At a school that for some reason there is a special class with the top seven students in it who hang out in a green house drinking tea all day and here Hikari and Kei challenge each other continuously, but Hikari just can’t seem to beat Kei and it drives her absolutely angry.
I’ve often wondered when anime are set at schools with ridiculous set ups such as a class with seven students that don’t actually need to go to class, why? Is there some reason why these characters need that kind of flimsy excuse to hang out together? They couldn’t just be some sort of after school study club and do more or less the exact same things without the absurdity of that premise?
Admittedly, there is some tension during one episode in the series when a normal student challenges one of the seven to take his place in the class. But really what does this set up accomplish? The students in the class are either admired or looked at enviously by the other students, the students in the class are either oblivious to others or genuinely look down on them, and essentially it fosters a sense of elitism that makes it hard to really connect with any member of the cast.
However, if we put that to the side and look at the rest of the anime, we end up with a fairly run of the mill story told with massive exaggeration. Hikari was the best at everything and then she met Kei. She cannot beat Kei but he takes great delight in taunting her and getting her riled up (it must be love). They aren’t children anymore but their basic relationship hasn’t changed even a little bit partly because Kei, who seems aware that a change needs to occur doesn’t ever actually say anything, and Hikari is the standard oblivious protagonist who at the first hint of anything resembling a romantic relationship either blushed ridiculously or gets angry.
Again, it makes it hard to really care about the cast when they are acting out poor stereotypes and doing them in a grossly exaggerated manner.
Despite everything standing against this anime though, it does actually have quite a bit of heart to it and the interactions between the students within the class are sometimes quite sweet. So while watching this I kept moving back and forth between being annoyed at it and genuinely wanting to like it.
Where did I end up? Mostly in the camp of realising that for people who like high school comedies, this one works well enough, but also realising that I probably won’t watch this one again.
That said, visually it is looking dated and it’s only ten years old. But the character designs and animation look a little older than that and I can’t see it having a lot more longevity as it is going to look seriously aged fairly soon. The soundtrack is passable but nothing all that remarkable, though I probably could have done with less shouting from Hikari at times.
Still, if you are looking for a high school comedy, you could do far worse than this. As I said, it has quite a bit of heart in it so even the poorer aspects of the show seem slightly better and if you like the cast a bit more than I did you will probably have a great time with it.
Thanks for reading.
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9 thoughts on “Special A Series Review: Rivals, Friends, More Than Friends?”
I’ve read the manga and it was among the first I collected and still have (I did a massive purge many years ago) so it’s… so strange. Looking at your screen shots/pictures… like this one doesn’t even have the fun vintage vibe so much as just aged rapidly. Eventually I’ll sit down to watch it, but I’m not surprised that it’s still fairly average. Gotta love Hikari still gunning for #1 even 10+ years later.
The girl definitely has persistence.
If you were moving been and forth between annoyance and wanting to like it, that must have made it a frustrating watch at times. If it has some heart to it though, that’s good.
For people who are more into high school comedy/romances with that whole club of kids doing stuff, they’ll probably find something to really like here, other than the visuals. They definitely aren’t holding up well.
Visuals anyways interest me, because I find different styles can have different effects on a viewer. Like, sometimes I’ll see something that reminds me of an older show and it’ll be a positive because it gives it s vaguely nostalgic feel. But then, you can have shows that look like other older series and feel dated.
Man, I was like 10 years old when I first watched it.
Good show, gotta rewatch it at some point.
Great review! I think it’s the comedy and ridiculousness that makes me like this anime. I’ve watched it twice now and still like it.
Glad you enjoyed it.