It’s hard trying to survive in the world of slice-of-life comedy with an all-female cast, as it’s virtually impossible to avoid being compared to KyoAni’s previous smash hits. So what do you do if you have been branded ‘Lucky Star season 2′ without being given a chance to come up with an identity of your own? Simple. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Once you’ve got an audience gathered, try to establish yourself in the one thing that matters: the details.
A Channel tells the story–yes, story, because they dropped some hints on there actually being character development somewhere–of four girls in high school. When Tooru (voiced by Yuki Aoi, also known for her roles as a certain floor-rolling detective and a pink-haired not-magical girl) enrolls in high school, she pays a visit to her senior and middle school friend Run (voiced by Kaori Fukuhara, better known as Tsukasa Hiiragi) to tell her she made it into the same high school as her. However, upon entering her room, she finds her friend in a rather compromising situation with Yuuko (voiced by Mugi with a kansai accent).
Tooru boob slaps Yuuko and procedes to molest her with an invisible chainsaw, while Run introduces her to another friend she made in high school, Nagi (voiced by newcomer Yumi Uchiyama). The rest of the episode flashes forward to all the girls together in high school and focuses mostly on jokes, but also gives us some nice undertones of Tooru trying to deal with the fact that her friend has other friends now, and with Nagi and Yuuko accepting the eccentric Tooru into their group. Sadly enough, this character development is only hinted at slightly, but at least it’s better than the girls immediately befriending each other from the get-go as is the case with a lot of other slice-of-life shows.
What will happen next? (Hint: not much.) Find out after the break!
What I Liked
Actual characters: The cast of A Channel easily fits in the 4-koma mold: We have the cloudcuckoolander (Run), the level-headed snarker (Nagi), the easily scared sweetie (Yuuko) and the agressive shorty (Tooru). However, unlike a lot of their more predictable counterparts, these girls are more than just slaves of their archetypes. Run may have the attention span of a squirrel with caffeine up its ass, but she’s not completely helpless when it comes to understanding people and even has a bunch of male friends she gets along with. Nagi might be the voice of reason keeping the gang together, but she has some rather unsubtly hidden uncertainties (think Kagami from Lucky Star). Even Yuuko actually achieves being more than just Tooru’s punching bag, a giant leap forward from the manga.
Tooru: Taking the cake in terms of characterization however is Tooru, who managed to immediately steal my heart with her oversized cardigan, deadpan voice and affinity for baseball bats. I have always been a bit worried about A Channel not having it’s own gimmick, such as the absurd dreamscapes of Azumanga Daioh, the otaku jokes of Lucky Star and the music (context) of K-On!, but turns out the irony of Tooru protecting Run as if she’s Run’s mother while still being seen as a kid by the other three is enough to keep the show going, at least for now.
The OP: Studio Gokumi, having a resume consisting of nothing more than the shady OVA Koe De Oshigoto!, positively surprised me with the animation in this episode. Backgrounds are crisp and detailed, character designs have a certain charm and the extraordinarily unsubtle CGI is affecting rather than annoying. However, the simple, yet effective OP stands out most of all. Despite being made with a budget equivalent to that of the movie I made for history class in junior year, it effectively plays with simple colors, funny symbols for each character and frequent fourth-wall breaking, and the result is truly adorable.
Yuri: N-not that I like yuri or anything, but I guess it’s my duty as a reviewer to tell you there is a certain possibility of yuri here and there. It’s strictly platonic of course! B-but if you like shipping or endlessly implied romantic tension that will never get resolved, I guess that’s a plus… or something.
What I Hated
I’m going to be honest with you and declare that there wasn’t really anything that I particularly hated. Taking into account that A Channel is:
- A slice-of-life comedy 4koma adaptation;
- Not trying to do anything revolutionary, not even in terms of being cute;
I really enjoyed it for what it was, and I’m sure other people who wanted to watch it will enjoy the same way. I could address the issues every single other 4-koma adaptation is accused of (slow pacing, lack of plot, nothing new, etc.) but that wouldn’t be a review of A Channel; it’d be the same old rant about 4-koma you’ve read a thousand times before. A Channel won’t win the hearts of any K-ON! and Lucky Star haters, or people with an junkie-like longing for plot, but at least it succeeds at being a slice-of-life comedy. Therefore, it should be graded as such.
P.S.: Oh, and bonus points if you noticed I didn’t use the word ‘moe’ a single time in this review.