Any follower of my writing for a decent period of time should know how much of a Key fan I am. I quite enjoyed reading Rewrite back when I first discovered Key and was hopeful for an anime to see some of the more action heavy scenes animated (as well as hear Kotarou fully voiced) and we ended up getting just that split up over a period of the Summer 2016 and Winter 2017 seasons with some interesting choices in execution.
Rewrite follows Kotarou Tennoji. Your typical high school student who teases the class delinquent Haruhiko Yoshino, and is friends with neighbour and classmate, Kotori Kanbe. Kotarou ends up finding super natural phenomena however. Be it a mysterious girl coming into his room every night and nibbling his arm or the school suddenly having a giant basement with a monster that attacks him. Kotarou ends up joining the Occult Research club headed by Akane Senri along with Kotori, Shizuru Nakatsu, a first year who always wears an eye patch, Lucia Konohana who is the president of Kotarou’s class and friends with Shizuru and Chihaya Ootori, a recent transfer student who seems to know Akane.
The group ends up going around exploring different reports of the occult, which usually turn out to be completely normal things, until one day when they head into the forest after the missing Newspaper club girl, Inoue and monsters start attacking after the group has been split up. Kotarou learns of two groups, Guardian who wants to protect humanity even at the risk of the planet, and Gaia who wants to save the planet but removing humanity and it just so happens most of the club is already part of one of these two groups.
As this is an adaptation of a route based visual novel you might expect the anime to adapt each route and save one for last and make it the “true ending”. While the second season adapts the Moon and Terra routes none of the character routes are actually adapted, instead opting for an anime original route. Lucia and Shizuru do get full episodes dedicated to their route, but as a fan of Lucia’s route I can say these episodes absolutely do not do them justice. Various parts of the character routes do get added into to this new route however is makes pacing a mess making some of the earlier episodes feel like random scenes put together as fan service for readers of the visual novel before getting a little more direction later on but still ending up fairly confusing.
Time was spent very poorly in Rewrite. Episode 6 opens with a weird fanservice scene of Lucia in a maid outfit cooking for Kotarou. While it did come from the visual novel and is a result of something from the previous episode but the pacing was still fairly fast at this point so dropping it to give other sections room to breath would have been much nicer. Jokes also got repeated far past the point of being stale. Bringing up how perverted Kotarou is and how he wanted to touch Akane’s boobs is consistently brought up into the second half of season 1 and Kagari (the mysterious girl) with her “feecof” (coffee) addiction brought up the entirety of the first season. In the visual novel with 50+ hours Kotarou being a pervert didn’t feel nearly as common and “feecof” was rarely if ever mentioned.
The show in general also is quite confusing for anyone coming in without previous knowledge from the visual novel. I watched with my sister and ended up explaining a number of important details to her the anime decided was less important than Akane’s boobs yet left her confused. I noticed this around the internet as well which is a shame as Rewrite’s story has a lot of smaller details that become important later.
The animation really was never anything special and proceeded to get worse as the series went on. I also don’t normally mind CG in anime but the uses of it here were atrocious. The only real positive I can give Rewrite’s visuals is I like how the “choices” are done in the Terra portion. The soundtrack is a mixed bag as the songs themselves are all great but they’re sometimes used at inappropriate times which makes me want them to just end. I did like the voice acting despite people saying they sounded bored at parts they shouldn’t I didn’t notice this or have an issue.
The Rewrite anime is a mess I’m not sure if I’d feel comfortable recommending anyone watch. The second season is much better (still had pacing issues) but you have to make it through the first to get there. First time viewers will be confused and readers of the visual novel will probably be upset at the many memorable scenes missing so we had time for more feecof and boob jokes (see how annoying it is when you repeat the same thing over and over?). I’d suggest waiting for the Steam release of the visual novel and staying clear of the anime.