The urban legend of the 4:44 ritual consists of using a radio player to produce frequencies in front of the Akeyuki Sacred Tree at exactly 4:44, transporting people to a different dimension. When Asuka Tsuchimiya and her friends—Nana Nanase, Mia Silverstone, Yuu Tounaka, and Chloe Morisu—decide to perform this ritual as an activity of the Crystal Radio Research Club, they are shocked when the ritual works. The five travel to a parallel world, known as a fragment, where they meet an unsettlingly familiar girl—Asuka's parallel-world self. This Asuka is dubbed as Seriouska due to her serious attitude and capability to fight. Seriouska tells them about the great danger that faces all the parallel worlds, the Twilight. As it strips the parallel worlds of all of its possibilities, Seriouska seeks the death of the man behind the Twilight, the Twilight King, to stop his onslaught over the multiverse. Akanesasu Shoujo follows the five girls as they learn to accept their true selves, all the while searching for the Twilight King. However, the solution to the invasive Twilight might be closer than they think. [Written by MAL Rewrite]
Based off an original idea Akanesasu Shoujo also known by its English title Girl in the Twilight is a sci-fi and action genre anime that gives us the opportunity to see what will happen if a group of high school girls whose interest into the arcane and in urban legends were to enact a mysterious ritual that was said to be able to allow them to open up routes to other dimensions and the events that transpire as their wildest dreams and hopes of being able to enter other worlds become reality. The subject matter of traveling between different worlds have always been one of the subjects that interested me ever since I saw my first-time travel series and while this subject isn’t one that’s particularly common within the field of anime, I always wanted to see one where dimensional travel serves as one of the main themes. In this when I heard that this subject would be one of the main themes for the series my curiosity for the series grew and I decided to take up this series for this season a decision that I never regretted. The first episode of the series I felt did a great job of not just showing the mystery behind the rituals that allow the cast to travel to other worlds but also of the types of dangers that they can run into while doing so. At the same time, it also did a great job of showing what will happen if you were to run into the unique elements that come with traveling to different worlds which is what happens if you run into a different version of you.
Taking place in modern day Japan which also serves as the series main anchor point for the casts dimensional trotting adventures the overall story of the series follows the adventures of Asuka and the members of a high school interest circle the Crystal radio club whose enactment of a mysterious ritual that was said to open up routes to other worlds proved to be not only successful but also allow the members of the circle to enter such worlds and solve the mysteries that are unique to each world. However while exploring each world the members of the circle soon realize that each world while seemingly beautiful and possessing unique settings and themes are ones that are closely tied to the inner struggles of the girl that serves as the link that makes travel to that world possible and that to solve the mystery the members of the circle must not only find the true villain before they destroy that world but also identify and solve the inner struggles of the member that serves as the link to that world. However, while formidable the villains that the girls face in their worlds are only the vanguard of a much larger threat and that beyond them is the forces of twilight a hostile power that seeks to absorb every parallel world that lies in its path under the orders of its mysterious leader the enigmatic twilight king.
Faced with this dire threat Asuka and the members of the circle must not only overcome their innermost struggles that they keep hidden from their friends but also use the powers that they awaken from overcoming them to fight back and stop twilight from destroying everything that they consider dear. Joining Asuka in this wacky adventure of discovering new worlds and overcoming inner struggles while protecting those that they consider dear to them are Asuka’s friends and fellow members of the circle that includes the quiet and peaceful Mia, the intelligent and rational Chloe, the positive and popular Nana and the level-headed and perceptive Yuu.
Asuka Tsuchimiya played by veteran seiyuu Tomoyo Kurosawa of Black Bullet and Houseki no Kuni fame is one of the main characters of the series and is the main protagonist of the series. A cheerful, positive and energetic person by nature Asuka from initial appearances can be seen to be someone that’s enjoying fully the unique time period that being a high school girl involves. A carefree and outgoing person by nature Asuka can be seen to someone that can be said to have an abundance of energy within her that ensures that she is never someone that can just sit still and indeed is someone that takes advantage of this energy to keep things interesting for both herself and her fellow circle members by leading them on sudden adventures or jobs and by teasing and playing jokes on them as well. A unique trait that comes from this is her curious ability to seemingly give nicknames to everyone that she encounters a trait that I felt matches well with her personality. As a result of this carefree nature of hers, it’s perhaps not unusual to see that Asuka is someone that believes heavily in the occult and is willing to try all manner of odd rituals even if these rituals lack any kind of scientific proof that they will function. However rather than being a mere passing interest as one would expect it can be seen that Asuka’s interest into the occult are genuine and borne out of her desire to explore and solve mysteries. This is evidenced by not just the fact that she leads her circle to try out new radio frequencies often but also by her determination to enter such worlds despite the inherent risks associated with them.
