As big as the schedule is this season, there actually aren’t many shows that are truly on the bubble for me – with most, I’ve either firmly decided in favor or dropped them from contention. But Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou is definitely one of those bubble shows. As I’ve said before series which do some things extremely well and others than annoy me to no end are preferable to ones that are boring or mediocre in every respect, and this one definitely falls into the former category. But my track record with those shows hasn’t been too good as far as the long game is concerned, and I’m definitely uneasy about this one.
The foundation for Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou’s case is pretty straightforward. It’s a gorgeous show visually and I do care about what’s happening with the characters. But Miya Shigeyuki’s direction is a bit of a double-edged sword. I love this creativity and imagination – this series is more than just pretty pictures, it’s clever shot composition and cinematography too. But he can be a bit too clever for his own good sometimes, and this was the first time I felt as if the trickery was a bit out of control – the chibi distortion moments were practically at Sora no Otoshimono levels, for starters. And things felt a little stale this week – we seem to be on a bit of a one-note track here, with Kawai’s gap-moe preening and Usa’s hapless dupe in love persona dominating the narrative.
Ultimately the success of the series is going to rest on the plot and characters, as usual. Every one of the females in this cast seriously irritates me at times with their cliched behavior, the stuff that anime characters typically get a free pass on when they’re cute girls. But the thing is (and this goes back to Miyahara’s manga I imagine) that there’s an obvious awareness of this. Kawai is really flat-out mean towards Usa – “I’d rather die”, seriously was that necessary? And Sayaka pretty much stamps herself as a total bitch in this episode, perfectly happy to let Usa get beat up by her scumbag (presumably) ex-boyfriend if it keeps her from having to deal with him herself. But Kawai later apologizes for saying that (well – sort of), and Mayumi flat-out calls Sayaka a bitch. And even the landlady threatens Sayaka if her behavior continues to bring trouble for the house. Plus, at least this isn’t a harem – there’s no question as to whom the MC is in love with – and two of the females in question are honest-to-God adult women with age-appropriate issues.
That’s good, for sure. But I’ve seen many cases where we get lip-service towards condemning this sort of behavior, only to have the characters get a free pass. And right now, what we basically have is another anime about a teenaged guy who’s too nice for his own good and allows himself to be abused and exploited by the girls he lives with. If that’s what Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou is going to be for its entire run I don’t really need to see it, because while the comedy has its moments it’s somewhat hit-and-miss. If there’s going to be actual consequences and character growth, that’s a different story – but who knows which is which? The mangaka’s track record on this in inconclusive, in my opinion. For now, I suppose it’s wait-and-see mode for at least one more week.