Chouyaku Hyakuninisshu: Uta Koi Ep. 1
Summer 2012 (12 episodes) (title translation – Love Poem Card Game) (more info)
At first I was very confused by the opening introduction of Uta Koi and I was wondering if I was watching some badly reimagined Hetalia clone. However, once narrator Sadaie got out of the picture I was treated to an interesting look at the lives of some strong willed men and women in the upper echelons of classical Japanese high society. Never mind the pretense that this anime is about poetry. It barely has any presence in the overall story and is more of a little, niggling reminder that only pops up every so often.
In spite of the fact that the anime is failing to deliver on its central creative premise, the fact that it’s telling a good story anyways is an intriguing turn of events. The men in Uta Koi love their women in a very mature way that’s borne of a deep respect for them as people and the flirtatious banter between them comes from both sides of the gender divide with a maturity to it that is refreshingly honest. There are also some very clear and resounding philosophical comments that really got to me on a deep level and allowed this series to earn my respect at this early stage.
The art style reminds me of Samurai Girls with its bold colors and thick, sharp lines that look like they were painted with a wide brush. It’s a look that could only be pulled off by an anime that is very Japanese and Uta Koi definitely fits that criteria. In a weird way, the orchestral opening and hip-hop ending themes feel conspicuously out of place in this anime that otherwise is seething with flavor appropriate to its time period. As for the way the story is delivered, it feels quite episodic, but I’m not sure to what degree the characters who are not the narrator are going to continue to play their respective roles.
I like Uta Koi, but I feel as though I’m enjoying it for the wrong reasons. It’s as if it got its priorities messed up somewhere along the line, but that turned out to be a fortuitous stroke of luck…or genius. I’m not sure which, so that’s why I’m going to say that this series deserves a closer look.