As the series goes on and Asuka’s character is expanded upon her personality gradually starts to change as we get to see the real personality that she masks beneath her cheerful nature. On the surface Asuka while admittedly a bit of a klutz is shown to be someone that’s kind and caring by nature and is someone that’s able to bond easily with others and remain loyal to them no matter what and is always ready to lend them a helping hand when needed. This is best shown in how she managed to help each of her friends overcome the inner struggles that had so constrained their lives and in doing so awaken the latent powers that lay inside them. From the beginning of the series, it can be seen that Asuka is someone that is emotional by nature and when combined with her carefree nature often leads her to enter potentially dangerous situations. However, at the same time, this also allows her to be able to sympathize with the feelings that others may have and enable her to forge strong friendships with the people that she meets whether or not they wanted to or not. This within the series is best shown in the strong friendship that she forges with seriousAsuka. As the series goes on and Asuka bears witness to the kind of threat that the twilight poses to not just themselves but also to the many worlds that exist Asuka’s personality gradually starts to change. While still retaining her carefree nature Asuka gradually becomes braver, more cautious and more willing to hang back and analyze a situation before committing to an action. While still fearful of the power posed by Twilight it can be seen that with these changes Asuka has also become determined to fight the clutters and the twilight king that commands them in her desire to protect her world and friends from them. The character of Asuka I felt was an interesting one that while a carefree and positive girl that loved to tease others in the beginning gradually changed to someone that was brave, cautious and willing to think before acting as she realized the gravity of the threat posed by twilight was something that I really enjoyed seeing. While still carefree to a degree I felt that the experiences that she had experienced with her friends in her adventures not only made her more willing to see the pain that others had but also allow her to help them overcome this more effectively by being able to relate to them through her own heart that she managed to free. I felt that her seiyuu Tomoyo Kurosawa did an excellent job at portraying the character of Asuka.
Mia Silverstone portrayed by veteran seiyuu singer Nao Touyama of Beatless and Kakuriyo fame is one of the main characters of the series and is one of the members of the Crystal Radio club. A teenage high school girl Mia on initial appearances can be seen to be a quiet, soft-spoken and polite person by nature that gives the impression of her being an Ojou of a noble family. True to this fact Mia is a calm, positive and intelligent person by nature that while lacking the energetic nature of her friend and fellow circle member Asuka is someone that can be seen to be cautious, perceptive and level-headed and able to adapt to new situations easily. However, it can be seen that due to her quiet and her somewhat indecisive nature Mia is someone that can easily get intimidated by others and indeed is someone that tries to just follow the flow of the world around her and not make any attempts to change anything.
As the series goes on and Mia’s character is expanded upon it can be seen that Mia also has many struggles of her own. On the surface, Mia can be seen to be the ideal image of what a teenage girl of her age should act like and to those that don’t know her well this is indeed the truth. But beneath this, it can be seen that Mia is someone that above all desires the freedom to be and do what she wants without any restrictions. In line with her desire for freedom is Mia’s desire to not just overcome her quiet and indecisive nature by becoming braver and more determined but also of her desire to show her true face to her family and not hide them anymore. As a result of this, it’s perhaps not surprising that Mia would try to seek out some kind of medium that she can make use of to fulfill the one wish that she cannot do so in the real world in the beginning. However, never in her wildest dreams did Mia expect to enter a world that would allow her to not only act out her prized childish dream but also enter a world where the burden of trying to be a perfect young lady no longer existed. While the journey to this world was a dangerous one it can be said that Mia also benefited greatly from this trip as in the aftermath it can be seen that Mia as a result of awakening the hidden side of her personality not just become visibly braver but also more determined and more willing to take the initiative and fight not just to protect her friends but also for the ideas that she believes in. The character of Mia I felt was an interesting one that showed well the kind of personal struggles that can exist in girls who are trapped between the pressures of their families and their own personal desires to live out their lives the way that they want. The evolution of Mia from a quiet and indecisive girl who simply followed the flow to someone that was not just braver but also more willing to make her own decisions was something that I felt was well done. I felt that her seiyuu Nao Toyama really did an excellent job at portraying the character of Mia.
