OP: 「イチズレシピ」 (Ichizu Recipe) by Idol College
「ようこそ庶民」 (Youkoso Shomin)
How would you like to be the only guy in a school full of rich, beautiful girls? Only there’s a catch. Several catches, actually. It’s pretty much all catches. muscles, yay!
Gay Muscle Fetishist or Eunuch: Choose One
When I previewed this series, I mentioned the eternal conundrum of light novel authors: “How do I make my main character not bang the bevy of beautiful girls who are always crawling all over him?” And as I mentioned there, making him claim he’s gay with a muscle fetish if he doesn’t want to be castrated is a pretty good solution! An uncommon one in the annuls of anime, at any rate. But that’s a symptom of something more endemic. The entire setup of Ore ga Ojou-sama Gakkou ni “Shomin Sample” Toshite Gets♥Sareta Ken is wonky, simultaneously embracing clichés while ignoring others entirely. In a way, much of what it does is deeply problematic, but it also sort of works.
Take the series’ attitude toward homosexuality. (Stay with me, people.) Characters such as head maid Kujou Miyuki (Oonishi Saori) imply that straight is normal, thereby implying that main character Kagurazaka Kimito’s (Tamaru Atsushi) alleged homosexuality as abnormal. And while heterosexuality is more common percentage-wise (though sexuality is really more of a gradient), calling homosexuality abnormal is problematic in several ways. But on the other hand, they don’t treat being gay (much less having a muscle fetish) as bad. I feel like there are several problematic issues with homosexuality in this show, mostly coming from a place of ignorance, but I’m not sure I’m qualified to parse them. So I’m going to bow to my ignorance on the issue, then set it aside for now.
But one thing I do know is that, storytelling-wise, it kind of works. Kimito can’t go full Harem King, or even pursue a single girl, so we can’t get mad at him if he rejects any advances, and a misunderstanding he’s willfully perpetuating under threat of castration is a comedy hole (hur hur hur) they can keep going back to. This extends to the ignorant ojou-sama school (do none of them have fathers? Brothers? Uncles? Anyone!?) and more. To me, it’s like The Dark Knight Rises. If you think about it too much, you’ll realize that nothing much makes sense and it’s all held together by willful ignorance and wishful thinking. But if you take it for what it is, it pretty much works.
A Lethargic Comedy
For all the oddities in the premise, the first episode did something that I’m eternally grateful for—it didn’t rush. Unlike Taimadou Gakuen 35 Shiken Shoutai, which was a dizzying sprint through the source material, this one took its time. Which is why I’m perplexed, because the comedy didn’t seem to be working. Now, bear in mind that I have read past this point in the source material, so maybe I would have been chuckling if I hadn’t already known what was going to happen next. But even though most of the jokes were there, the episode had so little energy so as to make them fall flat. It was like listening to Ben Carson give a speech (topical humor!). Which is especially surprising since Jinbo Masato is directing for Silver Link, and his entire oeuvre (Prisma Illya most recently) proves that he knows comedy, and he knows comedy timing.
The Characters & Plot
Fortunately, comedy is a YMMV (your mileage may vary) sort of thing, and the characters and plot were mostly done well. We don’t know much about Kimito so far, save that he likes to take care of people, which is already proving to be a beneficial tendency in the strange new world he’s been thrust into. The character we got to dig into most if Tenkuubashi Aika (Serizawa Yuu), who reminds me of OreShura’s Chiwa, and thus is already my favorite character (Chiwa5ever!). She’s got pretty darn severe social anxiety, and learning to deal with that enough to get some friends looks to be the arc we’re embarking on. Now, once again I don’t know if social anxiety manifests itself precisely like it is with her. I probably have some low-grade social anxiety myself, but it’s nowhere close to the paralyzing sort Chiw—I mean, Aika seems to have. And I have a feeling she may get over it a little too cleanly, whereas real social anxiety doesn’t just go away when you get a few friends. But that’s what they’re going for, and ya can’t help but feel for the girl. She just wants some friends! And is a bit of an idiot. Adorable all around.
I also appreciate the simple act of ending the episode on a good, round note. After the rush of Taimadou Gakuen 35 Shiken Shoutai and the abrupt cliffhanger of the Heavy Object premiere, this episode had an identifiable point. It wasn’t, “Get some exposition across,” (though they did that as well, using Kimito as a fish out of water (trope!) to make it flow smooth in the dialogue), nor was it, “Blaze through content because we don’t have as much time as we need.” No, they introduced characters, revealed Aika’s social anxiety dilemma, and ended with the creation of the Commoner Club. The story stuff is there, they just need the comedy to follow.
This is a goofy episode for me, since it was good enough for me to respect it, but not so great as to rocket it up my potential-shows-to-blog list. As of right now there aren’t any plans for this to be blogged regularly, but I’ll say the same thing I said on my 35 Shoutai post: What would you like to see me blog? This is still a “One Man, One Vote” kind of democracy, in which I alone am the Man, and I have the Vote, but I’d be interested to hear what you think. Either way, I’ll definitely be following this show, so check in with me on twitter if you want to hear my latest thoughts. Until next post!
tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – Being the only guy at an all-girls school never looked so horrifying. You had it easy, Ichika. The comedy was oddly lethargic #syomin_anime 01
- Elaborating on the exposition, since commenting on that appears to be my new Thing(TM): Having a character who isn’t even the slightest in the know, and who honestly needs things explained to them, is about the only way to go about spouting bald-faced exposition in dialogue and have it work. After all, then it makes sense that they’d need explanations. But it only works if you have a fish out of water character like Kimito, so it depends on what kind of story you’re working with. For example,I couldn’t use it in much of my own book because I didn’t have any fishes out of water, which is likewise true for nearly every other show I’ve previewed this season.
- Kimito may “have” a muscle fetish, but this show has a leg fetish. Also, Kimito has a leg fetish. (legs legs legs) *high fives* Swiftly approved!
- His osana najimi was at the middle of the rose in the ED? Surprising.
My first novel, Wage Slave Rebellion, is available now. (More info—now in paperback!) Sign up for my email list for a FREE sequel novella. Over at stephenwgee.com, the last four posts: The best content is in email, My morning routine, True Ends, and Rejection, the secret place, & fundamentals
Full-length images: 22.
ED: 「トワイライトに消えないで」 (Twilight ni Kienaide) by Hara Yumi