February 13, 2011

Mystery Meat -- Futakoi

Today's Mystery Meat is Futakoi, which can be loosely translated as "Twin Love". (It's 双恋. Koi implies passionate love, where ai implies tender love.)

Long ago, two twin women fell in love with the same man, and he with both of them. But he could not decide between them, and in the end didn't marry either. Ultimately this unresolved love lead all three to misery, and the women were turned into birds by a magic rock, and flew away into the night sky.

At the location where this happened, there is a shrine. The rock is still there, surrounded by a rope, and it is thought to be cursed. And in that town, there are many twin girls born, and the locals think it is because of that event long ago.

Our hero is Futami Nozomu. He and his parents lived in that town until he was in kindergarten, and then moved to Tokyo. A bit later, his mother died. His father is an astronomer, and he passed up several professional opportunities so he could stay in Tokyo and raise his son.

Now Nozomu is in 8th grade? 9th grade? or in high school? I'm not clear on that. And his father was offered a chance to work in Hawaii. Nozomu could have gone with him, but he decided he wanted to let his father really get the most out of this opportunity. So instead, it has been arranged for Nozomu to stay for two years with the family that runs that shrine, back in his original home town, and to attend middle school there so he can prepare for his high school entrance exams. (Or he already passed them and is in high school. Or something.)

When Nozomu was in kindergarten, twin girls lived next door to him and they were all friends. Their names are Kaoruko and Sumireiko, and one time they both told him they wanted to marry him when they all grew up. He linked little fingers with them.

So in the first episode he returns to the town by train, and follows the instructions he was given to walk to the shrine. On the way he has an unfortunate incident with another pair of twins named Kira and Yura. They're odd ones; their family is rich, rich, rich and they've lived their entire lives away from anything we'd consider normal. But it is their family's tradition that their kids have to live a year out in the world, to get grounded. That day was their first as part of this tradition, and their mission was to buy things at a convenience store.

Anyway, there's an innocent misunderstanding that gets cleared up, but only after he runs away after being threatened by the rich twins' combat butler. (He looks like the one in Princess Lover and the one in Keroro Gunsou. Lean, tall, gray haired, and with a prominent sagging moustache.)

So he finally arrives at the shrine, and it turns out that the lady he'll be staying with (who doesn't seem to have a husband, for whatever reason) has twin girls who are in grade school. Their names are Lulu and Lala.

The basic hook for this series is that Nozomu will have various dealings with fully six different pairs of twins of various ages:

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Top left is Kaoruko and Suireiko, childhood friends. Top middle is Kira and Yura, rich girls on a safari to experience normal life. Top right are Lulu and Lala, lolis.

Bottom right are teachers at the school. The one without the glasses is Momoi Ai, Nozomu's home room teacher. The other teacher and the other two pairs of twins didn't appear in the first episode.

Based on one episode, the series has something of a warm heart, and a tendency to eschew cheap laughts. Nozomu embarasses himself about three times in the first episode, but it's not the kind of mortification that makes me run fleeing. For instance, he did not innocently stumble and fall and end up with one or another girl's boobs in his face. (Or her crotch. Or him clutching her boob. Or her crotch.) His first encounter with the rich girls, one of them drops her wallet, he picks it up and tries to return it, but they've been told about creepy people and flee from him. Eventually the combat butler, misunderstanding everything, knocks Nozomu down. Nozomu hands the wallet to the store clerk and runs away. Then a little boy there with his mother, who saw all of this, explains what was going on -- and the twins and their combat butler are themselves embarassed.

So when, at the school the next day, Nozomu encounters the two, they apologize to him. He was just trying to do a good deed, and by that point they know it. And in as much as they have learned about the world by reading manga, they decide that the meeting with him is Destiny™. (Given the basic level of writing in this show, I'm not really sure they're wrong about that.)

One reason they're eschewing those uncomfortable kinds of jokes is that this doesn't seem to be a fan service show. The girls are cute, but no one has ridiculous boobs, and there hasn't been any jiggle, and pretty much no pandering at all -- besides the huge pander of "lots of girls and one guy" which is inherent in the story concept.

There is one odd thing, though. At the end of the first episode, we got a picture of the rock, with a sudden breeze blowing. At the Tropes site, there's a picture of Nozomu and the 12 and this caption: "If he screws this up, there will be a ton of birds flying around."

I can't say I'm all that intrigued by the show, though. I may jump ahead and watch the last episode, just to see how it comes out.

UPDATE: Wikipedia has full episode summaries, so I can save some time.

UPDATE: And... the answer is

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Mystery Meat at 05:13 PM | Comments (5) | Add Comment
Post contains 1007 words, total size 6 kb.

1 Well, it would have been the biggest harem ending since Tenchi Muyo GXP, even if you accept the 8-wife interpretation.  I suppose the writers of Futakoi were insufficiently ambitious to try for the record.

Posted by: ubu at February 13, 2011 07:04 PM (GfCSm)

2 Futakoi was my first anime where I had to sketch a field guide. Kaoruko has a tail, Sumireko doesn't. Yura combs her hair to the right, Kira combs to the left. Yeah.

The Futakoi Alternative was supposed to be much better, but I never gave it a chance. The phrase "detective agency" scared me.

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at February 13, 2011 07:56 PM (9KseV)

3 If you look closely at the characters, within each pair of twins there is one thing which is colored differently. For instance, the two in the lower left corner? their ties are different colors.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at February 13, 2011 09:26 PM (+rSRq)

4 I liked Futakoi.  It's not remarkable, but it is, as you say, warm-hearted.

Didn't like Futakoi Alternative at all, except for the closing credits, where are very nicely done.  It was trying to be edgy or something; whatever it was trying to do it failed, at least for me.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at February 14, 2011 02:15 AM (PiXy!)

5 I wouldn't call Alternative edgy. There were yakuza, but they seemed comical.

Posted by: muon at February 14, 2011 09:41 AM (JXm2R)

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