I’m not going to claim an especially jaundiced eye with Kono Bijutsubu ni wa Mondai ga Aru!. I’ve fallen hard for this series, there’s no denying it – I love all the cast members, I love the character designs and the art style, the OP and ED, the comic sensibility. This is an anime comedy solidly in the tradition of Minami-ke, Mitsudomoe, Tanaka-kun wa Itsumno Kedaruge… Each of them is different in the details, but they all possess a wealth of charm, a winning cast and the ability to win laughs through a wide variety of approaches.
One of the classic comic approaches used by anime comedies of this vein is, of course, the misunderstanding – I think Mitsudomoe was the best at it, but it’s something of a badge of honor for a series to be able to pull this mode off. And Konobi does here in classic fashion, in a chapter that features a ton of hilarious Collette-isms (I’ve warmed to her greatly, and Uesaka Sumire is giving a comic masterclass). First, she loses a staring contest to Bust-sempai, who’s posing as a model for Uchimaki and Usami. When he says he’s going to the art supply store and she tries to latch onto him, there’s a hilariously transparent moment of girl-bonding between she and Collette (and Subaru still doesn’t latch on).
This is just really funny, very silly stuff here. Collette tries to make Bust-san look “healthy”, realizing only after the fact that it was kind of a dumb thing to do and trying to cover her crime by putting him in a box (it’s a pretty lazy-ass cover-up, to be honest). When Tachibana-sensei arrives on the scene, she first stops to vandalize Uchimaki’s sketch (why would she do that, anyway? Seriously!) and then looks in the box on promptly faints. Afterwards it’s classic comedy of errors stuff, with Subaru reading in a manga that Tachibana-sensei needs mouth-to-mouth and Kaichou walking in just as he’s threatening to deliver it. That conversation between Kaichou and Collette is top shelf misunderstanding humor – “That thing”, “It’s not healthy”, “Sempai!?” – and it all leads to Mizuki almost having a needless aneurism.
The B-part is split into two mini-chapters, the first an agreeably random bit with a magic circle and Kaichou turning Collette into a dove. Maybe in a lesser series the best part could have been Kaichou finding out Mizuki had Subaru’s contact under his first name, but Uesaka-san’s cooing takes that honor.The real point of all this is the Art Club being drafted (by lot) into cleaning the pool, which in a different series might have been a vehicle for some torture for Uchimaki-kun but for the most part he’s convincingly committed to that “no interest in 3-D girls” thing.
I like the President’s idea of doing a mural at the bottom of the pool, actually – it’s a very cool notion for a fun project and the first real interest I’ve seen him show in anything art-related (though I’ve still never actually seen him do any art). There’s some fun horseplay between Collette and Mizuki, who teases her for “perfecting the dojikko routine” when she slips, but the mural does eventually get painted – and to a very nice insert song, no less. It’s a lovely mural, too, and we see Subaru’s sentimental side when he tears up at the prospect of washing it off. I don’t blame him, actually – after all that work it’d be sad to just dispose of something beautiful like that. Fortunately Kaichou has slipped up and bought oil-based paint, so that’s not going to happen just yet – and hey, maybe the school would consider it a nice decoration?
The whole pool sequence is a charm blast, and it really highlights one of the best things about Kono Bijutsubu. This show has middle schoolers as its main cast, and they look and act like middle schoolers – that goofy transitional stage between innocence and awareness clearly has them fully in its clutches. I like middle-school settings as a welcome change from the overload of high-school series, but it’s so rare to see shows – comedy or drama – take advantage of the premise by doing something authentic to the middle school experience. It’s just another feather in Konobi’s cap, and it’s already sporting a pretty impressive headdress.