Utakata Complete Collection Anime DVD Review

An original story from Bandai Visual, Utakata is a twelve episode series with an epilogue OVA that tells something of a magical girl story. Taking the overall premise and applying it to a slice of life series with a seriousness to it, Utakata tries to stand out and be something more but has a hard time doing it. In fact, much of the idea behind the show doesn't really come out until the end, though it hints at aspects of it along the way. This leaves the show in an odd place where you're curious about what it's really about but the payoff doesn't feel like it's strong enough once you get there.
The story of Utakata revolves around fourteen year old Ichika, a friendly and likable girl who has a good group of friends and supportive parents. She's got some friends she likes more than others, some she has some trouble with and there's a boy she might have some slightly stronger feelings for. Ichika has had some strange dreams recently of a green haired girl that seems friendly but then turns to either her or the stranger strangling the other and threatening to kill her. It's startling to be sure but becomes even more so later on when she spends time doing end of semester cleaning in one of the side buildings of the school. Within a mirror there, she sees the same girl who comes out of it and wants to befriend her. It's almost surreal that Ichika agrees to it and Manatsu ends up spending the summer at her home as a penpal that's suddenly come to stay.
While there is a logical reason to it that is eventually explained, a lot of points in the show has these kinds of surreal moments where it doesn't flow well in how, well, reality would work. Granted we're dealing with a magical girl show done differently, but some of the basic real world situations end up going in this direction which makes it come across awkwardly. Even in the magical girl arena it has this feeling. Matsuna's introduction is that she's from another world of sorts, something Ichika believes easily enough, and she adjusts a special piece of jewelry that Ichika has with seven jewels on it. Each of those jewels represent a Djinn (and a trial) that Ichika must over come as she can take on the Djinn's special power.
Interestingly, the Djinn and its power are used rather sparingly and for seemingly inconsequential things. Well, inconsequential to anyone else but important to Ichika. It feels like a regular theme that she uses it to find her friends who may be lost or away when she needs them. It's more towards the end of each episode and I liked that each Djinn summoning gives her a different outfit with familiar themes across all of them. But the way she uses the powers doesn't even feel like it's right for a fourteen year old girl. I'm not expecting Western style superheroics or the fun of Sailor Moon, but Ichika's use of its powers is generally very selfish and inconsequential.

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