OP: 「いつかの、いくつかのきみとのせかい」 (Itsuka no, Ikutsuka no Kimi to no Sekai) by fhána
This show gives me hope.
It’s a small glimmer, not without its flaws, but Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou may very well bring out a formula that doesn’t really need to be changed.
First, let’s talk animation and visual quality, the easiest topic to discuss. Brains Base was wise in their visual design decisions, since the animation direction affords a lot of flexibility in achieving a balance between drama and comedy. Overall, the soft whiter color palette lends the show to its easygoing atmosphere, especially when combined with the rougher thicker sketches for all the characters. Current trends in animation often default to warmer colors and cleaner outlines, which helps makes shows feel refreshing when they break from this standard. Instead of making everything contrastive, Kawaisou is smart in using high-contrast art for two things–comedy gags and highlighting dramatic scenes–resulting in a show that’s always visually exciting to watch.
As for animation, I am pleased with whoever was in charge of cinematography and storyboarding, because the flow of the gags in the show are pleasant to watch. The exaggerated scenes seem to flow in and out of the banter naturally, with carefully selected visual transitions that help weave the joke together. Now, the usage of text might be too much for some, but personally I feel it adds a certain cartoony-manga atmosphere that lends well to the inevitable literature themes we’ll see later. In-between drawings surprisingly have held up well, making screencapping a pleasant experience. Of course, the non-transitive scenes are beautifully drawn as well, with the character designs pleasing to look at, especially that of Kawai Ritsu’s (Kana Hanazawa). Although it’s only the first episode, Ritsu is quickly becoming my favorite character when based on look alone–praise the animators for making her eyes so captivating to watch!
But, before I go on a whole rant about Ritsu, let’s move on to talking about the story and characters. So far, there is nothing surprising about the story–in fact it rings very much like certain romantic comedies of the pre-2000 variety, where the focus isn’t on a love triangle or multiple love interests, but rather the simple trials and tribulations of a high school male lead–in this case Usa Kazunari (Iguchi Yuuichi)–where the story is basically getting to know the girl he fancies, all while making friends along the way. His type is a very uninspiring male lead– having a desire to live out his youth fruitfully, strained relationships with parents, absolutely stricken with a girl at first sight. This isn’t a bad thing in itself, but don’t be looking around here if you’re seeking a revolutionary male lead. Ritsu herself isn’t the pinnacle of unique either, as her character comfortably fits within the framework of a dandere. However, these two interact with each other very well, even from episode one. Passing aside the slight creep-factor one gets when Kazunari spies on Ritsu, the innocent interactions the two share with one another is adorable. Ritsu, although quietly absorbed in literature 90% of the time, shows some spunk and genuine care for others the other 10%, even if she’s not really open to it. Kazunari hasn’t had his own time to shine yet, but I suppose we’ll see some of his developments come episode two.
As for the supporting cast, they’re all lively enough to enjoy, but for the sake of brevity, their focus will be deferred for episode two. What I do want to discuss though is the story itself, which by today’s standards is pretty unoriginal. The setup is a well-trodden road, with missing parents, shared living quarters, and quirky housemates with an anything-but-normal landlord. So, where’s the redeeming factor? Is the show doomed to make older women seem unappealing, bookworms amazingly cute, and all that standard romantic jazz?
Perhaps so, but once again, the tried and true isn’t such a bad thing to re-explore. The enjoyability (independent of its final rating) of a romantic comedy relies heavily on how well we like the characters and how they treat one another. How much do we approve of the pairings being made? Yes, a good plot with twists and character revelations is always a good show, and actual laugh-out-loud jokes are a great addition (though for a romantic comedy, producing smiles is acceptable enough in my book), the real core lies in how well the characters mesh together.
A show that immediately comes to mind when I see Kawaisou is one called Maison Ikkoku, a rom com from 1986. Although the setup of the characters is different, the basic dynamics between cast members ring very similar to one another–the cute couple that’s adorable to watch is supported by a crazy side cast that slowly peels away the hidden problems each character faces. Now, the same formula has been repeated several times since 1986, but we still make them. Thus, even though Kawaisou is not groundbreaking, it is framed around a working formula that gives it hope for a romantic-comedy deprived crowd.
I will continue to blog this for the three episode rule since I’m not completely sold on blogging it (though I will be watching it for sure), but I definitely will say that this is an offering for those looking for a less actiony, more smile-inducing show this season.
Full-length images: 17.
ED: 「My Sweet Shelter」 by Hanazawa Kana, Satou Rina, and Kanemoto Hisako