Welcome to Episode 50, the big five-o!
We have quite a bright and dare-I-say flowery Anime Pocket Reviews for you today. However, despite their kind-hearted exterior these are two anime shows not to be taken lightly!
Later on we have a look at one of the most highly recommended teen romance series there is, but first we have a look at one of the rare original titles from the recent Spring 2018 cycle.
Comic Girls (S1, 2018, 12x23mins)
The story primarily follows Kaoruko (middle-right), a young and promising future manga artist trying to reach her dream of being a professional mangaka. However, after getting terrible results on a reader’s poll, she is left wondering if she really has the ability to do it for real. Her editor suggests that she moves into the Bunhousha Women’s Dormitory, a house for young manga artists to work and improve together. There she meets Koyume (far-right), a lively girl trying to make it just like her, alongside already serialised writers Ruki (left) and Tsubasa (middle-left). All starting at the same school in the same year, the story follows the four girl’s growing friendship as Kaoruko tries her best to make it as a manga artist.
Basically Plot: Follows the lives of four young manga artists living together in a dormitory just for mangakas.
In an anime cycle completely overloaded with loud blockbuster titles, it was always going to take something different for a new series to push through. This bright, lively series is just what we needed in the action thunderstorm that was Spring ‘18, and honestly, this could be our favourite series of the cycle!
Adapted from a four-panel comedy manga, Comic Girls is, as you would expect, a really easy series. However, what impresses with this series is how it does manage to litter the show with story points here and there. There’s countless enjoyable, simple slice-of-life comedies in the anime world, but the best ones make it feel like there’s something more going on, and the inclusion of an end-goal – the main character getting a serialised manga – along with the odd extra pieces of story made this series feel like something you really wanted to invest in. I personally thought that the inclusion, albeit minor, of a lesbian crush was something particularly special about Comic Girls, and points to a series that is not as childish as it appears.
While it’s fair to say that this all-female anime doesn’t shy away from being cute and colourful, there is an underbelly of relatively mature comedy in Comic Girls. While some of the jokes are cliché, there are plenty of original laughs that come out of every episode. How much you enjoy this show, though, will likely come down to what side of the spectrum you sit when it comes to being cute or being funny cute. There are plenty of jokes in this series that come off the fact that the main character is small, or the mature girl has a small chest or that one of them is a bit boyish. While these stereotypical tropes from the four colourful but not wholly imaginative main characters make fun of their cuteness, this isn’t necessarily done on purpose to mock the cute anime world. Comic Girls is proudly chirpy and high-pitched, and whether you can see the jokes as bringing the story back to planet earth or further pronouncing the show’s girl-factor will likely determine how much you enjoy this.
Comic Girls certainly isn’t the female version of Bakuman I was personally hoping for before watching it – because in reality, we’re all looking for another Bakuman in our lives – but it is a more than solid comedy series with a story that can match most others in the light comedy genre. While the characters and general dialogue aren’t exactly unique, the way the series uses the stereotypically cute nature of itself for comedic effect without cheapening itself makes this a slice-of-life worth watching!
ANIME RANKING: #61 – A decent ranking for a light comedy series, sitting it alongside similar tiles such as Web.Wagnaria and Nanbaka.
If you liked this you’ll love: Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun (#57) – Another light-comedy featuring manga creation, this is another of those reliable slice-of-life series that is guaranteed to put a smile on your face. Starring an equally spritely high-school girl, this series focuses more on high-school life, while it’s gender-balanced cast allows room for both sharper comedy and a comedic romance element that makes this a hugely enjoyable series!
Honey and Clover (S1, 2005, 24x23mins)
The series follows a group of friends studying at an art school in Tokyo. The story primarily follows Yuuta Takemoto (right), the quiet one of three boys living in the same apartment. While the slightly shady Morita (second-left) – in his sixth year – is boundlessly energetic and Mayama (far-left) is a mature, workplace-ready student, Yuuta is comfortable enjoying his simple, poor student life. However, their friendship group is pushed into fast forward when their friendly professor Hanamoto introduces them to his young relative Hagumi (middle-right), a diminutive but incredibly talented girl who Takemoto falls for instantly. While Takemoto comes to terms with his own feelings, the others are all left wondering about their own futures, particularly Mayama who, despite attracting the interest of beautiful long-time friend Yamada (middle-left) finds himself entranced by his part-time boss Rika.
Basically Plot: Follows Yuuta and his group of art school friends as Hagumi, a young and hugely successful female artist is introduced to their group and steals his adolescent heart.
A classically soft slice-of-life series, everything about Honey and Clover feels very natural and organic. The first thing to say is the art style, which has to be up there as one of the nicest art styles I’ve seen! The world and the landscapes are very minimalist, but the characters ooze style, with fantastic detail meeting artistic flair to create truly unique characters. From the puppy dog eyes of cute characters like Yamada to the ruggedness of the adult characters, the people in Honey and Clover feel more individual than in almost any other slice-of-life anime, while the artistic talent in this series is further highlighted by the fantastic blend of both young and old achieved in the main character Yuuta. The animation mirrors the feeling of the whole series – stretching the boundaries as much as it can while still remaining in the real world, creating a series and characters that feel incredibly free but are still rooted in human experiences.
The series also has a fantastic art style for its comedic moments. Very reminiscent of the incredible Your Lie in April, Honey and Clover uses sharp switches in animation style to really hammer home its comedic moments, and the funny edge to this series is really sharp! The show definitely knew when to use comedy to lighten the mood, and the switches are so instant that it doesn’t take away from the real meat of the series. However, what that meat actually consists of is possibly the only sticking point for this series.
Now, I should point out that this series was partially spoiled for me when I was told it was a series about ‘unrequited love’. That is very much the case here, and while you can argue that almost every romance series has one-way attraction as a key part of it, but I don’t think I’ve seen a series that gives you so little pay off for its romantic interactions as this one. The problem here is that the Honey and Clover, intentionally or not, leans quite heavily on their partnerships to deliver its meaningful moments, aside from some inner searching done by the main character, particularly at the end of the series. The other moments in the series are all really good – I enjoyed watching the characters live over the few years the series spans, some of them turning into full working adults – however, the series always wants to come back to the love triangles that form, and this isn’t the best romance series you’ve ever seen.
That being said, I would still wholeheartedly recommend watching this series. All the characters are wholly unique and vibrant creatures, something that can be a rarity in slice-of-life series, and while the romance isn’t the best it plays its part in what is an enjoyable, albeit slightly unrewarding story. In reality, Honey and Clover is worth watching for the art style alone.
ANIME RANKING: #28 – Breaking into the Top 30, Honey and Clover is sitting very pretty alongside hits such as Princess Jellyfish and Nisekoi!
If you liked this you’ll love: Your Lie in April (#5) – Mentioned above, YLiA shares many attributes with this coming-of-age title. With a similar blend of quick, almost slapstick comedy and heartful discussions, Your Lie in April is one of the finest examples of a series that, despite its sometimes strong plot ideas, is truly heartwarming. With a similarly fashionable (and beautiful) animation style, YLiA delivers the same type of characters but in a more refined story centering around classical music.
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