Adieu, adieu; parting is such sweet sorrow. Aharen-san‘s anime adaptation has come to an end, and I no longer need to keep up with weekly reviews for the blog. As such, I can now be completely open with my full thoughts and feelings without any measure of future content adjusting my course:
It was pretty dull.
Episode 12 Synopsis
The nature of Aharen and Raidou’s relationship is finally brought to the forefront. An emotional end to an otherwise eventfully uneventful school life between two enigmatic people. They also have a tea party and grow some flowers.
Let us begin with the final episode before going through the full thing… not that anyone who has read up to this point is missing much. Episode 12 is akin to most anime’s “dramatic finale” attempt, complete with blunt communication of feelings and a more “serious” tone of finality. Aharen-san has done this before, in Episode 10, to mostly positive effect. Yet what made that effective is that it drove the main couple much closer together after they were effectively stuck in place for the prior nine episodes.
Perhaps as a joke, this finale decided to undo what was already plainly obvious and kind of reverted the main duo’s relationship back to before the camping trip. It isn’t until Ooshiro pressures Raidou into stating his true feelings for Aharen that they end up “truly” (I wonder about this) begin a more romantic relationship. Why they didn’t just address this in Episode 11 rather than waiting for the finale is a mystery to me (though a cynical view is that it has to be in the finale, no matter how awkward).
Disclaimer: I can’t recall if this was how it was handled in the manga; I believed the camping trip established their dating status and they simply spoke of it when asked, rather than having Ooshiro turn it into an anime-esque duel of improper communication. If the anime simply adapted it as is from the manga, then I would criticize the manga for this, as well.
Outside of the 10-minute scenario that could’ve been a two-minute conversation, the events of the episode lounge in a state of autopilot. Raidou assumes a lot of exaggerated scenarios as to Aharen’s behavior, almost like a callback to a more residual formula the anime adhered to, and Aharen tries her best to show her appreciation of the people around her. Including the teachers, whom were barely shown around her whatsoever over the course of the series. That felt kind of odd…
Essentially, a series-finishing festival of cheerfulness that doesn’t harness a lot of energy unless one really loved the series. Anyone not named Aharen, Raidou, or Ooshiro are woefully underdeveloped, the attempts at humor are incredibly hit or miss, and there’s a lot of assumed closeness between people that was not really shown in great detail in favor of the main duo’s weird antics.
That’s what I believe killed this adaptation for me: a lack of direction. Things just sort of happen and we’re expected to go along with it without question. Emotionally stimulating moments are treated like revolutionary events that only work in the context of the main two, because they’re featured in a large majority of the screentime and have a natural affinity for one another. Others do not have this same benefit, yet are imposed as this “close-knit group” when they really aren’t.
And, well, the animation is pretty lackluster. Decent at best in most facets, one will have to tolerate mediocre-looking character models and animation throughout. The studio in charge of this, Felix Film, is relatively new (established in 2014); their lack of experience shows. Their prior work includes the Nekopara anime adaptation(s) and assisting with Daitoshokan no Hitsujikai and Urasekai Picnic. Not a particularly impressive history.
If nothing else, the anime did not sound particularly bad. Vocal performances were generally good, with Takuma Terashima (perhaps best known as Shiroe from Log Horizon) as Raidou being my personal favorite. Though many characters here were intentionally monotone, there were plenty of opportunities for them to (mildly) exaggerate their tones dependent on the scenario. I quite liked the audible panic in Raidou’s voice whenever a kid threatened to call the cops on him for “harassment.”
With all established and combed through, it’s all the more apparent that the manga is superior in its entertainment value. I’ve spoken at great lengths about how the anime prolongs jokes to absurd levels, effectively ruining them before they really get to the punchline. The humor of Aharen-san is better suited at a fast-pace, and the manga allows readers to do so to their leisure. It also just features better art, generally.
Read the manga if you’re at all interested in this series. The anime suffers from a variety of different technical things that muddy the effectiveness of its humor and charm. Though I won’t go so far as to say the manga is a masterpiece, it at least makes for a more endearing package than this adaptation ends up displaying. Poor animation, jokes overstaying their welcome, and a dreadfully underdeveloped supporting cast make this a fairly dull viewing.
The rating for this title and all others can be found on MyAnimeList.
For more anime reviews, check out the associated archive.
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Thank you for your time. Have a great timezone.