Friday’s Feature: March of the Bland Romances

As the first episodes of the Winter anime march before us pretty much every ani-blogger has been giving their first impressions and a lot of these have been negative. While there are a couple of shows winning people over for the most part people who watch a lot of anime have been universally eye-rolling at some of the shows coming out this season. A small number of people will take this as a sign that the anime industry is dead argument has some grounds whereas the rest of us will simply rearrange our schedules, dig out some titles from our watch lists, and wait for the next season because there is always another season coming.

Rather than look at the state of the industry, or all of the titles that I’ve had the dubious pleasure of sampling this week, I want to look just at the romantic comedies. Specifically I want to look at Seiren, Fuuka and Masamune-Kun’s Revenge (and yes, Masamune-Kun’s revenge is described as a romance and a comedy on MAL).

While the three shows are quite different, they all have one thing in common and that is that they aren’t particularly exciting or at least their first episode wasn’t particularly good. Okay, that and for some reason they all seem to follow the male protagonist rather than the female lead.

Seiren is perhaps the worst offender of the three in regard to having a fairly dull first episode. Admittedly MAL simple says it’s genre is ‘school’ and by that they’ve nailed it. We follow a high schooler about as her goes to school and interacts with people. However, that isn’t really exciting. The high school students in question don’t have a great deal of personality and aren’t really memorable in their own right. Other than his friend, who I only remember because he seemed like the only character with sense in his head, none of the other characters really had any kind of impact.

Seiren.jpg

This show has no particular gimmick unveiled in its first episode (though the Crunchyroll write up would says that “this campus romantic comedy…depicts his pure relationship with three different heroines” leading us to believe that they are hoping that the multiple heroines will be the gimmick). But if that is the cast then surely during the first episode we should have at least met three strong contenders for a romantic lead role and unfortunately we haven’t. The one girl in the class who sits on his desk is probably going to be one but really, other than being a little bit bossy, she hasn’t demonstrated much of a memorable personality and she has zero romantic chemistry with the lead so that possibility doesn’t really entice.

And while a show lacking a gimmick isn’t exactly a death sentence, what else could this story do? Romantic comedies are generally formulaic in design so they either need a clever setting, a gimmick of some sort, or really strong and memorable characters with excellent chemistry to sell their story. Seiren has none of these things. This doesn’t make this story bad but it does make it excessively bland.

Moving on to Fuuka we see this show attempt the comedy aspect of the romantic comedy by delving into some of the worst clichés anime has to offer. Girl runs into guy, guy sees her pants, girl smacks him into the middle of next week (in this case after breaking his phone), this sequence is repeated only the next time the phone goes off the roof, guy attempts to save girl (though in this case she doesn’t need it), boy has only sisters who meddle in his life or dominate him, etc, etc. Some of it is kind of amusing when they play the cliché and then change out the ending but mostly it kind of misses the mark. But, at least it is making some sort of effort.

Fuuka.jpg

After establishing the two characters and literally running them into one another, what develops over the first two episodes is a kind of friendship that might be able to develop into a romance (though the guy really needs to make her pay for the damage to his phone). The two characters actually do play off each other quite well. We then also have the other girl, the childhood friend who is now an idol and is clearly holding a torch for Yuu. This definitely gives us hints of conflict or some sort of emotional decision that will need to be made later on though it is impossible to know whether anything will come of this.

Despite having characters who are slightly more memorable and actual chemistry, this show is still fairly bland and this point. It’s checking off the clichés and while it is putting its own spin on some others are just played as they always are and the characters aren’t quite strong enough to make up for the deficit in original story-telling. So yes, more interesting than Seiren, but that show didn’t set the bar all that high.

Lastly we have Masamune-Kun’s Revenge. While I have an issue with even considering anything romantic could evolve from these mean spirited characters, I’ll overlook that and just assume that after pretending to like the girl to win her affections, Masamune-Kun may develop something of a conscience. Otherwise, this show has no business claiming romance as a genre.

