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Acchi Kocchi (review)

Impression – a dance of love and comedy in a moe candy shell (9/10)

Spring 2012 (12 episodes) (title literal translation – Here and There)

Tsumiki has a huge crush on her naturally gentle, gentlemanly to a fault, nice guy classmate, Io.  However, her shy, tsundere personality prevents her from confessing her gushing love for this paragon of a man; whose only shortcoming is being a little slow on the uptake around his diminutive, female cling on.  But Tsumiki takes this all in good grace because despite wanting more from their relationship, it’s enough to keep her satisfied for now.  She even has a cheering section consisting of mad scientist Mayoi, the plucky and innocent Hime and Io’s good buddy, Sakaki.  But while their assistance is usually appreciated, Tsumiki wants to win Io’s heart on her own.

One of the best measures of any comedy is its ability to put a funny spin on real things its audience can relate to.  Another method is to occasionally be ridiculous in stark contrast to a generally serious premise.  Acchi Kocchi manages to do both, creating some incredibly high highs balanced by a very solid framework of friendship and unrequited love.  The series has a great many awww moments that never feel too sugary or forced and empty.  Aside from a couple of punchlines that feel a little flat, the rest of the anime is very genuine.  Each character has a purposeful role to play and feels necessary without ever being overbearing.

What impresses me greatly is the integration of male characters into this series that have real personalities instead of dry, formulaic clichés that serve no other purpose than to feed the ladies’ ambitions.  Io in particular is one of the most naturally suave and likeable characters I’ve ever seen.  Even his flaws add to the remarkable depth of his cool personality and it’s very clear why he’s a natural fit as the kind of person a large group of friends tend to gravitate around.

I was very worried at first that this series would be another one of those boring love triangles that make you want to rip your hair out for the characters’ inability to be honest with themselves.  And while there’s more than a few moments when a bit more honesty could have moved Io and Tsumiki’s relationship to the next level, it never stops being fun or lacking in creativity.  Acchi Kocchi isn’t just enjoyable to watch, it knows how to simply enjoy the moment and cherish the little things—a precious gem of writing that should not be taken for granted—and then poke fun at said little things.

What sets Acchi Kocchi apart from most other moe anime is its incredibly balanced formula that mixes comedy and romance into a seamless package of goodness.  A must-watch for moe fans such as myself; I think it could also appeal to the tastes of anyone who is interested in a funny drama with really good writing, absolutely no ecchi and complimentary friendships.

Acchi Kocchi Ep. 1

Initial impression – fuel for the moe inferno

Spring 2012 (12 episodes) (English synonym – All Over the Place, title literal translation – Here and There) (more info)

If Lucky Star can be thought of as moe crack, then Acchi Kocchi is probably closer to moe sugar.  It’s such a sweet anime that I’m sure most people are going to get a sour taste in their mouths unless they’ve properly conditioned themselves for this kind of style (as I have =P).  I like how the two main characters Tsumiki and Io clearly care for each other with a slight, awkward honesty.  While they are not in a serious relationship, unlike most anime romances they aren’t vehemently denying their love; instead going for a sort of soft consensus with their mutual feelings.  It’s not an atypical friendship between hero and heroine and that simple novelty is more than enough to give this series a nice flair of originality.  Integrating males into a moe series is also a rarity and when it is done it often isn’t done very well with focus always going to the girls and leaving the guys to the sidelines.  But Acchi Kocchi gives both genders fairly equal measures of presence, which is inspiringly daring.  It’s a kind of delightfulness that has gotten my moe passion burning brightly and I’m salivating at the thought of what the future holds.

Nekogami Yaoyorozu Ep 1

Initial impression – average

Mayu, the cat spirit of fortune, was banished from the spirit realm when she kept abusing her powers of good luck for her own benefit.  Only a shadow of her former power, she’s now living in the mortal world with the impoverished, human girl Yuzu.  But when the poverty spirit Shamo, wanders into the town, the other spirits fear for Mayu and Yuzu’s futures.  A campaign is organized to drive Shamo away, but Yuzu’s abundantly generous nature may actually be the key to saving the day.

With all of the Shinto themes flying around Nekogami Yaoyorozu, I want to draw a parallel to Touhou.  The anthropomorphic creatures and various ancient spirits populating the modern city feel very reminiscent of the colorful characters in the Touhou mythos.  But given Touhou’s history and the love it gets from its army of fans, there’s really not going to be a fair comparison, even though there are very similar themes between the two titles.

Yui Horie’s willful, yet plucky voice acting in the role of Yuzu comes across great.  But is Nekogami Yaoyorozu good?  No… but I can’t offer a reason why you should hate it, either.  I’d just say there’s better stuff to be watching, but I’m also not going to discourage anyone who thinks they might want to give it a look.  It’s charming in its simplicity, but very underwhelming.

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