There’s actually been a significant number of specials that I’ve missed this year, mostly because they just come out of the blue and if you aren’t specifically looking for them, you’re likely to be unaware they were ever produced. Take this one for the 2012 series Akumu-chan that I reviewed here. I had no idea that there was a special, or a movie, that aired about a year ago. When I saw it, I grabbed it, but I wish there was a way of knowing which shows were going to get specials, when they were getting them, etc. This was 18 months after the end of Akumu-chan, for crying out loud!
So here goes nothing, my review of the Akumu-chan Special.
You should probably go back and re-read the introduction to the series in my first review, although they do a quick one-minute recap during the special. In the special, which seems to take place not too long after the series, Yuiko is still having nightmares, but there’s no time for that now because her school has been chosen to engage in a Difference in Age Cultural Event, where representatives are going to go to an all-girl’s high school and trade ideas. Yuiko and the rest of the representatives are charged with writing an essay about their future but she can’t come up with any dreams since everything she sees is a nightmare. It isn’t any better for the older girls, there’s a dance club at the high school which is struggling, one girl has left their troupe and went into school politics and apparently, she has something against the club. She frames them for destruction of school property, which prompts the school to shut down the club, just as the Cultural Event gets into full swing. Can Yuiko and Ayami figure out why things are happening and set them right?
My biggest problem here is that part of what made the original series good is Ayami’s anti-social attitude, which is completely gone here. Now, Ayami is all sunshine and light and it really makes the show pretty boring IMO. It isn’t that it’s bad, it just lost that spark that made the characters pop. The Ayami from the series would never get up on stage and dance, she would never make friends with other teachers and she would never help Yuiko find a dream prince, which leads right into the movie. Unfortunately, and this isn’t just a problem with Akumu-chan, a lot of series solve all of the conflicts and bring their story to a close, then have to cause some other havoc when they come back for a movie or special. There’s nothing organic left and it feels very artificial. The character of Ayami in the special just feels wrong and I suspect, although I haven’t seen it yet, that it will continue to do so in the movie.
That doesn’t mean that the special isn’t worth watching, I enjoyed re-visiting the world of Akumu-chan, I still like the characters, it just didn’t feel like the same storyline. The mystery wasn’t all that hot either, although I found the idea of the girls dancing to the ending credits music to be funny, it just took me a while to realize that’s what it was. It seemed really familiar but since I hadn’t seen the series in a long time, I couldn’t place it.
Another issue is that they brought Takashi back from the dead, then gave him nothing whatsoever to do. It was like “oh yeah, he’s still around” and did nothing with him. Yeah, I know that Gackt is a big music star and all the girls swoon for him, even with his stupid wig, but come on, at least give us a reason to bring him back!
They also changed the crazy Yuiko eye effect from the series, which was really unfortunate.
So while I think anyone who was a fan of the original series ought to watch the special, and probably the movie too, a lot of what made the series good just isn’t in the special and probably won’t be in the movie either. This is one of those shows that probably shouldn’t have come back for more. They didn’t make a second series, I’m not sure why they waited so long to make a special, it doesn’t really add to the understanding of the series, it just feels like “oh yeah, remember us?”