Synopsis: Sentimental Journey is a collection of twelve short stories about twelve different girls. Though unrelated, there is one common theme that binds the episodes together: each girl's bittersweet experience of first love.
Review: Sentimental Journey was first released in Japan back in 1998, based on a bishoujo game entitled Sentimental Grafitti. I remember being awed by various Sentimental Grafitti images strewn throughout the net back in the late 90's, as I was similarly fascinated with Sentimental Grafitti figurines I'd see on sale in various anime shops. Sentimental Journey is one of those titles which I never expected to see translated into English.
Sentimental Journey is a coming-of-age feature with twelve teenage girls at the helm, and each of the twelve episodes is a re-telling of their first brush with romance. To give an example, the first episode is entitled "Akira Endo". Akira is a budding violinist who becomes infatuated with a male schoolmate who also plays the violin. He becomes her inspiration, resulting to richer and deeper performances on Akira's part. But he moves away, leaving Akira alone. Akira loses her desire to play the violin, and the episode further unfolds to show us how Akira eventually realizes what is important in her life. Every story imparts a lesson in love and life in general, as seen and felt from an ordinary Japanese girl's perspective. There's an episode which shows the heroine going on an omiai (or "arranged marriage meeting"), as well as one wherein the heroine impersonates her twin brother in order to go on a date with another girl -- among others.
The art and animation are very good, albeit somewhat washed out -- a minor flaw which can probably be attributed to the title's age. Lovely character designs and a good assortment of Japanese backdrops (ranging from bustling cityscapes to rustic countrysides) make up the visuals, while likeable mellow pop songs and unobtrusive background music comprise the soundtrack. I should also mention that there is no English dub track, just English subtitles.
Sentimental Journey is a series which demonstrates the various aspects of young adulthood, with unrequited love at the top of its agenda. I personally thought it was executed nicely, but its languid pacing and character-driven episodes leave a sort of open-endedness that may bother those who prefer a more solid and defined approach. Sentimental is right. Feeling is emphasized instead of action, and there's a pervading sense of nostalgia as I am once again reminded of how old I'm getting.
Miscellanies: Sentimental Journey is comprised of twelve episodes, all of which are in a double-disc set.