3 Episode Taste Test: Sasameki Koto (Whispered Words)

Sasameki Koto takes place in a land of almost perpetual sunsets, golden skies and scenery aflame with oranges, all the while impressionable young girls stand in front of illuminated classrooms blushing with possibility. The series lays in thick and fast and doesn't ever prevaricate as to what the majority of it will be about: unfettered romance. Dainty piano melodies and smooth words flow from the opening leaving no doubt as to the position the series takes on its subject matter.

they feel like characters rather than porcelain dolls butting heads

Sumika Murasame loves her best friend Ushio Kazama who is infatuated with cute girls, unfortunately for Sumika she is tall, athletic and bookish preferring to dress in muted polo necks than frilly skirts. While she pines for Ushio a male from her class, Masaki Akemiya, has fallen in love with her and expresses this by cross dressing and posing for a fashion magazine. Things take a turn for the complex when Sumika and Ushio catch two other girls kissing, and from the hints dropped in the first three episodes, it's safe to assume that other potential love interests will be introduced in short order. The story is typical romance fare with the added twist of same-sex relationships but the plights of the cast produces a level of empathy that is wholly unusual.

The series is to be commended for having the courage not to explicitly spell out every nuance of the ongoing relationships; many elements are implied - albeit blatantly - rather than insipidly narrated, giving events more refinement than one expects to find within the genre. The surprises don't stop there with the show at times proving immensely funny, favouring more surreal situations - the Ultraman mask kissing a stand-out example - than goofy comic timing. Pacing is lamentably the weakest point of the series so far: after the first episode the story wallows with the same overused try-deny effort from Sumika. The upshot is that real character and plot progression is not out of reach and the material covered so far bodes well for the remaining nine episodes.

Following other heavily lesbian orientated series such as Maria-sama ga Miteru and Strawberry Panic or even fantasy shows such as Simoun and Blue Drop means that Sasameki Koto has a challenge to prove that it is both different and worthwhile. To its credit it removes the pretentious, snooty atmosphere that pervades such series with aloof and reserved characters in spades, instead focusing on lighthearted but no less tangible stories and cast. Ushio may be a touch too whimsical and Sumika a might too stoic for it to be realistic, but critically they are likeable and entertaining to the point where they feel like characters rather than porcelain dolls butting heads.

In three episodes Sasameki Koto proves that it is uncommonly adept with its genre, crafting characters and situations that are still typically slow burning but are able to hold much more than a passing interest. The rest of the series may be already mapped out with emotional turbulence and late afternoon classroom meetings but it is charming and approaches the still relatively taboo subject matter without any bashfulness or devolving into smut. Amiable and amusing, there is little more one could ask for from a series of this ilk.

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