the first anime season of Grisaia by compressing routes that were tens of hours long into a single episode or two. The mere thought of my precious Rewrite being brutally murdered like that is absolutely terrifying. If it turns out that this is getting a one-cour adaptation, it’s guaranteed to be a trainwreck. It’s basically over before it even begins.
What I would like to see is this: a total of at least 36 episodes, plus an hour-long OVA. Ideally, we get the full Clannad treatment and it ends up being 48 episodes, but that’s less likely. If that’s the case, the first season would be two-cours, covering the common route, Kotori’s, Chihaya’s and Lucia’s. Then we’d get Moon as an OVA, and the second season would be Shizuru’s, Akane’s and Terra. All routes should be in an omnibus format – which is to say, after one route ends, the story starts from scratch again and plays out with Kotarou going for a different girl. This isn’t new at all – it was done very successfully with the Amagami series, and beyond romance series a perfect example is horror mystery Higurashi, whose writer Ryukishi07 wrote Lucia’s route in Rewrite. I’ve seen someone online propose the idea that they go for one route, then a section of Moon, another route, another section of Moon, a third route and so on – this is actually a really nice idea. It’s very ambitious, and why it even works is a huge spoiler, but it does – it’d make for a really interesting watch if this were to actually happen.
Rewrite is a very difficult project to adapt – it has a huge scale, and is very complicated. This is why any studio wanting to do an anime is basically asking to get burned. When I think ‘Rewrite anime’, I think P.A. Works or Kyoto Animation – maybe even just the former, given that supernatural is more up their alley compared to the sort of stuff KyoAni has been doing these days. So it being 8-bit already makes me uneasy. I’m not surprised Tanaka Romeo is writing the script of the anime, because he’s best suited to it as the one who wrote most of the visual novel in the first place. Beyond how it’s actually being adapted, there are issues like character designs and all the other usual roadblocks. If it’s a success, it’ll be nothing short of amazing. It’s just that it becomes that much easier to fuck up.