Dorms. One of those indications to signal that you are independent and living life on your own free will. Or it might just be a cheaper alternative in places where monthly rental is skyrocketing through the roof. But I’m not here to discuss about that. There are many animes with its characters staying in dorms and some revolving around the life and times of those dorm people. Today, we take a look and compare an old retro anime, Mahoraba – Heartful Days with a newer one, Bokura Wa Minna Kawaisou and weigh in the pros and cons if you are ever thinking about living in dorms. Just kidding. Okay, maybe part serious too because you certainly don’t want to end up with a neighbour from hell. Speaking of which, why do dorms always house weirdoes? Don’t they have some sort of mental institution around? Right, not mad enough to be admitted into one yet.

The new kid in town:
Who is also happens to be the main character and normal guy of the series.
Mahoraba: Ryuushi Shiratori.
Kawaisou: Kazunari Usa.

The dorm they’re going to live in:
Mahoraba: Narutakisou.
Kawaisou: Kawaisou.

Why moved here:
Mahoraba: To attend Sumeragi Design School in Tokyo to achieve his dream of becoming a children’s book artist.
Kawaisou: He made a deal with his parents that he could live anywhere they choose as long as he can leave home.

The landlady:
Mahoraba: Kozue Aoba.
Kawaisou: Sumiko Kawai.

Other occupants:
Mahoraba: Tamami Chanohata, Megumi Momono, Asami Kurosaki, Sayoko and Yukio “Johnny” Haibara.
Kawaisou: Ritsu Kawai, Shirosaki AKA Shiro, Mayumi Nishikino and Sayaka Watanabe.

Love interest:
I suppose it gives further motivation for the new guy to stay on. Otherwise they could have moved out.
Mahoraba: Shiratori for Kozue – They are second cousins.
Kawaisou: Usa for Ritsu – They are school classmates.

Only for her:
Mahoraba: Shiratori is believed to be the only one who can ‘cure’ Kozue of her multiple personalities.
Kawaisou: Usa wants to be the one to walk home with Ritsu and also get her email address.

It’s all in the family:
Mahoraba: Aside Shiratori and Kozue as second cousins, Asami is Sayoko’s daughter albeit adopted.
Kawaisou: Ritsu is the granddaughter of Sumiko.

The drunkard:
Every dorm needs to have one person who loves their alcohol and prone to get high.
Mahoraba: Momono.
Kawaisou: Mayumi.

Weak with alcohol:
Mahoraba: Saki.
Kawaisou: Ritsu.

The loli:
Mahoraba: Asami.
Kawaisou: Chinatsu.

Multiple personality:
Mahoraba: Kozue – She has 5 different personalities. Depending on the circumstances, a personality will appear and you can tell when she sports a totally different attitude and hairstyle or outlook. Also, can Haibara be considered to have one since he often talks via his hand puppet dog.
Kawaisou: Erm… Sayaka? She might not have split personality and more like putting on a double face. Because she can act cutesy and innocent in one moment but behind your back she turns into a nasty devil.

Scheming girl:
Cunningness runs in their blood.
Mahoraba: Tamami.
Kawaisou: Sayaka.

Shy girl:
Mahoraba: Natsume, one of Kozue’s personalities.
Kawaisou: Ritsu.

The inept:
Mahoraba: Sayoko – Big time useless klutz.
Kawaisou: Ritsu – At least socially inept because of her shy personality that makes her really awkward in expressing herself.

The pervert:
Mahoraba: Tsubasa Yamabuki.
Kawaisou: Shiro.

The masochist:
Mahoraba: Erika Vermillion.
Kawaisou: Shiro.

The cross-dresser:
Mahoraba: Shiratori is forced to cross-dress by one of Kozue’s personalities, Chiyuri. This leads to a mistaken identity that Tsubasa falls in love with. Who the heck is Reiko anyway?
Kawaisou: As a prank during the cultural festival, Usa is duped into wearing a maid outfit.

Period dressing:
Mahoraba: There is this storybook-like tale in this anime, the character Umeboshi Princess dresses like a typical, erm, princess.
Kawaisou: At Anekouji run by Sumiko’s friend, Tae Shinohara, the waiters of this café dress up as traditional apprentice outfit.

Occult lover:
Mahoraba: Erika.
Kawaisou: Hayashi when she was in middle school and Kurokawa AKA Saionji.

Depraved girl:
Mahoraba: Risona Aizawa – yaoi and yuri lover.
Kawaisou: Sayaka – BL lover.

Prone to depression:
Mahoraba: Sayoko – lack motivation and easily loses confidence.
Kawaisou: Mayumi – love problems.

Book related:
Mahoraba: Shiratori aspires to be a children’s book artist. Also, Johnny is a freelance writer. Not forgetting Satsuki Matsuba who always throws heavy books to her friend Michiyo Asagi to keep her in check.
Kawaisou: Ritsu is an avid bookworm and loves reading more than anything else.