Chloe Morisu portrayed by veteran seiyuu Marina Inoue of Darling in the Franxx and Log Horizon fame is one of the main characters of the series and is one of the members of the Crystal Radio club. A teenage high school girl Chloe on initial appearances is shown to be an intelligent, curious and quiet person by nature that seems to prefer solitude and reading than hanging out with friends which itself is rare among girls her age. A fast thinking, logical and adaptive person by nature Chloe while not completely shunning friends and human contact as some would expect nonetheless views friendships with a certain amount of detached curiosity that many would find surprising in a high school girl. As a result of her logical and independent personality, Chloe like her fellow member Yuu is someone that believes only in solid facts and as a result serves well as the more rational part of the circle that tries hard to rein in Asuka’s desire to try outlandish things.
As the series goes on and Chloe’s personality is expanded upon it can be seen that Chloe also has struggles that she wrestles with unknown to her friends. From the onset it can be seen that Chloe is someone that prefers solitude and while others may view this as being sad and proof that she has no friends it can be said that the opposite is true for Chloe can be seen to treasure the time that she’s alone as she can use it to explore new areas and take in new things every day while not being constrained by things like hanging out with friends. Indeed, as the series goes on it becomes obvious that Chloe also possesses an unusual fear in that she believes that getting too close to others and forming strong bonds with others will cause her to end up relying upon them and lose her sense of independence. These fears of hers gradually came to a head when she and the circle entered a seemingly perfect world that fitted Chloe’s personality like a glove. However, this world while seemingly perfect on the surface was one that proved to have a hidden evil behind it and one that proved to Chloe that her initial view on friendships and the weakness that it can cause her was an incorrect one. The journey to the perfect world while certainly a dangerous experience for Chloe was one that proved to be most enlightening to her as it made her realize that friendships rather than causing her to develop a weakness instead had the opposite effect in that she can actually find strength from it as she can not only rely on them for help when needed but also use them to enhance herself by improving her knowledge of subjects that she knows nothing about. As a result of this new understanding of hers Chloe’s personality in the aftermath of the journey to the perfect world began to change with Chloe visibly becoming more cheerful and willing to show her emotions more openly to others and at the same time learning to trust and value her friends instead of distancing herself from them a change that I felt was most welcome for her character. The character of Chloe I felt was an interesting one that showed well the kind of struggles that those that are used to being in solitude would wrestle with when they enter areas of society where forming friendships would be important. The gradual evolution of Chloe from someone that was both quiet and preferring solitude to someone that learned the value of friendship and the unique advantages that it can bring to a person I felt was well done.
Nana Nanase portrayed by veteran seiyuu Ami Koshimizu of Saki and Darling in the Franxx fame is one of the main characters of the series and is one of the members of the Crystal Radio club. On initial appearances, Nana on the surface is a popular, cheerful and intelligent high school girl that more than any within the circle seems to be living an ideal life that comes from having both great friends and a supporting family. A positive, fast thinking and curious person by nature Nana at the beginning of the series can be seen to be taking great advantage of her situation and enjoy the life of being a high school girl by hanging out with friends and trying to enhance her rep of being one of the cool kids. As a result of her curious nature, Nana in the beginning of the series was shown to be someone that didn’t put much thought into her actions seemingly following the decisions that are made by others on impulse making her relatively similar to her friend and fellow circle member Asuka.
