(Sakura no Ki no Shita de / Maikai Tsuzuku no Kono Kanji!? / Toriaezu Noide Miyou ka)
“Under the Sakura Tree / Is It Like This Every Time!? / To Start, Let’s Try Undressing”
Well I’m impressed. GoHands may be going with a similar style as Princess Lover in this adaptation of a 4-koma gag manga, but it’s still a noticeable step up from their work there. For a series where most of the humor comes from the dialogue itself, the screenplay is done really well too, without relying on any stylistic touches that SHAFT is known to employ to help scene transitions. As the source material is only comprised of short four-cell skits, a lot of padding needed to be done. Many of the scenes were simply concluded with a one-liner stamp to add to the humor of what was shown; however, there were a lot of skits strung together to form a much longer scene as well, which is what impressed me the most. The original content with its witty and subtle jokes is amusing enough on its own, so all that was really needed was everything in between to fill in the gaps to make it work as an anime. Some of that was extra dialogue, but the goofy super-deformed scenes were what I really enjoyed. In addition, the sound effects and creative use of camera angles that added to the scene variety and allowed the original jokes to speak for themselves. For now, it looks like GoHands has opted to simply reorganize the manga material and make it flow, with the preview for the next episode even joking about exactly which pages of volume one will be covered. If they actually do stick to the manga and focus on the presentation like they have in this premiere, this series should turn out to be a lot of lighthearted fun.
Back in the Summer 2010 Preview, I compared this series to the likes of Seitokai no Ichizon primarily because there is no real underlying plot to drive things forward. Instead, we simply have a premise where Tsuda Takatoshi (Asanuma Shintarou) attends the recently turned co-ed high school, Ousai Academy, where the male to female student ratio is a grossly lopsided 28 to 524. It’s easily seen as a harem-building paradise, but more than anything it’s this recent switchover to a co-ed school that drives almost all the comedy. Starting with connotations of lesbianism, the gags really pick up thanks to our student council members themselves. President Amakusa Shino (Hikasa Youko) is easily my favorite to watch since she loves putting a perverted spin on almost everything she says. (e.g. Bragging about how she’s “tight-lipped” down there as well.) Secretary Shichijou Aria (Satou Satomi) on the other hand is much more subtle with her humor since she just goes with the flow of things, whereas treasurer Hagimura Suzu (Yahagi Sayuri) is a lot of fun thanks to all the jokes that result from her height. Much like I was looking forward to, Youko does a wonderful job bringing out Shino’s serious yet obviously perverted nature, while Satomi goes for the more calm and reserved portrayal very unlike Ritsu in K-ON. Sayuri turned out to be a bit of a surprise, since she brings out Suzu’s loudness — especially when she’s bitching about her period — which is an utterly awesome way to round out the bunch.
In terms of humor, some jokes weren’t nearly as funny as others, but I felt the delivery was pretty good for most of them production-wise. A lot of the time it’s just Shino saying something stupid and Takatoshi thinking how stupid she is and wishing he was never dragged in as the vice-president, but I still found myself chuckling more often than not. At other times, we actually get to see some of the silly antics such as Shino tightening Takatoshi’s tie, smacking him for standing on her left when he’s supposed to be her right-hand man, or drawing a vagina-like design on the suggestion box to make it look more “inviting”. Suzu’s attempt to kick Takatoshi for calling her a kid had me laughing pretty hard in comparison, simply because it went from a dramatic slow motion scene to a dismal display. The best one had to be her punching him in her sleep though, because I really didn’t see that coming at all. Anyway, the jokes came pretty fast and furious and there’s no real point in talking about them specifically and ruining the fun, so I’m leaning towards covering this series in a slightly different manner for future episodes. I think something with less screen captures but with captions like I used for Hayate no Gotoku might work well here, so any feedback on that idea would be appreciated. In any case, I definitely plan to continue blogging about this series in light of how enjoyable this first episode turned out.
* Interestingly enough, the ending sequence is very akin to something I’d expect to see from SHAFT.