I never thought “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover” would strike me so hard this early.
Despite the hype surrounding the visual novel, I still went into this expecting a generic romantic comedy with cardboard cut-outs, run-of-the-mill ecchi jokes, and a whole lot of melodrama when needed. And during the first few minutes, my expectations were somewhat met. The gags were bland, the premise seemed predictable, and a lot of the initial character introductions felt like they were read off of cue cards. Heck, there’s literally a girl reading off of cue cards trying to act like a tsundere! But along the way, I picked up on several hints throughout this formula that pointed to something odd.
After hearing how our main lead was promised a “Normal” school life, I started to notice how it stuck to such cliches almost to a fault. While I understand that the girls are the only important students in a school setting, why is it that they’re literally the only students in this school? We’ve seen plenty of character introductions involving girls and their specific quirks, but why does the pace and formula feel exactly like a let’s play? Furthermore, how is it that every harem trope seems to be covered right down to personality types and underwear color, yet none of them seem to freak out by the idea that a man is now staying with them?
There’s a certain sense of artifice surrounding the school and its characters which contrasts greatly with the more menacing details. Not only does everyone seem overly familiar with our lead despite being just introduced, but the extreme lengths they try to fit their given personas makes them feel distant from both the protagonist and audience. A tsundere that’s reading off of cue cards? A helper that dresses like a maid? An anti-social kuudere that nearly stabs our lead with an X-acto knife? A shy girl that hides behind a big sis after clearly running away from getting her hair brushed? A big sis who finds no shame in barging into our lead’s room nude while flawlessly using a lockpick? The artifice mentioned earlier became clearer the more I looked, and this is further proven by the last 2 minutes revealing hints of something dark and disturbing underneath the appealing facade.
However, the surprise I got from dissecting this artifice wouldn’t have worked if I didn’t enjoy what was superficially offered. Even without the multitude of questions brought at the end, I found theses characters to be a joy to watch once they started interacting. The girls definitely seem like they’re trying too hard, but I remember all of them by name(Michiru, Sachi, Yumiko, Makina, Amane) and found them quite appealing to look at. The star, however, is our main lead Yuuji, who may be the most fascinating harem lead in recent memory. While initially seeming like a clone of Tatsuya(overpowered soldier trying to be a student), both his monologues and dialogues reveal a sense of dry wit and long-experienced pain that comes closer to that of Sousuke Sagara from FMP(except for the clumsiness). He’s funny, sympathetic, yet constantly alert about his surroundings. On top of that, the man is a complete beefcake; I mean DAMN, those abs would make the Man of Steel proud.
You know it’s a surprise when I don’t plan on blogging this, then immediately start writing about the first episode. This has gone on record as one of the fastest posts I’ve ever written, and that says a lot on how intrigued I am about this show. This may very well crash down under its own ambition, but for now I encourage everyone to keep this show on their radar. After all, it’s proud enough to be shown on 2:39:1 widescreen ratio.