Going forward, I want to write anime reviews in a regular column on this blog. Here is the first of (hopefully) many more to come. Sorry for the delay; I actually finished this show over a week ago, but 1) life happens and 2) WRITING IS HARD!
She’s not liking this review
English: Just Because!
Japanese: Just Because!
Length: 12 ep. x 24 min.
Studio: Pine Jam
[Warning: Spoilers Ahead]
Back when I first heard of this anime, I made a pun about its name. It was very hard NOT to just brush this show aside, what with such an unfortunate Engrish name, a premise straight out of the publisher’s guide on How to Write a Best-Selling Teenage Romance, and original character designs by renowned oppai artist Himura Kiseki.
Turns out, my very first impressions weren’t spot-on. But they weren’t completely wrong either. Just Because! isn’t the ecchi comedy that I dreaded; no oppai was fondled for slapstick comedy, no one was caught half-naked by the opposite sex, etc. etc. Instead, Just Because! is the kind of “serious” romance that fails to impress.
Stop me if you’ve heard of this before. Male A (Izumi Eita) transfers high school. He is now back in his home town. He recognizes old friend, Male B (Souma Haruto), and old crush, Female A (Natsume Mio). Male A is introvert; beta even. Female A doesn’t know of Male A’s affection and likes Male B instead. We have our triangle.
Oh but Male B actually likes Female B (Morikawa Hazuki). And for good measure, a new Female C (Komiya Ena) is touched by Male A’s nice personality and falls for him. All while Males A, B, and Females A, B are dealing with graduation matters. Drama ensues.
Izumi Eita. He really looks like this 75% of the time.
Clichéd developments aside, this is a heck lot of material to cover in 12 episodes (and just four months in anime’s timeline). Juggling three different romance pairings averages out to four episodes per pair of screen time. There is hardly any time to develop the main characters outside of their roles in romance. The result is that, with the sole exception of Komiya, they exist only to act as targets of affection.
Komiya Ena. AKA best character.
Komiya has more meat to her personality than the others have. She displays a wider range of emotions, and she is proactive instead of reactive when it comes to character interactions (especially in contrast with her love interest Izumi).
However, when it comes to the romance(s), the development between Souma and Morikawa is the most believable. Souma had feelings for Morikawa for years, and he finally decided to confess before they graduate. However, Morikawa is shocked and initially rejects him. After meeting him a few more times, Morikawa comes to terms with their differing career paths and tells Souma to wait for her. Hardly the best drama, but realistic.
Morikawa Hazuki. More or less a happy end for Souma.
Conversely, the romance between the leads, Izumi and Natsume, is a dumpster fire. Not only is it plagued by misunderstandings perpetuated by conscious noncommunication, a cardinal sin of drama, the writer somehow deemed it acceptable to skip the confession and go straight to the happy ending. You read that right; the show completely skipped the confession scene (despite separate promises from both leads) and went straight to them meeting under the cherry blossoms, happily ever after in college.
Art is the aspect Just Because! impresses the most. The scenes are nicely detailed; lots of attention was paid to the backgrounds, unlike some other shows that deem a few squiggly lines sufficient.
You can see buildings far into the distance.
Ceiling and walls are also well-textured.
And plenty of night scenes to show that city feel.
All in all, a surprisingly competent effort from Pine Jam, given this is only their second full-length anime.
No complaints aside from Izumi being the beta character that he is, with voices to match. Opening theme is by Yanagi Nagi who I actually like, and the rest of OST is passable but completely unmemorable.
As far as romance anime goes, you can do much worse than watching Just Because!. Is it worth a watch then? Hard to say. It’s a watch-once-and-forget show, and given the volume of anime created nowadays, there are better shows to watch before starting this, especially if you are short on time.