OP Sequence

OP: 「未来形Answer」 (Miraikei Answer) by (TRUSTRICK)

「俺のものがたり」 (Ore Monogatari)
“My Story”

No suspense here – I loved it.

There are more premieres to come this season, including a couple of shows that seem to have outside sleeper possibilities, but this was the last big one for me. Like Arslan Senki, Ore Monogatari!! was a show that had to join Baby Steps 2 (which was a slam dunk) in the ranks of the power elite if Spring ’15 was going to have a chance to end up going down as a strong season. As such, a big part of what I’m feeling now is relief – though there’s an awful lot of straight-up positivity too. This was one terrific first episode.

I love manga that trample established demographic and genre rules when it comes to gender. Gangan Joker/Online is the main source (the likes of Inu X Boku* (sadly, Inu x Boku SS mangaka Fujiwara Cocoa passed away this week at just 31 years old), Gugure! Kokkuri-san, Watamote and Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun are published there) but My Love Story!! definitely falls into the group (thought it’s published in Bessatsu Margaret, a bastion of traditional shoujo). Why? For the same reason as Nozaki-kun in a gender-flipped sense – it’s a shoujo manga with a male main character. And not just a shoujo but a shoujo romance (and no matter what haters will tell you, they’re not synonymous).

And what a main character he is. Gouda Takeo (Eguchi Takuya – yes, this is the same guy who played little Kujou in Gosick) is a child in a man’s body. When we first meet him he’s graduating middle school and already dwarfing his classmates, but it’s clear from the tears he sheds at graduation and the adoration his kouhai have for him that there’s more to Takeo than meets the eye. His best friend (Takeo sells it as a matter of happenstance more than choice, but it’s obviously both) is Sunakawa Makoto (an excellent Shimazaki Nobunaga), who’s always the center of the girls’ attention – including every girl Takeo has ever had a crush on. But “Suna” is a cold fish when it comes to females – he’s never expressed interest in any of them, and isn’t exactly a master of the gentle rejection.

Into their lives comes Yamato Rinko (Han Megumi), courtesy of the unwanted attention of a groper on the train (I love the way Morio Asaka shows us this scene from Takeo’s elevated perspective, though it’s Suna who spots the problem). Takeo being a gallant fellow intervenes on her behalf, and even punches the scumbag out when he tries to pull the “she was asking for it” defense (unfortunately Takeo does this in front of a cop, which gets him suspended from school). In gratitude Yamato shows up the next day with a cheesecake, and forgets her phone (hmmm) in Takeo’s room. When he meets her in the park to return it, he makes sure he brings Suna with him because he’s sure that’s who Yamato really wants to see, and Yamato this time brings macaroons. But as much as he enjoys the sweets, Takeo sees things starting to follow a very familiar pattern…

In a vacuum, we’ve certainly seen the elements of Ore Monogatari!! before. The love triangle, the misunderstood gentle giant, the standoffish hunk with hidden fire inside him. We’ve even got shoujo sparkles all over the place. But collectively, they’re magic – and it’s all in the execution. Each of these characters is already winning and relatable, most especially Takeo. Frankly I find him a pretty heartbreaking guy to watch, especially the way he’s come to expect others to miss the real person in the face of the scary exterior. He fully expects Yamato to fall for Suna, but Takeo is such a bro that he determines he’ll do everything he can to make it work for the two of them. Only 15, and he’s already accepted a fate as the eternal wingman.

The funny thing is, though, that it’s not clear just what Yamato is thinking about all this. She never gives off any incontrovertible signals that she’s interested in Suna or disinterested in Takeo (though she does seem disappointed when Suna announces he’s leaving after their first meeting in Takeo’s room). She never asks Takeo to bring Suna to their next meeting, and she never asks for Suna’s email – only Takeo’s. But Takeo is so beaten down that he sees what he expects to see – and in the process, seems to have nudged Suna into developing feelings for Yamato (naturally).