Just want to be friends:
Mahoraba: Rich and snobby Michiyo may seemingly be acting unconcerned but all she really wants is just to be friends with Asami.
Kawaisou: Maemura shares the same reading interest with Ritsu and instantly become friends but she went too far distributing unauthorized pictures of the latter and inviting her to a group blind date in the disguise of ‘meeting guys with the same reading hobby’.

Dorm activity:
It isn’t a place just to sleep.
Mahoraba: There is this weird annual tradition of the residents playing a hide and seek game whereby the winner gets a ticket to order others around.
Kawaisou: They played water pistols, blowing bubbles and relay storytelling just for fun.

Dorm visit:
Mahoraba: There is an episode whereby coincidentally Shiratori and Asami’s friends all pay a visit on the same day.
Kawaisou: Sayaka’s high school friend, Miharu Tsuneda makes a surprise visit. Same case for Tagami because he is interested in Mayumi.

School cultural episode:
Mahoraba: Episode 20.
Kawaisou: Episode 13 (OVA).

Room raiders:
Mahoraba: Everyone loves to crash and party till they drop drunk in Shiratori’s room.
Kawaisou: Mayumi and Sayaka raid Usa’s room for ‘snacks’ to avoid having that guy let Ritsu alone into his room. Porn magazines and DVD, find any?

Musical talent:
Mahoraba: Sayoko can play the violin. Surprise! Well, she does come from a wealthy family. Also, Hiro Utsugi is the president of the school’s orchestra club that has only 3 members.
Kawaisou: Mayumi can play the guitar but it only brings back heart breaking memories of her breakup. Usually girls resort to drowning themselves in ice cream or chocolate. This one goes up to the roof and strums her pain away…

Animal phobia:
Mahoraba: Saki (one of Kozue’s personalities) fears butterflies. Also, Risona has a fear of goats (because they will eat her manga manuscript).
Kawaisou: Sayaka has fear of rabbits.

Other fears:
Mahoraba: All the girls in Narutakisou fears Chiyuri thanks to her tendency to dress them up in weird costumes.
Kawaisou: Ritsu is averse to ghost stories and horror films.

Mahoraba: Although only for a short causal moment, a stray cat is seen with a cockroach in its mouth leading to a shocking moment and a change in Kozue’s personality.
Kawaisou: There is an episode trying to locate a stray centipede in the dorm!!!!!!! SCARY!!!!! Thank Sayaka the saviour!

Love not returned:
Mahoraba: Tsubasa will never know about Reiko’s true identity…
Kawaisou: Although Tagami is interested in Mayumi, once the latter found out he isn’t of legal age, she loses interest.

Forbidden love:
Mahoraba: Sayoko eloped with the family’s gardener, Kurosaki.
Kawaisou: Would you believe it? Chinatsu likes Shiro!!!!!!!!! The world is coming to an end!!!

Sculptures of art:
Mahoraba: Sayoko’s dad, Ushimitsu is a burly sculptor.
Kawaisou: Shiro made a bamboo contraption that turns out to be some flowing noodles. Shiro also helps Chinatsu make mud balls for her summer project but the latter soon gets captivated into making decorative bread in the end.

Mahoraba: Miyabi Shirogane, the teacher of Shiratori’s school has some sort of terrifying punishment waiting if you don’t hand in your assignment on time or being disobedient. Whatever goes on in that room makes you wonder… But you know you don’t want to experience it, that’s for sure!
Kawaisou: The dorm is split into male and female section. Males are forbidden to step into the latter’s side. Because if you do, like Usa accidentally found out the hard way, there are nasty batting weapons lying a few feet from each other in the corridor for the women’s convenient to beat you up of you overstep the boundary.

The maid:
Mahoraba: Tachibana, Sakura Utsugi and Mahiru Minazuki from Ushimitsu’s household.
Kawaisou: Usa spotted in one after being tricked into wearing it during the cultural festival.

Production studio:
Mahoraba: J.C. Staff.
Kawaisou: Brain’s Base.

Number of episodes:
Mahoraba: 26 episodes.
Kawaisou: 12 episodes + 1 OVA.

Year of release:
Mahoraba: 2005.
Kawaisou: 2014.

In terms of aesthetics and looks, Kawaisou has got it hands down with characters looking like your standard conventional Japanese anime whereas Mahoraba is just looking cartoonish. However in terms of storyline and development, Mahoraba beats Kawaisou thanks to its various characters that include many others that do not reside in the dorm. The character development in the former feels better maybe because they had more episodes compared to the latter in which even watching the romance unfolding between the 2 main characters is painfully slow. Okay, some things do take time. The dorm residents of Mahoraba are also wackier and crazier compared to Kawaisou. Just like many newbies, they become familiar with the ‘customs’ and blend themselves in to become part of the weirdoes. At least they’re being family. Only, not blood related. Whatever place you live in, let’s hope that you can call it your home in your heart. More importantly, even the most annoying and bizarre residents of the dorm they are still human beings deep down. You just accept for who they are then can you only make peace with yourself. Like the saying, if you can’t beat them, join them.

