Kami-sama no Memo-chou (literally translates to "God's Memo Pad"), or the english title, It's The Only NEET Thing To Do, has just started airing! And the first episode is a whole 45 minutes! WOW. I am very glad they decided to do this, as it was able to take it's time with introducing various characters and themes. It almost felt like a short movie, even the ending credits were scrolling. If I had to compare it to any other anime I've seen before, it would be something like Eden of The East or Steins;gate, with a little bit of mystery solving like in Gosick. I am impressed with this anime so far, and I'm definitely excited to watch more.
So let's get to the plot. Narumi is a male high school student. He has transferred schools quite often due to his father's work. As a result he has a hard time connecting with other people, even when he hangs out with friends he has gotten into the habit of concealing the fact that he doesn't remember his classmate's names. Now living in a large city, he comments as himself like a single dot, and even as he tries to make more dots and create a bigger picture, he ends up just moving again before the picture is complete.
The episode starts off as Narumi is looking for a building, he arrives at a small love hotel, and quickly figures he has the wrong address. As he is about to leave he hears a girl scream and jump off of a balcony with her shirt unbuttoned, landing on a pile of garbage. A few other high school students, judging from their appearance, arrive quickly on the scene and help her out. Narumi finds this odd, but is unable to question them further.
Then at this new high school, things seem to change as a hyper-active female student, Ayaka, quickly recruits him into the school's gardening club. It turns out the gardening club only has 2 members, him and the girl. After school Ayaka invites Narumi to eat some ramen at a place she works. When they arrive he meets the high school students that he saw earlier. They turn out to be NEETs and they introduce themselves. One is a womanizer, another is a technology geek and the other is a dropout. Soon enough Narumi is tasked with bringing a bowl of ramen to "Alice" who is in her room.
Alice turns out to be a NEET detective girl. She sits on her bed which is littered with cute teddy bears, and the room is lit by numerous wide-screen monitors surrounding the bed. She explains what she does to Narumi: Alice, searching for a reason to exist has determined that there are only really 2 useful professions in the world. A writer and a detective. The writer does justice to the dead by expressing them in an art form. And the detective also does justice to the dead by getting to the bottom of cases, but also sometimes at the expense of the living. Alice then explains the current case to Narumi. The girl that Narumi saw at the beginning of the episode was trying to work as a prostitute, and also the female sempai of that girl, named Shoko, was also working as a prostitute and has gone missing.
The rest of the 45 minute episode follows Narumi as he learns more about the characters involved in the case and what actually happened and why it happened. It concludes with Alice, the NEETs and Narumi figuring out what happened to Shoko and a confrontation. Whew. Before we get to my impressions and thoughts, take a look at some of the many screenshots I took, sorry for subtitles and also there may be minor spoilers.
As I've said, I really enjoyed this first episode. The way in which the case was solved didn't feel contrived or anything. And the episode shows the team working together to try and get to the bottom of things, so it isn't only Alice the one that solves the case, even though she is ultimately the one to put all the pieces together. Alice is cute and well-likeable, unlike a certain... other female mystery solver. I think this has partly to do with the fact that she states outright her reason for becoming a NEET detective, and also her living conditions are fairly modest.
I also really enjoyed the fact that Narumi was pulled into this, and just as he's telling us about how he is like a single dot, he then meets all these new and interesting friends. And to think, it was all because this hyper-active girl decided to recruit him into the gardening club. It will be interesting to see how the plot and characters develop in the series. How the cases will be told while also telling more about the main characters.
The whole idea of retelling a story of someone who is dead, or something that happened in the past, is in itself interesting. For example, how can you really be sure that you are doing "justice" to another person's life story when you weren't the one experiencing it. Sure you can search for reasons for why they might behave that way, and frame the story in such a way that it makes sense that way, but is that really the truth? In a way it's sort of self-reflexive because we the viewers are actually watching the story of Narumi as he finds out more information about the people around him and each case.
I think this episode did a great job in pulling everything together at the end and explaining the case. I get the feeling that the series is going to have an overall serious tone (this time it's a prostitution case, next time something else). And the long-term character development will focus on Narumi and the group of NEETs. I guess in a way, Narumi is becoming even more connected with other people by helping with Alice and the NEET's detective-work. It'll suck if the series ends with Narumi moving to another place, but we'll see.