I’m not sure why I’m interested in these kids’ lives. Famous last words, ’cause this just means I’m going to spend the next few paragraphs explaining exactly why I’m going to blog this show till the end of the season. But for sure, the anime has plenty of drawbacks. The animation is terrible, and the pacing is so, oh so slow. A snail could do laps around Just Because! Nevertheless, I want to see if Eita can do it. Do what? He likes Mio. Mio likes Haruto. Haruto likes Hazuki. Who does Hazuki like? Probably nobody. But nevertheless, can Eita do it? Can he convince Mio to forget her former crush? Yes, it’s that type of high school personal drama. It’s always that type of high school personal drama. But I dunno, I guess I just find something charming about Just Because! low-key presence. So much so that I don’t mind the garbage-tier production values.
People are going to think this is a crazy comparison, but remember Kiznaiver? It had gorgeous animation, and decent character designs. I don’t recall whether or not it had a good soundtrack, but whatever it had is still probably better than what Just Because! is offering. And most of all, Kiznaiver wasn’t just a story about high school romances. In addition to that, you had mystery elements! Some sci-fi! Even some slapstick with the weird sadist character! The synopsis was something about kids being experimented on, people sharing their pain, blah blah blah. And of course, the kids formed one long chain of attraction. The anime impressed a lot of people when it aired, I think. And. I. Hated. It. I couldn’t stand Kiznaiver. I found it so horrendously forced and full of itself. The main character was annoying. The rest of the cast was hardly any better.
So I guess I prefer Just Because! because it’s not bogged down by gimmicks. These kids don’t have super powers that only serve to hammer home some incredibly blunt point that the author is trying to make (the author was longtime Moe Sucks’ favorite Mari Okada, by the way). We’re not wrapped up in some conspiracy that inevitably fails to conclude in a satisfying way. Instead, we just have kids hanging out, awkwardly navigating their immature feelings about love and romance. The characters don’t have loud, tropey, in-your-face personalities. Most important of all, Eita is not a gimmick, so he’s not a protagonist that annoys me too much to root for. He’s quiet, soft-spoken, and a bit unemotional like Kiznaiver’s Katsuhira, but these traits are not executed in such an overblown way that you end up thinking you’re interacting with an autistic zombie. I suppose I just appreciate Just Because!’s sharper focus. It’s far less ambitious, and far less grand in scope, but you gotta make sure you get at least one thing right… right?
Of course, I have my reservations. I don’t know how they’re going to stretch the already thin plot to fit an entire season’s worth of episodes. If you’re really not interested in high school romances — I’ll admit I’m a bit of a sap, so I am interested — there’s not much else going for Just Because! There’s no bigger, overarching mystery to draw the viewers in. It’s very much about these five kids, and how their lives will play out over the next few months. If that doesn’t interest you, hey, it’s fair to just ignore this show. And again, high school romances are very immature. It’s much ado about nothing. If Mio truly wants to forget her feelings, she should’ve never accepted the invitation to the aquarium with the rest of the gang. She even has a built-in excuse, i.e. her entrance exams. But she went anyways, because she’s never really gotten closure. The heart is definitely a silly thing.
So it’s all Eita’s fault. Everyone was content to go their separate ways. Without Eita, Haruto probably wouldn’t have worked up the courage to approach Hazuki. Without Eita, Mio would’ve just focused on her entrance exams as she had planned. Without Eita, Ena wouldn’t have even gotten involved. She doesn’t appear to be a part of the group, after all, but somehow, she’ll be drawn to them thanks to a really bad photograph (maybe she’ll end up liking Eita to complete our stupid love chain). Eita is thus the great attractor, dragging the other four kids into his orbit. It’s even his fault that I’m watching this show. I guess I’m somewhat rooting for him even if I don’t know why he likes Mio. Does he like her just… because…? Ah, that’s horrible. But I mean, at least Haruto knows why he likes Hazuki. His reasons sound rather arbitrary, but at least he has them. On the other hand, I don’t know what Mio sees in him. I don’t know what Eita sees in Mio either other than the fact that she’s the de facto main heroine, so she probably gets the least offensive character design.
Okay, okay, I’m starting to lose the plot. This is what happens when you try to write about a show that doesn’t have much of one. And yet, I’ll stubbornly follow this show to the end, because again, I’m a sap and I like to see winners when it comes to romance. I want to see if Eita can do it. I’ve generally been disdainful of anime romances, however, because the characters are either annoying (like in Kiznaiver) or the dynamics are disgusting (every shoujo where the guy is an asshole and the girl just accepts it). Or sometimes, you get the obvious power imbalance that sketches you out like with The Ancient Magus’ Bride. Well, Just Because! barely has anything, because it looks like it can barely afford anything. It can’t afford decent animation. It can’t afford great voice acting. It can’t even afford a single fantastical gimmick to spice up its super basic and super straightforward plot structure. It’s essentially just five kids, and their high school lives. I’ll take it.
Other loose thoughts and impressions:
— This guy fucks:
— That really, really is a terrible photograph. I don’t know anything about photography, and I can still recognize a shitty photo when I see one.
— Oh look, Eita has living parents! Amazing!
— Is Hazuki putting on an act? I don’t know. Maybe she’s in denial. I just find it hard to believe she’s that naive. The guy runs up to you, stammers, and asks if you’re free. Uh, gee, there’s no way he’s asking me out on a date!
— Haruto shouldn’t be too bummed out to see Hazuki’s little brothers. If you get the kids to like you, it’s one sure way to impress the girl. C’mon man, step your game up. Why do you think guys bring dogs to the park?
— I’ve literally never taken a date to an aquarium. Maybe I should.
— This episode reminds me why I never want kids.
— What does it mean for Eita to already have a recommendation? I’m not familiar with how the Japanese school system works. I just assume it means he’s pretty smart? I needed both recommendations and exam scores to apply to the private universities in the US, whereas public university only required the latter.
— Yo, phrasing.