It seemed like a long time. It felt so. Because I never knew there was Bokura Wa Minna Kawaisou OVA. Seemed it went under the radar and would have continued so had not somebody subbed it and caught my attention. Actually the OVA only came out back in January 2015 but the TV series that started airing in April 2014, the gap between that felt like a long time. So much so I have almost completely forgotten certain things from that series. Haha. Feels like a blatant disclaimer to not remember things. Fortunately I still remember and have a general idea what that series was about. New guy who moves into boarding home falls in love with a socially awkward and bookworm girl. Something like that, right? And the painfully slow romantic development between them. Can a single OVA save the day? Don’t hold your breath.

First Time…
Maemura suggests doing a butler cafe as per some book, Count Bailey for the cultural festival. The girls are interested but the guys aren’t. They note it isn’t the guys who just get to wear but girls like Ritsu. Well, she looks boyish enough. So when Usa relates this butler cafe back to those boarding house guys, they also get excited and start talking nonsense and their own fantasies. Ritsu is surprised that Maemura was the one suggested it and although they still interact, she thought she was just acting. Usa believes it isn’t so because she seemed genuine too when talking about books. Of course Usa still doesn’t like Maemura for making Ritsu cry but he doesn’t want to think it was all just lies. When Sumiko suggests they pay a visit to his school’s festival, our young adults already have a sinister plan to fish for dates. Especially with Mayumi thinking she wouldn’t mind meeting Tagami again. But it seems he is going out with another girl in his class. Mayumi’s mood just turned dark and takes out her frustration on Shiro. Thanks to Tagami, the other girls in Usa’s class heard he worked in a cafe that has him dress as a traditional apprentice outfit and think it would be fun if the guys dress like that to sell takoyaki. They hope he can put in some good word and borrow the outfit. He doesn’t really want to do it but they insist. He has no choice. When they note he used to walk home with a senior, they wonder if they are dating. Usa is just happy hearing them say that. Is that what it looks like to them? It feels so good…

Maemura talks to Ritsu and to the latter’s horror, looks like they’ve already decided in doing the butler cafe. Ritsu notices Maemura giving good reviews about a book she has. Maemura lends it to her. Ritsu feels Maemura isn’t a bad person but just that they won’t match. Noticing she has read this book before, she is thinking of lending it to Usa. Speaking of him, he thought Ritsu spotted him outside via window so he waves like a happy dog. Maybe not. She continued burying her head in the book. Disappointed? Usa and the girls seek Tae’s request to borrow the outfits and she would but with one condition. Usa has no say and thus he is made to work harder than ever. Hayashi wonders where his ‘girlfriend’ is and he is happy that they look that way. But the rest ruin the mood by clicking their tongue. Because Usa is busy working for the festival, he is hardly home and this ruins Ritsu’s chance of lending him the book. Next day in school, you can see her sweating and summoning up her courage, waiting just to do that but unfortunately Usa’s friend, Andou beat her to it by lending a video game as thanks. So maybe Ritsu is a little gloomy. Mayumi thought she could lighten things up (something about Usa not into books) and she might have said the wrong thing because Ritsu is close to like bursting into theirs. Mayumi is panicking for doing something unintentional and leading up to this. She thought the rest could help out and say something nice but since they don’t make sense, Mayumi herself doesn’t understand what is going on anymore. Likewise, Usa could also feel that he is spending less time with Ritsu recently even though they’ve gotten close lately. If nothing is done, they might drift further away.

On the day of the festival as Usa is manning the takoyaki stall, he is surprised to see Sumiko and co here. And why the heck is Shiro doing wearing a paper bag over his head?! His normal clothes?! Tagami is surprised to see Mayumi here. And then this scene… Usa is feeling hot since he is behind the grill. Mayumi also feels the same and starts taking off her coat to flaunt her humungous boobs! All the guys can’t take her eyes off it! Sayaka also joins in and puts on that cutie act. Fishing for guys, aren’t they? Sumiko puts the brakes on their scheme and tells them to just watch quietly like Shiro. Man, what big eyes he’s got… After they leave to walk around, Usa stumbles upon his old middle school friends whom he isn’t fond of. And then Hayashi and Tae. He just keeps meeting people he doesn’t want to see, eh? Meanwhile Ritsu is made to wear a butler outfit and she looks stunning in it. That’s because she looks boyish, right? She can even be mistaken for one. The girls are squealing how cute and cool she is. They even start praising and commenting on the Count Bailey book but interrupted when this paper bag guy pops up. It just annoyed Ritsu… Meanwhile Usa wants Hayashi to go home because there are guys here who don’t like her. But she wants Usa to take her around the grounds. She’s getting a little close. Ritsu sees this and loses her mood. Later, Ritsu sees Hayashi being harassed by Usa’s old friends. They badmouth her and Usa. Hayashi stands up for him that he isn’t a loser or weakling like they think. They want to snap a picture of her face but she won’t allow. Ritsu jumps out to whack their head with a signboard. The mad guys want a piece for her.

