I just finished watching Meiji Tokyo Renka just moments ago as of writing this blog, and it left me speechless in different ways. Let me give a short summary if you hadn’t seen it yet.
Mei Ayazuki is a normal high school student, only she’s the only one in her class who can hear ghosts and spirits. This alienates her from her classmates. One night, under a full moon, she passes a street performance of an odd magician who singles her out and calls her forward as “audience participation”. He claims he can make her disappear from a box, but he ends up sending her through time and space back to the Meiji era of Tokyo. Mei meets colorful men while crashing a party, and gets invited to stay at a mansion of Ogai Mori, the man who declared her his fiance in order to save her from the party guests. As time passes, she helps others find and calm spirits that they can’t communicate with alone, and prooves herself worthy to stand at Ogai’s side to save him from embarrassment. At the same time she’s offered a one-way ticket back home during the next full moon, but she must know for certain whether she wants to stay in the Meiji era or return home to the modern era, knowing whichever she chooses, someone will be left behind.
Oh boy, there’s quite a bit to unpack here. Initially, I was kind of put off by it because the first episode was set up more like a dating simulator than an anime, even for reverse-harem standards. However, I actually really fell in love with the characters by episode 3. Unlike most harems, the main character, Mei, is kind, determined, and has a quirk I don’t see much. She has a bottomless pit of a stomach for, not sweets, or rice, or any feminine type of food you’d expect, but beef. She actually reminded me a lot of Nanami Momozono from Kamisama Kiss without the back and forth aspect. Like Nanami, Mei breaks promises and puts herself in danger for the sake of others time and time again.
While on the subject of Kamisama Kiss, Ogai reminds me of how Tomoe acts in the books. Like Tomoe, Ogai wants to put his past behind him, move on, and accept that his last love is lost and he has a new love right in front of him. Ogai is very protective of Mei, showing up at locations he has no business being at just to be sure Mei is always protected; when he can’t be there, he sends someone he trusts whole-heartedly to stay with her.
Shunso, the one Ogai trusts and typically sends in his stead, also has a lot going for him. He’s a shut-in artist who’s actually trying to find a black cat that came to life from his painting. He’s more the tsundere type, and typically prefers to keep to himself.
Since the show is only 12 episodes, the other characters hadn’t really made enough of an impact on me to analyze their personalities. Honestly, most of the time is dedicated to Mei, Ogai, and Shunso. The other guys are more of…just there to act as Ogai’s rivals, similar to the Dragon Warriors are to Hak in Yona of the Dawn; they have personalities, but not given a ton of time to develop them and they’re only there to fill the rival role (which is filled well in Meiji Tokyo Renka).
Something else I wanna talk about is the time period. So many times, when I watch a time-traveling anime, it’s always to the 1500s and earlier. This is the only time I could think of where the time-traveling is to the 1920s; that’s close enough to modern-day to contemplate the benefits and dangers of electricity (no joke, they make a rap discussing the pros and cons of electricity) instead of struggling to use a bow and arrows to survive camp-outs/bandit attacks. Clearly, I’m getting a little tired of 1500s Japan and I find this very refreshing.
There you have it, a short review for a short series. It was quite bizarre and stretching my expectation in what I can accept from an anime at first, but by the third episode, I was hooked. There is one comment I have to make that is a spoiler, so prepare yourself.
You prepared for spoilers? Good. My heart hurt when Mei went back home and left Ogai on his porch saying “I’m sure we’ll see her again”. I know they throw ending lines like that just to illude to a second season, but I can’t see how a second season could even happen. Granted, I’ve only watched the 12 episodes. I hadn’t seen anything about a manga or games, so maybe there is an ongoing manga in production that allows for that to happen, but I don’t see how it’s possible and that breaks my heart. Ogai has no access, or even knowledge, of the Modern Era, and since Mei returning home was a one-way ticket, she has no access to return to Ogai. The only things she could do is read Ogai’s novels. I find that just…bitter-sweet. I normally don’t talk about the final moments of a series when I make a review, but I couldn’t help it. This is worse than most harems, where the lead doesn’t make a decision or makes a non-decision and things continue as they are in the events of the show. Mei makes a clear decision, and leaves the man she loves 80-90-ish years in the past. I’ve only seen an ending to a harem like that once before, and that’s for Dance with Devils (I may review that after a refresher later).
All in all, Meiji Tokyo Renka is…fun. It’s an entertaining way to pass the time, but nothing ground-breaking. If you’re looking for a harem, you’ll most likely be disappointed, but if you’re looking for a romance, then you might find this enjoyable. What did you think? Did you like it, or skip it? Leave your thoughts in the comments below and have a beautiful rest of your day~!