With romance being one of my favorite genres, it’s always nice to see something wholesome and pure come along. Sometimes, a show will throw quirky gimmicks such as being non-blood-related step-siblings, being an insomniac meeting a vampire, or something else out of the ordinary to try and spice things up. While all of that is well and good, sometimes just keeping things simple works best. The Angel Next Door Spoils Me Rotten (Otonari no Tenshi-sama ni Itsunomanika Dame Ningen ni Sareteita Ken) is an entry into that plain old simplistic style of romance but does the show pull off simplicity with excellence in mind?
The story is simplistic.
Amane doesn’t want to be bothered. He would much rather sit at home alone and wallow in his own filth. In fact, that’s exactly what he’s doing as it looks like someone hadn’t cleaned his apartment in years. His next-door neighbor, Mahiru, is known as the angel at school. She’s popular, beautiful, academic, sweet, and just all-around majestic. She is the center of attention, the apple of everyone’s eye, and the wet dream of every boy from the freshmen to the seniors.
And yet… she decides to descend upon Amane’s life and forcefully interject herself into it. First, she cleans his apartment, then she begins cooking for him. She takes care of him when he’s sick, and she checks up on him almost every hour of every day. There is a reason behind all of that and it deals with a turbulent past involving her parents. She simply just wants to be treated like a normal girl for once in her life so she sees Amane as a way to get that feeling for once in her life.
The only problem is that the more these two hang out with each other, the more they learn about their plights and problems. This leads to understanding, sympathy, and yes, romantic emotions. The story is about their journey of overcoming their insecurities and finding unlikely happiness with one another.
The focus point of the show is on Amane and Mahiru but there are a couple of other side characters along for the ride.
As aforementioned, she is the angel of the school but she wants to be seen as a normal girl. At first, she’s very cold and brash towards Amane. She scolds him for living the life he does and oftentimes gets upset of the fact that he can’t really take care of himself. Her desire to be treated normally is valid but with the way she used Amane at first, she came off as a bit selfish. While it is true she was helping him out, she was only doing it to feel good about herself and didn’t really care about how Amane felt about it. I mean, she forced her way into his life when he made it clear that he didn’t want that. She had no respect for his boundaries at all!
However, that ended up being the silver lining to her cloud because if she hadn’t done that, she wouldn’t have received the opportunity to get to know Amane as well as she did. It’s funny when you think about it because in the beginning, their relationship was strictly give-and-take and now, that same mentality can be applied to each other on an emotional level. By talking about her parents and how they saw her as just something to dump into the world as soon as they hit 18 and forget about, it really put things into perspective for Mahiru. You understood why she was trying so hard academically, why she was trying to be so endearing to all of her classmates… or better put… why she living the lie of a life she fabricated for herself rather than living life as her true self.
Her true self turned out to be a much more likable person. She was playful, kind, considerate, and perhaps, a bit too forward with some of the things she did… such as always inviting Amane to sleep on her lap. At first, you believed that she was completely oblivious to what was happening because all of this was a new experience for her and, I truly think she was oblivious to a certain extent. As the show goes on, she begins to realize that maybe she’s not oblivious but rather only pretending to be because she, herself, is unsure about her feelings or Amane’s. Within simplicity, there are layers there to her character, and because of such, she was very well-rounded and the true star of the show.
Now we have our wonderful ball of angst and regret known as Amane. Again, he wanted nothing to do with anyone and was content with living in the filth pit that is his apartment… forcing himself to subsist on cup noodles or week-old floor pizza (I’m assuming). When Mahiru interjects herself into his life, he resists but after he gets a taste of what she can offer, things don’t really seem all that bad. For you see, like Mahiru, he too was using her for selfish reasons. Their relationship was truly give-and-take and without knowing anything about her, he just saw her as a girl that could be his personal servant. He didn’t have to worry about cooking or cleaning and that fit perfectly into his “I don’t give a crap” lifestyle.
Just like Mahiru, when he learned about her, things began to change a bit more than they already had. Sooner or later, he was able to open up to Mahiru about his own past and how he was essentially used as a gofer and treated like an outcast. Nobody cared about him and that made him feel unwanted and isolated. Reflecting on that, he began to realize what he had in front of him. The kind service that she offered, her mannerisms, the fact that she let herself on a bit more than she probably meant to, all of it bubbled and boiled inside of Amane and made him realize that it is possible for him to fall in love with someone.
However, before he even gets to that point, the perfect word to sum up Amane is stubborn. No matter if it pertains to his living conditions, his feelings, or the thoughtfulness of others, he’s stubborn, stuck in his ways, and doesn’t want anything to change. Of course, after going through everything that he did, it’s quite normal for him to be that way. Versus Mahiru, we got to see a lot of his inner thoughts and how he truly felt. We got to see him wrestle with the past and the present, his prior beliefs, and what he believes now. It’s the proverbial breaking of the shell and it was truly wonderful to see him develop as a character!
Ah, the tomboy. One of my favorite character archetypes. The girlfriend of Amane’s seemingly one and only friend, Itsuki Akazawa, she’s loud, brash, rambunctious, and full of piss and vinegar. Despite her energetic personality, she’s also very honest and direct with her wording. She’s the kind of person who would see someone struggling to make a decision, slap you upside the head, call you an idiot, tell you to stop being a little wuss, and just do it.
