Episodes seen: 1-3 of ?
Saishu Heiki Kanojo (Saikano for short) focuses on the awkward romance between its main characters, Shuuji and Chise. She confesses feelings for him after being put up to the task by Shuji's friend, Akemi. For her, it's a new experience. For him, relationships are a pain, and expressing his feelings is difficult. As a result, he's extremely standoffish toward her - add in her timidness, and it seems like a recipe for failure. That is, until a remarkable thing happens: they decide to actually try for love.
There's just one problem--Chise. Chise is cute...but slow. Tiny and timid, not to mention a klutz. Her grades are below average, but her World History is good for some reason, although she knows it won't benefit her much in life. She have a habit of saying 'I'm sorry', her goal in life is 'to become stronger'. The irony is that such a girl would become the ultimate weapon, and become Japan's only reliable defense against the mysterious foreign threat. Chise becomes constantly torn between her humanity and her role as a mass weapon of destruction. Her love for Shuji quickly becomes the only shred of humanity that she can cling to.
Herself the Elf sez: This one starts off normally enough--we are introduced to a cute young couple trying to connect with each other and going about their normal highschool business...and then the city blows up, at which point we discover that the shy, awkward girl is actually a deadly weapon. The trouble is, she doesn't really know why this is happening to her, nor does she want it to. Japan's only hope just wants to live a normal life, but deep down she knows there's no way she can do so.
Saikano is very low-key--there's not much action here. Slow and introspective are the words of the day. We don't even see any scenes of Chise fighting with her super-cool robot wings and BFG, only the results afterwards when she shows up for school battered and bruised. In this way they avoid the clichéd war-anime style and focus on the bittersweet love story between Chise and Shuuji. The conflict between her normal life and what her body is rapidly transforming into is accellerating, and the writers don't give us a sense of optimism regarding our young couple's future. No matter where they run, she can't leave behind what she is, and there's no way to get around it.
It's not all depressing, of cousre--there are a few moments of humour thrown in here and there, such as when Chise and Shuuji are trying to ride away on his bike and they see an enemy plane overhead. Chise just *can't* help herself--heat-seeking missiles tumble out comically from under her fuku. There's also a bit of lighthearted dialogue here and there, but overall it's mostly low-key and melancholic.
The animation is excellent, with clean lines, smooth motion and mostly subdued colours fitting well with the feel of the show. The character designs, however, are a bit odd as everyone has strangely flat, shapeless faces with hardly any nose and weird red lines across their cheeks. The opening sequence gives us a hint of what's to come, featuring misty gray shapes and words fading in and out of view to the tune of a melancholy pop song. The rest of the music fits well with the feel of the series and consists mostly of soft, slow ballads and instrumentals.
Saikano is a quiet, low-key romance/drama that's handled with delicacy and subtlety, but be warned that if you're looking for an upbeat love story or action-packed robot battles, look elsewhere. This "Last Love Story On This Little Planet" probably isn't going to end happily, but I for one would still like to see the rest.