Eri KitamuraKana HanazawaChiwa SaitoRyouko Tanaka
Rewrite Season 2
Episode 1 also reviewed here: Anime 1st episodes 2017: R
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2017
Writer/director: Tensho
Actor: Chiwa Saito, Masakazu Morita, Adrena Line, Eri Kitamura, Hiroki Touchi, Kana Hanazawa, Keiko Suzuki, Risa Asaki, Ryouko Tanaka, Saya Shinomiya
Keywords: anime, fantasy, SF, alternate universe
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: Episodes 14-24
Website category: Anime 2017
Review date: 14 February 2018
That's odd enough that I'm not sure if I'd call it good or not. I think I approve of it, but it's also travelling far enough into parallel alternative reality territory that I think that muted my emotional responses. I wasn't reacting as wholeheartedly as I did to Season 1, although this season's content is also clearly far less fun. Season 1 showed us Kotarou as a schoolboy, making lots of friends and having increasingly weird and dark adventures. It has a brain-melting ending, but I liked that too.
Season 2, on the other hand, shows us a mute girl on the moon (Kagari), repeatedly killing Kotarou with her magic ribbons as he keeps coming back to life and remembering contradictory pasts. There's lots of decapitation, stabbing, etc. Oh, and also coffee. Coffee is important. Kotarou's other friends appear, even though I think they'd died too. Kagari's studying a big silver tree diagram that might help her trace or shape different realities. For what it's worth, this show seems to be exploring a breathtakingly dark apocalyptic premise. Mankind is destroying the planet and your best friend is a personification of Gaia who's probably going to exterminate us. The only question is whether genocide is good enough. Humanity's trashed the planet so comprehensively that we might have passed the point of no return, in which case life might be doomed even if we do eradicate those two-legged pests. (This viewpoint might sound extreme, but it's not without scientific basis. If civilisation fell tomorrow, for instance, then any hypothetical successors would be hard-pressed to reach today's tech level without the fossil fuels we've depleted.)
This is based on a Key/VisualArt's game, by the way, which fits the multiple routes. However multiple-choice realities appear to be a thing within this particular story, not just outside it. Can you play "world simulation"? Almost everyone destroys the Earth. Whoops. However there's at least one non-incompetent God, if only by accident. "Humanity came into existence while I was playing around."
We're now following Kotarou on Earth again, which hasn't been destroyed and still has the human race living on it. (You might have spotted a slight jump in the story.) He's young again, calling himself "Bond" and killing people in the Middle East. He's going to get involved with Gaia, the Guardians, mercenaries, monsters and girls who are now far younger than him. All the potential romance of Season 1 is now completely off the table, with Kotarou instead becoming a patronising adult who thinks he knows better than everyone and is willing to stick knives in throats. At one point, he'll get suicidal. He's bad at being nice to people. His goal is worthwhile, but his chosen tactics for getting there might make you wonder if he's got everything wrong and has become part of the problem.
Does it all have a happy ending? Uhhhhh... um, no, but that then becomes an esoteric "yes". The moral of the story is alarming twice over, in nearly opposite ways. (It's exploring an environmentalist nightmare, but its final conclusion might raise a few eyebrows. Using people's lives as fuel is a trivial detail, for instance.)
As you can tell, I'm ambivalent. Season 1 worked better, I think. (I've seen fans of the visual novel grumbling about how compressed it is, but I'm unqualified to judge there.) However I admire the series as a whole and I think it's beyond mental to try to compress this story into a measly 24 episodes. There are some entirely new story elements this year, which surprised me in a good way. Kotarou's various colleagues are interesting, engaging people, while I loved Jasmine.
Would I recommend this season? I'm not sure. Season 1 stands alone excellently, whereas Season 2 is twisting that into something more complicated and morose. It's doing something different with the doom, but it's following a pessimistic, unhappy road to an eccentric ending. It's a happier conclusion than Season 1, but also a more disturbing one. That said, though, dark isn't in itself bad. Season 2 isn't dark by mistake. They chose to tell this story. I can respect the show's integrity and I applaud their decision to do what they do. If anything, I'd say the main thing missing from this anime adaptation is that there's not enough of it. We only get a taster of all the different game routes. If you're going to tell a story that weaves together multiple realities, then let's weave them properly. Let's feel the true inevitability of destruction. I won't pretend that I'm planning to go out and buy the original visual novel, if only because I don't have a free month to spend playing it, but I'd still love to see how the whole thing fits together.