Despite the background character role, she also plays a prominent part in Mahiru’s development. She befriends her and, like Amane, doesn’t really care about her angel status in the school. In fact, she treats Mahiru just like anyone else and that helps Mahiru build that confidence in the fact that she truly can be herself around others.
Speaking of Chitose’s boyfriend… there really isn’t much to Itsuki. He does provide a little comic relief whenever he’s around because he can be a bit impulsive. His “act before thinking” personality gets him in trouble from time to time but outside of that, he’s completely harmless. Some of Chitose’s honesty rubs off on him as he can be pretty honest from time to time as well but he (and Chitose) are also cheerleaders for Amane and Mahiru getting together. Just a couple of decent supporting characters that played their roles when they needed to (and there’s nothing wrong with that.)
Art & Animation
Project No. 9 handled this show while Toho, Pony Canyon, and a couple of others served as producers and… well… I think someone on their animation/art staff needs to learn a thing or two about consistency.
Let’s be honest here. It’s 2023. Backgrounds and scenery are going to look fantastic because that’s just how it is. Hell, it wouldn’t shock me if backgrounds are AI-generated these days to save production costs. As long as it looks pretty, it’ll get a pass and this show has no issues there.
However, that means characters (design and animation) are going to always be the focal point of any show and I hate to say it but from scene to scene, from angle to angle, there were so many times the characters looked a bit deformed, out of proportion, or just not themselves to not mention it here in this review…especially Amane.
I would like to give the benefit of the doubt here because good ol’ COVID-19 delayed a LOT of shows this season. I would maybe like to think that the staff rushed things to avoid a delay here as well and that could lead to a “good enough… get it out the door” attitude but it just looked really sloppy with the inconsistencies in the way the characters were drawn.
To be more precise, I’m more or less referring to their faces. Everything from their expressions to their shape, and overall structure seemed to change scene by scene. Sometimes, Amane’s face looked out of proportion. There was also an instance where I believe it was Itsuki who was smiling at a situation that was supposed to be serious and in the very next cut, he had the correct scowl on his face. Little things like that can break immersion and yes, I do know drawing and animating a show is a very hard task under very tight deadlines and that these people get paid in peanuts but not everyone is going to be that understanding and will critique it and here, it was just a glaring issue that needed to be pointed out.
Outside of that, everything else was fine. Scenes were animated nicely and nothing else aside from that one issue broke the immersion.
As for the soundtrack… it’s a slice-of-life show. The OST is meant for ambiance and that’s what it did. Job well done but nothing really memorable outside of the opening theme which wasn’t my personal cup of tea but I heard others enjoyed it so good on them. If you like it, then like it. Don’t let me tell you otherwise.
The Angel Next Door Spoils Me Rotten does a great job of taking something simple and adding layers to it. The setting and story are pretty straightforward but the complexity of the characters is what carries that simplistic story across the finish line. It’s more than just give and take for Mahiru and Amane… it’s a journey of overcoming insecurities and finding a place in the world… a place they had little hope in believing that it existed for them… and then sharing that place with each other.
You got a great sense of natural progression with them. You got to see their inner thoughts, their outward projections through their mannerisms, all of the minute and subtle details that, perhaps, they are changing their worldviews. One of the things they did really well was to make the characters intelligently inept. That seed of doubt planted in their minds made the characters think that their feelings were a lie. Then they questioned themselves more and more as the show went on until they became smart about their feelings and acknowledged them. Then, it was the feeling out process where they tried to see if each other’s feelings aligned with their own all while trying to keep up the façade of the way things were between them.
While it sounds like a well-thought-out and intricately detailed story… there were some parts where it was way too obvious that they liked each other and that their own denial of it made them seem completely inept in a natural way rather than a fabricated way. It gave way to some moments where you wanted to scream at your monitor and tell them to get into a closet and procreate and get it over with… while that frustration is normal in romance series that like to build up to a payoff, it usually involves characters who are truly oblivious to each other’s feelings. Only you, the viewer, understand what’s going on here.
That’s not the case. They both completely understand what’s going on… they even say it without actually saying it multiple times. There were moments where you seriously had to question how they weren’t a couple already. I think the feeling-out process was a little too much and that caused some of the romantic aspects of the show to suffer… but just a bit. The cuteness and chemistry between the two main characters carried the show forward and made things really enjoyable.
While the storytelling could have been tightened up, this is still a very solid entry in the romance genre that is sure to satisfy most people!
Also… I miss putting images in my anime reviews. Damn copyright notices…
It’s free advertising, people! Geez…
Until next time…
The Angel Next Door Spoils Me Rotten
The Angel Next Door Spoils Me Rotten proves that you don’t need a bunch of gimmicks to have a great romance story. Two characters break out of their shells and realize that they can find happiness in the world is one of the purest and most wholesome romance anime stories you’ll see this year!
Depth of characters
Simple stories work best
Great build up
Some romantic aspects a little too obvious, making the characters seem dumber than they are