While I may be one of Anime-Planet’s resident shounen whores, I do love a good bit of comedy slice-of-life. Sadly, I’ve been somewhat underwhelmed by several of the industry’s more recent offerings. As such, I didn’t go into A Channel expecting much, and even then I was still disappointed.
As with the many moe adaptations of 4-koma manga, A Channel doesn’t have much in the way of an actual plotline. The series focuses primarily on Tooru, a particularly tiny and baby-faced girl starting her first year of high school, and her obsessive friendship with second year Run. The anime (very) loosely follows her progress as she meets Run’s other friends and interacts with them. In terms of narrative, to utter the immortal words of Porky Pig, “Th- th- th- that’s all folks!”. Though the lack of a solid story isn’t out of the ordinary for this type of series, what little thread of plot there is doesn’t grapple with the viewer’s attention. Part of the reason for this is that unlike other shows, A Channel doesn’t really have a ‘hook’ to make it stand out from the crowd. K-On! has its music; Working!! has the restaurant; GA Geijutsuka Art Design Class, Hidamari Sketch and Sketchbook ~Full Colors~ all have art,; Azumanga Daioh has wacky humour; and Kanamemo has the newspaper office; but while all of these have automatic springboards for fun and memorable situations, Tooru and the gang have to rely on the everyday occurrences that other shows only fall back on when they run out of ideas or want to pander to the fanbase (karaoke anyone?).
Despite setting the mood of being a light and funny series, A Channel focuses more on the slice-of-life than the comedy. Certainly, had the anime bombarded the viewer with an abundance of laughs, the everyday meanderings of the girls would have been more bearable. Many of its more “humorous” moments tend to fall flat, and though Run’s naivety and idiocy means to serve as the central pillar for the jokes it barely manages to raise a smile. In order to pull off a successful boke, the character in question must either be forceful or in your face (think Tomo from Azumanga Daioh or Nichijou’s Yuuko), or should have enough appeal and verve to carry a scene (like K-On!’s Yui and Miyako from Hidamari Sketch). Unfortunately Run isn’t brash, nor does she possess that crucial vigour, and as such most of the show’s comic potential gets squandered.
Now, many anime will have a scene where a song kicks in over the action (nine times out of ten it’s the opening) in order to heighten the emotion. Be it the latest shounen hero finally pummelling that pesky bad guy or the heart-warming and teary-eyed farewell in a shoujo series, these sections can be incredibly powerful. Unfortunately, A Channel decides that all the emotional impact that a decent bit of music can have is a pain in the bum, and instead just dumps a song into every episode; actively disrupting the show’s rhythm and detracting from any storytelling that it manages to scrape together. While the lyrics are generally matched to the action onscreen (such as “Crazy Love Cake” playing over the girls munching on homemade pancakes), the tracks themselves serve little purpose and feel more like an excuse to showcase the artist.
Having seen my fair share of moe slice-of-life anime, I’m fully aware that bodily proportions are never going (or for that matter, intended) to be accurate, be they stumpy-ankled creations from the likes of Manabi Straight or spindly-legged girls from K-On!. However, A Channel takes thin legs and tiny feet to a whole new dimension that drastically reduces the series moe appeal. With lower limbs that look like tapered chopsticks with a raisin impaled on the end and heads the size of over-inflated balloons balancing precariously atop their necks, it’s amazing that the girls don’t fall over – especially Run with her MASSIVE FOREHEAD OF DOOM!
The show’s visuals can be patchy at times and generally don’t astound the viewer. However, the series does boast odd moments of impressive animation; for example, in the scene where Tooru is running down the street in the middle of winter stepping on the frozen puddles, some of the close-ups of her feet cracking the thin layer of ice are truly well executed, with cracks forming in perfect time and odd shards chipping off in a realistic fashion.
A Channel’s voice cast makes the show. With a lacklustre story and uninspiring characters, the series’ seiyuu do a stellar job of bringing the anime to life. Aoi Yuuki doesn’t stray far from her all-too-familiar path of the soft-spoken kuudere type; however her previous experience shines through as she nails each and every one of Tooru’s inflections. Likewise, I could listen to Daisuke Ono’s dulcet tones all day long as he gets the balance between creepy forehead-pervert and sickly weakling for the bizarre Satou-sensei spot on.
The majority of the show’s background music makes little impact, but doesn’t affront. Only the aforementioned insert songs make their presence (almost painfully) known. The twelve tracks vary between normal, inoffensive bubbly J-Pop and gratingly fluffy tunes about eating cake. While not my personal taste (I’d far rather sit down to the Celtic inspired rock melodies from Fairy Tail) the songs themselves do fit the anime’s overall tone.
Like everything else, A Channel’s cast is mediocre at best and half of the main group feel like cheap K-On! rip-offs. While Yuuko bares an alarming resemblance to Mio all the way down to the long black hair, slender figure and excessive squeamishness towards anything even remotely scary, the worst offender is Yui-clone, Run. Now, as much as I find myself desperately wanting to punch K-On!’s lead idiot for being such a useless bint (sorry Patches), the hapless moeblob at least has some inherent charm, Run on the other hand simply fails. Not quite moe enough to actually endear the audience, the dopey teen spends most of her time standing around with a dumb (and highly slappable) look on her face.
