Anime Spotlight: Day Break Illusion

Day Break Illusion is an anime series produced by AIC and directed by Keizo Kusakawa. The series began airing on Japanese television on July 6, 2013.

The main character of Day Break Illusion is a 12-year-old girl named Akari Taiyo who is obsessed with Tarot cards and is an apprentice at a fortune telling shop. Akari’s mother, Hinata, was a fortune teller; she passed away about two years prior to the start of the series. Akari now lives her aunt, uncle, and cousin Fuyuna. Fuyuna is a bookworm who studies hard and strives to be at the top of her class.

It’s mentioned during the first episode that Akari’s mother was a gifted fortune teller, and that Akari’s readings are always right. Akari also has plants in her room that grow rather quickly; in fact, one has grown out of the window and goes over to her cousin’s room.

One day at school, after midterm exams, Fuyuna gets attention from some classmates for having the top scores in her class. Unfortunately, Akari is also in the class, and is giving a Tarot card reading at the same time. A crowd gathers around Akari, and the students who had been paying attention to Fuyuna go over to see what Akari is doing. Fuyuna becomes jealous.

One night, Fuyuna becomes possessed and turns into a plant demon. She goes into Akari’s room and attacks her. Just as it seems the demon is going to choke the life out of Akari, her Tarot cards suddenly activate and she undergoes a transformation into a magical girl. With help from the Tarot cards, Akari defeats the demon. Unfortunately, Fuyuna is killed in the process and Fuyuna’s existence has been erased; it’s as if she had never lived.

When the fortune telling shop is attacked by a man who has been attacked by a demon, Akari’s Tarot powers activate and she tries to fight the demon. Three other girls with Tarot powers rescue Akari and defeat the possessed man.

Akari finds herself at Sefiro Fiore, an organization that destroys Daemonia; the Daemonia are evil spirits that like evil hearts and attack people. Akari also learns that her mother had once been a member of Sefiro Fiore, and that Akari is destined to be part of the organization. Akari’s Tarot power comes from the tarot card, The Sun. Akari is put into a team with the three girls who rescued her at the fortune telling shop.

Luna Tsukuyomi is a modest and shy girl that has healing powers; her card is “The Moon.” Luna develops a romantic interest in Akari, and she becomes jealous if Akari becomes close with others.

Seira Hoshikawa is calm and strict and fights with an icy bow and arrow; her card is “The Star.” She has a strong hatred for the Daemonia, and believes that anyone who allows themselves to be possessed by them is weak.

Ginka Shirokane is a cheerful girl who also happens to come from a family that acquired wealth after her father founded a now popular chain of stores. Ginka’s card is “Temperance.”

Etia Visconti is the head of the Sefiro Fiore branch in Nagataki, and she has a polite and kind attitude. Ariel Valtiel Westcott is the deputy head of the Nagataki branch of Sefiro Fiore, and she has a strict demeanor.

Early on in the series, Akari discovers she can hear the voices of the Daemonia, which makes it hard for her to fight them at first. The other girls in Akari’s team have to deal with situations that test their beliefs. The concept of counterpart cards between the Elemental Cards and the Daemonia Cards is introduced, as well as the fact that they can annihilate each other if they come in contact. At this point in the series, the story takes a darker turn which basically lasts until the final episode.

After watching the first episode, I was left with the impression that Day Break Illusion was going to be a “dark” magical girl series. It turns out that I was right about my first impression of this series.

I have to admit I wasn’t too sure about the series after watching the first episode, but I decided to give the second episode a chance. I almost dropped this series with episode two, but the scenes that took place in the last few minutes of the episodes convinced me to give the third episode a try. After episode three, I decided to keep going with Day Break Illusion.

One thing I really enjoyed was seeing that episode four was devoted to showing how people are possessed by Daemonia; prior to this, the viewer had heard and seen the Daemonia, it wasn’t shown the process by which this happened. To me, this was the one piece I thought was missing in the series at that point, so I was glad to see this being addressed in episode four.

Episodes five and six provided some much needed backstory for Ginka and Seira, which helped to make these characters more than the one-dimensional characters that they appeared to be at first. These were also important episodes for advancing their character arcs.

Episode seven introduces the concept of the counterpart cards between the Elemental Cards and the Daemonia cards. It originally seemed like this was going to be a more important element in the series than it ultimately was, so it was a little disappointing when this concept all but disappeared after a couple of episodes, only to be brought back up again right at the end. But this is also the point in the series where a major sense of foreboding starts to permeate the series.

After Akari and the others encounter Ginka’s counterpart card, Ginka decides to battle it for some unknown reason and appears to die during the battle. There ended up being an explanation given for this in the final episode; while I understand the point the writers were going for, the explanation felt kind of weak. However, it did explain the purpose of Ginka fighting with her counterpart, but I still say the whole set up for getting Ginka to fight her counterpart in the first place never really made much sense. So I guess there was a point to introducing the counterpart cards a little earlier in the series, but it felt like that should have been a more important element than it ended up being.

Episode nine places the focus on Luna and the jealousy she feels toward Seira after she and Akari begin to become closer friends. Cerebrum, a major player with the Daemonia who can shapeshift, uses this to his advantage in order to possess Luna with a Daemonia card. The possessed Luna fights with Seira and causes Seira to lose her Tarot powers. The rest of the series focuses on Akari and the secret that she learns; as part of this, she has struggles and temptations to deal with.

Day Break Illusion ended in such a way that it could either be the end of the series or it could just be the ending of a season. It was a decent ending episode, although there was one thing that really bugged me. In the last couple of episodes, there was more of a focus on the Leguzario, the organization that gives orders to Sefiro Fiore. A point was made to hear a man’s voice but to never show this person’s face. I kept thinking this would build up to some kind of important revelation, but that never materialized. This was one of the loose ends that I thought still existed at the end of the series.

Day Break Illusion turned out to be an interesting series, and I’m glad I was able to watch the simulcast streams. However, I’m not sure yet whether or not this series is one I’ll go out of my way to purchase for my anime home video collection if it’s ever released on a physical format in North America.

However, I would be willing to recommend the streams of Day Break Illusion to anime viewers who enjoy darker magical girl anime as a way to sample the series.

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