Masamune.jpg

Masamune-Kun’s Revenge has a gimmick. The guy was rejected by the girl when they were young and now he is out to get even. That’s memorable and it allows clear establishment of character for the protagonist (even if that character is horrible). So why did this first episode feel so bland?

I know from reading the impressions of others, that some people really enjoyed this. They found there to be some genuinely clever moments and I’ll admit that when the story focussed on Masamune-Kun and his actively seeking revenge (information gathering, plotting, spying) there were some interesting moments. However everything else is more or less forgettable. The loli-mother and the younger sister barely have enough personality between them to make a whole character. I kind of felt the only reason the sister was there at all was so the mother had someone to comment to and so that someone could voice the audience’s disgust at the main character preening in front of the mirror. The classmates all seem like they are desperately trying to have individual personalities but none have quite succeeded. Essentially the school has guys who are desperate to be rejected by a complete cow of a female lead, and girls who are either non-entitites or are followers of the female lead. It doesn’t really draw you into the world of these characters nor does it feel like a fairly believable setting.

While I’m not a die-hard romance fan I do enjoy a good romance story or romantic comedy. However, Winter 2017 has currently served up these three bland contenders and to be honest I’m kind of sad that not one of them is really grabbing me. I’ll probably watch Fuuka through (unless the panty-shots do me in, which is a possibility) but I’m not holding my breath that it will amaze.

kimi_ni_todoke_season_2-11-sawako-kazehaya-ayane-chizuru-ryu-everyone-cast

Anyway, if I really get stuck for romance I can always marathon Kimi ni Todoke. That has enough sickly sweet in it to forget about any of these shows.


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26 thoughts on “Friday’s Feature: March of the Bland Romances

  1. I always keep a track of the ongoing seasonal anime so that I can check them out when the season ends, but unlike Winter 2016 season, I don’t have much to look forward to in the Winter 2017 season, in the Romance genre to be particular. However, I do have this hunch that I would like ‘Masamune-kun no revenge’ and ‘Fuuka’, but I don’t think that I would like ‘Seiren’ cause it gives me the feeling that it is going to be like ‘Amagami SS’.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Having just seen the 3rd episode of Fuuka (which was a beach episode as well….uugh 😱😱) I have to say that I am not really sure about this one anymore. It started of kind of okayish, but it is now turning into a pretty mediocre show. Will see how it turns out in the next episode, but I am not holding my breath that things are going to improve.

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  3. You know, I’ve never consider myself a romance anime fan. I liked when the action and drama animes had romance, but romance being the main selling point I don’t think I’ve liked since Clannad, Amagami SS, or maybe Chobits? Which was a long ass time ago. Since then, I honestly felt either the fact there was a harem situation lessened the romance, the ecchi, or just how boring the girls were. Hell, often times the guy too.

    This season though, while I agree it seems like they are just throwing out every rehashed idea out there, I think there are some worth watching and sticking with. I can’t say they necessarily will be memorable by the end of the year, but for now they are decent enough to spend time with.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Kimi ni Todoke, Toradora and Sasameki Koto are basically my go to anime when I really feel like watching a good romance anime, so I will have to agree with you on that one! But I really did not like Masamune-San’s premise because it seemed incredibly petty and I did not enjoy the main character or his “love interest”.

    Then there is the message that you are nothing unless you look super good that the show giving which drives me up the wall and the fact that the main girl is literally shaming people that she’s not interested in when they ask her out. Nope, I’m totally skipping this one!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yep, pretty much for all of the reasons you just listed I’m not going on to episode 2 of Masamune at this stage. I thought I’d give it another episode and then I change my mind because I just don’t see any reason to.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Of these three I’m convinced that Masamune has the most interesting possible story. Yes, its other characters are nothing more than vehicles for exposition thus far, but knowing how much Masamune and Aki despise each other is a great setup for a possible romance that forms between them. If the premise doesn’t drive you away, this has the most promise.

