[Review] Anime-Gataris – episode 1

Minoa Asagaya is a new high school student in Sakaneko Private High School. Despite being a novice to anime, Minoa’s classmate Arisu Kamiigusa invites her to make an “anime research club” at school. Through conversations with her classmate Miko Kōenji, as well as various anime-loving upperclassmen, Minoa gradually gets hooked on anime. While they stand against the student council’s continuous efforts to disband their club, and they ignore the impending end of the world, they talk about anime, whether in Akiba, or in real-life “sacred place” anime settings, or the hot springs.

Source: Anime News Network

a small child leaning toward a television in awe

I’ve mentioned before that club anime aren’t my thing, right? I have nothing against them in concept—it’s more that I tend to not be very invested in shows that’re mostly concerned with high school shenanigans. That said, Anime-Gataris is pretty good at being a club anime, with some potential to go in weird directions and only one thing that I absolutely hated.

Bad things first: the girls’ homeroom teacher is a flamboyant stereotype played for comedy. I hate it, and it took the rest of a pretty strong episode to build up any sense of good will towards the show. It’s 2017, knock it the hell off. Fuji TV can’t get away with that any more, and neither can you.

an effete man behind a desk, wearing a scarf and embracing himself. subtitle: I'm feeling lonely

That sour note aside (and a little bit of Kamiigusa flustering in Minoa’s direction that I’m sure will go precisely nowhere), it’s a peppy little premiere. Newbie mouthpiece Minoa is sort of a nonentity, but an inoffensive one who’s only occasionally a little shrill. Her struggle to remember an anime she really loved but only half-remembers from childhood feels relatable and not too terribly contrived as a means of getting her involved with the club. There’s even minimal fanservice, aside from a few shots of thigh gap.

And Kamiigusa, a “wealthy ojou”-type character who’s actually boundlessly friendly and enthusiastic about her passion for anime, is charming beyond words. She walks everywhere in a cloud of pink sparkles, one of her male classmates comments that he “loves the way she’s just slightly condescending” (a good line, well done Gataris), but she’s completely unreserved at the idea of helping someone get involved with her passion. The moment when she unleashes an in-depth, rapid-fire monologue about current season fare only to slowly realize that Minoa isn’t nearly as invested is way, way too real.

a blonde girl wearing a bow, blushing as she talks to a redheaded girl. subtitle: thanks

Those little moments that get the feeling of being nerdy without feeling mean-spirited are the high points of the episode, and the show could use more of them. Right now it leans a little too hard on the non-joke of “hey, do you recognize these slightly off-brand titles we’re referencing?” which got old about the second time they did it (that was far from the last time they did it). The other future club members are only seen very briefly, so it remains to be seen if Anime-Gataris will be as effectively playful with their expected tropes.

The element of Minoa becoming an actual magical girl is a fringe part of this episode, so it’s very hard to tell how well that element will be incorporated or even what tone it’ll take. Will the muggle otaku band together around the actual magical newbie and use their fandom knowledge for good? Will they be bitter about it? Will they also get super powers? I admit I’m a little curious since I love “the magical invades the mundane” stories (although I already hate the gruff talking cat mascot), and that could provide a unique enough spin to give the show a little extra oomph. But for now it’s too early to tell.

A small stuffed animal-like cat holds out a cell phone. subtitle: is this what you're looking for?
It’s not going to die, is it?

 

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