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  • Currently: K-dramas
  • Joined Aug 23, 2016
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Just Because!

Dec 28, 2017

Get out the ol’ tinfoil hat and red string, kiddies--it’s time to watch...a high school romance drama. 

That’s not a joke. Just Because, despite its seemingly ludicrous title and ostensibly benign subject matter, is as densely packed a story as any conspiracy thriller, told more often than not through subtext, with every look and gesture and turn of phrase a quiet insight into or subtle foreshadowing of the many unexpected edge-of-your-seat turns to come. As such, for the serious viewer, it is just as often an exercise for the brain as it is a stroll through the heart. 

It’s also really, really good. 

And not just as a romance, but as a piece of fiction. Just Because is carefully constructed to be a single cohesive piece: from the very first frame to the very last, every line and action and character is precisely carved and slotted in exactly where it needs to be. Not a single second is wasted or superfluous, and if any one moment was shifted or removed, it simply would not be the same show. (This consistency of storytelling is made especially clear in re-watching each episode. Which you will absolutely do. Immediately.) 

But, of course, it is a romance, and, when it comes to love, Just Because knocks it out of the park. However, it’s more of a story about love than it is a "love story." Nothing here feels like destiny--or a will-they-won’t-they roundabout or a zany battle royale of homemade lunches and specially tailored bikinis. (Its defiance of anime cliches is second only to its usurpation of viewer expectations.) As such, each new scene brings with it the same mystery and possibility that every stolen moment with a crush does, with the show’s pacing and structure mirroring the stages of courtship: getting noticed, building rapport, speeding into heartache, and finally hurtling towards the Schrodinger’s Cat of confession. 

(To that end, it is almost unfortunate that the whole series is there to watch at once, now, as this ready availability robs you of one of the great pleasures of the show: days of wondering what comes next, obsessively recalling and reading (perhaps too much) into all the details of every moment spent with it...essentially, all the signs of having a crush yourself.) 

If there is a flaw, here, it is that the show gets a bit…precious, towards the end, flirting (if only briefly) with the pedantic in its "single cohesive piece" method of storytelling as it moves to wrap things up--perhaps too quickly, in some cases. Despite being so full of development that it feels like it has twice as many episodes as it does, another one or two might have helped it breathe a bit more steadily than it does as it concludes. (Well, that and the animation, which sometimes swings wildly from "vastly better than its budget implies" to "somehow worse than its budget implies" from scene to scene...or sometimes within scenes.) 

But (again like a crush) it’s also easy not to care about its flaws when there is so much else to care about. Like the characters. And their feelings. 

Which, I think, might be as far as we should go with that, here. Because, while it feels a disservice not to discuss the characters--because they are wonderful, top to bottom--it would be a greater disservice to rob you of the chance to find and fall in love with them on your own. 

Because you will. Maybe without realizing. 

Or maybe just...well. You know.

10/10 story
6.5/10 animation
7.5/10 sound
10/10 characters
9.8/10 overall

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