OP: 「Girlish Lover」by 赤﨑千夏 (Akasaki Chinatsu), 田村ゆかり (Tamura Yukari), 金元寿子 (Kanemoto Hisako), and 茅野愛衣 (Kayano Ai)
「高校生活のスタートは修羅場」 (Koukou Seikatsu no Sutāto wa Shuraba)
“The Start of High School Hell”
Meet Kidou Eita (Ohsaka Ryota). As a high schooler recently stripped of his chuunibyou, he seeks to pay back his relative Kiryuu Saeko, who took him in after his parents divorced. His primary method to achieve this: med school, a critical blow to the social lives of the dedicated. Combine terrible parent dynamics with the drive to study one of the most competitive fields, there just isn’t a whole lot of room or desire for a girlfriend in Eita’s life (though he still wishes to assert his perceived heterosexuality, shown occasionally).
Meet Harusaki Chiwa (Akasaki Chinatsu). As the osananajimi, she is doomed to have a casual relationship with Eita, but also intent on winning his affections against any adversary. Perhaps before the series the girl he sees the most, she has been content so far eating meat-based meals with Eita and casually throwing around the phrase “I love you!”, hoping that Eita would somehow notice her affections. However, what seems to be many years of trying to win Eita is instantly crushed in one day.
Meet Natsukawa Masuzu (Tamura Yukari), the
gentle scheming blue. Having moved into town with no friends or a desire for a relationship, she seeks to find solace from the 58 and counting confessions. Her plan of action? Go “pretend” with the gay guy…or so she thought. While Eita is definitely one of a heterosexual nature, he shares the same mentality as Masuzu–SCREW LOVE!–making the two strangely suited for each other, though one obviously benefits more from this pretending than the other. While one enjoys a new freedom of space, the other has another burden to his studies as well as the looming fear that his chuunibyou nature will be leaked onto the terrible place that is 2ch the internet.
That my friends, is the basis of Oreshura so far.
But some of these elements–sounds like a certain show that just finished last season, deathsu? Why again!? Keep in mind though that Oreshura (February) predates Chuunibyou (May) in terms of their light novel releases, so BEFORE making comparisons in that light, keep that in mind. While chuunibyou syndrome may be the glue that keeps this shady ordeal together, it will most likely form a small part of Eita’s actual character. That however, does not discount the chuunibyou attracting birds of a flock, which admittedly is also in chu2koi.
Now that the housekeeping intro has been cleared up, let’s establish some meaningful discussion about this show and its future. When you first dive in to Oreshura, it’s…weird to see the show take a fairly chill and relaxed approach to introducing the story. Granted, it’s not as chill as one can get, but for a romantic comedy, it definitely is paced at a slower rate. Since the show is directed by Kamei Kanta, the same person who directed Usagi Drop, it is understandable that his work there (which was his first director role) made influences here. The question is though, does it work?
Progressing through the show, one will notice that while the episode borders on a slice-of-life, at select times a bit of extravagance is used to accent the situation–Masuzu taking a notebook and
eating it revealing its contents or an Eita in despair being examples. Oreshura has decided to (at least for the intro episode) take a more sparing approach, perhaps with hope of accenting the big moments in a sort of contrast. The energy should amp up and balance as more characters enter the fray as is usual with the romantic comedy, but with Kanta leading the charge, I assume we can expect this sort of “tone” to pervade the series. That alone should be a decisive factor in whether or not people should pursue this show–the combination has potential like all uncommon approaches, but whether it can start reeling you in by episode three…we’ll have to wait. I admit that I have my own hesitations about applying the Usagi Drop pace even slightly, but I’ll give the show hope, eagerly wishing for the introductions to finally give way to some good stop-and-go entertainment.
If that hasn’t knocked you off the boat, the next thing to look at is the character composition. So far, the protagonist Eita has done well in keeping his level-headed persona while not being completely immune to the feminine charm. It’s a nice balance to start a protagonist off with, as it indicates neither a stoic unfeeling character nor a head-over-heels pervert–he strikes a fair balance between the two for a more realistic portrayal of the anti-romantic. However, his personality beyond that hasn’t had much to shine other than brief stints of his studious nature. It is better development though than Chiwa. Granted, Chiwa is absolutely adorable and I have to thank Otsuka Mai for designing her that way, but apart from her love of meat and love for her childhood friend, her personality hasn’t had time to shine either. Thankfully that should be rectified in episode two, if we’re following the standard rom-com development formula.
The person that definitely has star potential though is of course the main female protagonist, our two-faced manipulator. Reminiscent of Ami from Toradora! or Tsukasa from Amagami SS, her calculating and strategic nature to preserve her interests is a character set that deserves more exploration in a main role. As the driving force behind this entire setup, I expect many a great misunderstanding and shenanigan to follow in her footsteps, with her taking advantage of the situation 95% of the time. The formula worked the last two times, I expect it to work here. Her interactions with a fairly resistant lead should prove fruitful as the two eventually warm up to each other.
To be fair, the formula isn’t necessarily groundbreaking or original in many regards, but so far the execution of the characters has done a passing job, with the true strength of the show’s character interactions revealing itself in the next two episodes. While other rom coms may start off stronger in exposing and showcasing their core characters, this gentler guide may prove not to be so bad either, given that introductions are finished in a timely manner.
The aesthetics generally follow the same route in being solid but not groundbreaking. The character designs are nothing to be surprised about, but they definitely are pleasing to look at, especially Chiwa with her capturing gaze. The color tone–a gentle and light palette–is an uncommon but effective way to tie in the ups-and-downs approach the show is going for. While the day scenes may be more subtle, it helps to contrast how the afternoon scenes give a breath of warmth to the scene, which could end up useful for strengthening certain moments. It’s too soon to make a statement on the music, but the OP and ED are pretty much standard for the usual romantic comedy, with the ED being slightly stronger for having less of that rom-com-sweet-pop rhythm.
In essence, Oreshura is a candidate that’s hard to judge right now. Without a couple more episodes to see how the pacing will work out, it’s nigh impossible to make a truly informed judgment without hesitation. On one hand my gut reaction was a pleasant yet hesitant one, but the other hopes that the rom com will either try out something new or amp up the comedic elements in the next few weeks. As always and as is standard, if you found any pleasantries in this show but still are hesitant, stick around until episode three. The dynamics between Eita and Masuzu have some opportunity to bring out a good deal of laughs, but at the same time have a high standard to meet after the strength of the romance and comedies last season. If you can get used to the pacing and the slow introduction, I would say give Oreshura a try, for though it isn’t new, the combination of elements it is attempting to execute are definitely one for the romantic comedy enthusiast to look out for with at least a piqued interest.
ED: 「Wonder Tale」 by 田村ゆかり (Tamura Yukari)