Wagamama High Spec
Kōki Narumi is a high school student who also draws a manga serialized in a weekly magazine. Because the manga he draws is a risqué romantic comedy, he keeps this fact a secret from everyone around him, with his younger sister Toa and his best friend Mihiro being the only ones who know. But one day, as the student council president Kaoruko Rokuonji is searching for male members for the student council, she finds out that Kōki is the manga's author. Kōki joins the student council in exchange for Kaoruko not revealing his secret. However, the vice president, Ashe R. Sakuragi, strongly opposes him joining, and in the midst of all this, various requests and troubles of students begin to pile up.
Well... that's the synopsis I've read pretty much everywhere else, anyway. It is presumably the plot of the game this show is based on, and when I read about it, I couldn't have recoiled any harder even if it came covered in scorpions and sloppy hairballs.
As it turns out, this anime is sort of a companion piece to the game... presumably. For one thing, the game has a male lead who, I'm guessing, will go through its story getting to know one or more of the girls and having sex with them, but he's almost completely absent from this show. Male leads in shows like these tend to be treated very poorly regardless of whether the show itself is trying to romanticise it or not, and my war wounds from Da Capo III are still giving me an itch. So when the show rather unsurprisingly got licensed for streaming even here, I went in, expecting to be completely vindicated in my opinion. Somewhat prematurely, it seemed, as I was quite handily proven wrong. Instead of harem shenanigans, we get more of a rom-com variety, since not only is the male lead not there most of the time, but so is pretty much any other person in this show who isn't the four female leads. In turn, the show mostly takes place in the student council room.
Even if you set aside the plot, the character designs did nothing to put me at ease. The girls all have big heads and big hair, and even more notable is the designer's penchant for gigantic balloon boobs that gives all the girls an incredibly artificial look, as if the future of Japan came with mandatory facial and breast implant surgery for all the girls. "Fabric that strains under the stretchy, stretchy pressure" is a bit of a theme here. It's not entirely unpleasant to the eyes, but it boggles the mind that this is based on a porn game.
Breasts or uniform-mounted Hefty bags? Only the producer knows for sure.
Weirdly enough, the animation is actually pretty decent -- not "great" decent, but more than you'd expect in some relatively unknown visual novel adaptation -- even if the art itself looks a bit fuzzy in the anime -- a bit basic, especially compared to the weird wobbly paper doll segments that appear at the end of each episode, presumably based on designs from the character designed for the game. CG is also obviously used here and there, especially in the ending song.
So if there's no male lead, what is the show about? Well... a little this and that, depending on whatever each episode is fancying. The first episode is about the girls having to go through a lot of work, but it's in the middle of summer and therefore unbearably hot. Solution? Dress down to their lingerie. Later, the girls have to deal with issues like sleep deprivation, cockroaches, scares after having read a particularly scary book or losing their top at the local water park. With each episode rounding in at around three minutes, there's not time for a whole lot, and so Wagamama High Spec becomes a gag comedy for its blessedly short life.
And so we have the main reason why I chose to review this show: I... kind of enjoyed some parts of it. As dumb as the initial concept sounded, some of the plots did manage to make me smile, and the jokes -- while being a bit hit and miss -- rose far above the kind of comedic dreck you'd find in shows like To Love-Ru or Da Capo III. And while the game this show is based on is a porn game, and the anime doesn't shy away from the fact that the male lead is away somewhere making another erotic manga, Wagamama High Spec is surprisingly clean. Granted, you'll see the girls in their underwear in the first episode, and you'll also see some pretty impressive cleavages from time to time -- and let's not forget the "oh no I lost my bikini top at the water park" episode -- but the girls don't grope each other, and the camera angles are weirdly non-intrusive and matter-of-fact. Even weirder, the simplification of the line art and general character design for the cel art almost completely eliminates the "fabric that strains under the incredible pressure; pretty soon, the buttons will shoot off in every direction" factor.
I guess you could call it a penance and/or an apology. I sort of expected this show to be complete trash, but instead it turned out to be... kind of OK. Nothing special; the jokes are all over the place, but the girls are acting fairly normal for the most part. Mihiro (the pink-haired one) actually does a good job with selling her character, pulling her ahead of her more typical VN arcetype friends. Looking up her profile, she hasn't had a whole lot of roles, which surprised me a bit. Even weirder, she played in the aforementioned Da Capo III as well, though in a more minor role at that. The show is surprisingly playful is what I'm saying, and the voice actor all do a good job of reflecting that, even as they're made to do VN-style moe voices.
So yeah, I expected Da Capo III all over again, but got something that is more reminiscent of Wakaba*Girl, except not quite as good. It's kind of a time-filler more than anything else. Twelve episodes clocking in at three and a half minute each isn't going to take much of your time, and you could certainly do a lot worse. You could probably do a bit better too, so I guess I can only recommend this if you're really starved on character gag comedy and has seen absolutely everything else.
It's a pretty weak three star rating, but the show had some guts and some funny moments, so here's my olive branch. — Stig Høgset
Recommended Audience: The girls strip down to their underwear in the first episode, and you'll get to see that, weird balloon boobs and all. There's also the occasional cleavage and implied nudity near the end, but the show doesn't really do a whole lot about it, so this show should be safe for most teenagers, even the youngest ones.
Version(s) Viewed: Digital stream on Crunchyroll, Japanese with English subs.
Review Status: Full (12/12)
Wagamama High Spec © 2016 AXsiZ.
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