As the series goes on however and Nana’s personality is gradually expanded upon it can be seen that beneath her cheerful nature Nana also has struggles that she keeps hidden from her friends. Outwardly Nana can be seen to have the life that most high school girls would dream of having being both pretty, popular and having both many friends that she can hang out with and a family that tries hard to support her. However, beneath the surface, it can be seen that this is anything but true for her. Despite having everything that most girls her age would desire it can be seen that Nana is bored with the life that she’s living and longs to be able to walk her path in life. While certainly grateful for the life that her family has given her, it can be seen that she also feels somewhat weighted down by the social responsibilities that come from this especially in relation to the future paths that are dictated by them. These secret struggles of hers that she kept hidden from her friends gradually came to a head when Nana and the members of the circle entered a world that while appearing perfect on the surface actually used as a theme one of the secret fears that Nana had which was a progression into the next stage of life via marriage. The journey into this new world while certainly a dangerous one for Nana and friends also proved to be an educational one for Nana as well as it provided her the spark that she needed to overcome the barrier that she had for so long been unable to overcome herself. In the aftermath of this journey, it can be seen that Nana while gaining new and powerful abilities as a result also developed a change in her personality. While still retaining her core nature of being positive, cheerful and fast thinking Nana in the course of her journey to that world realized that her insistence on keeping her inner feelings and worries hidden from her friends and her family while doing well in protecting her and buying time for her also had the unintended effect of making her distant from both parties and thus making it very difficult to understand her actions and worries. As a result of this realization in the aftermath, Nana began to gradually open up her closed off heart to not just her friends but also her family as well and allow her to not only make her true feelings clear but also allow her to once again reforge the bonds that existed between them.
Yuu Tounaka portrayed by veteran seiyuu Lynn of Eldlive and Angolmois fame is one of the main characters of the series and is one of the members of the Crystal Radio club where she serves as the overall club leader. A teenage high school student Yuu on initial appearance is an intelligent, logical and calm person by nature that gives the impression and aura of an honor student that ensures that she stands out among her fellow club members. A perceptive and level-headed person by nature Yuu unlike the likes of her childhood friend Asuka is someone that can be said to be a realist and as a result is someone that refuses to believe in the existence of the paranormal without first seeing actual proof a trait that she shares with her fellow member Chloe. As a result of this, it can be seen that among the team Yuu functions as the foundation of the team that keeps the members of the team grounded.
As the series goes on however and more of Yuu’s personality is revealed it can be seen that Yuu also has many struggles that she wrestles with unknown to her friends. At the beginning of the series as a result of her honor student like aura, it can be seen that Yuu takes exams and education very seriously and tries hard to impart these teachings into Asuka in an effort to rein her in. As a result of this out of the members of the club, Yuu was perhaps the least interested in going on adventures to other worlds as she felt that such time can be better used for matters like studying. However, as the series progresses and as Yuu bears witness to the variety of worlds that they visit as well as the fun that comes from exploring such worlds with her friends this attitude of hers gradually starts to change. While still serious and direct with her feelings Yuu’s attitude gradually starts to soften becoming more understanding and considerate of the feelings of others and willing to understand the reasons for someone’s actions as shown in her attempts to protect her friends over the course of the series. At the same time this change in attitude also awakened within Yuu the joy that can come from having fun with her friends that she cannot find within textbooks and cram schools and as a result created a change within her in which she sought to increase the amount of time she spends with them and her family while balancing her commitments to her future. The character of Yuu I felt was an interesting one and I felt that her gradual evolution from someone that acted more like a honor student that believed solely in facts while remaining somewhat distant from her friends to someone that learned to appreciate the types of experiences that can come from exploring new and exciting worlds with her friends and in the process becoming more human as she learned to consider the feelings of others I felt was done really well and help prove that there’s more to life than what you see within a textbook.
In terms of animation, I felt that the character designs for the series main cast were pretty well done with the uniform designs of the girls doing a great job in differentiating the girls from each other. The transformed states of both the girls as well as that of Alt Asuka I felt were also done well and reflected well on the lessons that each girl learned in their respective fragment. In terms of locations and settings, I felt that the series made great use of the parallel world concept which when paired with each of the inner struggles that each girl struggled with ensured that each of the worlds that the cast visit was unique. These unique worlds I felt took great advantage of the unique struggles that each girl wrestled with by making use of a great variety of themes that resonated well with the core problems of each girl. Of the ones present within the series my personal favorites were the western and marriage-themed ones. Combat animation wise while combat wasn’t the main focus of the series, I thought that the fights within the series were done reasonably well that was helped greatly by the variety of enemy types that the cast had to contend with within the series.
