NOTICE: This review covers both seasons.
- Animated by Kyoto Animation, meaning very good production values around very typical stuff like SCHOOLS-MOE-AND CUTE STUFF BECAUSE THAT IS THE ONLY THING WE CAN DO.
- Directed by Ishihara Tatsuya, the one who pretty much did every major show of KyoAni. This guy knows well what emotional buttons to press.
- Based on light novels, so don’t expect much of a plot.
This is a school comedy around people with illusions of grandeur. I had no idea there was a term for children with vivid imaginations, even when I actually used to be one myself. I remember mixing my mother’s perfumes with shampoos trying to create some super magic potion like a mad scientist. Or using a back alley as my base, where I was creating armadas of spaceships out of dried up clay mud holes and controlling the galaxy. Man, this eighth-grade syndrome is one heck of an embarrassment when you finally get over it (or mocked by others for doing it). Anyways, the show basically has a running joke around how stupid it looks when you try to play it cool and special when you are otherwise a completely normal person.
With a silly premise such as this one, and with a studio that specializes in moe shows it was obvious to expect a goofy moe school comedy with lots of cute girls doing silly things, and nothing more. And that is what it is; don’t expect much of a plot. It basically has two sentences worth of it, and even those are deleted in the second season just for maintaining the status quo. For the same reason don’t expect it to take itself seriously or to even attempt to be cathartic, like in the case of Welcome to the NHK. This is made by the kings of escapism shows, remember? To the most part it’s just the random delusions of everyday people and the only goal they have is to make you laugh.
The big trap this show has is the final part of the first season where it tries to fool you into thinking there is development. It becomes far more dramatic as it tries to flesh out some of its characters; something it didn’t do up to that time, as everybody was busy being a comical caricature, defined by a single quirk. As soon as that event is over and the weak minded are meant to believe things are going to become far more serious and romantic in the second season, all they get is a reset of progress and the addition of extra girls who are completely needless to the theme, and possible love triangles and lesbian coupling, which just like everything else, head nowhere.
I had forseen all that of course, since I know who made the show. Most others apparently didn’t, even it the get-up was more than obviously playing out like a harem in its early stages. Or perhaps you didn’t notice how the cast is made up of one typical blunt dork protagonist, a dozen typically cute girls surrounding him in ways that feel like they dig him, and a minor male student who is there only to address the horny side of the protagonist? Those are trademarks of the formula.
Anyways, down to it the show is fun and games with no real conflict. The only case this doesn’t happen is a sloppy change in mood during the finale of the first season. The ending of both seasons doesn’t exactly offer any major changes or even closure, and the characters never become more than what they began as. Because DUH escapism shows need to maintain the status quo. You have to be blind not to have figured that out right away.
The characters are, as I said earlier, defined by a single and simple personality quirk, thus they never feel complicating or realistic. They all follow the exact same pattern of having some sort of delusion and abiding to it like it’s a religion. Some of them are trying to keep away from their delusions, as they feel very ashamed of doing them in the first place. That is supposed to make them somewhat self-aware and down to earth but even that means absolutely nothing, since the setting is equally unrealistic as they are. If you notice how everybody else around them reacts, you will realize THEY DON’T CARE! I mean, really, the main characters constantly do all sorts of crazy stuff and absolutely nobody in their families or schoolmates seems to laugh or shake their heads in contempt. They just look puzzled for a few seconds before going back to whatever they were doing and completely forgetting the whole thing. There is no reason to feel embarrassed if nobody cares; thus even the very theme of the show is there just for laughs. It has no depth and is barely looked into.
I am not fond of the generic looks and behaviors everybody has, or how they add silly eye-patches and long pigtails just for the sake of comedy. But at least they serve as part of the illusion of grandeur every girl has. Said illusions are very funny and elaborate, presenting it like a silly spar is in their minds an epic battle for the salvation of the universe or something; making them easily memorable as eccentric caricatures. But surely not as characters; since they lack depth and development.
Context aside, the show is made with lots of care. The direction is close to flawless, as you never feel like the flow of the scenes is too slow or too fast. Everything lasts exactly as much as it needs and it is usually accompanied by lots of silly jokes. The production values are amazing when it comes to smooth motions and slapstick. The characters talk appropriately for their roles and they never feel like they drag in whatever they do or say. The soundtrack is nothing special but at least feels perky and energetic as it should be in such a show.
There is no way to tell how long can running jokes and moe-moe keep you interested. I personally lost interest in 3 episodes since I am no fan of the style or the lack of a plot. I understand that the show is making fun of how most otakus feel like they are airheads or too weird for the rest of the “normals”, and that many will try to eventually appear normal to their society if they want to get a job or marry easier. It builds familiarity with the audience by dealing with a subject most fans experience all the time. I liked how it follows a theme but not how it doesn’t do anything with it. Just like all Kyo Ani shows, it’s a nice time-spender but nothing exceptional or that memorable outside its emotional manipulation gimmicks.
And now for some excused scorings.
ART SECTION: 8/10
General Artwork 1/2 (generic)
Character Figures 1/2 (generic)
Backgrounds 2/2 (basic but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Animation 2/2 (fluid)
Visual Effects 2/2 (those hallucination scenes rock)
SOUND SECTION: 7/10
Voice Acting 4/5 (silly but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Music Themes 3/5 (average)
STORY SECTION: 3/10
Premise 2/2 (interesting)
Pacing 0/2 (practically episodic without continuity)
Complexity 1/2 (not much)
Plausibility 0/2 (none)
Conclusion 0/2 (basically a reset of the plot, so no ending)
CHARACTER SECTION: 4/10
Presence 1/2 (moe-moe generic)
Personality 2/2 (eccentric)
Backdrop 1/2 (simplistic but it’s there)
Development 0/2 (practically none)
Catharsis 0/2 (practically none)
VALUE SECTION: 3/10
Historical Value 0/3 (none)
Rewatchability 1/3 (low because of too little plot and context)
Memorability 2/4 (good ideas and jokes but nothing beyond that)
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 3/10
Art 0/1 (looks generic)
Sound 0/2 (sounds meh)
Story 1/3 (good idea that is not going anywhere)
Characters 2/4 (they are eccentric to the point of liking them but remain generic and don’t develop)