‘Rewrite’ Gets a TV Anime

And all the reasons why it shouldn’t have.

Rewrite PV Img002

PV

(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)

Synopsis

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.

(Source: VNDB)

What?

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.

Who?

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).

Why?

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.

When?

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.

How?

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.

Rewrite PV Img004

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.

Rewrite PV Img006So, 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.

Rewrite PV Img005What 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.

Vantage

I love cute things.

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8 Responses

  1. I.D. nameless says:

    I said in the past that I’d want a Rewrite anime. The more I think about it the more I want to eat my words.

    [spoiler]
    I also thought of that last idea – they start with moon and have Kotarou see different flashbacks to his past because of that tree that Kagari is working on.
    After all, moon Kotarou is the sum of all Kotarou – you get a bit of common route to establish the characters and then you get the more important parts of each route separated by episodes of happenings on the moon that lead to each flashback. And then moon ends and you go to Terra.
    But I doubt they’re going to think too hard about it and we get…something that will make us weep.
    Oh yeah, and that fate/kaleid liner butchery. Silver Link really screwed this season for me… [/spoiler]

    • Vantage says:

      I’ve spoiler tagged the stuff on Moon, just in case! I think it’d be good to start with that too, especially as it’d throw people into the plot instead of having lots of slice-of-life segments at the start that might turn off potential new fans – like with Little Busters. I’m just hoping they’re going into this (after all this time with no anime announcement) with a proper plan, instead of doing it just because.

      But a Rewrite anime means… we get to see Akane-sama animated *heavy breathing*

      • I.D. nameless says:

        Heh, and there you go, finding something positive.
        As long as we don’t get any “quality animation” seeing Akane-sama move will be…I have no words.
        Also, sorry about the spoiler.
        [spoiler] I actually know how to use spoiler tags on this site but I’m too stupid to know when to use them.
        Me being mostly spoiler-immune doesn’t help and I was banned from other places because of this. [/spoiler]

        • Vantage says:

          There are lots of positive things! It’s just uncertain whether they’ll actually make it into the anime. My bucket list includes, but is not limited to:

          – ‘Welcome, gypsy, to my secret room.’
          – ‘Shake it now, baby now~’
          – ‘If I married Akane, I would be a wizard.’
          – ‘WHAAAAAAAAT!!! IIIIIIIS!!! YOUUUUUUUUUUUUUUTH!!!’
          – ‘This cafeteria has a huge variety of foods, but I’m probably the only one here who’s ever learned what the ceiling tastes like.’ (Of course, that has to be preceded by ‘TENNOUJI KOTAROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOU!!!’)
          – Doki Doki Maid Party
          – Return of the ‘Gao Gao Stegosaurus’ shirt

          …And so on. Holy crap, if THE YOSHINO SONG makes it in, I’m ready to forgive just about everything else. I have high hopes for the animation actually, even though I felt Grisaia was only decent or so – 8-bit also did Infinite Stratos, and I remember the animation there being pretty good. The new artwork of Kotori from this PV seems really nice too.

  2. exof954 says:

    …This is pretty much totally unrelated, but have you heard of a VN called Dengeki Stryker? Been curious about VNs for a while, since I finished season 1 of UBW, and was wondering if it’s any good.

    • Vantage says:

      I vaguely remember the name, but I’ve never played it for myself. It seems like it’s well-received on VNDB (a vast and comprehensive database for visual novels). The artwork and user interface look a little dated for something released in 2011, but of course that’s no bar to a good story.

      If you liked the UBW anime, you should definitely play Fate/stay. It’s nice to compare and contrast if nothing else, and you get a lot more monologues that the anime couldn’t include. You have to play through all the routes in order though – the game locks UBW (Rin’s route) and Heavens Feel (Sakura’s route) until you’re done with Fate (Saber’s route), the idea being that you go into each route with knowledge you learnt in the last one, with all the puzzle pieces fitting together by the end.

  3. Noc says:

    As someone who knows nothing about the game (but not at all bothered by spoilers), all I can say is that the PV looks exciting, and a lot different from the other Key works I’ve watched. Sure sounds like it has an interesting plot from what I’ve gathered. I’m tempted to finally try setting my laptop up to play these games, but at the same time I’d like to watch the anime first to keep me from having too many expectations… I hope for the game fans’ sake that 8-bit manages it well though. I agree that I.D’s idea sound like a good plan. Like Vantage noted, I was one of the viewers who couldn’t pull through with Little Busters, although I usually like slice of life- I think I was just expecting a little something more to start with from a Key adaption.

    • Vantage says:

      You definitely should play them! Anything by Key is excellent, but they tend to be >50 hours in total – a shorter work (couple of hours) they’ve produced is Planetarian, which is about a soldier in a post-apocalyptic world who meets a robot girl still doing her job in an abandoned shopping mall.

      I also sometimes felt like the slice-of-life in Little Busters persisted for too long – but other than Refrain, that’s what the plot for the character routes was built upon. When the various heroines’ issues were revealed, the tone became serious but the setting was largely the same. Rewrite is not like that. It starts off with slice-of-life like every other Key work – it’s practically a comedy at first. But once the character routes begin, everything changes and it escalates like a forest fire to the point it becomes unrecognizable from the comedy antics that were in the common route.

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