Toru OhkawaTaishi MuratabaseballSayaka Senbongi
Just Because!
Episode 1 also reviewed here: Anime 1st episodes 2017: J
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2017
Director: Atsushi Kobayashi
Writer: Hajime Kamoshida
Actor: Aoi Ichikawa, Arisa Sakuraba, Carin Isobe, Daiki Kobayashi, Junichi Yanagita, Kohei Amasaki, Lynn, Reina Kondo, Sayaka Senbongi, Shota Yamamoto, Taishi Murata, Toru Ohkawa, Yuka Nukui, Yuna Yoshino
Keywords: anime, baseball
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 12 episodes
Website category: Anime 2017
Review date: 1 December 2018
Just Because
It's simple and terribly nice. No magic, monsters, time travel, supernatural or anything like that. Some students are about to graduate from high school, so they're choosing their universities, sitting entrance exams, looking for jobs and so on.
Oh, and obviously there's going to be romance. Admittedly everyone's about to go off in different directions... probably, but you never know.
When the show begins, it's a love chain rather than a love triangle. People have been fond of other people for years without telling them. This is more understandable when it involves Eita Izumi, who's repeatedly had to change schools for his father's work. He's just returned to his hometown for the first time in four years. Eita's a bit of a gloomy gus, but not in an unsympathetic way. He's nice. He just doesn't get excited much.
Eita's friend is Haruto Souma, who's the only third-year who's not going to university. Firstly, he's already got a job lined up. Secondly, he's... ah, how can I put this? Probably not academic. However he's another nice chap who'll always be positive, likes baseball and will play cheerfully with your indefatigable small brothers. As for the girls, there's Mio Natsume (studying for entrance exams), Hazuki Morikawa (plays in school band) and Ena Komiya (a cheerful, brash second-year who's trying to save her photography club and has more brass neck than the rest of the cast put together).
The boys can be bizarre when it comes to baseball. You can't confess to a girl until you've hit a home run. Obviously. This is bonkers, but the show's making no attempt to pretend otherwise. It's just two friends being incomprehensible because that's how friends' brains work sometimes. It's charming. Mind you, Morikawa in ep.6 does something that's basically the same (but with a trumpet).
Komiya is the funniest cast member. She's capable of getting the police called on her, although she didn't mean anything by it. She's just a bit loopy when it comes to taking photographs, which is a problem in a country with strict laws on taking photographs without consent.
It's a romantic semi-comedy. It's amusing, but the show's not going for laughs. It's just helping you understand and like all these people as they try to make a mess of their love lives. Technically there's a love triangle, but it's the world's least offensive one because no one's really going out with anyone. It's all half-maybe-confessions and mights and possibles. The show ends up being an examination of people who can't communicate, although there's one big exception to that in Komiya. (Everyone else struggles to say anything. Komiya will jump on you and drag you off because she feels like it.)
For what it's worth, this show has an unfairly low profile because it got bought by Amazon's Anime Strike service. This hid it behind a double paywall and something of a fan backlash, which is regrettable because I think Anime Strike had a cool collection of shows. (Amazon killed the service in January 2018.)
This show always grabbed me. I'd put on an episode and find myself watching in more detail, with more emotional engagement, than the other anime I had at the time. It's not a big thing, but I just found myself being pulled along by this quiet, likeable character writing in a way that wouldn't necessarily happen with splashier, higher-concept shows. What's more, almost until the end, I couldn't tell which way the plot was going to jump. Who'd end up with who? One can usually tell, but here everyone's being written so well and likeably that you're basically cheering for everyone. What's more, the show's calm, mature writing means that you can't assume they're heading for a Disney ending. It does end well, though. It does the right thing. I approved, although I can't say I'd recommend some of our heroes' decisions. Dear oh dear. Even if it works out okay... yeesh. Learn to talk. That's the moral of this story. I'd recommend this one.