I loved the first episode. I found it fascinating. After finishing this 24-episode series, though, I'm not sure I'll bother watching the two-part live-action movie adaptation. It's dry to the point of dessication, being basically an exercise in being clever and intricate with a cast of dispassionate characters. It's okay, though. I did finish it. I'd even sort of recommend it, if you think it's your kind of thing.
It's set in a town called either Sakurada or Sagrada, where most people have superpowers. It's the only place in the world where that's true and indeed you'll lose them if you leave (or, to be precise, your awareness of them). They tend to be pretty rubbish, though. Take Haruki Misora, for instance. She can reset the universe. Sounds good, right? Unfortunately this includes her own memories, so she'll have no idea that she might have to do anything differently. How did she ever realise that she had this ability, if using it wipes her memory of doing so? Other restrictions on her powers include:
(a) she can only reset if she's previously created a save point to return to. These are one-use and only good for three days.
(b) she can't reset twice in a 24-hour period.
In other words, she just can't keep trying until she succeeds. The amnesia's an even bigger handicap... but that's where Asai Kei comes in. His power is "infallible memory". That probably doesn't sound exciting, but it turns out that it even works across resets. That's what this show keeps doing. Apparently useless powers can become threatening if you're clever about them. There's a girl called Sumire Soma who smiles a lot and weaponises Kei and Misora by just putting them together.
This show's reasoning goes deeper than you'd think. It discusses philosophy and thought experiments, e.g. the swampman, the plank of Carneades and Bertrand Russell's five-minute hypothesis. Avoid this show if you hate slow, talky TV, although it should be noted that its superpowers are capable of turning apparently absurd hypotheticals into reality. It's a clever show, but also in some ways pretty cold. There's a Bureau in Sakurada that monitors people's abilities and makes decisions for the greater good. They're super-polite and indeed they'll soon have recruited Kei and Misora to be their agents. They start a "Service Club" at school, which Kei and Misora join because their missions are generally to help people.
All that's... okay. In principle, I like it. However a show also depends on its characters, which here is more of a problem.
Kei talks almost like a robot. The nearest he gets to being emotional is to say "I wouldn't like that" in a calm way, while having a reasoned discussion with someone. He also has a weird, masochistically purist philosophy of life that means he can't react like a human being.
With Misora, though, there's no "almost". Drop her into a different genre and you'd never believe she wasn't made of plastic and metal. Kei only comes across as being about 80% android, but Misora's hitting 99%. She has dead, vacant eyes and talks like a speak-your-weight machine. She's almost lost the ability to distinguish herself from others, everything she says sounds empty and she makes all her decisions based on rules. She decides quite early to trust Kei, after which she simply delegates all decision-making to him. If he'd ordered her to have sex with a random passer-by in the street, I think she'd have done it. (Well, possibly subject to her definition of a possibly harmful outcome.) At most, she might have asked about the purpose of the action and whether Kei had any specific instructions concerning it. She's lucky he's as rigidly ethical as her.
The supporting cast aren't that bad, obviously, but they're not far off. They'll sometimes be emotional, but never so much that they're not ready for a calm, collected conversation. You can always have a discussion with them. Kei will meet them in the street. He'll have a conversation with them, probably a fairly abstract one in which people discuss their own motivations with the dispassionate air of an editor who's only reading your manuscript as a favour.
In ep.1, I was fascinated. I wanted more of Kei and Misora and this clever, fastidious anime. Its plot is a slightly bewildering array of abilities and impossibilities, built up on each other like a beautiful house of cards. It's delicate. I admire it. However it becomes less interesting when Kei and Misora are sorting out a Problem of the Week and having emotionless conversations. They don't even have any body language. Misora will get character development, but only from "emotionless robot" to "emotionless robot who likes Kei and analyses herself". (That said, though, Misora's very emotionlessness is capable of being amusing. I laughed when Kei told her to make friends in ep.7 and she took it completely seriously, asking how and who.)
Despite all this, incidentally, Kei and Misora get chosen in ep.16 as the romantic leads in the class play for the school culture festival. What the hell? Did everyone else vote them in for laughs, or is it just that no one else wanted to do it? The question isn't "can Misora act?" but "is Misora even capable of smiling?"
It's a clever show. You might need a pencil and paper to follow all the superpower chess moves. It's capable of cool twists. Personally, though, I got the impression that the show itself was as clever and emotionless as its leads. It's watchable, but it's all about finding ingenious answers rather than exploring its characters and their emotions (when they have any). I watched all the episodes, but I didn't keep them afterwards. However it might be worth a spin if you're interested in seeing a calm, intellectual analysis of what might happen in a community of clever and slightly ruthless people with apparently useless superpowers.