Don't Leave Me Alone Daisy Anime Review
Don't Abandon Me, Daisy
US Release By
Mad Genius in Love Comedy
12 25-minute episodes
1997-07-02 - 1997-09-17
Young Techno has spent his formative years hidden in a bomb shelter by his overprotective mad scientist grandfather, but after laying eyes on the pretty young Hitomi he decides to climb out of his hole (literally), go to high school, and pursue love like a normal guy... or at least, his take on a normal guy. Poor Hitomi, however, is in for a shock, because her newfound mad scientist "boyfriend" lacks just about every basic social skill, and will do just about anything to get her affections. Throw in Yamakawa X, a rebel without a clue, Annie, a psychotic social-reformation-type-cyborg, and the class' buxom and entirely clueless young teacher, and you've got yourself a typical anime high school.
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Don't Leave Me Alone Daisy isn't a normal take on a tired premise--it's a disaster. The art is weak, the stories are truly off-the-wall but for the most part sadly uninspired, the characters are so annoying you want to strangle them (particularly Techno), the directing is uniformly weak, and the acting (Japanese only--Bandai didn't even bother to dub it) is awful. It mainly stands out for Techno's irredeemable pursuit of Hitomi; he's more a villain than a sympathetic loser, and as if that weren't bad enough Hitomi inevitably starts to forgive his extreme psychosis and give in to his "charms."
The only, tiny, glimmers of interestingness buried in the mire are a few bits of extreme weirdness and the minor character Yamakawa X. A lovable loser to the core, he's "just alone because he's the cool punk type, not because he has no friends," and his ultra-traditional Nationalist mother and perfect Japanese older brother are constantly trying to kill him for tarnishing the family honor by being a nonconformist.
Despite being a seriously weird interpretation of a classic plotline, this series is obscure for a reason--in everything but a few bits of creativity (that it fails to capitalize on), Don't Leave Me Alone Daisy is a fine example of anime with everything done wrong.
Full ReviewSwitch to Quick Review
Here's a tired plot: Socially inept genius decides to come out of his shell to pursue the girl of his dreams. But Don't Leave Me Alone Daisy isn't a normal take on that already lame premise--it's a complete disaster. The stories are truly weird yet sadly uninspired and a bit scary, the characters are so annoying you'll want to strangle them, the directing is uniformly weak, the art is unremarkable, and the acting is awful. The weird thing is, I couldn't quite walk away; partly on account of a couple of tiny glimmers of interestingness buried in the mire, but mostly out of morbid curiosity to find out where this train wreck of a series was going.
What really stands out about Don't Leave Me Alone Daisy is how wrong the story is. Most notably, Techno is so irredeemable in his pursuit of Hitomi that he's more like a villain than a sympathetic loser--he does everything from try to trap her in a tank of bio-goo, to taking control of her body so she'll go out with him, to randomly deciding (among other, far stranger things) that she's actually named Daisy. An inexplicable curiosity to find out exactly how far he was going to go (world conquest), and how (or whether) the writer was going to bring his psychosis to some sort of romantic conclusion kept me cringing through one episode after another.
I'll save you the trouble: Not only does Techno not get much better, in a feminists' nightmare made flesh Hitomi eventually starts to forgive Techno's psychotic behavior and give in to his "charms." That made less sense than keeping cute nuclear missiles as pets. Worse, as far as I can tell it wasn't even supposed to be a savage mockery of just how ridiculous the pairing is--she just couldn't do better (as her "friends" repeatedly point out, she apparently doesn't have much going for her). Since the one redeeming part of her character was her pragmatic fear of Techno, it also made poor, beleaguered Hitomi seem tragically desperate.
Now let's see if I can say something nice about Don't Leave Me Alone Daisy. To its credit, some of the weirdness is extreme enough to tickle my fancy, or at least get me to stare at the screen with a mildly disturbed expression. There are plenty of wacky standbys like biology experiments gone wrong, but a few are taken a step or two farther than usual--cute nuclear missile pets, a bizarre Godzilla re-enactment, and one of the most marvelously wrong backstories of an insane cyborg I've seen yet. Things like that made me want to like it, and I really did try... but no, that wasn't nearly enough.
The directing and writing are so poor the series doesn't seem to know what to do with all these crazy ideas. Episodes just meander around, and the few concepts that actually manage to be funny rather than just strange don't go anywhere--the chaos trails off rather than building to a climax. Similarly, I kept getting the feeling that the series was trying to become a parody of itself and its genre, or maybe some sort of social satire, but in the end there wasn't nearly enough cleverness for me to believe that was anything but an accident. Really, it's just weird.
There is, however, one shining point in the series: The relatively minor character Yamakawa X. A classmate of Techno's, he's a lovable loser to the core, constantly talking to the camera pointing out that he's just alone because he's the cool rebel type, not because he has no friends. Better yet, in addition to being mercilessly abused by Techno, his ultra-traditional Nationalist mother and perfect Japanese older brother are constantly trying to kill him for tarnishing the family honor by being a nonconformist. A bizarre form of social commentary, taken so far that I couldn't help but enjoy it.
But again, don't get your hopes up--even Yamakawa X wasn't worth sitting through 3 episodes for, let alone 12. And that's it for the good stuff.
