OP: 「君に会えた日」 (Kimi ni Aeta Hi) by Adachi (Akari Kitou) & Shimamura (Miku Itou)
「制服ピンポン」 (Seifuku Pinpon)
“Playing Ping-Pong in Our Uniforms”
With Tonikaku Kawaii dominating fall’s romance headlines it would be easy to forget it’s not the only romance on tap, but Adachi to Shimamura fully intends on ensuring that bit of knowledge is kept front and centre. And given it’s a yuri romance to boot, well, I think it’ll have no problem retaining attention.
Although yuri has made a showing over a few anime seasons of late, it hasn’t arguably been the best of showings. The likes of Yagate Kimi ni Naru and citrus are case in point, where in place of “traditional” romance we got liberal helpings of fan service, softcore intimacy, and plenty of drama to help round things out. It’s not like it’s a major problem (particularly for those watching exclusively for the visuals), but it’s definitely been a while since the subgenre has seen another Aoi Hana. Which makes the appearance of AtS all the more satisfying.
Yes, right off the bat AtS betrays its roots: pure, slow-paced romance through and through. Our main girls Adachi Sakura (Kitou Akira) and Shimamura Hougetsu (Itou Miku) for example start off as bare bone friends who came together through some funny coincidence and wound up liking each other’s company. Naturally the love interest angle is already present (hard denying what such faces foreshadow), but the focus is clearly on slowly (but surely) bringing these two closer together instead of immediately throwing them into a relationship bound for the drama mill. Admit it, you too were expecting them to kiss before the end credits rolled.
Given both Adachi and Shimamura are more or less equal personality-wise—i.e. there’s no definitive dom and sub—this makes what is to come interesting because you can expect the proceedings to be based more around personal quirks instead of physical action. We can see this already with Adachi’s aloof, lonerish status and the effects the more social Shimamura has on her when Adachi winds up in the vicinity of Shimamura’s friends Nagafuji Taeko and Hino Akira—and when Adachi doesn’t. The subtle focus on the exploration of friendship, jealousy, and possession without the fan service veil is a welcome breath of fresh air, particularly considering the series looks set to let these aspects reveal themselves at their own pace rather than cram it all in right away. Not that the risk of rushing is gone mind you, but if first episodes are any indication AtS firmly intends on burning slowly until the end.
Without a doubt though AtS will be worth paying attention to for anyone with an interest in yuri, romance, or both. While it remains to be seen if the show can sustain the set pacing and actually provide some tangible reward for the wait ahead (no matter the benefit of slow and steady, the audience still expects some measure of relationship validation), AtS has all the pieces needed to be a true to heart yuri show. It may not wind up being coverage material (three episode rule and all that), but this one is definitely glued to my radar. After all, have to find out what’s up with that bloody astronaut!
ED: 「キミのとなりで」 (Kimi no Tonari de) by Akari Kitou