    Aside from these I’m watching Scum’s Wish as begrudgingly as possible (because of Amazon, nothing to do with the show), and even then the first episode is amazing.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I decided to pass on Masamune after lots of thought. I really am not in the mood for that kind of story at the moment. That said, the more I hear about Scum’s Wish the more I wish I could see it.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. *ahem* Scum’s Wish.

    That first episode shows endless promise. It won’t be sweet, in fact it’s a story set-up for the cast to do bad things and ultimately suffer, but it has dynamics and interest from episode 1, I think (hope) it will be veeeery good unlike these three shows. Though I think Seiren needs another episode or two to truly judge. Again I am just happy we are actually getting romance shows unlike last year where we had like…nothing. Netoge I guess since it wasn’t actually a harem and um…not much else.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. See I wanted to see Scum’s Wish and then it didn’t come out on anything I subscribe to. So, I won’t be able to comment on that one during the season (unless it ends up being a late release somewhere).

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Ah, Amazon got that one I believe. Very odd but they managed to snag Kabaneri to so I guess they want to get in the game. Though they mostly just have 2000’s shows on their, odd choices to. Scum’s Wish is infinitely more interesting then these three based on first episodes (‘cuz you never know), if it keeps up it will be a great heartbreaking show.

        But ya I’d like a really good shoujo romance like Kimi ni Todoke to. We don’t get enough of that really.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. I’m so in love with Scum’s Wish, though I hate its name so much. It just has an unfamiliar spin when it comes to romance anime. You can’t have the one you want so you get that intimacy and love through another person. I just hope when one or the other breaks their promise it stays good.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. The name works for the show I feel, Scum’s Wish. They feel like scum for what they’re doing.

        Yes it is a great twist on the normal romance and I like that the couple is already set and gets down to it right away. This cuts away much of the typical stuff that we’ve seen so many times. I like to see the more intimate and troubled side of relationships and most shows never go further then the set-up. Have you seen White Album 2? That is another heartbreaking romance of bad people doing bad things to each other. It’s the same director on both shows, it could go bad but I have much faith in Scum’s Wish.

        Liked by 2 people

          1. Well…how to put it.

            First just to make it clear White Album 1 has nothing to do with it so don’t worry about that. They take place in different times and aside from a few songs there are no ties. (White Album 1 is boring imo)

            Second White Album 2 is just heartache.
            I didn’t cry but man did it make me feel awful in the end. It’s not a feel good show, quite the opposite. I would highly recommend it, it’s in my top 5.

            Liked by 3 people

  7. My Love Story is pretty much my go to for romance anime. There’s a few really good ones out there, but something about this one just fills my heart with so much happiness.

    Guess we can’t get something like that every season, though.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I do love My Love Story. I remember I watched the final episode when it was airing and then immediately went for a marathon viewing broken up over three days. It just understands sweet but interesting.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. It really does. I’ve always liked how Rinko was the more aggressive of the two, especially given Takeo’s appearance. It’s a nice touch that leans on not judging by appearances in the right ways.

        Calm down, Suna is still something my girlfriend and I will yell at each other for no reason at all, as well, so there’s some real staying power in this little story of love.

        Liked by 2 people

  8. Last season, I was a little worried by the sheer number of shows I ended up adding to my watchlist because if that trend continued, I would end up with an impossible amount of shows to watch. This season has effectively allayed those fears because there are maybe 2 or 3 titles I’m interested in.

    And none of these romances are among them. For all that I avoid romance anime, I do like a good love story. It’s just that they’re very easy to screw up and I can be picky. In this case, from your and others’ reviews, Seiren seems duller than dull while the other two seem like they’ll drive me crazy in record time. Masamune-Kun’s Revenge in particular has a premise that makes me see red.

    Good luck with Fuuka and I hope it doesn’t drive you off with the pantyshots.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’m not the biggest romance fan but one or two in my line-up usually helps balance out the violence, weirdness, and other ideas that I tend to enjoy. If I drop Fuuka I’m really looking at a season without anything particularly romance focussed becuse none of the other shows have really grabbed me.

      Liked by 2 people

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