The best enjoyment per minute ratio I have ever seen.
First off: yeah, I know such a short series as this hardly justifies the longest review in my reviewing-career, but I think it deserves to be picked apart like this.
Rec is a good show, mostly because it manages to be enjoyable and features characters which are actually likeable. Seeing the episodes are short, one would think the show won't leave any impression at all. The opposite is true though, since this might be the most enjoyable 'short watch' I have seen in my entire anime-career.
The story is simple, straight and breathes an atmosphere of maturity and slice-of-life. If you have seen Koi Kaze or Rumic Theater, I think you will understand what I mean. For the people who have not seen those shows, I think it's best to say that there is not that much happening.
Due to circumstances our male protagonist meets up with the always-positive female protagonist and the end of the very first episode already shows that this series is not meant to be childish and silly, while the beginning may seem like that.
There are several scenes where silliness seems to get the upper hand, but they show the silly (and sometimes rough) realism (a product always needs a mascot, for instance and there is always someone who behaves like that particular co-worker) and sometimes it's just a little silliness which can still relate to reality. Add a little ecchi in one or two scenes which is also not out of place and you will realize that this series combines a lot of aspects in its realistic setting.
Good pace, good flow.
Although the story might sometimes seem silly and with the limited timespan you can hardly get any proper story across, but for this anime, the story works. I didn't think they could make a coherent story with this, but they pulled it off. Moreover, it is a fresh and enjoyable story with only 1 or 2 scenes not being as good as the rest. But that is being compensated for with the pace of the series. The flow of the story is often most important and although short, this series has decided on a pace which makes the story flow well, without cliffhangers and without forced endings of episodes. A 9 for this is high, especially when you consider the product "Ha" sounding pretty silly, but I think it deserves it. Usually these short stories get tangled up in its own plot, but this time it plays well. That alone is worth raising it from the initial 8 I had in mind to a 9.
I think the animation might be the least good of the entire show and I couldn't come up with anything better than the above catchline because of that.
The animation by itself isn't that outstanding. In fact, the animation is - despite the nice choices for colors - only average. Perhaps even a bit below that. Lucky for the series, it isn't that noticeable because the rest makes up for it. One thing which does make it good was the fact that there were no overused scenes, or reused frames. One wouldn't expect that in such short animated shows, but I have seen that happen.
It has really good character designs, refreshing and colorful, which does the anime a lot of good.
Aka is different from other characters in the sense that she doesn't suffer from bigbreastity while still being attractive without being overly pretty. She is a normal girl you can fall in love with without knowing why.
So a 6 for the animation and an 8 for the char design make up for a meager 7.
The best aspect of this is the fact that the girl playing Aka makes the most use of her voice. Like a real seiyuu (voiceactor), they have to use all kind of voices for the roles they play and talented ones are the ones who can reach great variety with their voice. The voiceactress for Aka shows this well, with using different voices for different situations/roles. While she might not be the best voiceactress I've heard, it's definitely the first one who manages to use so much variety in a single show. That at least gets the message across about what it is to be a seiyuu.
Matsumaru has a good voice too. While he doesn't do that much with his voice (and his voice isn't even attractive), his voice suits the character very well. His voice is also much more full/round, unlike the voices we know so well from regular men in anime. It's hard to express properly what I mean, but I guess it'll be sufficient to say that his mature voice adds to his own character. Both voices are done so well that I would have given it the full mark - if not for the music.
OP/ED and BGM
As said before, all episodes of 12 minutes actually have an OP and ED song. Usually series of such format have either only an OP or ED, but this one does both, which reduces the actual playtime from 12 to less than 9 minutes. Is it worth it? I'm not sure, but although the animation of the OP and ED was everything but great (it looked more silly-happy than the series itself) they did add to the atmosphere. The songs being used were also done well, reflecting the happy feeling Aka tries to emit.
As for BGM, I was a bit disappointed with the lack of music, but I shouldn't be. Who would expect there will be lots of good music in a 9 minute ep? Instead, there was a good set of sounds, which gave the series a more mature feeling. Still, I cannot feel like giving it the maximum value.
At first sight our dear male protagonist looks a lot like Chobits' Hideki, but after only a few minutes (!) he grows up, matures and becomes a full character. More important, he keeps that stature throughout the entire series, without degenerating into a comedy-character. Still, he's a lighter character than the sometimes heavy mooded Koshiro from Koi Kaze. No, he is not a flawless character, but he is one of the most realistic, grown up protagonists I have seen in my anime.
But other than him, our dear Aka pushes the mood up with her positive appearance. The little woman, hardly tall enough to take serious, is a worthy character to have in your anime. Her character is attractive (her appearance too, btw) and likeable and while she has a really positive attitude, she never gets the treat to become annoying (as so many others do in other series, unfortunately).
There are not many real characters other than them, but the characters who do return on an occasional base do give some extra atmosphere to the show. They are only there because they need to be there, but they don't really feel out of place.
But because the two main characters are so good, I will give them full points. And I don't usually give characters a 10, really ... not to mention they earn that in a series as short as this.
Overall Rating: (8.75/10)
I thought it would be a silly comedy. I'm glad they proved me wrong.