Content Warning: bullying
What’s it about? Nishimura Akane is a fifth-grader who gets teased by her classmates for her appearance and called the Grim Reaper. Akane doesn’t enjoy her school life and tries to keep a low profile until a happy-go-lucky new transfer student named Takada Taiyo decides to cheerfully befriend her and helps her become more confident.
I noticed that I’m not watching enough wholesome shows in my life, so I picked My Clueless First Friend to review in hopes that it would be a nice feel good series that offered a weekly serotonin boost. I’m happy to report this is a sweet show about how basic kindness can really go a long way. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m sensitive to shows about bullying, since I was bullied myself when I was younger and I know how difficult it can be to stand up for yourself. Even if you do reach out to an adult for help, there isn’t any guarantee that the bullying will be resolved; sometimes, depending on your personal circumstances, it can make the situation worse.
I’m grateful that the bullying in My Clueless First Friend never veers into physical abuse, but the emotional impact still greatly affects Akane’s self-esteem and she tries her best to keep a low profile. It’s honestly heartbreaking that Akane lies to her father about her school life, but it’s understandable since she doesn’t want to worry him and probably feels that nothing will change. I normally don’t talk about visuals in the ending credits; however, I was struck by how it captured how psychologically trapped Akane feels and desperately tries to find a way to escape her narrow confinement. I appreciate how this premiere is using its run time to really convey how isolated and lonely Akane feels, which makes Taiyo’s lively entrance a ray of sunshine in Akane’s life.
Taiyo definitely lives up to being a clueless kid, and that’s probably due to the fact he isn’t picking up certain social cues from his fellow classmates. It could also be that he’s just a generally nice kid who thinks it’s cool that Akane has curse powers and doesn’t believe there’s any malice behind his classmates’ words. It also helps that he questions his classmates’ behavior towards Akane and at least for a moment, some of the kids acknowledge that there isn’t any reason to harass her.
It doesn’t fix the problem, but nobody wants to admit that bullying makes people feel better about themselves by targeting others that can’t fight back. Either way, Taiyo’s interactions with Akane are so sweet and cute because you can gradually see how Akane is slowly coming out of her shell. The genuine joy she feels about making her first friend is so lovely and based on the opening credits it seems Akane is going to have her own circle of friends very soon.
To be frank, there’s been so much depressing news lately that more shows like this are definitely needed to encourage children to be kind to each other. Maybe it’s the optimistic in me, but I want to be hopeful that all of our differences can someday be celebrated rather than hated on. The animation itself is very smooth and shiny and while some folks might not be a fan of the character designs, I think Akane and Taiyo’s charm alone is enough to breeze through this premiere. Overall, this show definitely deserves the three episode test and who knows this might interest folks that want to watch more wholesome shows this season.