Cute girls eat ramen. Cute girls fight monsters. Now cute girls starting High School. What is up with this Winter? Eh? Cardcaptor Sakura, after this? …I am okay with this.
Hana Ichinose has enrolled in high school one year late due to studying to get in. It might not seem like a big deal, but it is to her. She’s off to a slow start, but she wants to work hard and catch up to everyone else! -Crunchyroll
There’s… surprisingly little to say about this. It’s a straightforward high school girls anime. It has a cutesy art style, fluid animation… that’s about all I can say with any level of depth. Though that may be for the better, considering how the show kicks off. In its first minute, it goes out of its way to throw as much shameless fan-service in as possible before the OP. Based on that, alone, I had staggeringly low expectations. But after watching the rest of it, I was surprised that they more or less never went in that direction again. It wasn’t especially high-quality content, but having such low expectations from the first scene cushioned the rest of the episode a bit to where I could say it wasn’t… that bad?
It’s exactly what it says on the tin. Except one could argue that it isn’t even that, really. In this first episode, we’re introduced to all of the main cast. Hana is a timid girl who faces the daunting trial that is the first day of high school. Simple enough. On her first day she meets Tama(te), Eiko, and Kamuri, each a character with their own little quirks and whatnot. Tama’s extremely hyper, Eiko is levelheaded and witty, Kamuri is childlike and quiet. They seem more or less fine. Though Tama runs the risk of her energy becoming annoying, later on. There was also this running gag about her name that really wasn’t as funny as they seemed to think it was. Made no better by how much time is dedicated to it in the episode, and how Eiko seems to find infinite amusement in it.
The girls meet in homeroom, where the three deuteragonists all give Hana safety charms as a birthday present upon meeting her. After she stumbles over herself, they invite her to walk with them to the train station so they can see the cherry blossoms in bloom. And… yeah, that’s basically it. Hana sees them off, then walks home on her own, talks with her fan-service fodder cousin about making new friends, and speaks to her parents about it over the phone. And that scene I actually kind of found a little cute, if only because we actually get to see the parents on the other side of the call. And the dad, in particular, is just nervously pacing around in the background while the mother speaks. As any parent, worried about their child, might be. A nice little addition.
There is the one question, though, as to how her being a year “behind” is going to come into play. They don’t make a particularly big deal of it at all in the episode, itself, so I can only imagine they’ll bring it up later. It isn’t so much that I’m particularly interested in that angle. I’ve known people who began school later or earlier than everyone else. There is a certain level of anxiety over that, but it’s usually pretty quick to subside, from what I’ve observed. Granted, the case may be different in Japan, but that’s beyond the point. Mainly I’m just pointing this out because that is the hook of the series. And yet the episode hardly touches on it at all. If your show has a hook, you need to make it evident from episode one, and constantly utilize it. Even if it is as weak a hook as this one. Even Sitcoms know this rule. This episode mainly just comes across as her being a kid with some level of social anxiety, entering into an intimidating part of her life. That’s it.
Overall, this episode was… fine. It started off in a way that caused my already fairly average expectations to plummet. But then it course-corrected, pretty quickly, basically leveling out at where my expectations were, to begin with. The humor wasn’t especially funny, but I like the style and animation. The emphasis on the hook could’ve been stronger. But there otherwise isn’t much to say about this. It’s very “safe.” It isn’t trying to be especially riveting and isn’t particularly good or bad at following the beats it’s aiming for. So at the end of the day, it’s basically Harmless. You may get annoyed a bit at Tama, and the opening scene is eye-roll inducing, but that’s about it. Nothing especially offensive, at least. If you want something more engaging, maybe try EvilBob’s recap of the latest Mahoutsukai no Yome.
Or, if you think this show could step it up and at least become entertaining enough, give it a shot. Slow Start is Simulcast on Crunchyroll, Saturdays at 1:00pm EST.