What’s it about? Fujimiya Amane lives a lonely life next door to the school beauty, Shiina Mahiru. Their paths almost never intersect-–that is, until he finds her sitting alone in a part on a rainy day and lends her his umbrella. In kind, Mahiru offers to help him clean around the house, igniting the start of something new…
I’m a sucker for a cute romance: even though I don’t experience romance, at a base level, I like the notion of falling in love, the idea of liking someone and getting a bit wrapped up in them. I like the concept of love: as I once read in a book, I’m in love with being in love.
That’s why I was kind of lowkey here for The Angel Next Door Spoils Me Rotten (hereafter The Angel Next Door), a series that seemed like it would check all my romantic desires. And at base, it does: it checks all the boxes in episode one, setting the foundation for a very charming series.
There’s just one major hiccup. More about that later.
Episode 1 starts on a dark and dreary evening: a perfect setting for a story with a rather optimistic title. It’s also the “meet cute” for high schoolers Fujimiya Amane and Shiina Mahiru, two coeds who live next to one another but have, by and large, never spoken.
That is, until Amane offers Mahiru his umbrella on that very rainy day, catches a cold, and sets in motion their relationship.
From there, we get snippets of Amane and Mahiru getting to know one another as their tender relationship–not yet a romance, still just a crush–begins. Amane gets sick from sharing his umbrella: Mahiru chides him, cares for him, and even cleans his house. And that’s…kind of it. That’s really the episode: it’s just these two kids getting to know each other and… yeah. That’s it.
Domestic bliss, right?
The Angel Next Door is a cute looking show: it’s not necessarily notable for its animation, but there’s something soft and sweet about it. It feels like your first childhood love when you’re in high school, if you’re someone who experiences romance. Rather, it feels like the social ideal of a crush: that kind of rose-tinted view one might get about someone when they feel that stirring in their heart.
However, cuteness isn’t enough to bring life to Amane and Mahiru: they spend most of their time onscreen blank-eyed and with the least emotion possible outside of whatever tropes manage to stick to them. Amane is your typical disinterested protag: Mahiru is a socially acceptable level of teenage beautiful with her only notable trait being her ability to chide Amane and caretake for him while claiming it’s for her own interests. And while that may be true, it’s hard to feel that way when these two have never really spoken to each other before the inciting incident.
What is well done is the voice acting: Mahiru isn’t too high pitched and actually sounds like a high school student, whereas Amane sounds like his vocal chords have flexed–i.e. He also sounds like real kids his age. That authenticity adds to the story and for me, really drew me into what is a very simple, but decent premiere.
That said there’s one thing that bothered me: this romance feels intensely heteronormative, in the sense that everything is so pure. Amane takes his temperature, raises his shirt, and Mahiru gets flustered because BOY CHEST. That’s not even digging into the fact that their romance begins with Mahiru deciding to mother Amane via cleaning up his incredibly messy apartment, cooking for him, buying him medicine…you get my point, it’s all very gender norms of them.
And worse, it really shows just how little personality either of these kids have. I know they’re teenagers but like…teens have traits: they have wants and desires and likes and whatnot. Amane and Mahiru have none of that: Amane’s personality is unseasoned meatloaf and Mahiru’s personality is “caretaker,” neither of which are like…thrilling. Perhaps that’ll change but from everything I’ve heard, this was a pretty straightforward adaptation of the source material, so it’s likely to stay the course.
For as rote and simple as this series is, I also think that I’d be ignoring the fact that for a lot of viewers, something like this–predictable, sweet, basic–is nice. I’m certainly one for a romance that’s so sweet you’ll get cavities because it’s a nice way to escape reality. I imagine for folks who haven’t read the novel, this show will likely be that: a solid 24 minutes of pleasantry. And for that, I can’t diss anyone.
This show isn’t something I’ll likely keep up with: it’s just not my flavor of romance and doesn’t necessarily fill that TONIKAWA shaped hole in my heart from Fall 2020. It might be something I circle back around to when I wanna binge something, but for now, The Angel Next Door Spoils Me Rotten just isn’t doing it for me in a season where my watchlist is steadily getting more and more full.