Uta~Kata

Uta~KataType: TV Series + Special
Episode Count: 12 + 1
Genre: Fantasy / Drama
Vintage: 2004 / 2005

Version reviewed: Japanese Subtitled
Date of Review: 05 Sep 2011

Grade: C+

Roughly translated, Uta~Kata means “poem fragment”.

An unusual little series with untapped potential.

Plot Summary
While cleaning an old room at school, Ichika discovers a large mirror. To her surprise, instead of herself, she sees Miku Hatsune a strange girl in it. This strange girl, named Manatsu, then comes out of the mirror and asks if Ichika can be her friend over the summer, and help with something that she needs to do. It all seems to be tied to a charm which Ichika holds dear, a charm which has been changed somehow by Manatsu.

The Review
It’s not often that my sense for blindly discovering a series which I think I will enjoy misses the mark. Over the years, I’ve become pretty adept at figuring out which shows will be a good match for my tastes, even knowing very little about them beforehand. Uta~Kata falls just short of being one of those shows. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy it; it is a good series. It’s just that Uta~Kata lacks in a few areas which, to me, keep it from being truly memorable.

I went into Uta~Kata with reasonable expectations. The story and setting seemed to be a good match for the kinds of shows which I enjoy. It’s primarily a character-based drama with fantasy elements in a real-world setting, a formula which has worked with success for me in the past. Character designs are cute, and a bit unique; Ichika’s chipmunk cheeks in particular stood out. Then, there were the detracting elements. In the early episodes especially, there is a lot of what seems to be fanservice for fanservice’s sake. I can forgive a little bit of fanservice, but it soon began to push the boundaries of what I’m willing to give a pass. Fortunately, it did let up before it became too much.

However, the biggest strike against Uta~Kata – and I find it truly unfortunate – is my almost complete lack of ability to connect with the characters or story at any level. It was as if there was a glass wall between the show and myself. When I am able to immerse myself in a fictional world, enjoying the story comes naturally, as I have an active interest in what happens to the characters. With Uta~Kata, I was never able to experience this. It may have been due to the directing or writing style, or perhaps because the characters do not have as much depth as I am accustomed to (or have conditioned myself to, possibly). Ichika has her group of friends – the enthusiastic one, the ojou-sama, and the mysterious one – but they aren’t much more than stock characters. Whatever the reason, the sense of detachment is what ultimately brought Uta~Kata down for me. It’s a shame, because the idea behind the show is good.

Its story and premise are interesting, and the cast is likeable enough, but a lack of characterization and ability to draw me in keeps Uta~Kata from being a series which I can enthusiastically recommend. I’m not sure how the series will fare on a future rewatch, but until then I can only say that the series is worth a try, and as in most cases, your mileage may vary.

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