The formula here is so simple – it’s just three interesting, likeable young people entering into friendship and emotional entanglement – but it’s already a joy to watch them interact. All three leads are strong, including Han (who some were worried about after the first PVs). In Morio-sensei and Animation Director/Character Designer Hamada Kunihiko we have the Madhouse team behind Chihayafuru, and it shows – these are gifted, experienced hands immensely confident and comfortable with character drama and romantic comedy. It also shows in the fact that Suna looks an awful lot like Taichi, at least to me, which makes me very glad Morio didn’t get Miyano Mamoro to play the role…

This is a hard show not to like (I’ve never seen a first episode draw a 98.3% approval on Niconco before), but I’ve no doubt there are those who won’t. It’s another of those series that acts as an antidote to the cynicism and irony that drive most anime thematically these days – Ore Monogatari!! is undeniably sweet, but it isn’t saccharine. It’s a natural thing, driven by the believability and decency of the characters and the pathos of the situation. What kept running through my mind in watching the premiere was the genuine warmth of the show, but it never felt cloying or overbearing, never seemed to be trying too hard. One can’t say that this series was the deadlock cinch that Baby Steps was, but it was as close as a non-sequel could be – with a terrific manga as source material, one of the best studios in the business producing it and a top-caliber staff, it would have been a major surprise if Ore Monogatari!! wasn’t one of the best premieres of the year. In this case, I’m elated not to be surprised.

 

ED Sequence

ED: 「幸せのありか」 (Shiawase no Ari ka) by (Local)

Preview

62 Comments

    1. I’ve read Angel Densetsu (I’d strongly recommended this manga by the by) so I’ve known that all along, sometimes nice guys come in the strangest packages. 😛 Also true to life, nice guys tend to be wingmen rather than aces if you catch my drift. Maybe this author will surprise us.

      Mechamorph
  1. You seem to have missed a bit of info there Enzo. Our gentle giant Takeo may have played Kujou but he also plays my favorite loner: Anime batman aka Hachiman. As for my actual thoughts on the episode it flowed very nicely and was very sweet (as expected from a shoujou) but it indeed didn’t feel too sweet. I think I’m relatively safe in saying that this show is going to be an enjoyable ride.

    MisterMarty
  2. Wow… the first episode of this was REALLY good. I was nearly captivated by Plastic Memories’ emotional touch but i think this even beat that. I also like how it’s very different from millions of generic shoujo romance out there (namely, having a stone wall as the main character).

    I really love this kind of more restrained, understated approach for romantic comedy and this nailed it on the head. Nothing was excessive. Love the gorgeous visual and the bromance between Takeo and Suna is absolutely lovely to look at. It also helps that the main guy isn’t generic shining prince, but ugly stone wall with heart of gold. And hell, Yamato’s awkwardness and Takeo’s cluelessness just seem so perfect of combination that they can just drag the will he or won’t he hijinks and i wouldn’t mind.

    Aside from Kekkai Sensen, this is the most enjoyable premiere of the season.

    Amiluhur
  3. Takeo is the friend one yearns to have in high school, a real bro when things turn sour, but and one you expect to be as gentle as a chiffon on the inside. Let’s face it, he’s Japan’s Big Show (as a matter of fact, I share the same height issue from HS)
    On the other side of the specter, Rinko is like a teddy bear. Fluffy in excess, I really liked the vocal work that Megumi Han is doing here (Kudos for chibi-Lalah Sune)
    What I’m afraid is that Suna ends like a total douche for a single reason: maybe for the first time in his life, he’s envious of Takeo. That and the fact that he’s clearly the blue Oni on the tale of the beggining are ominous clouds over him.

    SeedStriker
    1. Don’t worry, (SPOILERS!) As a manga reader I can tell you Suna is as bro as Gouda. He is so bro sometimes at one point I’m actually almost convince he’s gay for Gouda; I mean come on, Suna is a beautiful boy & Gouda is a man’s man. You never knows right?

      LGM
    1. MC is actually classically handsome by older Asian standards, before the whole bishonen thing took over the way it did. Tall, tick eyebrows, strong square face.

      5ofSpades
      1. Lol true for scaring 10th graders and potential dates.
        His look archetype is usually found to describe strong man, war generals etc. in older lit. The manly man opposed to the refined and courtly looking man, both viewed as handsome.

        5ofSpades
  4. I read a few chapters of this so I was looking forward to seeing Ore Monogatari animated. It kind of reminds me of Densha Otoko. Takeo Gouda is definitely an MC to look out for.

    Zhinvu
    1. & to be honest, Gouda IS Handsome in his own way.

      Few episodes in I can guaranteed you would start thinking: “How is Gouda not more attractive to the ladies?” Gouda as time goes on would become the big brother at his school despite being a junior. In time he would automatic become the one every boys look up to as a man. Yet all the girls just see him as a beast or monster, not the (super)man he is.

      Its strange really.

