It’s interesting that Masuzu used the old saw “The opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s apathy” (which I happen to agree with for the most part) because it sums up a lot of what my thinking about this series is after two episodes. Another take on that is “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” (which I don’t necessarily agree with) but it might be argued that the worst thing a viewer can feel about an anime is apathy. Is it better for a show to make you feel something – even if you dislike it – than nothing at all?
I don’t dislike Oreshura, but there are things about it that definitely rub me the wrong way. Yet it’s also oddly compelling, and a large part of that is because what you have here is superficially a formula romantic comedy that’s actually very dark. Quite strikingly so in the first two eps in fact, much of that coming from Masuzu. She certainly isn’t easy to like, and I can see this series crossing over that invisible line along with her quite easily and losing me in the process. But for now, there’s a definite curiosity to see what she’ll do next, and a real sharpness to the humor that you don’t see all that often.
The biggest danger I can see here is if the series builds on what happened in this episode, and becomes a repetitive cycle of Masuzu torturing Eita in exponentially increasing levels of cruelty. There’s obviously a market for that sort of thing but I’ve never enjoyed seeing nice guys (or girls, though in anime it’s usually guys) endlessly tortured for no good reason apart from entertainment. And Eita seems like a perfectly good guy, protective and patient with a very trying osananajimi in Chihuahua-san (heh), who’s done nothing worse than have an overactive fantasy life as a chuunibyou-afflicted pubescent. Edgy humor can be some of the most powerful there is – but repetitive cruelty quickly becomes a depressing slog. Finding the balance is something many comedies try to do, and more fail at it than succeed. We’ll see if the strong pedigree of the staff involved in Oreshura is up to the task, but ultimately it’ll mostly come down to what comes out of the LNs, and I can’t attest to that.
In the first ep it was Chiwa that grated on me and Masuzu that captured my interest. And while Masuzu is undeniably a charismatic and dangerous presence, I really disliked her this week – and Chiwa sort of grew on me a little. She’s still the most formulaic thing in the show, but the bit where she ran to school with toast in her mouth and started saying “Nyan!” in an attempt to win boys’ attention as revenge for Eita getting a girlfriend was so pathetic it was almost endearing, and her faking her way out of the guitar hero lie showed some nice pluck. We also have the actress who plays Saki in Shin Sekai Yori, the rising star Taneda Risa, playing Eita’s male best friend Kaoru, and the actor who played Wien in Tari Tari, Hanae Natsuki, playing potential Chihuahua love interest Sakagami-kun. It’s an interesting young cast, though I certainly hope Ohsaka Ryouta is given more to do than he was this week.
I’m not sure the three-episode rule is going to be enough for Oreshura. We have a female lead who’s unlikeable and potentially worse, but also quotes JoJo chapters and has a genuinely wicked sense of humor. We have a cast full of rising stars who haven’t been overused yet, and genuinely clever writing that doesn’t look for comedy in all the obvious places. Apathy? Certainly not a risk of that – but the feelings I have for the show are going to have to be at least somewhat positive for viewing it to be an enjoyable experience. And while right now I can see a pretty decent chance that won’t happen, there’s enough potential here to make me want to give the series a longer rope than one that simply bores me.