Hiroko TaguchiShinya TakahashiAyaka SuwaGo Shinomiya
The Kawai Complex Guide to Manors and Hostel Behaviour
Also known as: Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou
Episode 1 also reviewed here: Anime 1st episodes 2014: K
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2014
Director: Shigeyuki Miya
Original creator: Ruri Miyahara
Actor: Kana Hanazawa, Yuichi Iguchi, Go Shinomiya, Hisako Kanemoto, Rina Satou, Sanae Kobayashi, Ai Shimizu, Akira Nakagawa, Asumi Kodama, Ayaka Suwa, Chiaki Shimogama, Hikaru Midorikawa, Hirokazu Machida, Hiroko Kusunoki, Hiroko Taguchi, Ikumi Hayama, Kenta Matsumoto, Makoto Sahara, Mami Shitara, Manami Numakura, Mariko Toribe, Marina Yabuuchi, Matsuri Mizuguchi, Mayu Iizuka, Minami Takahashi, Miyuki Kobori, Reina Takeshita, Saki Nakajima, Shinya Takahashi, Shota Chonan, Shunsuke Sakai, So Takeuchi, Takashi Kondo, Takuya Sato, Tsuguo Mogami, Yuki Kaida, Yukiyo Fujii, Yutaka Sasakura
Keywords: anime
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 12 episodes
Url: http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=15734
Website category: Anime 2014
Review date: 7 April 2015
Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou
It's an anime comedy about ill-matched housemates in the Kawai Guesthouse. (In Japanese, this is a pun. "We all live in the Kawai Guesthouse" sounds like "we are all pitiful".) You might think there are lots of shows like that. You'd be right. However this is still a good one. The nearest thing it has to a downside is the fact that it only has twelve episodes and the studio might yet make another season.
What gives the show its flavour, I think, is that it's pitched a bit older. Most of the regulars are adults, not high school students. Six people living in the Kawai Complex, if you count the geriatric landlady, and only two of them are school-age. Sex and romance thus aren't plot drivers in the way that one might easily expect. There's a potential relationship between Usa and Ritsu that admittedly is the show's main narrative thrust, but he's a well-intentioned stalker and she's almost incapable of interacting with human beings. They're also the two most normal tenants. Surrounding them is a menagerie of losers who certainly do have sex drives, but are treated as asexual by all their flatmates because nobody's that desperate. They're scary, freaky and/or twisted. If you knew these people in real life and hadn't vetoed them all immediately as possible life partners, then either (a) you don't really know them yet or (b) you have a lot to learn about self-preservation.
The Kawai tenants are a nightmare. Living there is probably hell, but it also looks fun. They're endearing, in their dysfunctional way. We have:
1. Usa Kazunari, who's the Normal Straight Man Protagonist but also a loser, a virgin and a freak magnet. He's actually quite a colourful character. He's also fixated on a girl who's happiest when she doesn't have to talk to him, i.e...
2. Ritsu Kawai. She reads books even when stepping out into traffic, ignores people who are talking to her and in the season finale is trapped in the predicament of having acquired a friend. The horror! That said, though, she's not a block of ice. She avoids people, yet she doesn't particularly like being alone. Underneath, she sometimes needs help.
3. Shirosaki, Usa's roommate. You know how the Japanese word "ecchi" is often mis-translated as "perverted"? Well, that's not Shirosaki. He's an actual pervert. More precisely, he's a broad-spectrum masochist, albeit a lovable one with a strict over-18 rule. He often gets taken in by the police, but never for anything that warrants more than a caution and a despairing shake of the head.
4. Mayumi Nishikino, a loud, vulgar drunkard with appalling taste in men and no tolerance for anyone else being happy if she's miserable. She has no filters at all. She says whatever's on her mind, no matter how sadistic, gloating or brutal. However at least she's an honest and oddly likeable monster, unlike...
5. Sayaka Watanabe, who on the outside looks cute, innocent and girlie. She's also evil. Her favourite hobby is ensnaring men, but I spent most of the show wondering if she was actually bisexual. (She is.)
The show's plot is Usa and Ritsu, but only in a sleepy way. You could just as easily say that the show has no plot at all. Two of my favourite episodes involved guest characters, i.e. ep.8 with Usa's school friend Hayashi and ep.6 with Shirosaki's improbable girlfriend, Chinatsu. (She's about seven years old. Yes, that's everyone else's reaction too, including the completely blameless Shirosaki. Thank goodness for his over-18 rule.)
The characterisation and plotting can be subtler than you might have guessed. The resolution of the Ritsu's Friend storyline, for instance, avoids the expected lazy developments (except in Usa's imagination) and feels fairly sophisticated.
I particularly like the closing theme music, by the way.
It's another good show from Brain's Base, again avoiding otaku bait. It has no harems, no moe, no cute wide-eyed girls (except evil predatory ones, i.e. Sayaka) and no innocence (except briefly with Usa, to be crushed). Female characters tend to be sadists (even Chinatsu) and male ones tend to be masochists. You may or may not feel that Usa falls into that category, but there's clearly a discussion to be had there. The only thing I don't like about the show is that it doesn't have enough episodes, since twelve episodes of a plot-light show can slip past you almost before you've realised, without letting you feel as if you've yet got properly immersed in the Kawai experience. It's a compliment for that to be my only complaint, though. I want more episodes. It's rather sweet, despite all that acid I mentioned. Recommended. I liked this a lot.