Why hello there! I just had the time to watch episode 1 of Utakoi over at Crunchyroll.com, and thought I would give you some of my thoughts. I also worked on the episode 1 page, you can check it out here, with lots of screenshots.
Utakoi, is an anime based on a Japanese poem anthology of 100 Poems, each poem written by a different author, which was compiled almost a thousand years ago. At the beginning of episode 1, Fujiwara introduces the 100 poems. Fujiwara is also the person who compiled the 100 Poems, and explains that by looking at the poems, it should be clear what he likes. The majority of the poems are about love (43 of 100 according to this series). The episode then shows the "stories" behind two of the poems. They are both love-themed.
Impressions: not too impressed
Visually the anime is alright. Since the poems were written almost a thousand years ago, we get to see a lot of traditional clothing and buildings. It has some nice art and the animation has it's ups and down. The voice acting is alright too, but nothing really stood out. Perhaps this is the nature of doing this sort of series. Even if the series restricts itself to only the 43 love poems and assuming this doesn't go more than 26 episodes, each poem will get less than 1 episode to tell it's story. This first episode did feel a little generic and rushed, but that might just be the nature of the beast. Because of the simple stories and art, Utakoi is easy to watch. For example, the first story could be boiled down to: guy finds girl attractive, girl resists him to save her dignity, girl falls for him anyway, they have an affair without anyone knowing. How romantic, right?
But because of the simplicity, I'm not really willing to contribute any more to the wiki for this series than I already have. :S Nothing really impressed me about this episode, and given how the series is going to be structured, I feel like it would be better if I just watched it more casually. That probably says more about my own reasons for working on the wiki as a whole, but that's for another post. ;)
Originally this series caught my eye because previously I had watched Chihayafuru, which featured the card game karuta, which uses the 100 Poems. I really enjoyed Chihayafuru and was interested to see the 100 Poems in a new way. This first episode didn't really do that for me, but I suppose if I really wanted to learn about the 100 Poems, I'd go to the library and actually find some books on them, or maybe even try reading the Poems themselves. From this episode, it doesn't look like this is going to be a very serious look at the 100 Poems, sure it's about love, and love is great and all, but the telling of the stories comes off as sort of shallow.
As I was watching the show, it weirdly reminded me of 30-sai no hoken taiku. It was a short anime, that didn't really take itself seriously, was about love and had some humor. Similarly, it doesn't look like Utakoi is trying to be fancy or is trying to do anything big in terms of plot or development. I can't really recommend this series to others. The speed of the show is a little worrisome, but it might just take some getting used to. So, I'm going to continue watching it, but dropping it is not out of the question at this point. :(
P.S. a word on interpretation
Since this anime is an interpretation of the 100 Poems, one might have the tendency to not take this series seriously right off the bat (I think I might have done that actually), seeing as it is not really "original". But then I thought, well... almost every anime is based off a manga, and, among other things, just by having voice actors the anime creators are already making an interpretation on what the characters "should" sound like. And they probably have to go through the same struggles of "staying true to the original" while also making it work as an anime.
It's just something to keep in mind when watching anime, a music performance, a movie or whatnot.