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[Happy Lesson box art]
AKA: HAPPY☆LESSON
Genre: Harem / comedy / drama
Length: Television series, 14 episodes, 22 minutes each
Distributor: R1 DVD from ADV Films
Content Rating: 15+ (slaptick violence, fan service, adult themes)
Related Series: Happy Lesson, Happy Lesson Advance, Happy Lesson The Final
Also Recommended: Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki, Comic Party, Azumanga Daioh.
Notes:
Rating: Three StarsThree StarsThree Stars

Happy Lesson TV

Synopsis

Hitohose Chitose was an orphan who lived a very frustrating life alone, often being teased about it at school. But one day his homeroom teacher, Ichimonji Mutsuki, asked him if what he wanted was a mother to look after him (to which he replies with a great big "HUH?!"). Pretty soon, he finds himself living with his homeroom teacher, and four other teachers, in the house his parents left for him. Things are about to get a little weird in Chitose's life.


Review

Happy Lesson is a good series for the most part, but there are some problems in it that prevented me from liking it as much as Stig did.

For one, the show is not on a very high budget. Happy Lesson, like most KSS series, is sloppily animated. The character models are inconsistent, changing off-model sometimes within the same episode. Some animation teams make the characters look very cute, while others give them this big, black eyes that make look like, well, insects, to quote Mike Toole (or as me and my brother call these eyes, the "Eyes of the Damned").

Another problem, and it could be just be me, but it's really, really hard for me to feel for Chitose. He's always yelling or disagreeing with what everyone says, only having a venerable change of heart when the show needs him to wrap up an episode. Otherwise, it's just 22 minutes of him being freaked out by what's going on, as his five "mothers" are constantly interfering with him and whatever it is he wants to do. He also treats the only girl who cares for him, Fumitsuki (the class president, who more than once abuses her power to cut in on and help make Chitose's life even more miserable for the guy), like garbage. Although there are times I felt pity for him, those were only times when the other characters were acting out of character and being pointlessly mean to him (one of the later episodes has him carrying stuff for his mothers, only to be forced back to watch the bags every time he wants to do something fun).

Although the "mothers" are interesting and very cute, they're very stereotypical. Mutsuki feels like a reject Hand Maid May character, Yayoi is a slightly less irritable version of Aoyama Motoko from Love Hina, Uzuki is the genki one who dresses up in magical girl clothes, and Satsuki is the obligatory tomboy who speaks in an Osakan dialect. And although Kisaragi is also stereotypical (weirdo scientist), she's incredibly amusing, so I'll overlook her, given that she often provides the laughs the show needs when it gets too preachy or too dull. We also have Chitose's sisters, who randomly just come into the show at episode 4. We have Minazuki, the younger one who loves her big brother (like an above-average Sister Princess character, and not nearly as braindead), while Hazuki, the older one, is a pop idol singer (because, well, a show of this genre today is not complete without an idol singer).

Two other characters include Kanna (yet another scientist girl), who uses weirdo inventions to make Chitose her own, and Fumitsuki, the bitchy class president (who wears glasses, natch!). She's never afraid to use the Naru Punch to send perverted male classmates B and C (and sometimes Chitose) through the air. She occationally does this two or three times in a single episode. Those on the THEM Boards already know this, but I hate violent female anime leads. Love Hina's Naru and Girls Bravo's Kirie are two of my least favorite anime characters of all time. Like those two, Fumitsuki has few redeeming qualities, other than being cute. Sorry, but that's not of a reason to like a character in an animated series; if it were, Digi Charat would be among my favorite shows. Thankfully, the rest of the female cast isn't nearly as annoying as Fumitsuki, and she's not a major player in the series until near the end (and what a doozy of an ending this show has).

Fortunately, Happy Lesson isn't all stereotypical characters and inconsistent animation. It is nice to see a show with a lot of female characters in it who don't want to get into the pants of the main guy (only three of the girls in this show like like Chitose). Also, there are times of honest to goodness family moments in the show (such as when Chitose and Satsuki get lost in the mountains during a blizzard, or when Chitose helps Minazuki find a club at school). As screwed up as his family is, Chitose does love everyone around him, even if he is reluctant to say so.

Also, the opening and ending themes are nice (and in the case of the latter, very cute), the eye catches are amusing, the (Japanese) voice acting is great, and the episodes don't all focus on one main character, but instead let the whole cast get their chance in the spotlight. Happy Lesson sure isn't the most original series you'll find in your anime retail store, but it's miles beyond anything else in the "average male hangs out with good girls, and he's there simply to initiate the wackiness" genre in the past 5 years (I refuse to write out the genre "harem", as Happy Lesson is NOT a harem anime).

Mostly likable characters marred with inconsistent animation and a male lead that's hard to give a damn about. Happy Lesson won't astound you, but it's good as mindless, plotless entertainment for those looking for female eye candy.Tim Jones

Recommended Audience: Well, this show is all about the slapstick violence, so that's not too bad. Episode 2 does, actually, show a more realistic violent scene for the benefit of characterisation. Still, that isn't so bad either.

The reason this show is rated the way it is, however, is the 11.5th episode, where you will be subjected to lots of (covered up) nudity and some underwear shots. Technically, the two first DVD's should have rated lower, but you'd be wanting to catch the entire show anyway, so I guess it doesn't really matter.



Version(s) Viewed: R1 DVD, bilingual
Review Status: Full (14/14)
Happy Lesson TV © 2002 KSS / Media Works
 
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