Thankfully she is as a fast runner and as she hides in a classroom cowering in fear, she prays for help. Not help from God. From Usa. And it is like that guy’s Ritsu-in-danger sense is tingling and quickly rushes all the way to where she is! But WTF?! Why is he in a maid outfit?! Actually Tae gave it to him as a joke and the girls made him wear it. She starts sniggering at his maid outfit. Also, it was Ritsu that texted him about her situation and he was damn worried and came as fast as he could. Usa notes this is the first time he got a text message from her. It means her first time relying on her. He mentions the Count Bailey book he managed to finish reading. But what about that video game? He returned it. He wanted to play it but hearing the book was really good, he wanted to read it. To think that he would read books instead of playing games is all thanks to her. It was really fun. He starts praising the book and Ritsu wants to hear more of it. She feels happy. He feels happy. Now, where to start… Walking back together, Ritsu says he was right that Maemura wasn’t acting. She blushes when he feels happy for her. Wondering what kind of game he was lent, he is curious that she also has taken an interest in games aside her books. Of course, it is for them to get closer.

Maybe Another Time…
Just like I suspected. Nothing much. A small little hint that Usa and Ritsu are getting closer but it is so miniscule that it is negligible. You might even think it has gotten nowhere. Sometimes you might just want to scream out to them to just admit it to each other’s face but I suppose some things take time to nurture. You can’t rush in certain things. So maybe we’ll have a happy ending for them like… 200 episodes later? Geez… They might want to throw a little spanner to the works by hinting a comeback romance for Hayashi but I don’t think with the way things are going, it is ever going to be possible. After all, whatever happened has already happened. That past is the past. Aside the slow romance between our protagonist, the other side characters especially the quirky adults from the boarding house are more fun to watch especially with Mayumi and Sayaka trying to fish for guys. Would they stoop this low to a high school level instead of guys their age? Desperate? So overall, this OVA is only for those who want to feel complete in addition to the TV series or if you like some fanservice of seeing Ritsu in a butler outfit. Otherwise, don’t bother with it (if you don’t want to be disappointed) and you would definitely make use of your time better by reading a book. Or even playing a video game.

Bokura Wa Minna Kawaisou

November 29, 2014

Not another anime about the wacky residences of a boarding house/inn/complex. Well, actually it isn’t that bad since there aren’t that many animes about that. Bringing back my earliest memories from Mahoraba to the most recent Sakurasou No Pet Na Kanojo, Bokura Wa Minna Kawaisou is yet another series which doesn’t have any real plot except for the fact that it chronicles the lives of those living in the complex. And you know, the usual formula of a new kid moves into the new place, meets the crazy residence with all sorts of crazy personalities, puts up with it (all the time), have fun together, become part of the gang, becomes family, life goes on, etc. Yeah. Life is never boring and dull that way. Oh, did I mention the prospects of romance and falling in love? Life indeed is never boring. Just going to get crazier.

Episode 1
Kazunari Usa is just like any other normal kid who dreams of the normal and peaceful life. And perhaps a little romance as well because he fell in love at first sight with Ritsu Kawai at the library. Thanks to his parents’ job transfer, he is going to get a taste of freedom by living by himself. Actually he is going to be living at a boarding home. Along the way, he meets a weirdo, Shirosaki AKA Shiro looking through the fence of a school. Shiro seems to know his name and seems he is trying to drag Usa into whatever he is doing. The police arrives from a tip off and arrests Shiro while Usa makes a run for it. Better not have anything to do with that pervert. Arriving at the boarding complex, he meets the manager, Sumiko. He thought his room was a little big but it seems his actual space is only half the size, separated by a flimsy curtain. Guess who is his roommate? SHIRO! Sumiko assures he is a harmless pervert and a masochist. That doesn’t sound so assuring especially if you are going to be roommates with this sicko! He is not going to stay at this place but what made him change his mind? Oh. Ritsu also lives here. He tries to talk to her but she forbids him from going any further. He is explained the complex is split into female and male sections and of course there is the common section. How come it feels the facilities in the male sections get discriminated? Usa calls him mom to complain about this but she told him to quit being fussy since the complex cut them a good deal. I mean, Usa can’t cook, right? Better put down that phone if you don’t want to hear your mother’s nagging. Later having tea with Sumiko, granny gives ambiguous hints to Usa to get to know Ritsu better and at the same time don’t get to know her. Huh? So he is stealing glances at her reading a book in the female section when Shiro had to butt in. Ritsu gets disgusted when their talk seemingly has lots of sexual subtexts. He tries to explain but accidentally steps into the forbidden area and gets whacked by her bamboo sword.

