The Great Passage – Preview
The Great Passage:
Original Release Date: January 12th, 2017
Synopsis: Kouhei Araki is a veteran editor of the Dictionary Department for Genbu Shobo Publishing. Unfortunately his home life takes a turn as his wife grows ill. But not wanting to give up the dream of crafting a new dictionary, Kouhei seeks out a new editor to see the project forward. That’s when he stumbles upon one Mitsuya Majime, whose attachment to words gives him unique insight into the project, despite his poor social skills. Mitsuya finds himself working alongside Masashi Nishioka, an individual less adept as an editor, but better able to express himself.
1st Episode Review (Warning: Some Spoilers to Follow):
Linny: One of The Great Passage’s biggest draw besides it’s rather unusual premise is its all adult cast. Anime is filled with teen aged casts and there is a fair share of older anime fans who crave an older lineup ever so often. However, if you were hoping for a prim and proper and somewhat instructional/slice of life about working on a dictionary publishing team, The Great Passage might not win you over. It has a lot of dramatic imagery and a protagonist, Majime Mitsuya who comes off as somewhat eccentric and strange as he struggles with normal adult and human interaction, shown to spout out definitions of words in the midst of a conversation and lacking in social skills. It’s not a show ruiner by any means but it does raise the chances that it might not appeal to those with a need for a more down to earth approach to cast and story telling.
Tom: Majime is definitely a bit aloof. He’s a character who seemingly struggles with social norms and seems greatly caught up in his own world. The episode tries to portray his ability to generate definitions for words on the fly as some sort of massive revelation, but at times it more comes across as someone unfamiliar with society’s ever evolving use of language. When the show first tries to instill this idea I don’t think it succeeds and suffers from what I described above. It’s only in the second attempt that the revelation they’re going for really comes across to the audience, but my issue with that stems into another point that I’ll go into in a bit.
Linny: There are a handful of other characters introduced in the episode who are clearly going to play an important role in the story and their roles are established in a natural manner unlike Majime. We have Kouhei Araki, the current head of the dictionary department who is desperately seeking a worthy successor as he nears retirement. Then we have Masahi Nishioka, a somewhat cocky but professional member of the dictionary department who might be the foil to Majime’s eccentricities. They should appeal to viewers looking for more ‘normal/average’ characters should Majime prove too eclectic for their tastes.
Tom: The Great Passage puts a lot of drama behind building a dictionary and sometimes that works, adding real weight to the subject. You can feel the passion of the characters and the intensity with which they care. But sometimes that passion extends into melodrama, particularly whenever the show tries to be a bit more metaphorical or symbolic in its dramatization of Majime’s passion. This includes a dream sequence that just doesn’t resonate the way it could.
Linny: Adding a stark contrast to that over romanticized and dramatized feel is a really out of place animated sequence involving anthropomorphic dictionaries. For a show that wants to be so deep and intense to then have this random sequence that feels like it came out of a show for kindergartners just doesn’t make for the smoothest narration.
Tom: Overall I’m pretty lukewarm on The Great Passage. There’s some interesting drama, and I can feel the passion for its subject matter, but sometimes it goes too far in trying to make Dictionary making feel poignant and deep. If you’re in need of a drama The Great Passage is probably worth the look in, but I wouldn’t say it’s the most memorable option out there. It doesn’t help that it sits behind Amazon Prime’s paywall, plus the further five dollars a month for Anime Strike, amazon’s new streaming channel that doesn’t even come close to stacking up with the competitions offerings. At least not yet. Unless you’re already a Prime member, and have five bucks a month to spare, it’s probably best to give this one a pass for now.
Linny: The Great Passage does enough to appeal to those of you who want a show that’s very different from the usual moe and shonen offerings that crowd every season. However, it also tries a little too hard to come off as deep and inspirational and doesn’t have the smoothest transitions between all its different moods and elements. If you want a break from the more juvenile parts of anime, you have yourself a new watch..so long as you do not mind the more intense and surrealistic drama.
The Great Passage is available for streaming via Amazon.