Mitsuo IwataHiroyuki YoshinoSayuri YahagiRikako Aida
Senryu Girl
Episode 1 also reviewed here: Anime 1st episodes 2019: S
Also known as: Senryuu Shoujo
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2019
Writer/director: Masato Jinbo
Original creator: Masakuni Igarashi
Actor: Hiroyuki Yoshino, Kana Hanazawa, Kaori Nazuka, M.A.O, Mariko Kouda, Misaki Kuno, Mitsuo Iwata, Mutsumi Tamura, Rikako Aida, Sayuri Yahagi, Sumire Uesaka, Suzuko Hara, Tasuku Hatanaka
Keywords: anime
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 12 twelve-minute episodes
Website category: Anime 2019
Review date: 28 July 2019
Senryuu Shoujo
It's an inconsequential but sweet little anime. Nanako Yukishiro is a schoolgirl who never speaks, instead writing down her thoughts in senryuu poems. Eiji Busujima is an ex-thug who loves: (a) senryuu and (b) hanging out with Nanako. It's charming and nice.
Firstly... senryuu. It's Japanese poetry, which means headaches for anyone trying to explain it in English. (I've been learning the language for nearly two decades now, but I still don't get Japanese poetry. Japanese is syllable-timed, English is stress-timed and what sounds beautiful in one language just doesn't translate in the other. For starters, Japanese and English syllables are so different that it's probably wrong to use the same word for them. That little "tsu" that means a fleeting glottal stop counts as one, while "McDonald's" in Japanese has seven.) Haiku have become reasonably well known in the English-speaking world, but most people probably couldn't tell the difference between haiku and senryuu. Both have the same 5-7-5 syllable structure, but haiku have a "cutting word" and a reference to the seasons and, usually, nature. Senryuu tend to talk about people, often cynically or with dark humour.
(I'll stick here with "syllable" rather than saying "mora", though.)
Nanako's quite fluid in her senryuu, incidentally. She might use formal, informal or archaic verb endings. She might say "mocchiron" instead of "mochiron". She's also extraordinarily fast at coming up with them. She'd be quick with all that practice, of course, but you've still got to write them. Meanwhile Eiji is well-meaning but terrible, e.g. with that cherry blossom one that made me laugh in ep.13. His problem isn't so much with the poetic form (except in the Next Episode throwaways) as with his inappropriate word choices.
Anyway, I should talk about this anime. It's slice-of-life, so it doesn't have a plot and nothing of great importance happens. We're just spending time with nice people, with the twist that two of them are effectively disabled. (We later meet Kino Yakobe, who's like Nanako except that she draws pictures instead.) You could choose to call it a self-imposed disability, or else perhaps a symptom of social anxiety. Nanako and Kino have voice actresses to say what they've written down, but that's just a dramatic convention and the other characters can't hear it. When Eiji and Nanako hang out, they'll be having apparently one-sided conversations in which Eiji's the only one speaking aloud. None of this bothers anyone, though.
Anyway, Nanako's easily flustered, but quick to recover and smiley. She's also modest and a bit shy. (Bearing in mind her condition, we should probably upgrade that to "very shy", but she's essentially such a happy person that it's easy to forget her shyness.) She's so lovable that everyone else in the show wants to encourage her, which generally means cheerleading her not-going-anywhere romance with Eiji. Her dad takes his daughter-worship to freaky extremes, mind you. He's somewhere between "embarrassing" and "worrying", but I must admit that he made me laugh in ep.9. He also had an amusing mental image of Rebellious Thug Nanako in ep.6. (The idea of Nanako being rebellious is absurd enough to be funny in itself, a bit like a tough-talking hamster.)
As for Eiji, he's a bit dim but good-natured. (That makes two of them.)
There's also a supporting cast, obviously. The show's about fifty-fifty between Nanako-Eiji and fun with the other characters. There's the Literature Club President, who's not lesbian (despite first impressions) but is instead both a filthmonger and a romantic. Her plot role is entirely innocent and she's the biggest cheerleader for our two heroes. Koto is Eiji's not-a-sister and a massive flirt. Tao is a fortune-teller. They're all pleasant and you'll enjoy your time with them. This isn't a show that anyone needs to watch, but you'll find it pleasant if you do.