Usa isn’t sure if his life is going downhill since Ritsu avoids looking at him, ignores him at school and doesn’t smile. This has Shiro mentioning Ritsu has her expressive side when she talks to her other roommates, Mayumi Nishikino and Sayaka Watanabe. Mayumi is a working lady who is away on a trip while Sayaka is a college student. He shows a photo of Mayumi and she looks very pretty. That evening when Usa goes to buy some fish, he sees a lady with huge boobs by the seaside. Lots of alcoholic bottles. Drunk. Screaming out her screwed love life. Trying to throw her ring into the sea but it wouldn’t come off. Trying to kill herself? Do you want to further get involved? I think he is just being nice trying to tell her to be careful so she thinks he is hitting on her. She tries to seduce him and before their lips could meet, Ritsu knocks her head. Usa realizes who this babe is. Photos can be so misleading. Mayumi… So disappointed in you… Since she is still drunk, she tries to slide down the rail. Ritsu tries to catch her but Mayumi gives up before she started. This makes Ritsu mad as she goes to hit her but she slips and they crash into Usa. That hit to the face has got to hurt. And so back at the complex, Mayumi is bawling her tears that her lover was two-timing her but the rest doesn’t seem sympathetic. Like it has always been the normal thing. Since Usa’s mouth still hurts when he eats, he gets to see another of Ritsu’s expression. She’s not so expressionless after all. Blessing in disguise?

Episode 2
Sumiko will be away for a while and since Ritsu is her niece, she puts her temporarily in charge so that the rest won’t do something dumb. First thing in the morning, Mayumi is already depressed and trying to tempt over Usa. I don’t even know want to know what her problem is except it has something to do with relationships. They go join Shiro playing bubbles. Again, what the heck is her problem because when the bubbles pop, it just reminds her how fleeting her life is. Ritsu seems interested but she gives excuse that she rather read her book, although her body reaction indicates that she is itching to join in. Eventually she does and Usa sees for the first time her happy expression. Classic. Unforgettable. This actually turns him on so he can’t really stand or his ‘little buddy’ will ‘stand out’. Mayumi and Shiro tease him about this and I think Ritsu got the idea what is happening and smacks him in the face. Yup. One big mark there. Sumiko wonders if he did something wrong and due to the rule Usa made that roommates cannot be implicated, I guess Usa can’t blame him. His plan to protect himself just backfired. While doing the laundry, Usa sees a piece of clothing on the floor and his mind goes wild thinking it is some panties. But Shiro nonchalantly picks it up to reveal it as a scrunchie. Ritsu and Usa do the curtains together. The silence is so awkward. When they return, they see Shiro making odd poses in the wind. Usa quips something artful about this and this has Ritsu bursting into laughter! She can’t help herself! Another classic rare expression you don’t see every day. Shiro doesn’t know what is going on but he likes this feeling of shaming… Usa feels more confident about himself. He sees another scrunchie and picks it up and wonders whose this belongs to. It unveils to be panties… Before he knew it, he was ‘blown’ 10 steps back by Ritsu.

The guys are in a very awkward position. Seems Mayumi is forcing them to watch a horror movie. What is the occasion? When she was out drinking with her colleagues, a younger colleague announced she was getting married… Oh… To have that horror feel, they decorate the complex with talismans, candles and creepy stuffs. Well, aside the movie, Mayumi may be the scariest one. But the one most afraid is Ritsu. Trying to give an excuse that she is sleepy? Usa tries to coax her to watch some but she peeps at the wrong time and got the fright of her life. Once the movie is over, she has Mayumi accompany her to the toilet. Suddenly somebody attacks them. The rest rush over after hearing their scream. Seems Sayaka is back and is fondling Mayumi’s boobs. Sayaka is introduced to Usa and it seems he finds her quite normal. In fact, cute. Only Mayumi is pissed off over this cutesy act of hers. Who could blame Usa? He has to live with a pervert, drunkard and an unsociable girl so can you blame him for fawning over her? Something indicates that Sayaka too may not be as normal as she seems. Dark aura?

