Image source: rewrite_tv on Twitter
Few anime need an introduction as much as Rewrite.
The series that might be the most perplexing this season began life as a visual novel. Key’s Rewrite is an extremely popular story and remains so, even though it was originally released back in 2011.
The Winter 2017 anime season marks the debut of the anime adaptation’s second season, which will likely be more than a little confusing if you missed the first or haven’t played the visual novel.
So if you’re interested in watching it or getting into the show without having to look all over the internet for some sort of condensed information dump, let me explain a few things to prep you for your first viewing of the first season while spoiling as little as I can. Currently, the second season of the 24-episode series is airing, which adapts the “Moon” and “Terra” routes from the game. You should be able to get started watching with no trouble after this quick primer!
To assist me, I’m going to invite the Disembodied Voice over from Richard’s usual explainers. Hey there, Dee-Vee!
Uh…hi. You don’t normally do these things, do you?
No, but I’m going to be hanging out with you for a bit today if that’s cool. Any burning questions you have about Rewrite that we can help people to understand the show with?
Yeah, actually. What is Rewrite about, anyway?
This may be a bit complicated, but hear me out. Rewrite follows a high school student named Kotaro Tennoji, who’s part of his school’s Occult Research Society in the fictional city of Kazamatsuri, Japan.
Kotaro has a special ability known as “Rewrite,” just like the title, that lets him permanently alter and modify any part of his body right down to his blood. The only problem is that each time he does this, he uses up a little bit of his life force. Eventually this will cause him to become a familiar. You know, like a witch’s black cat or something to that effect. A magical creature that’s kind of like a servant.
After joining the Occult Research Society, Kotaro begins investigating paranormal events in Kazamatsuri with the girls in the club, though it ultimately ends up that Kotaro becomes locked in a battle between two warring factions: Gaia and Guardian. Ultimately, there are several paths the anime and visual novel will take, with most if not all ending in humanity’s absolute destruction.
Okay, that’s kind of weird.
Yeah. It definitely is. But it’s super awesome.
Yes, humanity’s destruction is…awesome. Sure.
At least you know the story behind the title. Plus this is a Key visual novel (like Clannad and Kanon), or it’s based on one, anyway. You should know to expect some weirdness here and there.
So let’s start with something simple then. Kotaro’s in high school and he’s in what kind of club at school?
Right, my bad. Let me rewind a bit.
So what was this club again?
The Occult Research Society. Kotaro is invited to join by the club president, a girl named Akane Senri. Akane doesn’t really believe in the supernatural (even though she is known in schools as “The Witch”), but she’s drawn to Kotaro because he’s pretty supernatural himself, as you learn later on. The club also consists of transfer student Chihaya Ohtori, shy girl Sizuru Nakatsu, clean freak Lucia Konohana, and Kotaro’s childhood friend Kotori Kanbe.
Image source: @rewrite_tv on Twitter
Right. So, a bunch of girls who fawn over Kotaro, probably. That’s what this show is, isn’t it? A romantic comedy with a harem?
I mean, yeah, but…not exactly. See, Kotaro is special. In fact, a very bizarre set of dreams lead him to the Occult Research Society in the first place. He’s especially interested in figuring out what’s going on with his creepy dreams, where a young girl stabs him in the chest or uses these spooky ribbons on her wrist to cut his arm off. She even starts visiting him at night, which obviously makes him feel a bit odd–as any normal person probably would. She can control these weird ribbons telekinetically.
Well, that sounds equal parts cool and terrifying.
Yup. Anyway, when his childhood friend suggests that he talks to “The Witch” at school to figure out what’s going on, Kotaro does just that, and ends up joining the Occult Research Society club in the process. What unfolds after that is a series chock-full of supernatural incidents, bizarre alternate dimensions, a not-so-certain end for humanity, and organizations at odds with each other with Kotaro caught in the middle.
Right. So does Kotaro “date” all these girls or is there a “true” route in the anime adaptation then? Why do I care about all of these random girls?
The anime follows a path where you’ll see several outcomes, especially with the second season’s “Moon” and “Terra” routes.
Each girl you meet in Rewrite has her own separate route though, and Kotaro ends up with some sort of encounter with each of them, for better or for worse in the series. Unlike in the visual novel where you get to pick which girl you end up with, however, you get a bit of a sampling here since the show is looking to cover so much ground.
And the girls are massively important because each of them plays a role that’s integral to the plot as a whole. Without revealing too much of the plot so as not to ruin your watch or your first play through, several of them belong to one side and several are on the other.
So what’s the anime all about then, in a nutshell?
Good versus evil. Humanity’s triumph against the odds. Love, rebirth, and living many lives. It’s about seeing potential in a race that seems so fully incapable of experiencing love, altruism, and hope in a way that’s beneficial for all beings.
I mean, really. Would I like Rewrite?
If you enjoy somewhat confusing plots where several different threads intertwine to make something memorable and engaging, you’ll find a lot to enjoy about Rewrite. If you prefer your narrative more straightforward and exact with explicit reasoning for why each thing occurs and how, you might be better served catching something else. Don’t mind an anime that’s little obtuse with its plot revelations? This should be right up your alley.
I’m just in it for the lewd situations.
Oh, but you’ll leave appreciating so much more than that. Trust me.