When it comes to a comedy anime, the story isn’t always going to be the front and center of the show. Most often, it will be the characters that drive the show, especially if an anime is episodic rather than one long and continuous storyline. In Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou, the characters are pretty diverse, but it can’t really save this show from being just average.
The English title for this show is The Kawai Complex Guide to Manors and Hostel Behavior. No… those are not misspellings, but rather, a play on words. It centers around a boy named Usa who wants to experience living on his own so his parents sent him to Kawaisou in order to do just that. Kawaisou is kind of a dorm-style Japanese hotel and it is filled with a very colorful cast of characters which I will get to in just a bit.
Aside from that, the only arching story over this 12-episode series is Usa’s blossoming love for Ritsu, an introverted girl who spends her days and nights doing nothing but reading books. Other than that.. there is no story to this anime and as aforementioned, with most comedy anime shows, you won’t really see a huge in-depth story, and that’s particularly fine.
What isn’t fine is that after the 12 episode run was over, the only arching story in this show never gets resolved. There is no conclusion. Usa and Ritsu never confess their love to each other and as of this writing, there is no second season in the works. They simply just leave it up to the viewer’s imagination on whether or not Usa and Ritsu get together which, normally, is all fine and dandy, but when it’s the ONLY story you have going for you, not concluding it can leave a sour taste in the viewer’s mouth as it did mine.
I’m just jumping into the characters of Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou since they do make the show and while there are just a handful of them, it’s enough to bring some laughter into your life… albeit for a rather short amount of time.
Usa Kazunari – Here is your main character. He is the ONLY normal character in this show as he plays the kind, caring, yet understanding young male lead. His love interest is Ritsu and he constantly wonders how he has ended up in Kawaisou surrounded by the rest of our cast. Personally, I feel he’s too much of a “vanilla” character and most of his humor is offered up through his reactions to the other cast members, which is usually met with the typical “I can’t believe…” or “why are you….” responses. If you’ve seen the overexaggerated reactions to out-of-control scenarios in anime comedies before then you’re not missing out on anything new here. For a main character, he seems more like a support role for the actual supporting characters. That’s never a good thing when it comes to any show no matter what the culture or genre.
Ritsu Kawai – Here’s your second main character. Her mother owns the Kawaisou they’re all staying at, but despite this, she takes the opposite role than what we’re used to. Usually in an anime where a bunch of teens are hurdled up into a hotel, the privileged owner’s daughter will most-likely be uptight, a bit of a tsundere, or just down-right cruel and/or an enforcer of the rules. Here, Ritsu is quiet, rather introverted, and is always absorbed into the world of books. She does threaten to triple Mayumi’s rent on a couple of occasions, but it’s pulled off as a joke rather than a threat. She warms up to Usa enough to the point where it’s very blatant that she has feelings for Usa while Usa just comes right out and flirts with her in the most innocent, and sometimes, awkward ways. Just like Usa, she feels more like a supporting character rather than a main character. Most of her screen time is devoted to how much she likes books and honestly, that’s all I can pretty much remember about her and I just got done watching this series mere moments before writing this review.
Mayumi Nishikino – Here we have a character that is introduced to us as a lush with a great body, but can never hold onto a man. She always feels alone in the world and a failure as a lover, but isn’t above pointing out anyone else’s relationship flaws. Her character develops from a drunkard to someone who complains about her own love life and keeps comparing it to others to someone who just downright makes fun of or interjects herself into others’ personal affairs. She’s the loudmouth character of the group and a lot of her comedy feels so forced. There isn’t an episode that goes by where we’re not reminded of how she can never hold onto a man or how she shouldn’t be giving romantic advice, etc. etc. It was funny at first, but after a few episodes, she just became annoying and I legitimately grunted every time she came on screen. So far, she is my least favorite character of the series.
Shirosaki – If you want to talk about repetitive jokes, look no further than this character right here. Shirosaki is a perverted mashochist. He loves pain, the thought of pain, and the more torturous the situation, the more turned on he gets, however, he is also a very gentle person who loves helping others. It’s a weird balance to a character and while we do see a lot of Shirosaki’s good-natured side, like Mayumi, there isn’t an episode that doesn’t go by where we at least get a multitude of “hurt me” jokes. I did find some of them are rather funny, though, such as when he got hit in the face and spelled out “Arigatou” in his own blood on the table, or when a character had a bag put over her head and he comes up and says “me next!” While there are funny moments like that, it got old pretty fast and pretty predictable.