Episode 3
Usa bought a new bicycle. You bet Shiro and Mayumi want to steal his maiden ride. Sayaka suggests Ritsu should ride with him but when they see the bondage rope tied on the backseat (thanks to Shiro), I guess that’s a no. Next day, Shiro gets another chance to ask her but she says she would rather die. That hurts, right? So after that heartbroken boy peddles away, you might be hearing things about Ritsu confessing she actually loves him, which is actually cheeky Sayaka adlibbing the whole damn thing. The rest proceed to tease her and this pisses her off so much that she warns them that she could use her position as the landlord’s daughter (her mom holds the real ownership of this place) to increase rent by 50%! Holy cow! At school, Ritsu tries to apologize and explain for what she said but it ends up confusing herself. Back home, Usa witnesses more weird stuffs. Sumiko jumping on Shiro’s back and Sayaka molesting Mayumi. But the one who caught his eye is Ritsu. Is she crying?! Something feels wrong. Mayumi gets a call from her ex. She tries to feign she is the dominant one or that the guy is the one who needs her but we can tell she is just playing into his hands. See that big smile on her face when he texts wanting to hear her voice? Again, Usa notices Ritsu quite sad. She knows how she feels? Could it be she has a previous boyfriend? No way! That loner? Not possible. That evening, Usa sees Mayumi dressing up very nicely (she’s quite pretty if she looks like this) and going to meet her ex. Meeting up with him, it seems he is trying to make her come to his place and she very well knows he has no intention of talking things out. Besides, she hates the Italian food here so she ditches him and that she is not getting back with him. Once she returns home, Ritsu feels so relieved that they hug. Turns out the book she was reading has the protagonist exactly like Mayumi. She tends to get influenced easily with her books. Big relief for Usa.

When Usa is about to leave the complex, he sees Sayaka being harassed by a guy, probably her boyfriend. Upon spotting Usa, Sayaka quickly hides behind him and all we know is that sh*t is going to hit the fan. She’s making it sound that Usa has got something to do with her and this makes that guy mad and is going to beat him up! Thanks to Ritsu’s book throwing (she blames it that the wind blew it off her hand), Usa didn’t get damage to his face. Besides, they’re blocking her way into the complex. That guy wants to continue beating him up but the police is here to return Shiro (trying to sneak out discarded porn magazines). Sayaka is forced to apologize because Sumiko warned her about bringing trouble to this complex. Besides, you don’t want your rent to increase, don’t you? Promise this won’t ever happen again? Hope so… Usa goes to thank Ritsu for saving him but this causes her to blush. She gets so embarrassed that she yells at him. But did Usa find it cute? Sayaka then stirs up more trouble by telling him that Ritsu is actually lonely and please be there for her. Hope that trouble won’t come because Sumiko reminds her again… Granny looks pretty serious this time. Sweating in your pants?

Episode 4
Taking up Sayaka’s advice, Usa goes to talk to Ritsu. He lights up when she stops reading her book and walks home with him (his bicycle has a punctured tyre). Mayumi receives a call from a friend. Something about a failed mixer. I’m not sure if she is happy or sad about it because she didn’t like her that much. On this same topic, Sayaka notes Ritsu doesn’t like making friends. Ritsu narrates that it’s not like she wanted to be alone (really?). Just that nobody from her junior high enrolled in this high school with her and that she never had a chance to approach her classmates. How could she? She is always engrossed reading her book. Usa continues his streak to not take the hint as he goes to talk to Ritsu. From the conversation, it seems Usa thinks Ritsu needs his help or something and is happy the way things are going. As for Ritsu, she feels he is a weirdo. So you can see the contrast of their moods when they get back. Usa so happy and Ritsu just gloomy. One day at the bookstore, Usa sees Ritsu’s old friends giving her a surprise greeting. They talk a while and exchange phone numbers. Then her face turns to horror when she realizes Usa was watching. She leaves quickly but he catches up. Trying to cheer her up and stay positive, this only makes things worse as she tells him off to quit worrying about him. Instantly his heart sank like a rock. He is so depressed that he wants Mayumi to step on him?! I don’t think he inherited this fetish from Shiro. So he learns that Sayaka was fooling around with him and although the hint she gave him was true. What he should have really done was maintain status quo but instead he went ahead and dug his own grave.

Shiro spots Ritsu sitting alone in the garden. He also knows she is depressed and something to do with Usa because that guy is down too. She explains the conversation she had with her friends. It’s not like she hates them or wanted to be friends with them. She went with the flow just to end the conversation early. She doesn’t mind being alone. But she feels bad she contradicted herself and took it out on Usa. Shiro for once gives some cool advice about this teenage angst she is experiencing. He believes along the way she will learn that she is just fine the way she is instead of trying to be perfect. Usa heard all this and never realized Ritsu’s feelings. At first he thought she likes Shiro! But since he becomes an idiot and Ritsu chides him, man, that is a big relief. What were you thinking? The next time Usa sees Ritsu, he doesn’t greet her. But she is so engrossed in her book that she didn’t cross the lights after several times! She didn’t even move! So he greets her but tells her she doesn’t need to close her book. He tries to make amends, he says something funny that makes her chuckle and I suppose this is good enough for him. He points out to the beautiful rainbow ahead and she murmurs a thank you. She thought he didn’t catch it but his you’re welcome reply made her embarrassed that he might have heard it.

