Anime Spotlight: E’s Otherwise

E’s Otherwise is based on the manga series, E’s, which was written and illustrated by Satoru Yuiga. This 26-episode anime series aired on Japanese television from April 1-September 23, 2003. ADV Films acquired the North American license for E’s Otherwise, and originally released the series across six DVD volumes between February 15, 2005 and March 21, 2006. On December 12, 2006, ADV Films re-released the series in a five-disc box set.

The protagonist of the series is a young man named Kai Kudou. He, along with his sickly younger sister, Hikaru, are orphans who have been taken in by a man named Eiji Sagimiya, the head of the ASHURUM Corporation. ASHURUM is a corporation that protects espers, who are referred to as “E’s.”

Hikaru has extremely powerful psychic powers. While Kai has psychic powers, they don’t appear to be as strong as his sister’s. However, Kai is selected to be in AESES, a special force put together by ASHURUM, and he undergoes intensive training in combat, hacking, and psychic training.

One day, Kai is sent on a mission to Gald in order to infiltrate a guerilla hideout that he is told is using E’s against their will; Kai’s partner is killed during the battle. After a major explosion rocks the city, Kai ends up washing ashore at a location, where is found by a girl named Asuka. Asuka takes Kai to where she and her adopted brother, Yuuki, live in order to nurse him back to health. After spending time with Asuka and Yuuki, Kai decides to spend time with them instead of returning to ASHURUM.

As the series progresses, Kai starts learning the truth about what ASHURUM is up to. The story reaches its climax when Kai decides to confront Eiji.

As I watched this series, I came to the realization rather early on that the story seemed to be rather predictable, and several of the characters fit into various character types. Eiji came across right away as someone who’s trying to act like such a nice guy but is really an evil person. Kai was the clueless protagonist, while Shen-Long is the protagonist’s rival. Both Hikaru and Asuka fill the cute little sister role.

Because Eiji is revealed to be the type of character he is early on, it makes Kai’s journey of learning the truth over the course of the series a little less believable to the viewer. If the story had been written in such a way that Eiji’s role wasn’t so obvious in the first episode, I think that Kai’s storyline probably would have worked better. Since Kai’s journey wasn’t as believable, it helped to make some of the very early episodes in the series feel like they were “filler” instead of being important to Kai’s character development. The early episodes also seemed to lack any real focus, which also didn’t help.

The writing for this series was on the weak side, and the most glaring example of the inferior writing is at the end of the series. After I finished watching the penultimate episode, I thought, “There’s still so much left unresolved that the final episode is going to end up being rushed.” After watching the final episode, I determined that I was essentially right. However, not only was the ending rushed, the ending of the series is also rather ambiguous. It also didn’t help that ideas and concepts were thrown out in the final episode, but their significance is never explained by the end of it. There was even a very brief scene near the end of the final episode that made me do a double-take and think, “What the heck? Why was this scene even relevant?”

Even though I was never terribly invested in the story or the characters, I still felt rather cheated by the ending. I would hate to think how much worse it would have been for any viewers who had cared about the series and/or the characters.

The two bright spots for E’s Otherwise are the character designs and the music. It’s obvious that some real effort was put into designing the look of the characters and what they wore. The music used for the series was rather interesting; at times, I thought the music was more interesting than the story that went along with it. It’s too bad that the writing for the series wasn’t given as much effort and attention as the character designs and the music.

Fortunately, I bought the DVD box set at a used store for $16. If I had paid much more for the set, I would have been rather ticked off.

E’s Otherwise has a concept that could have worked and would have been interesting if it had been executed correctly. I have a feeling that, at least in part, some of the issues I have with the writing come from the fact that the anime was produced before the manga concluded. However, I don’t think this totally excuses the overall writing quality for the series.

While I appreciate the fact that I got to see E’s Otherwise once, it’s a series that I’m not in any rush to watch again. In the long run, E’s Otherwise isn’t an anime series I would recommend anime viewers need to see… unless they’re interested in seeing how not to write an anime series.

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