「なんだかんだ言って 有名なゲームは大体おもしろい」 (Nandakanda Itte Yuumei na Geemu wa Daitai Omoshiroi)
“Say What You Want; Famous Games are Usually Fun”
Winter’s true romance in Horimiya may still be a day away, but never think we cannot get a bit of preparation beforehand courtesy of Jaku-Chara. School-life, romance, and the always ugly (if perpetually informative) phase of growing up, this series has it all, and I dare say it’s going to be a fun ride.
As per preview enlightenment, Jaku-Chara can largely be thought of as an Oregairu–ReLIFE mix with some NetoYome gamer flavour. Main man Fumiya (Satou Gen) is the typical introverted shut-in, hating anything and everything to do with actual life while getting his kicks in via the online game
Super Smash Bros Attack Families. Of which he just happens to be Japan’s top player under the handle nanashi. It’s the usual setup many similar series utilize right down to dismissive classmates, and more so once main girl Aoi (Kanemoto Hisako) enters the picture. Yes, she’s the ubiquitous popular girl perfect at everything from sports to academics and social involvement, but she’s also Attack Families’ second-best Japanese player NO NAME. After finding out who nanashi actually is quelle surprise at her distaste which in turn quickly leads to a desire to help turn his fortunes around. And from there, well, you can guess where things are headed plot-wise. After all, getting a girlfriend as a medium-term goal for Fumiya certainly sets the stakes high.
What will inevitably make or break Jaku-Chara, however, will be the characters, their chemistry, and development, and right now at least the quality remains unclear. Fumiya may bear similarity to Oregairu’s Hikigaya (albeit in now building up a public image versus tearing them down), but it remains to be seen how well he can grow and whether that growth sticks. Challenges and setbacks are to be expected for example, but will Fumiya fall into the trap of repeating them in order to drag out an arc or the story? Likewise, will Aoi remain her quirky and somewhat duplicitous self, or can we anticipate some tangible backstory explanation and personal development on her end as well? And what about the romance angle set to quickly become front and centre? While I don’t expect Jaku-Chara to fall on its face (have enough knowledge of the light novels for that belief), the adaptation hatchet is not always precise, especially when ongoing source material is a thing.
In the end a few more episodes will definitely be needed to get a proper handle on what Jaku-Chara will be about, but considering what’s on tap thus far, I dare say this introspective romcom will be a fun winter watch.
It might be a legitimate part of the story, but Aoi just popping out the mask and getting Fumiya to wear it all the time for smiling practice is ironically on point given current Corona-chan shenanigans.
ED: 「あやふわアスタリスク」 (Ayafuwa Asterisk) by DIALOGUE+