Episode 5
Usa is now able to walk home with Ritsu with pretext of keeping her safe. That’s about it. When they come home, they see Sayaka trying to rape Mayumi! Seems when she went drinking with her circle yesterday, she met her ex. She tried to be friendly as not to ruin the mood. He took it the wrong way and talked casually with her. The last straw was when he tried to kiss her. Let’s say his crotch suffered the most damage. Then they all talk about how each of them stores their love stories in some imaginary folder. Sayaka tries to kiss Ritsu but Usa jumps to her defence. He uses his hand to block but it touches her lips. Embarrassed Ritsu gets up and quickly leaves for her room. Sumiko advises him that while Ritsu doesn’t mind being alone, she doesn’t always want to be alone. So during dinner, the silence between is so awkward that it pisses off Mayumi to just get it done with. Next day, everyone plays water pistols. Ritsu is geared up and serious… After that she spots Usa reading a book she left on the table. She also saw him giggling. Realizing he has been seen, Usa mentions expresses that this book is interesting and thinks the reason why she is quite happy today. He gives the book back but since she has finished reading it, she lends it to him. Little does he know she puts up a very bright smile. Next day, she sees him reading again but Mayumi interrupts him. Since everyone is bored, it is suggested to do some relay storytelling. I don’t know. It seems like a story to insult Shiro and Usa. Only, Shiro wants to be tormented like in the stories. Yeah. Shiro peeled away into… Usa! Anyway it doesn’t end well. At least for Usa. S&M grandma and yaoi grandpa fight to have a piece of him. Sick. Ritsu and Usa discuss the book they just read and it seems their answers are similar and very in sync. Sayaka and Mayumi have this devilish thoughts about ruining this but angelic (or the biggest devil) Sumiko won’t allow it. Usa is so embarrassed by the synchronicity that he didn’t realize Ritsu’s cute smiling face.

Episode 6
WTF?! This is not a dream! There is this loli, Chinatsu confessing she loves Shiro!!! OMG!!! It all began when the police called him. Uh huh. Previously Shiro returned a lost purse, which surprised the police. Because he thought he was going to turn himself in. Now that the owner is found, they want to visit to say their gratitude. Chinatsu notices Shiro making some huge bamboo contraption and after some talk, he allows her to come by and visit anytime she wants. They thought that was the end of it but surprisingly she did come by to check if he has finished his contraption. He gives lots of excuses that he is busy but Chinatsu says she will come here every day to help complete it. So as they bond together making it, that is where that shocking confession came. Even Shiro says he loves her! If she was 9 years older. He might be a pervert but he keeps his girls over 18 years old. Somehow that doesn’t feel like a compliment… Mayumi feels the need to keep this loli away from that dangerous man and approaches her to give all sorts of reasons including that Shiro is her boyfriend and dog. Not convinced. Mayumi is so pissed that she starts shooting her mouth and causes Chinatsu to cry and runaway. Oh dear. What have you done? Who is the bad guy now? As you would have expected, she too has a mentality of a child so Mayumi starts throwing tantrum and such. Chinatsu stopped coming over ever since so Sayaka the devil hints somebody in this room made her cry. At first Mayumi tries to shift the blame but how far can she run and hide? Next day, Usa and Ritsu see Chinatsu at a corner. When her friends pass by, they ignore her. Telling this to the rest, Mayumi is feeling even guiltier because she did tell off Chinatsu in that rant she will be excluded.

Chinatsu’s mom comes by because her daughter hasn’t come home yet and thought she came here. She didn’t. So they go look for her but she is closer than everyone thinks. She was sleeping in the bushes in the compound. Back inside, Mayumi tries to reconcile and make up. We think she should have just kept her mouth shut because it feels like she is making things worse. She even tries to implicate Ritsu like how she is a loner (risking raising her rent by 3 times!). Chinatsu reveals she wasn’t doing well in her studies and was edgy. So when her friends talked to her about anime, she told them off and made them cry. Although Ritsu gives some good advice, Chinatsu still feels down to a point she wants to die! Can’t have a young girl committing suicide, can’t you? Sumiko cheers her up that she can come here anytime for pudding. When she’s down, she should eat something and it will make her feel better. Shiro promises to complete the machine and when weekend comes, she brings her friends and they enjoy this huge elaborated contraption that turns out into some flowing noodles. Only it isn’t flowing in the end… Chinatsu makes friends with Ritsu and they have extra large servings of pudding. With Chinatsu getting back with her friends, she rarely shows up anymore. Shiro thinks Chinatsu confession was a form of escapism. She did say that looking at him did make her feel better and that a social outcast could still have fun. Kids should be fine the way they are. He sounded quite cool in that statement till he had to ruin it with his masochistic fantasies.

