OP: 「Koi? de Ai? de Boukun desu!」 by Wake Up, Girls!
「私も、参戦します×ほぁー！！禁断の愛ですか！！」 (Watashi mo, sansen shimasu × hoa!! Kindan no aidesu ka!!)
“I’m Getting In on This, Too x Whoa! Forbidden Love?!”
Renai Boukun’s first episode takes its characters and audience on an 88 mph nonstop joyride, and if you leave your thinking caps at the door, it’s quite the fun trip. The initial set-up of the plot starts quickly as Aino Seiji (Ono Kensho) is visited by a cupid named Guri (Aoyama Yoshino), who accidentally blesses him with a notebook that would bind him to a lover with a kiss. The jokes come quick as Guri pulls the reins on the narrative, further complicating Seiji’s life by forcing him into a contract to be lovers with his yandere crush, Hiyama Akane (Numakura Manami). When Guri includes herself into the mix, Seiji and Akane are temporarily given angel powers in an effort to get Guri to step up her game or risk a terrible afterlife for everyone. The episode closes by further complicating the situation by including Akane’s half-sister, Kichougasaki Yuzu (Nagano Yuuki), in the harem so that she’d be able to show Akane her true feelings for her. There’s also an angel that took on Seiji’s cat’s body, Coraly (Hiyama Nobuhiki), but his human face makes him look creepy.
The further the episode goes into the absurdity, the funnier it gets. The cast and predicaments that they’re put through are ridiculous enough to make you not only wonder what they were thinking when they wrote this, but also make you laugh in the process. It’s hard not to admire the audacity it takes to come up with gags like Akane using her and Seiji’s newfound immortality as an opportunity to stab him regularly for getting too close to Guri, or first displaying Guri’s fujoshi tendencies by using the notebook to have prime ministers make out on live television. It also helps that they’re clever with their references too like Guri playing villainous music from a stereo while Akane is getting ready to jump at Seiji from the rooftop, or the Death Note references throughout where Seiji dreads the implication that the Kiss Note looks and works similarly to Ryuk’s book. The good thing is that the show moves so fast that if you thought one joke was a dud, the one after might be more to your liking. Sure it’s madness, but it’s the kind of madness that leaves you laughing for 20 minutes.
Additionally, the artwork and animation for the show work well for the show’s brand of comedy and compliments the characters’ personalities. For example, Guri ends up being one of the more expressive characters on the show thanks to the art complimenting her eccentricities. Sometimes, the look on her face as she shrugs off disastrous mistakes is all it takes to sell the delivery of her jokes. Similarly, both sides of Akane as an attractive class idol who is constantly flustered by Seiji and a homicidal yandere who’d be more than happy shanking everyone around her are extenuated well through her reactions. It further builds a nice dynamic where Seiji temporarily puts his fear of Akane aside to be open about the feelings he does have for her, offering the show one of the few times where they take a break from telling jokes at breakneck speed.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from Renai Boukun since it was one of the shows that I didn’t consider as seriously as some of the season’s more hyped anime, but it’s a solid comedy if you need a break from drama or action. I will say that it wasn’t perfect. Seiji falls in the category of the straight man who YELLS TOO MUCH, Yuzu wasn’t too interesting until she drooled a river over the thought of kissing Akane, and I am worried that the jokes will lose steam or get old after a while. Still, I was impressed with what I saw, and if you’re looking for a comedy this season, Renai is off to a great start.
ED: 「”Suki” wo Oshiete」 by smileY inc.