I’ll get all the deferential flimflam out of the way first: I know very little about romance manga and anime and, if Ao Haru Ride (Blue Spring Ride) is anything to go by, I know even less about teenagers as well. Though I often try to forget, I too was once an adolescent but due to circumstances I won’t elaborate on, most of that time was, for me at least, spent surviving high school rather than, well, anything that goes on in Ao Haru Ride.
not just furtive glances and accidental touches, oh no
Futaba had a crush on Kou in middle school until he up and disappeared. And now he’s come rocketing back into her life, with floppier hair, a fancy new last name and a whole heap of emotional baggage. Broken bird meet your new caretaker! Or so I thought. What I expected going into the series was a story of teen romance and certainly the opening episode seems to be heading that way. Only it’s less of a teen romance than a teen drama which, when I sloughed off my expectations, turned out to be a lot better than just a straightforward puppy love schmaltz.
As I was sorting through the screenshots for Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun (Monthly Girls Nozaki-kun) I found myself first smirking, then chuckling, laughing, and then finally guffawing so much that I had to rewatch one of the scenes just to provide some kind of closure. It’s that kind of series: where in context it’s funny but in isolation, it’s perhaps even more so.
grinning since the moment the episode started
It starts humbly enough with that most stalwart of high school romance tropes: the confession. In this case by the adorably diminutive Chiyo Sakura to the tall and stoic Umetarou Nozaki. Confusion abounds when he thinks she is asking for an autograph because she’s a fan of his shoujo manga. That’s the hook at least, in reality the series relies on two core jokes that the rest orbit around.
There seems to be a bit of selective memory going on when poeple describe how they came to watch the Candy Boy anime; sheepishly wondering how something like this could ever end up on their playlist. I watched it because of Tumblr, and like the slice of that site that I subscribe to, the series looks, in screenshots at least, very good if slightly dated now just over six years later. Even for an animation clod like me though, once you start watching it (however did this end up here?!) you realise the seven/nine/ten episode series is little more than a very pretty slideshow.
all the signs point to it being there, it just needs to be proved. With a particle accelerator
It’s a small step up from the “drama” extras you get on the home video releases of some series (Code Geass’ Nunnally in Wonderland springs instantly to mind): copious dialogue over a handful of still images. Candy Boy manages some animation - mostly cheek pulling and flapping mouths - but lives up to its subtitle: “Nonchalant talk of the certain twin sisters in daily life”.
Everything you need to know about the Photo Kano anime series is in the image above. You might not think so, but what if I said the source material was a dating sim? Seven girls (“routes”), sure, but take note of the legwear sported by each of them. This is a series that is predicated not only on choosing a girl, but on that girl’s personality being defined by their tights, stockings or socks. Guess which of the girls in the picture is the childish gymnast? Sporty tomboy? Bit more difficult: childhood friend?
No ideas? What if all the girls were instead represented by potted plants?
Yeah I’m not really sure why either. Language of flowers anyone?
I didn’t even really consider that “dormitory comedy” was an actual sub-genre until I drew a line connecting Love Hina, Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo and now, Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou (We are all from Dormitory Kawai / The Kawai Complex guide to Manors and Hostel Behaviour). In theory I suppose you could include less noteworthy series such as Sekirei but that firmly placed itself on the “harem” side of things which I guess Love Hina occupies as well.. But that would mess up a perfectly good grouping of decent comedies set in dormitories.
bibliophile and perennial winner of “Most Sparkling Eyes”
Despite its reverence towards introversion, Kawaisou is definitely a comedy as if the swathes of stylised on-screen text and exaggerated expressions didn’t already give it away. The benefit of being set in a dormitory, and not just one for school children, is that it smooshes together a lot of different characters who wouldn’t otherwise associate. It’s the inverse of the “box of scorpions” setup that horror movies use to manufacture drama and mystery; with comedies though, as long as you get the mix of personalities right, comedy will just fall out of it.