The Winter 2018 anime season was rife with cute shows, so how does this bit of adorableness stack up?
It should have become fairly clear to anyone who reads my blog and reviews with any regularity that I am not a fan of cute kids. Sweetness and Lightning didn’t last long on my watch list and while I didn’t mind Usagi Drop, I was hardly dancing in the streets after watching it (though I guess that wasn’t the emotion they were going for anyway). So picking up an anime that seems to have cute kids as its entire premise might seem a little out of character, and believe me, no one is more surprised than me that I saw this through to the end of the season.
For all that I will offer some criticisms of the anime as the review progresses, I actually had a lot of fun with this title during Winter. It was that small touch of adorable sweetness that I needed each week and kind of went well with How to Keep a Mummy in terms of giving me something that was cute for cute’s sake to look forward to. But still, if all I want is cute there was a myriad of show’s during Winter, so why did this one stick for me when other, quite probably better anime (Place Further Than the Universe/Laid Back Camp), fell off my watch list?
Part of the answer comes during the first couple of episodes where certainly things are sickly sweet at times and the super close relationship between the brothers might lead you to thinking this anime is going a whole other direction. This anime actually gave me a few genuine emotional moments early on with the central characters dealing with the grief and loss of their parents despite being genuinely an upbeat show. It was that balance early on that sold me on the show and while I might later be annoyed that it didn’t commit to developing these ideas thematically, choosing instead to focus on lighter slice of life aspects or support characters I didn’t really click with, I still feel that emotional connection with the protagonists because they really nailed it early in the show. Points for not delaying character development and just putting it out there.
They also returned to this idea at the end of the series allowing the loss of their parents and their need to grow up without so many of the things they had thought would be in their future in the final episode. There are differences as the two characters are now surrounded by others and Kotaro is now far more willing to reveal his emotions, but it felt like a nice way to bookend the series with this focus on the protagonists and their personal grief.
Unfortunately that means there is a lot of stuff in the middle that really only can be described as fluff. Sometimes it is good fluff. It makes a point or gives the audience a cute moment. A couple of the support characters are actually kind of fun and it was enjoyable watching them have their moments.
There are those moments that miss the mark. The character you can’t stand or question the existence of. Also, one particular episode that deals heavily with gender norms and seems to present a fairly alarming willingness to simply agree that we shouldn’t challenge people when they have pre-established expectations on the roles of men and women. Maybe that’s me reading too much into the episode, but really it left a fairly sour taste in my mouth and came directly after a beach episode so that was kind of a low point at the three-quarter mark for the series.
Though, if I had to say what my favourite part of this series was, it was definitely watching Kotaro. He is an interesting child and part of me wonders if we are supposed to be reading more into him as at times he presents some interesting behaviours. While trauma and grief might account for it, particularly as he appears less emotionally repressed later in the series, there’s certainly room for a lengthy discussion about Kotaro. And when you couple this bundle of pure cuteness with his adoring older brother they almost always create a winning formula regardless of how poor other aspects of the episode might be getting.
Ultimately though, while I am recommending this series, there is no point going into it expecting some kind of narrative or character master-piece. It is a show that very clearly knew what tone it wanted to establish and it sticks to it time after time. Episodes generally present two mini-arcs that are loosely connected to the overall plot as the characters go about their year so very few ideas have sufficient screen time for anything resembling depth. Which makes the emotional moments the show has succeeded in even more surprising really.
Anyway, cute kids in a day care and brotherly love. Worth trying even if it doesn’t stick with you.
- Episode 12: Let’s All Believe in Santa
- Episode 11: Why Don’t They Have Relief Staff?
- Episode 10: Sexist Dads and Impressed Chicks?
- Episode 9: Yet Another Beach Episode For The Winter Anime Season
- Episode 8: There’s a Perfect Level of Stupidly Cute Achieved This Week
- Episode 7: It Absolutely Isn’t ‘Like’
- Episode 6: Go Kotaro, Go
- Episode 5: One Small Step
- Episode 4: It’s Moments Like These…
- Episode 3: This is Fluff, But I Don’t Dislike It
- Episodes 1 + 2: Boys in a Babysitting Club
Thanks for reading.
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