Meanwhile, Nagi is the most enigmatic of the gang and, despite that being her selling point, she still feels woefully underdeveloped. Undoubtedly though, the star of the show is Tooru. With her small stature and as the youngest of the group she naturally gets a lot of attention, yet when it comes to Run, she demonstrates behaviour more akin to a feisty dog protecting its master. Her jealous streak when it comes to Yuuko and Nagi alongside her tendency to wield a baseball bat whenever boys get too close to Run, means that the young pup not only has the charisma that everyone else lacks, but she also hogs the limelight in whatever scene she’s in. Additionally, Tooru is the only member of the group to actually develop over the course of the series as the girls gradually “tame” her, something that manages to redeem the show from its otherwise tedious cast.
When it comes to secondary personalities, I’m not entirely sure that they get enough screen time to make their presence worthwhile. Certainly, the most prominent figures outside of the main group are the two teachers, Kitou and Satou. The creepy school nurse, Satou, makes a reasonable impression whenever he appears with his weak constitution, crazy shirts and unfathomable fetish directed at Run’s forehead. Meanwhile Kitou’s only “appeal” is her hot-blooded nature, a gag which soon wears thin, especially after you’ve seen her standing outside the school gates yelling “Good Morning!” at the top of her lungs for the third or fourth time.
A Channel is one of those shows that needs to rely on moe content in order to thrive. Sadly, like that pot plant in the corner you’ve forgotten to water for the last week, this series wilts from a lack of “HNNNGGGG”-y goodness. If you want something where you can switch your brain off while watching, then you could do worse than A Channel, but there are far better series out there for school-related comedy, slice-of-life and moe.
This review may contain spoilers-
So this review is for the moe, school life anime a-channel. To start off the story is simple and just what you would expect really, it reminds me of Acchi Kocchi in this sense. The story is light and best to watch after a more 'Serious' anime. There isn't any emotional development but this makes it great and fits the purpose created. The animation is simple, the character design are nothing out of the ordinary. The scenery designs are as you would expect, simple but still fits the genre perfectly. In this case simple is great.
The music is cute and like the animation fits the genre perfectly. Neither the opening or ending were catchy nor might anything like that though in my opinion but that just be me. The characters are your typical 'MOE' characters. Just like the character designs their personalities are way too simple and if you watch it you could pretty much guess their personalities just about instantly. There is no character development but I guess this kind of anime doesn't need it.
Even with these problems, I thoroughly enjoyed it. This is an anime that has easy problems but it is still really good if you like this sort of thing. Like me. Overall it is a cute lighthearted series and I think if you like Acchi Kocchi or K-on you should like this.
And the loli plague continues with yet another school comedy full of girls that are drawn to look half their actual age. I am no moe fan but I always reward something if it is good. And for me a show is never good if it feels generic; which is the main problem with A Channel. While Azumanga was memorable for being the first, and while Lucky Star and K-On managed to play around with the formulas enough to grow their own identity, this show never manages to stand out and thus be memorable. It feels like nothing more than a copycat of the other three and for that reason it is very easy to get over it.
The premise for example is not only as basic as it gets but it will also feel like you already saw that many times already. The silly school lives of four cute girls; that’s it. Just how many times can such a simple idea work if it is used all the time? Once every 2 years sounds ok but after the loli plague fell upon us every new show regardless of themes now has cute little girlies in it and it’s just not the same anymore.
There is no overall plot other than spontaneous comical short stories (the manga it is based upon was after all a 4 panel gag type) and though many of them are funny, overall they lack the vitality and freshness of Azumanga. It has no AMAZING jokes or ROLFing scenes worth making memes out from. It has no moe girls that are worth making avatars from (since there are thousands of them these days and the ones that came first already filled the need).
So what are we left with? Nice, cute little designs. Nothing we haven’t seen before but they are well drawn and the directing ain’t bad for the material it had to cover. Nice silly tunes to listen. Nothing worth humming about but fitting to the mood of the show. Nice short gags to get a chuckle after a hard day but nothing you will remember after a few hours. It is a well made moeblob gag show but let’s be truthful, there is nothing worth talking about it since it lacks identity.
And speacking of identity, the people behind this show better stay anonymous if we ever cross our ways. The animation is done by Studio Gokumi, which has produced nothing but lame loli anime. Not only that, but it was formed by ex Gonzo members and as expected it keeps on shirting carp instead of trying to make something good for a change. Furthermore, the director is Ono Manabu, notorious for the shirty job he did with all-time-failures such as Dragonaut, Saki, Mayoi Neko Overrun, as well as one of the carpiest anime of the past decade that makes your blood freezing cold upon reading, Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere. So as you can see even if you try to enjoy the show as a generic moeblob, it is simply impossible with these fails of life behind the scenes. Thus don’t even bother with it.
This was originally a blog post found on my blog Moe Monster, but has been moved to Konseptual.com.
