Hana Ichinose has enrolled in high school one year late due to studying to get in. It might not seem like a big deal, but it is to her. She’s off to a slow start, but she wants to work hard and catch up to everyone else!
Sometimes, you have to be pushed to see what an anime is really like. For eight episodes, I was entertained by Slow Start. Then the problems and the creepy aspects collided in the 9th episode, and I had to drop this anime. This review has spoilers. Plot: Slow Start is about a group of high school girls who become better friends over time. The protagonist, Hana, a shy and socially inept girl, is a year behind in school because she had mumps and was not able to take the high school entrance exam. Hana enters high school and meets a new group of students: Eiko, a popular girl and nurturing figure who makes trinkets; Tama, who has an embarrassing name, loves to make bizarre references to videogames and has an obsession with the female body; and Kamu, a distant and hungry figure who only feels comfortable around Eiko, often admired for her adorable looks. The secondary cast are: Shion, Hana's aunt with massive breasts and who manages the apartment building that Hana lives in; Ms. Hannen, a hikikomori who barely interacts with anyone and warms up to the girls; and Enami, the lethargic homeroom teacher that Eiko takes an intense interest in... I thought that this anime could have been decent. SS managed to stay with me for more than half of the 2018 winter season. It was the least good of the anime that I was watching, but enjoyable in its strangeness. THEN! The problems came together and SS became morally disturbing. Characters: The characters are unmemorable. Hana is barely there, and has so many social problems that she may have an undiagnosed mental disorder. Hana has never swam before and never been to a beach! I understand that many characters are shy for comedic value, but this is taken SO far that it's irritating. Shion has such a massive bust that I was disturbed with her first scene. Eiko, Tama and Kamu are decent, until certain elements are explored. My favorite character was Hannen, because her shut-in character was the least exaggerated of the cast. Music: The music for SS is decent, and the OP is excellent. I’ve listened to the OP multiple times outside of the anime and it’s a great start, one that deserves to be in a better anime. Subplots: There are certain subplots that I liked in the beginning. The connection between Eiko and Kamu was charming, because Eiko supported Kamu when Kamu became nervous. Eiko was a motherly figure. I was excited for this because Hana needs guidance from everyone, and Eiko and Kamu could have helped Hana become more adjusted. The story of Hannen was fun because she was so inept at social life that the girls became her gateway to better interactions. I was excited to see these girls interact and learn more about each other. There has been a layer of sexual attraction between the characters since the 2nd episode, with implied interest from Tama in the other girls early on. Over time, the escalation of uncomfortable events kept coming: there has been talk of underwear; Hana shielding Kamu when she had a clothing mishap; Tama becoming more blatant with her sexual references; the reveal of Kamu’s attraction to Eiko, with Kamu coming to the high school just to be with Eiko; an episode focused on Eiko developing an attraction to Enami, helping Enami home when Enami was drunk, and letting Enami handcuff her hands, leading to an awkward morning where there was onscreen attraction between the two; the girls going to buy swimsuits so Hana could go to the beach for the first time, with so much time spent on them teasing each other about panties; the episode about the girls wearing their swimsuits at home and going to a hotel pool, with Shion and Hannen coming along and getting a full body massage! These are just the events that I could remember, and these events are stretched over nine episodes! I could have been tolerant of the rising sexual tension if the show had any respect for the cast. I’ve watched anime where young people have sexual tension and enjoyed them because the cast were given fulfilling characterizations and treated like people. SS does not extend this to the cast, with many scenes focused on close body shots and the galling amount of focus on their bodies when the swimsuits are on. The sexual tension doesn’t help the characters develop, and clashes with the tone. This looked to be a school SoL, with some dirty jokes filled in. If an anime has sexual tension, make that an intrinsic part of the anime, not creepy masturbation material. The subplot with Eiko and Enami was negatively surprising because we had no buildup to this sequence. Neither character showed interest in each other, and the handcuffing gave off a BSDM feel that clashed so hard with the tone. Both characters are attracted to each other, and SS reinforces this with Enami having bought a charm necklace made by Eiko unknowingly. Eiko notices this and her attraction grows. This grew so creepy; I was almost tempted to drop SS on the spot. Design: The design for SS is decent. The characters are distinctive from each other, and the backgrounds are all right. The disturbing aspect is the design of certain characters. There has been a troublesome obsession with having very young looking girls in this anime since the debut. Kamu looks to be about 12, and the other characters have commented that she hasn’t changed since middle school. Hana looks to be 14 at most, with the other characters looking more like high school girls. Shion has always looked out of place, her massive breasts calling attention from every character that is in scene with her. I found this weird and charming, because it was quirky and looked harmless. After the swimsuit episode, all restraint went out the window. I would call this a fan service anime because of the obsession with the character’s bodies. Summary: Slow Start is a meager anime that tries to be average, and transforms into a grotesque parade of ogling very young women. I had little expectations for this anime when first viewed, and appreciated the low stakes, the relaxed plot and the weird characters. The grotesque transformation ruined this anime, and made the experience worse by making all the previous details look like steppingstones to the ogling. I can’t recommend Slow Start to anyone: too average, too tasteless and too little to care about.
Slow Start is a fantastic anime. Without getting into too many details and spoiling everything. -Fun and light hearted. -Some of the best chibi animations. -Fantastically drawn! Slow start is a great comedy highschool slice of life with some yuri elements. Each character is very likeable and humorous in their own way. It's more about the comedy than romance, kind of like Yuru Yuri. With the overall show being mildy sexual but comically flirtatious.
This was a nice little show overall and it reminded me a lot of another show called Hinako Note in being supercute but also quite lewd (in addition to the protagonists looking almost identical). Both also make extensive use of "chibi" moments (moements?) to jack up the kawaii factor even further. If you don't mind (or indeed prefer) CGDCT anime with generous amounts of fan service, then I'd say this is one of the best shows to pick up. Special mention goes to the animation also, which is unusually fluid here courtesy of CloverWorks. They did an awesome job in that regard.
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