Mikako KomatsuHaruka TomatsuMitsuhiro IchikiHisako Tojo
Yatogame-chan Observation Diary
Also known as: Yatogame-chan Kansatsu Nikki
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2019
Director: Hisayoshi Hirasawa
Original creator: Masaki Ando
Actor: Haruka Tomatsu, Hisako Tojo, Mikako Komatsu, Mitsuhiro Ichiki, Yuki Wakai
Keywords: anime
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 12 three-minute episodes
Url: https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=21593
Website category: Anime 2019
Review date: 1 July 2019
Yatogame chan Kansatsu Nikki
It's my first anime from 2019. I'm not even halfway through 2018, but I jumped on this because:
(a) it's short
(b) it's about Nagoya.
I lived in Nagoya and my wife's from there. That's where we go every time we return to Japan. Nagoya is home. Obviously I was going to be first in line for a short-form comedy anime that's all about Nagoya's accent, food, shopping, weather, karaoke and other quirks that the rest of Japan may or may not talk about.
In the likely event that you've never heard of Nagoya, incidentally, it's the unglamorous one. It's the centre of Japan's third-largest urban region and one of the fifty largest urban areas in the world, but no-one gets excited about it and tourists don't go there. Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto... yeah, foreigners have heard of those. Nagoya? Not a hope. It's roughly in Japan's geographical centre and it's worth visiting its castle and its port (which has a stunning aquarium/seaworld).
Nagoya also has an accent, but it's not famous like Osaka-ben and it's probably on the way out a bit. Younger people don't use it as much these days. Even Tomoko (who sometimes lapses into Nagoya-ben) doesn't think it sounds nice, although I disagree.
I should talk about this anime.
It's a short-form comedy with four characters. (a) Monaka Yatogame is a hardcore Nagoya-ite, with such a strong accent that she's embarrassed about it. (Nagoya-ben is said to sound like cat noises, which is why Yatogame is cat-like... but not the usual cute/sexy anime image of catgirls. Nope, she's the kind of small, snarly, semi-feral feline that crouches on surfaces and hisses at you. This is paradoxically cute.) (b) Kaito Jin is a boy from Tokyo who's moved to Nagoya and is on a mission to learn about these weirdos. (c) Mai Tadakusa is a bit spacey and obsessed with Yatogame. (d) Yanna Sasatsu is the layabout president of the school's photography club.
The show isn't laugh-out-loud comedy, but instead a light-hearted but detailed look at Nagoya. Every episode starts with a disclaimer. "Many scenes in this program will appear to present a biased view of the people of Nagoya and the surrounding region. Please bear in mind that these scenes are strictly the opinions of the characters and may not represent reality, and enjoy it as a program filled with love for Nagoya."
The "love for Nagoya" thing is actually true. The anime's full of jokes and rib-poking, but they avoid anything that might cause genuine offence. Ep.10's disclaimer is read out by Takashi Kawamura, the mayor of Japan who made denialist statements in 2012 about the Rape of Nanking while receiving an official Chinese delegation from that city. (Nagoya had been twinned with Nanking until then. Not any more. This anime mentions none of that.) After that, ep.12's disclaimer is read out by Mizuki Ichiro because he sings the song for the Chuunichi Dragons (Nagoya's baseball team) and this is a bit of a Chuunichi Dragons episode. (The Dragons have been a bit rubbish in recent years and so might sometimes get called the Dobegons, but this anime doesn't mention that either.)
For me, this show was educational. It's practically homework (but fun). Ep10 even made me go "that's me!" (As far as I'm concerned, miso must be red and strong. I don't buy white miso. White miso does not exist.) However if you don't care about Nagoya and don't speak Japanese, obviously you won't care about the material about local accents, etc. What you'll get instead from this show is quite an entertaining semi-comedy. I wouldn't go so far as to call it funny (although ep.8 made me laugh with Osu's balls getting removed when old and wrinkly), but it has lively banter and characters. It's amusing. The character interactions are a laugh, especially with Yatogame. The show has a point and I'd expect to be able to remember it in five or ten years' time, which isn't true of all three-minute anime.
It's not brilliant. It's not one of those must-watch short-form anime. Instead it's just a fun, unusual, mildly quirky eight out of ten. Knock off some points if you know that half of it will go over your head, but personally I think its cast would carry it for a lot of audiences anyway.