The Gist: Kouhei Inuzuka is a high school sensei raising Tsumugi, his Kindergarten-aged daughter, alone, following the death of his wife. Life is hard, but in simple ways, and he’s surrounded by good-hearted coworkers and doing his best. One day, while visiting the cherry blossom festival, they encounter Kotori, a sad high school girl whose mother stood her up.
His daughter forms a bond with the girl quickly and, later, they share a meal at the girl’s family restaurant. Simple challenges, emotions, and understanding ensue. It’s the best show airing this season.
This show rocks because it nails the quiet, simple life following a major emotional loss. The cast does not fountain tears, no freakouts; just bags under their eyes, eating poorly, and not being socially outgoing. They are desperate for normal contact and routine but do not know how to get that.
Endou Rina does masterufl work voicing Tsumugi. The slightly off language is believable, as are the behaviors, wants and needs. Tsumugi is super charming and her in episode arc—making her father aware that they haven’t been eating together, so much as in the same house—was a gut punch.
Truthfully, the audience that probably won’t enjoy AtI is younger and probably hasn’t experienced this kind of tragedy in their life. AtI is quite pretty, but it doesn’t have the special effects flair of doesn’t have last year’s Dead Mom Piano Tragedy (AKA Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso).
Nor is there a magical element nor a love element nor anything other than what it is: slice-of-life for a 30-something dad, completely unprepared to be a single man raising a little girl.
If you’re looking for sincere, grown-up anime, where drama can be treated with an artful hand, I honestly can not think of a better choice than this. Check it out.