What’s it about? Three friends—Akane, who wants to be a manga artist; Shiori, who wants to be a microbiologist; and Nozomu, who wants to live it up and be popular with boys—are just entering their first year of high school. This is an account of their daily lives.
CONTENT WARNING for a predatory teacher
This is going to be one of those reviews. You know the ones, where I hem and haw for a few minutes about how humor is ultimately subjective before admitting that this premiere just didn’t do much for me. I didn’t hate it—in fact, I even laughed a few times—but at the end of the episode I was left with the thought, “what does this have to offer in a season where we’re also getting a ‘teenage idiots’ comedy written by Mari Okada?”
Alas, I wasn’t able to come up with an answer.
Wasteful Days is a series hamstrung by half-measures. The series’ semi-grounded art style is a pleasant change, but the visual direction doesn’t know how to compensate when it comes to sight-gags. The characters are all quickly slapped with nicknames that boil them down to a singular character trait, but the sense of absurdity (either in how the names don’t fit or very much do) seems half-hearted.
It also means that the characters are stuck halfway, neither loose comic sketches nor friends who genuinely seem to care about one another beneath the razzing. They just sort of…exist, and both the art and writing seem afraid to let them get too un-cute.
Most of the jokes go on too long to be punchy but not long enough to loop back around to being funny again, and while it nods toward a bleaker sense of humor it seems almost afraid to commit to it in the vein of something like Asobi Asobase.
There’s a painfully long monologue from the girls’ homeroom teacher that begins with his insistence that he’s only into college women and ends with the obvious revelation that he’s a creep but afraid of getting arrested, with all the girls in class justifiably creeped out.
There’s a universe where that joke could work, but Wasteful Days isn’t absurd or vicious enough, and so the moment lands like a lead balloon in this normal-looking classroom, where these girls have a potential predator as their teacher and presumably nobody is going to do a thing about it.
Near the end of the episode the show does let itself go just a little bit wild, as Nozomu imagines various shoujo meet-cutes that cover huge swath of setups but all seem to end in the one trope she really likes, and it’s a hint of what the show could be if it manages to figure out its tone.
Comedy shows like this are frequently hit-or-miss depending on the episode, so a subpar premiere isn’t the worst thing in the world or even a guarantee that it won’t improve later. But as for me, there are way too many other, stronger premieres calling my name this season.