Manabi Straight! – 01
On the day of the swim meet, Inamori Mika is running to school when she encounters a girl she doesn’t know. This girl jumps down from a bridge and notices that Mika’s uniform is also of Seiou Academy, so she pulls out her hover scooter and tells Mika to get on. Mika’s friend Mutsuki is already at the pool and is trying to call her, but is unable to get through because Mika is currently holding on for her life with the new girl’s driving. The pair finally arrive during the principal’s speech by crashing through the fence, launching into the air, and landing in the pool. The principal and the class 2-A’s teacher Shimojima eventually figure out that the girl who came with Mika is the new transfer student Amamiya Manami. Mika and Mutsuki also learn who Manami is and find out that she’ll be in their 2-A class. When Mutsuki goes over and asks Manami about her swimming form, Manami replies back that she uses the Manabi Form. In fact, Manami even goes by the name Manabi. Manabi looks ready to swim, but she screws up her jump into the water and gets her body caught in the lane divider. Nevertheless, Manabi goes home happy that night to her older brother and proudly shows him the participation prize she got.
The next day, a pair of girls are discussing the scheduled student assembly when they bump into and greet a girl named Etou Mei. She opens her mouth to greet them back, but then closes it and walks away. Mutsuki then rushes up to Mei and gives her a big push in the back to greet her, but Mei keeps walking after she regains her balance. Mutsuki keeps up with her as she tries to run away and persists until Mei finally greets Mutsuki back. When it comes time for the assembly, Mika finds herself alone on stage as the student council officer. Meanwhile, another girl named Odori Momoha is filming herself feeding pigeons when she sees someone speeding towards her on a hover scooter. This person is Manabi, who is late, and she asks Momoha for directions to school. While Manabi is making her way there, Mika has already started the assembly and is telling the students about the student council in order to recruit them. Unfortunately, Mika finds that almost everyone has fallen asleep from her speech. As it turns out, Mika joined the student council right when the previous president and only member was about to transfer schools, so Mika is currently the sole member of the student council.
Mika’s speech then gets interrupted by the arrival of Manabi, who flies through the door and announces her candidacy for the student council president position. However, the principal tells the students that Manabi’s candidacy will have to be put on hold because she just transferred into the school and thus wouldn’t know anything about the student council. Hearing this, Manabi proceeds to give a speech about the student council improving student life. Mei eventually gets frustrated enough by everything to stand up and tell Mika to hurry up and end the assembly. Mika decides that they should decide by majority vote and asks for applause from Manabi supporters. When Mika is the only one that claps her hands, Manabi gets on stage and starts singing the Seiou school song that she apparently memorized after hearing it during the swim meet. Everyone is so touched and so impressed by her that they all applaud, making Manabi the next student council president. The now infamous Manabi introduces herself later to her new 2-A class – which includes Mika, Mutsuki, Mei, and Momoha – and declares that her favorite motto is Massugu GO!
ED: 「Lucky&Happy」 by 林原めぐみ (Hayashibara Megumi)
Watch the OP! Mirror 1 Mirror 2
As expected from ufotable, the entire ending is in Claymation, just like many of their other recent series. I’ve got mixed feelings at best about the Hayashibara Megumi song, and I’m hoping that the OP is a bit better.
Well that wasn’t quite what I had expected. I had a hard time putting voices to faces since these high-schoolers look so young and I recognized all the voice actresses (Hirano Aya, Nonaka Ai, etc) from relatively older type roles. This was particularly bothering for me when Horie Yui started singing towards the end of the episode because although I really liked the song, it just didn’t feel like Manabi was singing it.
The animation quality was pretty good though, living up to what I saw from the promotional videos. Truthfully though, I actually think that the soundtrack was even stronger than the animation. The background songs weren’t quite as addictive to listen to as the guitar ones from the PVs, but it was good nonetheless.
Overall, I’m slightly underwhelmed by the first episode, but it’s partly because I had fairly high expectations coming in because of those promos. For now, it feels like it’s lacking that particular something that would draw me into watching this series. Manabi does remind me a lot of Suzumiya Haruhi in the way she wants to make things more fun, but it’s still to early to tell what adventures she’ll lead the girls on. There’s a lot of potential here though, so I think I’ll watch a least a couple more episodes before I make any decisions about the show. On that note, the preview was actually pretty cool to watch.