In English, the title means “In a Distance Time 3: Crimson Moon”. A pretty title, somewhat poetic, as fitting for an anime that is adapted from a game very popular among females. This OVA is an hour long animation that has no beginning, no ending, and a lot of pretty men. Not a very attractive description to most people, I suppose. But is there something more? Is it more than just any reverse fan-service male harem anime?
Take into consideration that I have not play the game (or any of the games), I have not watched more than 1 episode of the anime prequel Harukanaru Toki no Naka de: Hachiyou Shou (2004), having been told that it is a brainless anime without much substance that is remarkably similar in premise to Fushigi Yuugi. (I can’t disagree, judging from the one and only episode I’ve watched.) I’m watching the anime as a figurative blank page.
To help people just as clueless as me, though, here’s a brief background (from what I’ve gathered from the anime, as well as supplementary material from Wikipedia):
Nozomi, Masaomi and Yuzuru are students in our world. One day, the White Dragon transports them to a distant world. Masaomi is separated from them. Nozomi and Yuzuru meet the Genji clan, and are taken in by them. They realize that the world they are in now is the midst of war between the Genji clan and the Heike clan. Nozomi, chosen by the White Dragon, is now the Miko (priestess) of the White Dragon, and she is determined to end the war and restore peace to the world.
Somewhere along the way, she gathers a harem around her and reunites with Masaomi, who has already spent 3 and a half years (as opposed to Nozomi’s half year… I don’t know how that works, either) in this world. This anime starts off at the point when their group is on the way to ask the Kumano clan to join the Genji clan in the war against the Heike.
Some Character Introductions
Kasuga Nozomi (left) (Voiced by Kawakami Tomoko)
The heroine of the anime, Nozomi is the Miko (priestess) of the White Dragon, who has apparently given her the power to seal evil spirits. She is a student from our world, and has been transported by the White Dragon to this feudal Japan-ish world to save the world, or do something similar. She is also more like Hitomi (Escaflowne) than Miaka (Fushigi Yuugi) in terms of personality. Not a shrinking violet, though you can’t tell at the beginning of the anime.
Arikawa Masaomi (right) (Voiced by Miki Shinichirou)
The hero (?) of the anime, Masaomi has been separated from Nozomi and his brother Yuzuru when they were bought to the new world. As a result, he has been integrated into the new world for 3 and a half years. He carries a very large sword across his back, and is apparently a good warrior. What happened to him in those 3+ years, though, is instrumental to his behavior and actions.
Minamoto no Kurō Yoshitsune (top left) (Voiced by Seki Tomokazu)
Kurou is a general of the Genji army, one of the two opposing powers in this world. He’s a bit impulsive, and he has the MOST bizarre hair out of all the bizarre hairs in this anime.
His brother is the leader of the Genji.
Arikawa Yuzuru (top middle) (Voiced by Nakahara Shigeru)
Yuzuru is Masaomi’s brother, and he was brought to this world along with Nozomi. He wears spectacles and can apparently shoot a bow.
Musashibō Benkei (top right) (Voiced by Miyata Kouki)
Benkei is Kurou’s good friend and is soft spoken and calm. His hair is almost as bizarre as Kurou’s, but not quite so. He is also the character that I most want to plant a fist to his face. There’s just something about his character design…
Ridvan (centre left) (Voiced Ishida Akira)
Called Sensei by Nozomi, apparently because he taught her to fight (?), Ridvan is taciturn, so much so that the talents of the seiyuu is practically unnecessary. And yes, he has the 2nd most bizarre hair in the anime.
Hakuryu (centre middle)
He is apparently the White Dragon who brought Nozomi and company into this world. For what reason, it wasn’t explained in the anime.
Hinoe (centre right) (Voiced by Takahashi Naozumi)
Red haired and flirtatious, his identity is revealed early in the anime.
Taira no Atsumori (bottom left) (Voiced by Hoshi Souichirou)
Member of the Heike clan, the opponent of the Genji clan, also known as the other power in this warring world. Not much more is said about him in the anime.
Kajiwara Kagetoki (bottom middle) (Voiced by Inoue Kazuhiko)
A military commander of the Genji clan, he uses a gun in battle. He is apparently quite strong as a warrior and closely linked to the war as a war leader.
Kajiwara Saku (bottom right) (Voiced by Kuwashima Houko)
The only female in the screenshot above… not that anyone could tell. She is the Miko (priestess) of the Black Dragon, and can apparently stop evil spirits. She is also the sister of Kagetoki.
And so, with as little spoilers as possible, what I can say?
