What’s it about? Hikari Kokura has just one thing she wants out of her high school experience: to join the Rifle Shooting Club. That’s the entire reason she chose Chidori High School, but now she hears the club is being disbanded! Now she must find three other potential club members or she’ll never get the high school experience she wanted.
You’ve read the “What’s it about” section above, right? So it’d make sense that the central conflict would be about getting the Rifle Club together, right?
Nope! It takes less than half the episode for Hikari to find those other club members. Chidori RSC, based on the four-panel manga Rifle is Beautiful, is an extremely low-tension series, even for the “cute girls doing cute things” genre.
The greatest source of tension for me was wondering if they were going to have any characters, scenarios, or jokes that weren’t just straight-up rehashes of things that have been done a dozen times before. The answer is, of course, no. If I had anything more than idle curiosity, I’d go through and see how many high school anime in the last few seasons start off with a club that’s been disbanded or is about to be disbanded, and I’d put money on it averaging at least once a season.
The characters are just as stock as the scenario. Hikari is a ditz, Izumi is her calm and steadfast best friend, Erika is hotheaded and competitive, and Yukio is calm and quiet. That’s really all there is to them.
They run through rote gags, including the obligatory “comparing boob sizes in the locker room,” as the girls… well, their personalities don’t even really bounce off of each other. That implies a level of impact that would require way more energy than this premiere has.
It’s more like… you know when you whiff a shot in pool and instead of the ball sending all the other balls bounding into each other they just kind of rustle and clack? It’s more like that.
Speaking of shooting, they’re not just handing a bunch of high school girls guns and telling them to have at it. It’s not set in America, after all! [rimshot] Instead, they stand around in a small room with specialized jackets and use light rifles to fire off a laser beam at a target.
I’m sure this version of the sport has plenty of nuance and challenge and I’d absolutely be terrible at it, but none of that gets communicated through the episode. Instead, it feels more like watching them shoot gussied-up laser pointers, which is about as exciting as this room full of sleeping children I’m in as I write this review. Or maybe less exciting, actually. At least these kids cough and roll around sometimes.
None of this is helped by the extremely rote adaptation, courtesy of Masanori Takahashi, who also directed the extremely forgettable When Supernatural Battles Become Commonplace. I didn’t know going in that this was based on a four-panel comic, but I sure could have guessed it right away.
I haven’t actually read the manga, but the adaptation feels like it probably used the panels as a storyboard. Jokes float by with little sense of timing or energy. There’s little continuity or flow between sketches and no real transitions to speak of—it just kind of jumps from one (incredibly dull) conversation to the next.
There’s been a lot of cute girls series, many of them based on four-panel manga, but something about Chidori RSC made me especially nostalgic for Azumanga Daioh. Maybe it was because there were some similar jokes and a similar structure within the episodes, but with none of the wit, energy, or comic timing.
But hey, if you like this kind of zero-tension comedy, this may hit the target for you. Just for me, it’s a total miss.
And thus the Fall 2019 premieres end with the quiet click of a trigger and no bang.