In terms of music, the series made use of a single opening and ending theme which in this case was Soranetarium that was sung by Michi and Kowarekake no radio which was sung by Ami Wajima. The opening theme I felt was an interesting one as its melody gave a haunting type of feeling of for me which resonated well with the main theme of world traveling and experiencing new experiences. In terms of voice acting, I felt that the series voice cast did an excellent job of portraying their assigned characters whether main ones or support ones. In particular, I felt that Tomoyo Kurosawa, Nao Touyama, Marina Inoue, Ami Koshimizu and Lynn all did a fantastic job of portraying the characters of Asuka, Mia, Chloe, Nana and Yuu respectively. In addition, I also feel that this series also had some interesting support characters that did well to make the overall story more interesting by not just expanding upon the story but also in introducing more personal stakes into it. One notable example is the character of Seriouska who within the series was an alternate version of Asuka that hails from a parallel fragment. This version of Asuka as a result of being shaped by the unique circumstances of her home fragment was markedly different from the prime Asuka both in terms of temperament and beliefs and I felt she contrasted well with her. Her development from someone that tried to do everything alone and try to push away every attempt by the team to befriend her to someone who gradually learned to see the value of bonds and friendship and in the process learn to make friends for the first time in her life was well done and the effect that she had on the team is something that cannot be understated. I thought that Tomoyo Kurosawa who also voiced the prime version of Asuka also did an excellent job portraying Seriouska.
In overall Akanesasu Shoujo was an interesting anime that had among its main strengths an interesting premise, strong story, characters and a unique pairing of dimensional travel with superpowered abilities.
The overall premise of the show which was a look into what will happen if a group of high school girls whose interest into the occult and the paranormal were to enact a mysterious ritual that is centered around a certain location in their world is a concept that’s already well established within the world of anime forming the foundation for most mystery based animes. However, what makes this simple premise unique in this regard is the manner in which the girls travel to each world. This is because within the series for the girls to be able to get to a new world one of their number has to act as the mental link to that world and this link also acts to create the world based on the inner struggles and fears that they are experiencing inside their hearts. This pairing of a character’s inner struggles with the world building for their respective worlds I felt was an interesting idea and helped ensure that each of the worlds in which the members of the circle visit is unique.
The overall story of the series I thought made great use of this premise as it not only showed the many adventures that the members of the circle undertook in the course of the series but also show the many trials that each member had to overcome in their respective worlds as they came to accept that the life that they were trying to live was nothing but a lie and that to improve themselves they have to overcome their shortcomings and be willing to reveal their true selves not just to their friends but to the world as well. This combination of paring the act of realizing your true self with the awakening of powers that will allow the girls to face the enemies that had come to destroy their linked world I thought was an interesting idea as it provided the girls with the perfect opportunity to get payback for the time they had to hide their inner feelings. While the individual world bosses that the girls face were fearsome adversaries I felt that the overall story also did a great job of using these as stepping stones as it not only allowed the girls to see the kind of threat that the clutters to which the world bosses are named as but also show that beyond them is a much more major threat that they cannot hope to face until they learned to realize their true selves.
Overall Akanesasu Shoujo was an anime that I really enjoyed and while it made use of elements that are rarely used together I felt that in this case it managed to make great use of both the mystery, sci-fi and action elements and combine that with a story that allowed us to see how the members of the circle were able to use their newly awakened powers and the lessons they learned to defend against a threat that if not stopped will erase everything that they consider dear. Seeing each of the girls not just overcome their inner struggles but use the powers that they gained from it to face down the threat posed by twilight to both protect their world but also walk the path that they desire was pretty satisfying. As a final score, I would say that Akanesasu Shoujo deserves a final score of 8/10. While the core ideas were sound, and I enjoyed the journey of seeing each of the girls awaken their latent powers I felt that Twilight and the threat that it posed was introduced a tad too late within the series. I also felt that the many boss fights that the girls have to face in order to awaken their abilities were too similar and lacked enough variety in them.