At the very first glance, the sheer amount of bishounens and the tendency of throwing-you-into-the-middle-of-the-tale-without-explanations don’t give a favorable impression. Don’t get me wrong; bishies are great. But when those bishies come with bizarre, multi-colored hair and exotic clothing, many of whom looked more feminine than me, well… you don’t have much expectation of its plot-worthiness. It’s the same kind of impression/prejudice I have when I see a show with scanty women burdened with gargantuan, barely clad breasts and who are either always falling clumsily or waiting to be rescued, or both.
The first 15 minutes of the anime is spent introducing the world and the characters (sort of). However, all the characters have already gathered prior to the show; Nozomi and Yuzuru are already in the world, and they have already reunited with Masaomi. Nothing was said about why they were in this world, and how they met up with Masaomi. You are expected to know, and for someone who has absolutely no background knowledge at all, it’s a load of boring what-the-hell-is-going-on?
But surprisingly, there is more to this anime than that. Putting aside the what-the-hell-ness, if you pay attention to the anime, some of the background comes through, so that become less of a problem as the anime goes on.
The next 15 minutes of the anime is spent describing an attack on a random village, and how the group defends the villagers. Some pseudo-philosophy on how unforgivable and cruel war is, and the likes. There is even some romance, such as it is, between Masaomi and Nozomi. If you call blushing and running away romance.
Oops. That’s a spoiler. Sort of. I will try to restrain myself.
Another 15 minutes section is then given to the group, somewhat smaller than before, who is plunked down straight into the midst of the war. Revelations were made, and then suddenly, the story is moving at a strong pace, and Nozomi is no longer an acceptable but rather cardboard character. Hey, the girl can fight. She can really fight. She’s not a shrinking violet wringing her hands at the background, screaming like a ninny at the slightest provocation. She goes into the thick of things, and not only does she fight, she has a personality to match up with it.
It took half of the anime to get me to realize that fact. But there it is. There’s a kick ass heroine in this anime.
Suddenly, I’m not just watching to laugh at the unbearable bizarre hair and reverse harem. Suddenly, there’s a plot that makes sense, because little things revealed throughout the first half of the anime have added up to form a wholesome picture. Suddenly, the less than stellar animation doesn’t matter as much as the fast paced scenes unfolding in front of your eyes.
The last 15 minutes of the show is very much Nozomi-focused. She lives up to her potential as a strong woman, and makes decisions to turn fate around. The best part of the show, IMO, is in the last 15 minutes.
But the Ending…
BUT. The ending is horrible. If you decide to watch the anime, be warned that it doesn’t actually end anything or anywhere; it’s more like a prologue. The climax, the meat of the story, is what happens after the ending of this anime. I have no idea if that means that this anime is a prequel of the game, or there is something planned after this. Maybe it’s a prologue special to a TV anime. If so, I am so watching it. After all, Masaomi is kind of cute, and his relationship with Nozomi gained a lot of depth by the end of the OVA.
Another thing to note is that while this is, allegedly, a reverse harem, the fact is that there is only one person Nozomi has eyes for. As for the others, the anime is too short to determine whether the other guys are flirting with her for fun, or because they truly have less than platonic interest in her. So there’s no angsty love triangle, which might be off putting to some people.
In fact, the angst, despite potentially angst-worthy plot, is fairly well contained and not overwhelming. And that’s mostly because neither of the two main characters are the type to wring their hands. Which is, of course, the main reason why this anime is worth watching.
In a Nutshell…
Animation: Lush, still background, but in terms of animation, more could have been done. It’s not bad; it just isn’t all that wonderful, especially for an OVA. Fight scenes were pretty abyssal, though magical scenes are fairly well done.
Music: BGM is pretty and appropriate; theme song (both OP and ED) is good, sung by the seiyuu for Masaomi, Miki Shinichirou.
Story: If you ignore the fact that it has no beginning and no ending, it’s actually quite interesting. A bit cliché, especially with regards to the main characters, but delivered well, which made all the difference.
Characters: This is, in fact, the gem of the anime. The key ingredient that saved the anime from being a laughable and very boring reverse harem. Sure, most of the side characters don’t have much of a screen time, but Nozomi is very well portrayed, and Masaomi, despite the fact that not much is said about him, has a character that comes through.
Seiyuu acting: A couple of big names there, and they are all good. I especially like the seiyuu for Nozomi, because she managed to construct Nozomi’s strong personality just by using her voice.
Eye-candy: Definitely. Especially if you are female and straight, or male and gay. (But only if you can ignore, or you actually like bizarre hair.) And if you like strong women, well, this is for you as well.
I went a bit overboard with screenshots. An entire afternoon wasted there. Oh well. Enjoy.