Sayaka Watanabe – And lastly we have Sayaka. Her personality is sweet and innocent on the inside, but she’s actually quite vulgar in the meaning behind her words. She’s also a complete and total tease with anyone.. even the girls. In fact, in one scene, she practically engaged in a forced lesbian act with Mayumi which lead to having a bag placed over her head and Shirosaki wanting in on that. Of all the supporting characters, she felt the most flat. Whenever she got screen time, it was just to say a few random lines to support the other characters and that was about it. It wasn’t until the very end when one of her friends stopped by that the show decided to focus on her. Despite this, I actually liked her more than Mayumi, mainly because her underdeveloped annoyance was kept at a minimum.
Art & Animation
Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou was animated by Brains Base and produced by Sentai Filmworks. Brains Base, from an artistic standpoint, doesn’t typically produce a bad anime and Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou is no exception. The characters are well designed and stand out to the point where they are recognizable in any scenario. Nothing really seems “flat” with them even though the highlights and shadows did have a bit of a rough contrast. It kind of reminded me of Shinsekai Yori and that’s not really a bad thing. It’s just a little more unique than what we are used to seeing. The backgrounds are very well done and are some of the best backgrounds I’ve seen in an anime this year. It really is a homerun with the artwork.
The animation is very well-done as well. While anime is known for having a low number of frames in their animation, Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou seems to make that rather transparent. There is a bit more fluidity here among the characters than you would find in lower budget shows. Nothing seems akward, out of place, nor did anything draw your attention away from what was supposed to be happening on screen. Everything seemed to just work and that’s always good for a show. In fact, the art and animation, sad to say, was the best part about the entire experience.
So, as you probably could tell from my character synposis, Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou didn’t exactly measure up too well with me. Honestly, I thought the show was amazing as a comedy when I first started watching it. With the unique cast of characters, it had a great recipe for tons of comedy to happen, but after you watch about half of the series, the reality sinks in that they’re just repeating the same jokes over and over again and the only thing that changes is the situation the characters find themselves in each and every week.
While the situations in an of themselves are well-done, the repetitiveness of the jokes really seemed to drag down the quality of the show. It really felt like the creators came up with a great scenario then said “now let’s see how we can fit everyone’s jokes into it” and called it a day. There was some great potential here for this show to stand out as one of the better comedies of 2014, but in the end, it couldn’t get the job done.
It also bothered me that the only overarching storyline never got resolved. When you have 12 episodes to work with and you have no second season in sight due to the fact that your manga (aka source material) only had six volumes in total, you should make the most of each and every one of those episodes and not leave loose ends. There is an OVA special that I haven’t watched so maybe I am jumping the gun here and being a little bit unfair, but after watching this series, I really don’t have the motivation to watch one more episode… even if it did tie the story up. On the flipside, most comedy shows like this don’t tend to wrap up a story in an OVA. It’s usually a fanservice episode that comes as a bonus with the Blu-Ray release. Also, no self-respecting anime should ever tie up their stories in an OVA… it should have been done on episode 12.
If you want some cheap laughs, the show isn’t completely terrible. Like I said, the situations they’re put in each week are great. When they introduce Chinatsu, a grade-schooler who showed up at Kawaisou and befriended Shirosaki, I thought it was a great mix because instead of Shirosaki playing the role of the masochist, everyone was worried he would become a child molester. It seemed like a bit of fresh air because it wasn’t the same recycled material. Then there was the episode where they had to go out and search for Ritsu because there was a rather odd molester roaming the streets. That episode actually gave Usa a bit of a backbone, but sadly, they never built off of that. So there are some shining moments in this series with those two sticking out as my favorites.
Of course, this is just all my opinion. It is, in the end, a brainless comedy in the sense where you have to take it at face value. If you do that, then you may end up enjoying this series. Personally, I would have liked a little more substance. That’s why I’m going to give this a 6 out of 10. It’s roughly an average show that isn’t terrible. it’s good for a few laughs and a nice filler if you’re experiencing a slow season, but there are definitely better comedies out there.
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Until next time…
It is, in the end, a brainless comedy in the sense where you have to take it at face value.