      LGM
  5. Good first episode. Having said that, I think the manga presented things a bit better though (with a bit more suspense and better comedy execution). As long as it does not get worst, it should not disappoint.

    x
  6. It really struck a cord with me. While I am not a giant like the main character is I can understand the idea of girls never showing an interest in you to the point where you start to believe it will never happen. It is not a healthy outlook at all and, being 28 and still never having had a girlfriend, something that can take a long time to get over. But, I really can see how this will probably play out in the long term and I want to stick with this.

    GoukaRyuu
  7. Even though I’m a big fan of romance, I can count the number of shojo romances I like on a single hand, and this is one of them. I stopped reading the manga quite some time ago, and a lot of it isn’t translated anyway I believe, so I’m quite looking forward to this.

    Access
  8. Probably get dinged for this but I wish Takeo was not as extreme in his personality and they just focused on his size and looks as the reason that he didn’t do well with the girls. I guess I’d like to have seen him as the male version of Sawako from Kimi ni Todoke or even a variation of Cyrano de Bergerac which is sort of the storyline that seems to be developing.

    I’m waiting for Suna to turn out to be gay and confess to Takeo though.

  9. When I first heard about this series, I was a bit afraid it would turn into Friendzone: The Anime, with the main heroine falling for the handsome yet unlikeable antagonist, only realizing at the end that she has to reward the support of the ugly but chivalrous main character by becoming his girlfriend. Thankfully they’ve resisted the temptation so far, having the main heroine (possibly) fall for the protagonist on her own terms, and handsome guy turning out to be quite nice. Definitely going to keep watching this.

    Logeres
    1. Oh don’t worry, as a manga reader I can tell you Show Spoiler ▼

      LGM
  10. I really liked this show. I wrote a write up on my site, but to sum it up: The dynamics between the character are a joy to watch. They’re all different, but still likable. This is characters done right, and I’ll be looking forward to more!

  11. I can’t be the only one who sees the strong resemblance of certain “Slam Dunk” (as in still the most popular sport manga ever in Japan and not an expression like used from the blogger here) character designs from the main character. Also certain comic facial shots of characters remind me of G.T,O designs. …Since I enjoyed those two, I have no complaint.

    deathtogenericshows
  12. Enzo, you forgot also to add Barakamon to the list of Gangan joker/ online published stories. It’s also one of the small gems like the shows that you’ve mentioned.

    ant
    1. Well again, if I listed them all it would be a pretty long list. I do like the Barakamon manga an awful lot (way more than the anime) and while it doesn’t so much play with gender roles, I’ve always thought it was a seinen posing as a shounen.

  13. Takeo’s a big, lovable dude with a heart of gold. I love how honest everything is in this series. And on that note, Suna seems like a bro.

    Megumi Han’s performance is great. I could barely even tell it was her. Usually, you can hear a little bit of Gon in her performance, but not here.

    Mormegil
  14. I’m a sucker for gentle giant stories, and what’s more the whole episode’s vibe reminded me of Barakamon. Yeah it is kinda surprising that this is a Shoujo, but given the funny love entanglement here, it’s probably safe to say that there is an indefinite conclusion here (like gekkan shoujo nozaki kun).

    The voice cast is pretty established as well (Suna’s VA voice Haru from Free!), Yamato’s VA is a little too squeaky for me, but I can live with it. Lastly, the OP and ED are just as fantastic, to be honest, this whole series has everything going for it.

    You’ll be making a big mistake if you skipped this.

    Azsurance
  15. Chihayafuru!

    I knew that art style seemed so familiar but I couldn’t place it. That just makes it all the more awesome. I initially dismissed it and it sat in it’s folder for a couple days. I’m glad I came around to it.

  16. Favorite MC of all the pilot episodes thus far, or maybe I’m just jumping the gun since we have a couple of unusual MCs (Eruna, Soma) and some who act in unusual ways (Shirou).

    But this really is extremely light-hearted and sweet. The humor’s spot on too. I’m pretty sure drama will follow seeing as how things are turning out, but the first episode left a really awesome aftertaste to the point where I’m already considering when I want to re-watch the entire season.

    I’m rooting for Takeo, just because I understand how he feels and because he’s such an awesome bro. This is gonna be a fun show. 🙂

    Owaranai
  17. Hahahaha I am laughing at Enzo’s comment over nto having Miyano do Sauna’s voice xD I have been skeptical ever since I saw the poster of this Taichi look alike xD

    Mi-Chan
  18. ep 02:

    Show Spoiler ▼

    WorldwideDepp

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