Some choice quotes from the hero of our story:
- “She always cuts class, she’s gaudy, sleazy, and disliked by the girls.”
- “Cleaning the pool with this girl… Ugh, this is the worst situation on such an unbelievable level.”
- “You think that hanging out and dressing up and gathering up men are all worthwhile, don’t you?”
- “She’s two-timing… She’ll get what she deserves.”
- “Don’t think that you can get your way if you make that face!”
- “…I live because looking down on those who don’t study keeps my spirit in balance.”
Yep, that’s our lovable Hikari for ya! This proud 2D lover comes to school late for the first time ever, so he gets saddled with pool-cleaning duty. Next to him is the infamous Iroha. All the boys want her, but all the girls hate her. Right off the bat, this should set off red flags. Even though Hikari is incredibly nasty and judgmental from start to finish, Iroha can’t help but be nice to him for some inexplicable reason. She can’t help but greet him in the morning, smile at him, etc. She even defends Hikari and his equally dorky friend from a pair of nasty girls.
The next day, our hero eventually spots Iroha being harassed by two different boys. He was content to do nothing until one of them — let’s call him Chad-kun — slaps the girl across the face. All of a sudden, our hero summons up all his courage and tries to defend the girl’s honor. Naturally, he gets beaten up pretty easily, but he does that “I might suck but I’ll never give up!” pose that dorky anime protagonists like to do. It helps the audience identify with him, because c’mon, we know we ain’t beefy Chads. We know we ain’t beating anyone up! Next thing you know, Hikari is on his back with Iroha sitting patiently by his side. It’s like after beating him up, the angry Chad-kun just decided to leave them both alone. Sure. Sure. Naturally, Iroha is very impressed by Hikari’s heroism, so she responds by trying to ask him out in front of their entire class. He thinks this is a joke at his expense, so he shoots her down in a humiliating fashion. Hoo boy.
Later that day, he leaves the hospital and sees her crying on a nearby bench. Gosh, what a coincidence! How do you two keep bumping into each other like this? In any case, the guy decides to pull up his hoodie and stalk her throughout the city. Yeah, that never looks creepy. Finally, when Iroha is accused of shoplifting, our 2D lover is compelled to leap forth from the shadows to defend the girl’s besmirched honor! It then begins to rain, so he offers her his umbrella. Forced to walk home in the cold, Hikari gets a cold. He ends up being late to school again, so the guy gets stuck having to clean the pool again. But hey, wouldja look at that — Iroha is late again too! She then steals a kiss and tells him that she’ll clean the pool by herself. Finally, his otaku heart has been tamed. Hikari marches to the pool and asks Iroha to date him. She agrees… but she’s transferring to another school in just half a year. But even so, they can still have fun until then.
The first problem with this show is that the main character is just so goddamn unlikable. Sure, he’s been bullied. That sucks, and I get how that can warp his perspective. Nevertheless, he’s not just cautious around others; Hikari’s downright nasty. He even admits that he looks down on his classmates. And I’m sorry, but putting himself in harm’s way a couple times is not going to overwrite all his ugly opinions. Sure, over the course of the series, Iroha will change him (and he’ll change her!) into a better, more well-rounded person. But why would I wanna root for someone who is so uncharismatic right from the get-go?
But don’t get me wrong, ’cause I’m not gonna pretend that Iroha is some sweet, innocent girl. It’s telling that she asked him out in front of everyone. If you want to be charitable to the girl, you might assume that she wants to make Hikari look cool in front of their peers. That’s not likely, though. After all, everyone’s just plain mean on this show. If you’re a female character, but you’re not Iroha, then you’re a cruel bitch who likes to pick on people just because they’re into otaku stuff. On the other hand, if you’re a guy, but you’re not Hikari or his best bud Ito, then you’re going to be uber jock Chad-kun. You like to hit girls, beat up dweebs, and hang out in the karate club! Ugh, am I right, fellas?! This show lacks subtlety, and as a result, I wouldn’t bet on Iroha trying to do Hikari any favors. Instead, since she only has half a year left here, it’s likely that she just wants to keep people off her back by fooling around with someone harmless like Hikari. I might be wrong about this, but we’ll see.
The show’s second problem is that this is just a bad adaptation. It’s like all they did was lift scenes directly from the source material without any real consideration for how they might flow into each other. Important moments play out straightforwardly. Other than the obligatory shoujo sparkles, don’t expect any sort of unique perspective or angle to frame a scene. Every single thing about the episode’s direction just falls flat. For instance, Chad-kun slaps Iroha across the face and I almost missed it because it’s treated so casually. How can you let such a pivotal scene just flop on the floor like some limp sausage hitting the pavement? Hikari then charges forth to hit the guy with a foam thing, and his attack equally lacks impact. It’s so bad how he just slides in from offscreen and dinks the guy on the arm with his weapon. Really? That’s the best you can do? As a director, you can’t just add a Dutch angle and call it a day. This is some super amateurish work even for Hoods Entertainment. I was hoping to blog one of the season’s many romances from start to finish, but so far, it’s not looking so hot.