I’m a little angry with how A-Channel ended. I thought the series had its ups and downs, which is fine, but why did it wait to the very last episode to be at its absolute finest? I’ll have some thoughts about the finale, mixing in my overall thoughts and observations about the series.
Huh hoo hi hah hohi haha, ho hah, huhi, haheh, hoo!
The season finale, in my opinion, was probably the best episode of the series. It seemed to combine the drama, comedy and slice of life ingredients (all the components I’ve enjoyed the most) into one well executed, well paced episode. From Kamade-sensei’s lackadaisical approach to teaching, to Run’s speech (or lack thereof) after biting her lip, and to Yutaka, one of my favorites this season, all the jokes seemed to hit the mark. The quick pacing and the quality dramatic content in this last episode makes me wonder why they couldn’t have produced a better series overall.
The finale sort of ends much like it began, that from the Tooru-narrative. If you remember the first show, she was entering the same school as her best friend Run, but was feeling the separation in space and was also apprehensive of Run’s new older friends.
This last show shares a similar thread. They’ll all be advancing a grade and still in the same school, but for over-thinking Tooru, it’s all too easy to imagine the following year when Run will graduate along with Nagi and Yuuko, who she has gotten closer to over the length of the series.
Tooru-fans and supporting first years Miho (Miporin) and Yutaka.
There have a been a slew of new characters however since that first episode and they all make quality appearances in the finale, with the possible exception of Satou-sensei, who it seems they’ve learned to keep at arm’s reach of the student’s body. Student body. You know what I mean.
Yutaka and Miho were nice supporting characters and could easily be featured if they wanted to do more with the series. The teacher’s segments were pretty good, and I even got a kick out of seeing Tooru’s mom.
The scene at the burger restaurant was the most enjoyable in my opinion. The slice of life elements, when done well, were always high points of the season for me. Whether playing video games, playing in the snow, or sneaking into school at night, the relationships between the characters were pretty fun to watch.
Oh before I forget, Tooru’s dream sequence of particular note, was maybe one of the finer scenes in the whole series. “Earth had nice food! It was good!”
Run does a spot on Nagi Impression.
That being said, the show didn’t always try to emphasize the slice of life part of the show. Specifically earlier in the season, when the fan service took just as much priority as any character or plot development. It was almost as if they didn’t want to alienate the slice of life fan, while they also tried to appeal to the fan who wanted to see loli-style girls in school swimsuits and bloomers.
Overall, I’ll be sticking with my initial impressions of the show and call it mostly ok. It was sometimes good, but never great, but most important for me, it was always easy to watch.
The show looked good, but the color palette and backgrounds always seemed to overwhelm the simple and at times limiting character designs. I mean, how many ways could they animate Run being confused? Not too many, and throughout the entire series she spends about half the time with that same blank eyed (stupefied) look on her face.
Nagi, Run, Tooru & Yuuko one last time.
I would say the same about the voice acting. The main foursome were always ok. I don’t think I ever noticed anything horrid, but at the same time, I can’t remember ever marveling at their performances. In contrast the supporting cast, Kamade and Kitou sensei along with Yutaka were a lot more colorful.
The music. If you’ve read any of the previous A-Channel reviews, you know how I felt about the creepy inserted songs throughout the series. The lyrics have always creeped me out. It was as if they were written by a fat 52-year-old otaku describing how high school girls should feel. Creepy! In particular the song while they were cleaning the pool in episode 4. I really imagined the otaku-writer, writing that song while peeping through some middle school fence somewhere in Japan. I still haven’t gotten over it. The authorities should put that guy on the must-watch list.
I have always enjoyed the opening song along with the whole opening sequence, but the marketing push of the singer and song title in the OP left me keeping my hand on my wallet. The jokes on them though because there’s no money in there.
Ultimately, I’ve enjoyed watching A-Channel, but in an out-of-sight, out-of-mind way, the show will probably fade from my memories. Especially with the new season starting as it always does. This includes the characters themselves, who were done pretty well in the show’s environment, especially my Yuuko-angel, but honestly, they aren’t very memorable.
I’ll repeat what I said in the opening line of this post. This finale made me a little mad as it, by itself, lived up to the show’s potential. It’s just too bad it wasn’t completely representative of series as a whole.
Later! Have a good summer everyone!
this anime really had no main plot outside of the daily lives of four high school girl each with very different but basic anime stereotyped personalities.It doesnt take much to understand whats going on.It is comical and light hearted with a subtle hint of lesbianism which made me laugh.so if that mixture intrests you you will have no problem wacthing this series.
the animation is very basic not much graphic detal and it switches to what i like to call squiggly mode for comical effect alot.
sound is nothing to write home about. begining and ending themes are ok for wat sounds like bubble gum pop music.
characters which is really the only thing thats carrying this show mainly you have four girls.an air head who is always a lil too cheerful, a girl who has a very bad nervous condition because she jumps at everything but looks like a model, a very small sometimes violent girl with a very indifferent attitude and the girl with the glasses who i believe is the skeptic.
overall i thought this anime provided me with enough giggles that i watched the entire series.