Thursday, June 28, 2018

ANIME REVIEW: "Slow Start" never should have

I like slice of life shows. Really I do. I think of "Flying Witch" or "K-on" or "Miname-Ke" or "A Place Further From the Universe" with fond memories and a desire to re-watch them all. So, why wouldn't I like a slice of life show about a girl starting high-school a year late?

So I started watching the first episode of "Slow Start" on Crunchyroll and about 5 seconds in, I knew I would hate this show, but I slogged through the whole first episode just in case, and confirmed that it may be the worst show I've tried to watch this year. (I thought "Urahara" would be it, with its weird eye lashes, but I was wrong)

Within the opening seconds, we are treated to the main character who I will call "bland anime girl 1" because I can't remember her name at all, if it was even mentioned. Bland anime girl 1 was making strange cooing sounds while sitting in her bedroom preparing for school. All I know is that high schoolers should not sound like they are having fake orgasms multiple times per minute. But that's the only thing that came to mind with those noises which she NEVER STOPS MAKING the whole episode. Then...then...then her older cousin (who she's living with despite having two seemingly nice parents for some reason I wasn't paying attention to) comes into her room. I should say she, and her two enormously impossible breasts, come into the room. For no reason at all this character apparently needed breasts that defy all logic, physics, and medical science. Thankgod this didn't actually carry over into any other characters in the show from what I can tell or I would have turned if off right there (Certainly there can be women with larger breasts in both the real world and anime so I'm not body shaming, but here it is quite different than the way it's presented say with Akari's character in "March Comes In Like A Lion" as a point of reference. In "Slow Start" it is a wholly inexplicable exploitative move). So yeah, that was the first 30 seconds of the show. It only got...worse? better? the same? I can't really tell, but I watched it anyway so you wouldn't have to.

Next we meet Kamuri who is very short and acts like an elementary student and who apparently no one thought should be checked over by doctors for either her short stature or infantile ways of speaking/connecting with people despite being probably about 15 years old. Then we meet "bland anime girl 2" who is so forgettable I can't be bothered to look up her name on wikipedia for you and "bland anime girl 3" who could also be called "the spunky one with the snaggle tooth" who is perhaps the only thing with a pulse in this show. The first half of the episode has them meeting and going through class on the first day of high-school. I have a 14 year old daughter and I promise you, this isn't want high-shcoolers act like, ever. As strange as the real ones are, this show manages to make highschoolers SO INCREDIBLY BORING!

It was originally published as a seinen manga, so I guess that's why the aunt has breasts because there is clearly NO WAY a guy would ever watch or read anything unless there were grossly disproportionate breasts attached to it (SARCASM).Other than that, there really wasn't much fan service which was good. So bland anime girl 1 talks with a cloyingly infantile voice, Kamuri (the short side character) talks with a cloying infantile voice...and they're all supposed to be cute and invoke the male-gaze since it's a seinen. You're ragging on it, but what about "Ground Control to Psychoelectric Girl" the show that you're embarrassed to like, you say? Yup, that's a seinen show too, with an infantile high-school girl who talks in an infantile way AND there's fan service. How can you like that show, but rag on this one? Well, for all that show's many, many problems, feminist and non-femminist alike, at least every character is weird or funny, at least there are good jokes (have you ever seen a futon eat a whole pizza in one bite, and then think about what the cushions must look like inside?), and its also not pretending that it is anything OTHER than a seinen show with a beautiful, infantile, high-school girl who does weird things. At least it's honest with itself.

I'm not sure what "Slow Start" is nor what it's pretending to be, but it is not being honest. The show is I think supposed to be one of those "cute girls acting cutely" shows. I like those too, like "New Game!" which ended up being more enjoyable than I thought or the defining one of all time, never to be surpassed, "Sakura Trick" which is insanely cute, insanely funny, and actually sweet and romantic too. It's unclear if those shows are cute girls acting cutely for male viewers benefit or if they really are for any gender/gender-expression (I'd argue their designed for the male gaze, even though I love Sakura Trick). But that alone doesn't make them indefensible, even if they are fairly non-feminist in their objectification of women. At least both of those shows provide their characters with agency and purpose and value beyond their cuteness. New Game! has an all-female video game company where it shows them actually working on games, in actual divisions, and having deadlines, etc...Sakura Trick has amazing humor and sweetness despite its VERY VERY perverted camera operator.

But just like Ground Control to Psychoelectric Girl (a show that will keep coming up in my reviews since it's an overtly seinen show I actually like - embarrassed...embarrassed...), those shows aren't pretending to be something they are not. But with "Slow Start" it's so unclear who the target audience is and what the message/purpose of the show is, that it doesn't work: It's not funny, it's not cute, it's not fanservicy, it's not thought provoking, it's not meditative, it's...incredibly annoying voice acting, bland animation, non-existent story, and there is no actual discernible cuteness.

It's also, as I said above, incredibly boring. Flying Witch and Minami-Ke are great shows in which nothing happens, so it's not that I need a plot, but somehow those are more about the mundane wonderfulness of everyday life, this show can't even get that right. There was one funny moment of Tamate (Bland Anime Girl 3 - the one with the snaggle tooth) trying to get everyone to call her "Tama" and the other characters teasing her with her full name. Unfortunately, the teasing drags on and on and goes into another character's name and the story behind it...blah blah blah...oh god, it's still going on, now we're on the third girl's name...checking my watch...when will it end...freaking 5 minutes of this...and that's the highlight of the show. A single joke that went on for 4.5 minutes longer than it needed to!

The animation is bland. The characters' eyes are all dead. The character designs are not very interesting. The writing is boring. The opening song is bland. the ending song is bland too. Did I mention that the writing is bland and that nothing is actually cute? There's just not one thing to recommend this show...I'm giving it a 4/10 "Very problematic" rating (the only thing keeping it from a worse rating is that at least it doesn't appear overtly harmful to society). It was only the first episode, but still, I don't think I can waste another 20 minutes on this one.



Please let me know if you disagree in the comments, thoughtful counter-points are always welcome!

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