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AKA: 森田さんは無口, Morita-san is Silent
Genre: Slice-of-life high school comedy
Length: Television series, 26 episodes, 3 minutes each
Distributor: Currently available streaming on crunchyroll.
Content Rating: 7+ (Mild Thematic Content, Mild Violence)
Related Series: None
Also Recommended: Azumanga Daioh
Notes: Based on the four-panel manga of the same name by Tae Sano, serialized in Manga Club Momo and Manga Club magazines. There is also a preexisting 2-episode OVA series which was created as a promotional extra for the manga series. This review covers both seasons of the TV series, which is listed elsewhere on the Internet as separate entities.
Rating:
 

Morita-san wa Mukuchi

Synopsis

Mayu Morita has a bit of a problem: she spends too much time thinking about what she wants to say, and ends up never getting the chance to say anything. Despite this, she has plenty of friends and a fulfilling high school life.

Review

On rare occasions, it's actually a good thing when a manga concept is distilled down to short-run episodes, because I can't possibly imagine Morita-san wa Mukuchi having remotely succeeded as a full-run television series. While I'm not a huge fan of the three-minute-episode concept, it works here, because frankly, this series doesn't have much to say.

The entirety of this series seems to revolve around Mayu's awkwardness and the various misunderstandings that are caused by it. It's very light, shallow material, and the characters (Mayu included) aren't particularly deep or memorable: apart from the taciturn Mayu (who thankfully has an inner voice that we can hear), there's a chatty Cathy that won't let Mayu get in a word edgewise, a shy girl with tangly hair who is intimidated by Mayu's propensity for staring and/or concentrating, and a bunch of other people who seem defined by who they admire or are admired by. And there's a couple of random guys that tend to misinterpret everything Mayu and her friends do as being yuri situations, which is a bit funny the first couple times, but sort of gets forgotten later (almost as if the creators forgot they set this thing in a co-ed school).

There's nothing to impress here on a technical scale, either: the musical themes (though cute) almost feel borrowed from preexisting recordings, and the animation and BGM are essentially perfunctory. You certainly won't be watching this for the art style, either - it's simplistic and no great improvement over its four-panel origins. At least it never looks outright bad, as there's nothing here that should pose any great challenge to even a low-budget studio. The whole production never feels particularly inventive or exciting, but that's also clearly not the point of this series.

Really, you wouldn't be wasting a whole lot of time here even if you decided to power through this entire series on a lark. What the three-minute official runtime doesn't tell you is that it includes the opening song, which means that the entire original footage of both seasons combined consists of less than an hour of actual footage. This isn't particularly bad material and there is a certain charm to the presentation, thanks in large part to the voice cast - Kana Hanazawa (Kuroneko in OreImo) is pretty cute as the mostly-inner voice of Mayu. The few scenes with Mayu's parents, too, are worth the (admittedly low) price of admission here.

Morita-san wa Mukuchi isn't remotely a benchmark anime, and will probably be forgotten by the vast majority of anime fans within the next five minutes, but as an appetizer between courses, it's perfectly okay. It doesn't pretend to be something more than a light high school comedy, and while there's nothing much here, at least what we get is nice and cute. Even if it's a bit awkward and doesn't have much to say.

Not for tech junkies, this sedate, bite-sized comedy is best enjoyed by folks in need of a bit of relaxation between other, deeper series. Folks in need of more excitement, thematically or visually, should probably look elsewhere.Carlos Ross

Recommended Audience: Girls have superficial crushes on other girls, though not nearly to the extent of the token boys' overactive imaginations. Any fan service content is very minor, and violence is limited to a couple of physical accidents (a couple of skinned knees and bumped heads). Probably best for younger teens and above due to the high school oriented themes of discussion, but there is very little here to offend anyone.



Version(s) Viewed: Stream courtesy of crunchyroll.com
Review Status: Full (26/26)
Morita-san wa Mukuchi © 2011 Tae Sano/Takeshobo