The art is unmemorable to say the least. It's brightly but rather blandly colored, the character designs are uninteresting and slightly awkward (though Techno looks exactly like me), and the animation is rather weak. The background music is unremarkable at best, but the edgy hard-rock opening theme stands out. It's a surprisingly appealing song and, coupled with chaotic, relatively gritty visuals, it's about the farthest thing from an appropriate opening for this series that I can imagine (as much as anything because it's actually reasonably good).
The Japanese acting is... well, poor. Hitomi's hoarse, uninterested-sounding voice grew on me a little, but it's no surprise this was Kisa Iinuma's first and last role of any significance. Yasufumi Hayashi's Techno is just as bad, and remains annoying throughout. Yamakawa X, voiced by veteran Toshiyuki Morikawa, is again the high point; if only the series had been about him. There is no English version--Bandai didn't even bother to dub it.
Despite being a seriously weird interpretation of a classic plotline and repeatedly threatening to become a parody of itself, Don't Leave Me Alone Daisy is obscure for a reason--in everything but a few nuggets of creativity, it's a fine example of stereotypical anime with everything done wrong.
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Nothing with quite the same story comes to mind offhand, but any of the numerous harem shows are close enough and a lot more fun. Try Love Hina in particular, but Tenchi Muyo, El Hazard, or even something like Ranma 1/2 have plenty of wackiness, some romance, and are a whole heckuva lot more quality. The arty, gritty intro is somewhat reminiscent of the Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei openings, of all things, but nothing else is.
Notes and Trivia
Based on a five-volume manga series by Noriko Nagano, published between 1986 and 1989; it's not available in English as of this writing. It's not clear to me why someone dusted off the idea a decade later for a TV series--there couldn't have been much of a fan base.
The only other role Hitomi's voice actress, Kisa Iinuma, has ever been credited with is a background character in Princess Mononoke, of all things. Techno's voice actor, Yasufumi Hayashi, also only has one other anime role to his name (one of the leads in the semi-classic Harmageddon, when he was 12 years old), but has a successful live action TV career going back to the early '80s as a child actor. His lengthy filmography includes a number of sentai shows, and he's still got plenty going on as of this writing. Another unknown in the cast is Ikuko Yamamoto--Annie is her only voice credit unless you count a background character in Ponyo--a rather weird Ghibli coincidence.
Toshiyuki Morikawa (Yamakawa X) is a contrast--he has a lengthy voice acting career (including voicing Sephiroth, which I find rather amusing).
US DVD Review
At least the set is cheap. Similar to Haunted Junction and a few other Bandai releases of the era, you get the whole series on one reasonably priced 2-disc set (and to make it even nicer, the case is the same size as a single disc instead of the fatter variety). There are absolutely no special features, but the episodes are well-indexed, the video is a nice, clean transfer, and the stereo audio isn't bad either. Even though it's sub-only, the subtitles are still soft-coded, so you can turn them off if you feel so inclined, and the song subtitles alternate between English translation and Japanese transcription for singing along. The credits are entirely untranslated, but the full Japanese cast and main crew are included on the case insert.
Relatively clean, and probably fine for all but the youngest viewers; 10-up at the worst.
Violence: 1 - There's a variety of fighting, but it's never particularly serious.
Nudity: 1 - Some swimsuits and a teacher's tight-fitting outfits.
Sex/Mature Themes: 1 - Light romance and a couple of mildly off-color jokes.
Language: 1 - Generally mild, though there is just a bit of profanity.
Staff & Cast
Reijiro Techno: Yasufumi Hayashi
Hitomi Matsuzawa (Daisy): Kisa Iinuma
Miss Rarako: Sumi Shimamoto
Yamakawa X: Toshiyuki Morikawa
Sayori/Mimi-chan: Urara Miura
Tami: Rio Natsuki
Annie: Ikuko Yamamoto
Kuma-chan/Goro-kun/Computer Voice/Delinquent: Yuuji Ueda
Yamakawa's Mother: Yoshiko Sakakibara
Yamakawa's Brother: Mitsuru Miyamoto
Hitomi's Mother: Keiko Tsukamoto
Hitomi's Father: Motomu Kiyokawa
Student A: Katsunari Ikeda
Student B: Norio Yoshia
Surfer/Delinquent: Katsuaki Arima
Kin-chan: Atsushi Shimada
#G2: Hiroko Kasahara
#R1: Akimitsu Takase
Passerby: Tomoyuki Terai
Ivan: Ryusei Nakao
Young Techno: Yoshiko Kawai
Karaoke Patrons: Toru Shinagawa, Takeyuki Funato, Katsumi Masago
Captain: Toshihiko Nakajima
Soldier: Shigeru Sakano
Reporter: Akimitsu Takasa
Girl Student: Momoko Ishi
Original Story: Noriko Nagano
Director: Yuuji Mutou
Screenplay: Satoshi Nishizono, Ryota Yamaguchi, Kazuhisa Sakaguchi
Character Designs: Atsuko Nakajima
Music Director: Kazuhiro Wakabayashi
Animation Director: Susumu Ishizaki, Naoki Hishikawa, Hiroyuki Fukushima, Susumu Ishizaki, Shigeru Ueda
Art Director: Mitsuharu Miyamae
Animation By: Studio Deen
Formerly available in North America from Bandai on a subtitled-only DVD set, long out of print. Bandai had previously released it on six individual subtitled VHS tapes, also available as a box set.
You can still find copies of the DVD set through Amazon, but at last check they were about as expensive as when it was new for some reason: Don't Leave Me Alone Daisy Collection