The phrase that leaps to mind for Gawoware is “curiously compelling”.
Surely, this is one of the strangest series of the year. That’s not enough to make a show worthwhile on its own, obviously, but it is interesting – and so is Gaworare. Shows that try to walk the tightrope between exploiting otaku tropes and satirizing them are always a risky proposition but so far, this one seems to have a pretty good handle on how to do it successfully. Probably the most important argument in its favor on this score is also the simplest – most of the time it’s funny when it’s trying to be.
Also interesting is the way Gawoware high-wire walks between the very silly comedy and the deceptively dark recurring plot. We can see the latter start to bleed over into the former now, as Souta is increasingly morose over his death flag even as he’s engaged in a series of “dates” with the girls (plus Megumu – well, never mind) of Quest Dormitory, while Nanami stays behind eating instant yakisoba and feeling sorry for herself.
These dates – and Nanami’s vigil – are illustrative of why the show mostly works. It’s certainly ironic that she’s the only one with no flag on her head because her flag is the most obvious in the cast – she’s the ultimate tsundere (come to think of it, have we seen a tsundere flag yet?). Hell, she even makes her token protests twice, just in case you’re in doubt. Every one of the dates has something funny and charming about it – with Megumu we get the reactions of the females entranced by the pairing, with Rin-kun (I like that Souta still calls her that) the peeing contest and Rin’s amusing ability to argue with herself into a stupor. Akane’s is the most overtly date-like and offers the most straight-up romantic vibe, and there’s a certain warmth to the onee-san relationship with Ookiku that seems quite genuine.
What makes all this work is that Takei’s writing has a certain ruthlessness when it attacks the cliches – you get the sense that he genuinely does think they’re pretty stupid – yet it doesn’t translate into mean-spiritedness towards the characters. That’s the most delicate balancing act of all in a series full of them, but so far at least Takei and Watanabe are pulling it off.
Tonari ni Seki-kun – 18
Daiya no A’s big week continues…
“If I react, it’ll only make Seki-kun happy.” From the mouth of babes… In it’s hilarious way, this courtship between Seki-kun and Yokoi-chan may be one of the most endearing of the last couple of anime seasons. They’re a perfect match for each other, really – each of them has a big itch that the other one is perfect for scratching.
It only makes sense that Seki-kun would be adept at magic, and being forced (not enough printouts) to “combine” with Yokoi-san is the perfect excuse to show it off. What follows is really their relationship in a nutshell – Yokoi at war with herself over her primal fascination with Seki’s prestidigitation, Seki-kun loving every moment of it. The true touch of genius was the eye drops he used as stage tears when Yokoi crumpled his Ace of Diamonds (hopefully it was Furuya, not Eijun).
This ep also shows off what a perfect choice Shimono Hiro was for “voicing” Seki-kun. KanaHana has the flashy role, and she’s as charming here as she’s been in ages, but Shimono-san was born to give life to Seki’s sub-vocalizations. The anime staff had some tough choices to make about how to translate this series to the screen, and they’ve been proved right with almost all of them. In truth, though, you could watch this episode with the sound muted and still have a perfectly clear picture of what this show is all about – the faces tell the whole story.