From left: Kuga Mikoto, Koharu, Shiranui Nanami
Overall Rating: 3.5 /5 moons
Based on the summary, you may wonder, why is this little boy caught up in such a situation? And if you look at the genre, you would also wonder, it is an otome series, right? Well, you are not wrong and this series is different as compared to the other usual otome series. For starters, as you can clearly see, there was not just one but three female protagonists.
The story is seemingly set in the future. Based on the design and architecture of the town, the main character Sorata initially thought that he’d either gone back to either the Meiji or Taisho era as they resemble the ones in his textbook. Much like Tsubasa Chronicle, this series does involve some time travelling shenanigans but in Norn9, it is a slightly different kind as the characters do not go through multiple dimension teleportation. Basically, the time travel in this series is pretty basic.
To me, Norn9 is a rather unique series because of its slightly different setup. There are several points that made this series different from other otome series. First of all, there is not just one female protagonist but three. Each protagonist has their own personality and target groups in the game but in the anime, they do interact with one another. [Writer’s note: The target group here refers to the group of guys that are grouped together with a certain main character (refer to the screenshot below). For example, Koharu’s target group includes Senri, Kakeru and Tooya]
With this in mind, you may also wonder how the producers managed to combine the bits and pieces of all the routes? When one is already clearly difficult, what about three? Well, that is why I take my hats off to the production company. Although there are three female protagonists to focus on, the producers did a good job in combining the various routes from all three of them without making it look out of place. Due to this combination, the series has its own uniqueness to it which no longer feels like the cliche otome series we watch.
Secondly, romance is part of the equation in this series. Through Koharu’s and Kakeru’s relationship development throughout the series, you can already feel the intimacy between them. Their relationship became one of the focal points in the series. Hence, you can say that instead of the usual “everyone falls for the female protagonist” kind of thing, our main character here did fall in love with someone so you can say that her romance route is highlighted.
Another difference would be when Sorata appeared in the story and how he appeared in the game. In the game, you can play as him in the prologue before meeting the other characters. However, he appeared much later in the anime and his entry to the main plot was also changed. But even so, other elements like, meeting Koharu first (out of all the norn9 characters) did not change.
All in all, the plot was good as it followed the plot of the game closely (for most parts) and the viewers could clearly see the similarities between the two. With a little twist, the viewers can also have a sneak peak to parts of the routes of each character which was a nice surprise. Having said that, the ending was a little below par and cliche but even so it did not take the fun out of the entire anime.
Other than that pairing, there were also hints of other pairs too. They would be Mikoto with Natsuhiko, Mikoto with Sakuya, Nanami with Akito, Sorata and Aoin and so on. Even though there were hints, but the developments in their relationships were not as far as the relationship between Kakeru and Koharu. But even so, you could see how each character changed under the influence of one another.
Visuals and audio of the series are a yes in my book. The drawing style is rather unique and the design of the characters are pleasing to the eyes and not overly striking. Both of those points were what attracted me to the series.
Animation-wise, it is another tick because the quality is consistent and smooth. Each scene was transited fairly well and it was not clustered. From the fight scenes to the regular motion scenes, each scene was taken care of. In some parts of the anime, you even get a sort of 3D or MMD feel and this gave the series another unique style to its animation. For one, the producers also managed to replicate the scenes nicely from the game with the same amount of quality. A big thumbs up to the animation studio there.
Audio wise, a big yes! The BGM matched the scenes really well and they are really compatible to the series, helping to set the mood. Another thing that caught my attention was the opening theme of the series that was performed by yanaginagi. It was so good that I became a fan right after listening to it. (And I was really excited when she came to Animax Carnival 2016 to perform it!) The lyrics was meaningful and it fit the theme, while the arrangement was fantasy-like, it was also almost as if it was a mirage (well, from my perspective at least).
(*A side note: yanaginagi voiced for Aion or also known as Aine in the series)
For otome fans like me, I would definitely recommend this series. I think that this anime can also be viewed by male viewers who also like the romance otome genre as it is not cliche at all. Furthermore, the anime is quite magical in its own way with its unique story telling style and what not. Kudos to the scriptwriters for being able to combine bits and pieces from the game and turning it to a stunning anime. Paired with good animation and beautiful audio, yeap, it is a yes from me.
P.S. If you can, play the game! What is unique about the game is that, you first play as Sorata in the prologue before choosing a female protagonist and then choosing one guy from their respective target groups. Furthermore, unlike the usual otome games, the female protagonists are all voiced, even ‘you’.