Mei Ayazuki is just your ordinary, everyday high-school girl. That is until one night, when the moon is full and red, she’s transported through time to the Meiji Period by Charlie, a self-proclaimed magician. She ends up in a strange, Meiji-era ‘Tokyo’ where the existence of ghosts is accepted. Led by Charlie, she finally arrives at the Rokumeikan. There, waiting for her to arrive, are the historical figures Ougai Mori, Shunsou Hishida, Otojirou Kawakami, Kyouka Izumi, Gorou Fujita, Yakumo Koizumi, and Tousuke Iwasaki. Whilst interacting with these men, she discovers she is a Tamayori - someone who can see ghosts - a skill that is highly valued in the Meiji Period. Due to these powers, her relationship with the men begins to change… As she gets to know these handsome men in a new era she just can’t get used to, a love begins to grow within her. Will Mei be able to return to her time? What will become of her love - a love that crosses the boundaries of time and space? (Source: Honey's Anime)
At first, this seems just like any generic visual novel adaptation…until I saw who was the director of this show: the legendary Akitarou Daichi, famous for most 90s and early 2000s anime (such as Ima, Soko ni Iru Boku, Bokura ga Ita, to name a few). Needless to say, his recent works have been hits and misses, and Meiji Tokyo Renka is no different as a miss.
After a brief stint in going through a life that is in interaction with spirits every now and then, living in isolation, Ayazuki Mei, a simple and not-so-complicated girl, gets tranced by a passing magician, and subsequently, gets sent back in time to Meiji-era Tokyo at the bask of the Full Moon. Until the next timing of the Full Moon, she is requested to make use of her time in that era before she is allowed to go back to her time.
From there, the one-note characters come into play: the seven men (historical figures as they need be) sees Mei as a possibility to solve their separate issues…or so she thinks. Much more than just a simple harem-fest, they all come with the same clichés: Meet the protagonist somewhere along the way, request their problems or issues, then once the problem is solved, more or less interactions ensue, or pretty much the recurring cast continue their jobs, just out of existence.
Don’t get me started on the characters, much less (the supposedly) the purposes of each of them. I’m still quite surprised that the endless amount of problems that the men have for Mei to solve are actually quite simple, or that the issues tackled feels a lot tacked on. Since Mei is a Tamayori, someone who has the ability to see ghosts, it should be a surprise to no one that while it is moderately emphasized, it has never been the focus, much less only used for plot pointers in a show where there’s no linear direction or plot progression. Instead, it become a rom-com in its entirety, and while I won’t fault Akitarou-sensei for his amount of creativity input, instead it became its own Achilles’ Heel in terms of taking this VN adaptation in its own direction.
TMS Entertainment, you have let us down again. Or instead, the visuals are just very generic, reminiscent of their past recent works. I’ll be damned to say that the art and animation looks good and cartoon-y for the most part, but that is in regards to how much creative and artistic Akitarou-sensei is, and it shows for the most part (Remember the original Fruits Basket debacle?).
Regardless of how much time and effort has been put into this production, it still fails as a whole, and this is no noteworthy show. Instead, think of it as an added VN adaptation of a popular series in Japan to appease its demographics, that failed outright here in the West, and added into the list of subpar VN adaptations overall.