Special Note: The second Tokimemo video game is coming out this fall for the Sony Playstation. Be watching for it!
By Scott Rider
Tokimeki Memorial: Forever With You (aka "Tokimemo") was originally a game developed in 1993 by Konami of Japan for the PC Engine. The game ushered in the era of the "dating simulation", a type of role-playing game where the player takes on the part of high school student that, while trying to balance studies, athletics, grooming and whatnot, meets some of the girls going to the school. The circumstances of each girl are different, and the player has to decide who to try to play for; the ultimate goal being that, upon graduation, receiving a confession of love from his girl. A successful pairing usually indicates "winning" the game, though the levels of victory are rather complicated, particularly if one did not win the girl they desired. Of course, this often is the case with real life, which such games try to approximate.
In 1995, Konami released the game for the Sony Playstation, adding voice actors, new situations, music and film footage to further enhance the game. The story of Kirameki High School proved to be enormously popular, with spin-off Tokimemo-themed games, collectable dolls, music recorded by the characters, art books, posters--a lot of memorabilia has accompanied the cast of Tokimemo over the past several years. One thing was missing, however: there was no animated story version of Tokimemo, as is often done with popular games in Japan (just look at Pocket Monsters, for example--originally a Nintendo Gameboy game). Rumors surfaced about an animated series underway, but with no real data to back up the claims. Finally in 1998, it was officially announced that there would be original animation-for-video (OAV) series based on Tokimeki Memorial. At last in the spring on 1999, the first volume of the Tokimemo anime series was released on DVD, LD and VHS.
That this is a show for fans of the game is evident in the presentation style of the characters. Little is done by way of introduction for the characters. For example, if one did not know that Fujisaki Shiori is the star of the game, or that Mikihara Megumi is her best friend, people might become confused with the sudden inundation of a dozen girls (all of whom appear in the first episode). Even so, the art quality is nice, the music is amiable and the story is, well, the story.
As the first episode opens, it is learned that it is November 1997, with about five months left until graduation day. All the girls know about the main character, and some relate their dating experiences to the others. A number of scenes and even dialogue lines are lifted directly from the course of the game. The main difference is that, unlike in the game, there exist a number of character study scenes that evolve the girls above those impressions that one might get from playing through the game for a solid month like a certain author did in early 1996. The plot component that is the most interesting is seeing how the girls interact with each other, such as the art buff and karaoke addict Katagiri Ayako getting swimming lessons from Kiyokawa Nozomi, the swimming idol and all-around athlete.
Despite the sharp learning curve, even the casual observer will be able to enjoy the show simply because it relies on character exposition to get its story across, and trying to figure out the attitudes and quirks of each girl should be enough to at least keep viewer interest. (It certainly helps to have played the game, however). After getting a grasp on the natures of the dozen "regulars", viewers will have to try and figure out a few of the other game's supporting characters, such as the "mystery girl" Tatebayashi Miharu. Fans of RPG date sim games as well as fans of high school situation anime shows should like the Tokimemo OAV series.