Kouda Mikako is a girl who dreams of becoming a fashion designer. Her next-door neighbor is Yamaguchi Tsutomu. They both attend the Yazawa Art Institute (YazaGaku), a very unconventional school where students are encouraged to be themselves and create things.
Despite Tsutomu's popularity with the other girls in her neighborhood and school, Mikako couldn't care less about him, and often calls him a "monkey". However, it seems that Mikako herself might be slowly falling in love with him...
I really like Yazawa Ai's manga. I love her stories and her characters, even her art (which does take some getting used to). And one of my favorites is the original Gokinjo Monogatari manga and Paradise Kiss, so I really wanted to see this anime. I managed to find doinky .rms of the first four episodes, and watched them.
I was very disappointed.
First off, I must mention how TERRIBLY Toei animated this series. Yazawa Ai's art and character designs are very unique and cool, and that makes them very difficult to animate and have them look good on the screen. No wonder all adaptations of Yazawa-sensei's manga since this series have been live-action movies. (This difficulty will also have to be faced by the staff working on the upcoming Paradise Kiss anime.) However, Toei was obviously working with a very low budget, and it really shows in the animation. The colors are drab and always seem to have a shade of grey about them, the frame rate is doinky, and the way they adapted the character designs...UGH!! I couldn't stand to look at one more episode of this series but I managed to soldier on for four episodes.
As for the characters...I must commend the scriptwriter for this anime, as he or she managed to completely butcher the characters' personalities. Mikako was likable in the manga, but in the anime she comes off as a loud, whiny doink. Tsutomu becomes a bland typical love interest, Mariko becomes a sex-obsessed doink...I could go on and on. This is not helped by the seiyuu, particularly Mikako's seiyuu. The scriptwriters also managed to make the plot doinky! You cannot fathom why Mikako or Mariko or any of the other girls would ever be interested in somebody like Tsutomu, who doesn't do much besides leave Mikako to go out with Mariko...
The music for the anime is also doinky. The OP and ED themes are sung by Mikako's seiyuu, which proves that she cannot sing as well as not act. I wanted to spork out my eardrums when I heard those songs. The BGM is the kind of BGM you would expect in a series like this...nothing memorable.
In a nutshell, this anime deserves all the bad reviews that it's been given. The original manga is good, even though it's not for everyone, but this anime is just...it makes me want to cry, because I think there WAS potential to make a good anime out of that manga, and Toei just doinked it all up. They should be ashamed of themselves!
A mockery of the original. Add two stars if you're a REALLY big fan of Yazawa Ai's works. — Jennifer Berman
Recommended Audience: There are a few mild references to sex, but nothing really doinky otherwise. This anime would probably be OK for those 13+, if it wasn't so doinky.
Version(s) Viewed: digital source
Review Status: Partial (4/50)
Neighborhood Story © 1995 Yazawa Ai/Shueisha/Toei Animation/Asatsu/ABC
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