Overall, this anime is pretty entertaining. While not the strongest anime technically, it really was fun to watch. It does do some uncommon and interesting things that you don’t often see in these types of anime.
This anime was produced by Shaft, which is my favorite animation studio. They have a very distinctive style and really nice background art. Two of my favorite things about this studio are the attention they pay to small details and their ability to use animation cheats in an artistic way, so it adds to the mood rather than looking cheap.
Purpose: Decent. It does some interesting things, but doesn’t end up too far from where it started. Really, it’s all about the changes in character relations, so it’s more about the circuitous journey rather than the end point. The tone of the anime is interesting, because it falls somewhat in-between genres of anime – High school drama and light-harem type, with comedy prevailing throughout. It’s primarily high school drama because the anime isn’t about the girls fighting, so much as events shaping the nature of the various relationships.
Characters: Very Good. The characters aren’t terribly deep, but are consistent. For the most part, they are a strong use of tropes. This anime is an example of well used tropes, because the personalities are strong enough to make it entertaining, and memorable enough to mean something. While the characters don’t really change themselves, character development in this anime is more about shaping the way they see the other characters and how they react to them. To that end, they did really well marking very distinctive styles of relationships between the major players. The result was that the moments between characters ended up being really strong – two characters were always sweet, yet awkward, while two others were explosive and constantly creating friction. The supporting cast also performed their roles well, creating opportunities for character interaction, instead of providing a distraction.
World: Good. The world in this case acted more like the backdrop in a stage play – there to give context to what’s going on and set some of the mood. The setting itself wasn’t terribly deep, but did do its job competently. The world managed to create solid situations for the characters to interact and also shaped the tone of some of the character interactions. It also provided a constant under-current and pressure on the events happening in the anime. For once, it was a fairly believable explanation of why characters that ordinarily wouldn’t give each other the time of day were forced into close company. For the first 7 episodes, it really was the world acting as a catalyst to start the characters interacting. After the first 7, it took a back seat to the characters.
Plot: Good. Again, the overall plot didn’t really go too far, but there were a lot of plot points involved in getting there. Really, the plot in this anime was all about the characters interacting with each other. The plot was solid because each point represented a change in how the characters interacted with each other. That said, the plot was somewhat weaker than it could have been because the same kinds of points kept reappearing. It didn’t detract too much from the general tone of the anime because the “path” it took ended up being slightly different because character relationships were different at that point.
Storytelling: Very Good. What was done really well here was the quasi-omnipotent storytelling – we were shown the important parts of characters’ thoughts in addition to what they said. The result was that the audience knew more than the cast, so that we knew the causes of certain issues that arose. By that same token, they were able to keep some information from the viewer so that some things could come as a surprise. Interestingly, this helped shape the anime as more of a comedy, because it de-emphasized the stress of the situation for the viewer. That’s not to say it was purely comedy throughout. They were able to shape the plot points in a way that created powerful moments – both sweet and awkward and even painful. One final note, the attention to small details in the storytelling really added to everything they were doing – everything from the choice of animation style, to the placement of characters in scenes, to small facial and body expressions.
Pace: Not Really Good. Overall, it starts off really slow and takes time to build. It takes about 7 episodes for the train to leave the station, as it were. Actually, likening the pace to a train is pretty accurate, since it built speed then had to stop off at several stations before building speed again. The really strong moments were few and far in between early, but became steadily more frequent as the anime progressed. Honestly, the pace felt like it was more dictated by the source material rather than being the fault of the studio. The reason I say this is because every time the anime just starts to stagnate, they introduced a new character to breathe life into it again. The end result was that the pace was slightly annoying, but not wholly crippling.