Da Capo II: Nanaka Shirakawa

By bluemist on June 25th, 2006

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Let’s admit… er… Nanaka will be one of the more popular Da Capo II girls, mainly because of her lineage. Nanaka Shirakawa has a striking resemblance to Da Capo Generation One’s Kotori Shirakawa. She is also the “perfect girl”. Sweet, kind, smart, loves to sing, and is a popular school idol. Actually, them two girls are almost exactly the same, Nanaka is only a little bit more energetic. Even their powers are the same.

That said, wouldn’t it be boring to see the same Shirakawa, only slightly different? This kind of similarity is comparable to a old song that has been remade. The remake may be good, but you still like the old song better. Such a pity, because Nanaka’s story is arguably tighter and more interesting than Kotori’s.

Nanaka’s scenario would seem to intertwine steadily with Koko’s, and so I guess a run-through of Koko should be in order. Hopefully I will have time to play more Da Capo II (oh no, is that Summer Days I see in the computer table?) and show Koko’s scenario next time. For now, please spend some time and enjoy Nanaka Shirakawa’s story!

Disclaimer: Lacking Japanese will mean lack of story details. I expect that there will be a LOT of errors in the way I understood some events, because I rely only on the spoken dialogue. To the Japanese-literate game players who may have found this page, please do help me in case I have mistaken in understanding some parts of the story. Please do post a comment or contact me.

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procrastination8: Da Capo II

By bluemist on August 8th, 1988

After the powerful first series and its less than impressive sequel, the popular bishoujo game franchise returns for yet another ‘da capo’ in anime form. Da Capo II the anime is actually made up of two 13-episode seasons, and I’m here to review both, although some may argue that the only one worth reviewing is Da Capo II Second Season. I think everyone knows by now how bad Da Capo II (first season) went, but I have another alternate reaction about it.

All along Da Capo II was probably really slated for 26 full episodes, but the producers deliberately cut it in half, maybe because of production/time constraints and TV broadcast conflicts. Assuming that is the case, Da Capo II, when taken as a whole, is an excellent anime overall. The problem is that viewers would tend to isolate the first season from the second. But do remember that the first Da Capo didn’t really hit its stride until after the latter half of its 26-episode run, and Da Capo II isn’t any different from that. If both seasons were taken as a whole, it makes more sense. The first half would be introductory episodes for everyone, and minor arcs for minor characters. The second half would make up the serious main arcs. This setup captures the essence of the first Da Capo anime, without those half-baked seiyuu music videos and side-stories.

So Da Capo II is around 50 years since the original, and the same city setting of Hatsunejima. We see that the sakura is unwithered all year round just like before, and the magic to grant wishes is starting to grow once again. Joining the Da Capo mythos are new characters, mostly descendants of the original set. First, Yoshiyuki is the ever-present boring male lead, and in twice the fun, he has two sisters, Yume and Otome Asakura (imouto and onee-chan complex). Sakura Yoshino returns as the eternal loli, while we see our original male lead Junichi as a grandfather, and Suginami… as the same freaking Suginami (a mystery?) The rest are the usual fare of male sidekick (Wataru), childhood friend (Koko), tsundere robo (Minatsu), loli know-it-all (Anzu), and school idol (Nanaka). Thank goodness we have a smaller cast, although too bad they didn’t capitalize on each one effectively.

The first season gave the limelight mostly to Koko and Minatsu, with a sad little spotlight to Nanaka. I’m quite surprised that they gave the love angle immediately to Koko. It was something worthy of praise especially with the annoying bishoujo cliche of having so many girls but not much romance. Koko was an underappreciated character in the game, so this is one point for the Koko fans. It was really a fair run during the Yoshiyuki-Koko relationship, and I feel that Yoshiyuki had more character in this first half, because he deteriorated a lot in the latter half (more on that later). Minatsu’s story starts its stride in a very accurate portrayal of her game scenario. But again, Minatsu is another underappreciated character. With those two getting so much attention, all the boos by fans came out of having almost no loving for Nanaka. She gets a few episodes but not much story. Towards the end, the Yoshiyuki-Koko separation is very expected, and many wonder how this season overall is da crapo because of no Otome and Yume in sight. Again I argue that if taken as a whole 26-episoder, this isn’t any different from CLANNAD and Kanon right? Kill a few arcs from the start before going to the main juicy stories.

In any case, fans rejoice at the announcement of Da Capo II Second Season, where the much-awaited Otome and Yume stories are expected to be shown. This is really where the series shined like no other, the animation was consistent, and the music is atmospheric. But where it really hit the mark is how they gave the baton to not only Otome and Yume, but also Sakura as well. If one didn’t play the game, this is a welcome surprise, as Sakura is really central to the plot. This solid mixture of Otome, Yume and Sakura’s game scenarios is one for the history books. The pace is excellent, and the drama is endearing to watch. Classic Da Capo like never before, and it “almost” dethroned the original in terms of magical emo drama… “almost”. Because I have a fundamental nitpick… Yoshiyuki. Yup, again the male leads tend to spoil all the fun. Yoshiyuki in this second season lost his character, and he is more faceless than ever before. We see Otome, Yume, Sakura, and even the minor cast pouring out all their love for him, and yet I can’t see that he deserves it. He accepts everything at face value, and his smiles seem so empty. Even when Yume and Otome confessed their love, he seemed too naive. Why not show a bit of affection? Not even sisterly love? I know that it is a good decision to get rid of some romantic aspects so that Yume and Otome are treated as equals instead of rivals, but I can’t see how Yoshiyuki loves even ‘both’ of them, not even as sisters. He’s so emotionless here, and he acts indifferent. And the ending which is essentially a deus ex machina is expected, but with an unlikable character such as Yoshiyuki, the experience is somewhat cheapened. I’d rather have it end at episode 12, where he is completely gone.

That’s a nitpick that doesn’t take away the magic of this anime though. The rest of the anime is so solid that it deserves a second sitting. It was really a good run, deserving of the original Da Capo standard. If you liked the original Da Capo, you’ll definitely love this one. It extends the bishoujo-dorama genre upward to new heights of quality.