I watched True Tears in the space of a few days at the end of August. I was reasonably impressed. People who actually know things about quality seemed to agree: if I had to list the better anime of 2008 by skimming opinions from the creamy top of the ‘sphere, True Tears would probably feature.
And yet I did not feel at all engaged by the story. This is unusual – I’d like to think that it’s unusual because I’m open-minded, but it’s probably unusual because I just avoid anime that I know I won’t appreciate. Why didn’t I avoid this one, then? Perhaps I forgot that I can feel ignored when a story’s interests aren’t aligned with mine at least a little bit, however well-presented that story might be.
Mind you, it would’ve been hard to discover that True Tears would be quite tightly wrapped up in Shinichiro’s romantic progress before watching it, at least without badly spoiling myself. And it was a matter of tightness, of claustrophobia, of that moment in an asthma attack when you properly wake up and realise that your inhaler is in another room. KimiKiss (which I liked) and Kanon (which I didn’t like, but could engage with) felt more expansive: there were more characters and situations for me to occupy myself with when the going was tough. True Tears was shorter and smaller, so there was nowhere to run. It was also hard to laugh at, which may (I fear) have been how I dealt with Shuffle!.
The moment that crystalised all this in my mind was Shinichiro’s desperate pursuit at the end of the tenth episode: ‘Why the trouble, Shinichiro? Why the lung-bursting, bicycle-crashing trouble? I’m sorry, but I’d have to be either a few years younger or a few years older than I am to grasp this, and True Tears is telling me to grasp it or GTFO, because there’s an insert song here.’
True Tears, I’m sorry for being unappreciative. I’m glad most people reacted better to you. At least you were very memorable, even if only as a warning to me to be less adventurous in future.