[Review] Convenience Store Boyfriends – episode 1

First year high school students Haruki Mishima and [Towa] Honda are looking forward to their new school life. Meanwhile Nasa Sanagi, sole member of the cooking research club, continues with his club activities from middle school, striving to work on the theme that his adviser laid out for him. Second year student Natsu Asumi, although he matured a little since the height of his impudence during his first year, has nevertheless chosen to remain alone this year. Third year students Mikado Nakajima and Masamuna Sakurakoji watch over him with a smile. All of them will pay the nearby convenience store a visit after school.

Source: Anime News Network

The above description of Convenience Store Boyfriends (can I just call it ConveniBoys for short?) doesn’t seem to tell you much about the series, but it does in fact accurately depict the amount of meandering that happens in this premiere. Two teenage boys start high school. One of them has a crush on a girl he knew when they were little. The other has a crush on the class rep. They run into each other at the local convenience store a few times. Everyone is very bad at communicating. Roll credits.

Two girls in uniform look at each other with their hands clapped over their mouths

Actually, you know what? Let’s back up. I try to be a positive person, so here are a few nice things I can say about this premiere:

  • The character designs and color palette are pleasant.
  • One of the guys always sleeps over at his best friend’s house, which at least has the possibility of leading to a layered character arc or backstory.
  • The two lead girls become friends over their love of books and it’s pretty cute.
  • From a feminist perspective, it’s mostly harmless. It has flashes of potential that it squanders in favor of boilerplate romantic beats (for example, one of the female characters gets defensive about how she’s judged for being “not cute,” but it’s just there to give the boy a reason to tell her he thinks she’s cute, blargh) and it’s obliviously heteronormative, but there’s nothing I feel I need to warn people about, exactly.
One teenage boy in a school uniform throws an arm around another and asks to sleep in his bed
That feel when the best friends have more chemistry than the couples

And, uh… that’s it. That’s all I got. ConveniBoys‘s most redeeming feature is that it isn’t actively offensive (unless of course you’re offended by awful directorial decisions like layering unneeded dialogue over an unrelated scene of unrelated characters, which I am indeed offended by, just so you know). Its most notable feature, though, is that it is utterly, astoundingly, teeth-grindingly boring.

The backgrounds are flat and sterile. The animation is stiff and the characters have a total of about four facial expressions between all of them. The pacing drags, wasting time lingering on robotic movements or emotionless faces that convey zero new information, presumably in a desperate attempt to fill 23 minutes’ of airtime with about 10 minutes’ worth of story. Perhaps most damning of all, the chemistry between our budding couples is nonexistent, probably because our four teenage protagonists have all the individuality and charisma of a DMV waiting room.

A teenage girl holding two cans of soda stands outside of a convenience store at night, facing a boy who has his back to the camera

I’ve seen plenty of stories where “nothing happens” and it’s perfectly entertaining because of an affable cast, a rich atmosphere, or engaging direction and animation. And I’ve seen plenty of stories where high schoolers fumble through relationships and it’s perfectly entertaining because the characters have a strong dynamic and their conflicts are well-defined. ConveniBoys is too flavorless to be a successful slice-of-life and too emotionless to be a successful romance. It not only failed to be whatever it was trying to be; it failed to try at being anything at all.

I’ve sat through quite a few lackluster premieres this season, but this one might be the worst, not because of its content but because of a resounding lack thereof. I’d call it “nothing,” but that’s an insult to nothingness. I would have rather watched nothing than this. If you really need a blandly directed series with snail-like pacing this season, just make it Restaurant to Another World. At least that one has a dragon in it.

Read the ANN Preview Guide review

 

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