By the end of Hiiro no Kakera (season one), I didn't care about the characters, nor did I care much about the outcome of the story. I grew cynical, and figured they'd see through their goal of sealing the onikirimaru in some anticlimactic way and it would all be over.
What came after the break though were a number of factors that pulled me in. The animation improved, and the fights were more dynamic and substantial. The characters had more depth to them with added drama and background information. Tamaki spent less time feeling sorry for herself and developing her skills until she finally, in the penultimate episode of the series, awoke as the Tamayori Princess and powered up her guardians.
She acquired a sixth guardian as the true Inukai showed himself and took his place at her side in favor of saving the world, and she accepted both him and Shinji's continued service -- and managed to power both of them up. Then she used her brain and, rather than wishing for her life to be sacrificed in order to seal onikirimaru, she wished the damn thing to just disappear from the world altogether. As it turns out, she's the first Tamayori Princess who ever gave that a thought. Finally, of course, the big element that is usually lacking in these game adaptations (the ones I've been watching, anyway) is for the heroine to pick a guy and fall in love, which ended up being a heavy element in the story's core.
I couldn't be more satisfied with the fact that she found love, and then because of that intense love she was deceived into believing that sacrificing her own life would let him live and be happy, while he was also deceived into thinking he could sacrifice his to save her. Without knowing that he was also roped into the sacrificial ceremony, we witnessed their supposed final moments together, in which they both thought they'd never see another day but made promises to each other in the way of sharing an afternoon like that again a year later.
Watching the first season, I didn't particularly feel that Tamaki had touched the guardians' lives in any significant way. She seemed too worried all the time, too flustered and frustrated with the fact that she wasn't performing well enough. Then things got hopelessly tough midway through season two and she rose to the challenge. She exhibited growth, and all the other characters moved along with her.
Probably one of the reasons why I had a good experience with Hiiro no Kakera II had to do with marathon-ing the second half of the show in one night. I don't know if I would have appreciated it as much in just small morsels a week at a time. If I were a busier anime watcher I probably wouldn't have even given season two a chance at all. But I'm glad I did.
If you're into otome games and corresponding anime, Hiiro no Kakera II may just be the adaptation for you. The pacing was slow with the first season, but season two more than makes up for it. It's packed with romance, drama, and some adventure, mixed in with a truly twisted villain who you knew was going to be the big bad guy all along. We just didn't know to what extent he'd been playing his hand until he had his evil villain monologue in front of everyone.
All of Hiiro no Kakera (seasons one and two) is streaming on Crunchyroll if you want to give it a shot!
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