Episode 7
There is a notice going around warning about a molester. No, it isn’t Shiro but that guy has that look on his face that he would love to be the victim… Because Sayaka and Mayumi relate their experience that they have been molested before in a bookstore, Sumiko puts her feet down and doesn’t want Ritsu to read while she walks back home. Not wanting to waste a single precious moment to read, she assures she has Usa as her ‘bodyguard’. Well, it’s a good thing he gets to be with her. But the way he comments and looks at her makes him realize he could turn into a molester any minute. Soon the molester is caught and Usa’s ‘bodyguard’ days are well over. It has to end sooner or later. And Ritsu is so glad she could read as much as she wants. One evening, a couple of kids come rushing to Sumiko and Usa outside the complex because they saw a molester in the train station. Actually, this one is a flasher. Because Ritsu is so engrossed in her reading, she didn’t realize she has been flashed! Totally ignored. The rest of her mates come to her rescue before the flasher could do anything and Shiro puts his S&M bonding into good use. Shiro lectures Ritsu that she was being careless. Not only she was not paying attention, she didn’t even yell for help or run away. Not amused when he tests her into saying something embarrassing, she lures him into the women section to beat him up. That’s legal, right? Since Sumiko feels lazy to do anything today, the gang will go out to eat at her friend’s cafe run by Tae Shinohara. I know Usa wants to bring control to the weird bunch but it makes him look like a control freak. Tae tries to recruit Usa to work part time but he doesn’t want to, fearing that this place has equally weird people. Not till Sumiko reveals about Usa’s embarrassing middle school nickname that has the girls laughing and teasing him like mad. Even Ritsu is snickering. I guess she wasn’t really engrossed in today’s reading. To cheer him up, they tell their own stories of other people with weirder nicknames. Next day, Tae visits the complex and has him wear a traditional apprentice outfit for her cafe. I thought he didn’t want to work at the cafe? He didn’t. Well, this might change his mind. Ritsu looking and fawning over him (his uniform, rather) and since she is giving him that puppy eyes look, safe to say Usa accepts the job.

Episode 8
Usa will go by the nickname of Anekouji at the cafe. Now here comes his weird colleagues. There is Houjou (nickname Yamamoto) who can’t stop ranting and is a history freak and Kurokawa (Saionji) who loves the spirit world. Back at the complex, Mayumi is at her bad temper again because her junior organized a mixer and kept her in the dark. In that right timing, Usa’s friend, Tagami texts him about an invitation to a mixer. Mayumi is turning into a demon lord… Anyway Tagami is with this girl who planned the mixer whom Usa knows from middle school. Looks quite the cutie but Usa doesn’t remember her. When our ‘experts’ remove all the fake makeup accessories, Usa remembers her as that plain Jane spirit freak, Hayashi. A follow up mail states that Hayashi refuses to go ahead with this mixer if Usa comes. Mayumi feels great because this is not as bad as being left out from a mixer. When Usa is working in the cafe, Hayashi and her mixer come in. Small world, huh? But Hayashi feigns she doesn’t know Usa much (in contrary she used to report every spiritual reading to him back then). Sumiko suggests that they go visit Usa since they have nothing better to do. Ritsu didn’t want to come along till she was told there are lots of old literatures. She is also made to wear the traditional outfit. Usa’s mixer seems to be rude by making fun of Houjou and Kurokawa when they serve them (just to impress the girls?). Then when it is Usa’s turn, they start mocking and badmouthing him but Usa just sat there. He is embarrassed and hurt deep inside but couldn’t say a word. His thoughts are only about Ritsu when he hears her voice. It’s like an angel came to him because here she is. Everyone is stunned by her beauty. The guys they could further tease her when Ritsu personally requests for Usa. But Ritsu being Ritsu, she makes it serious that she wants him now. She’ll be waiting downstairs. Once she leaves, it is Mayumi and Sayaka’s turn to turn up the heat. They cling on to Usa and make it seem as though he is such a popular guy. You guys jealous? While Sayaka wrecks havoc with the mixer, Mayumi brings Usa away and lectures him about his Mr Nice guy personality. Too bad Ritsu didn’t wait and has already left. Usa believes it is because she felt embarrassed after standing up for him to strangers. He is so happy that he could die. On the contrary, Ritsu is so embarrassed that she could die. Back at the complex, Usa gets his ‘reward’ when he gets to eat next to Ritsu. Their conversation goes fine till Mayumi had to interrupt because she won’t let it end on a good note. No happy ending yet for them.

Episode 9
Tagami calls Usa and seems he is interested in Mayumi! Oh sh*t! Usa tries his best to make him stay out of this. Speaking of the devil, here is Mayumi in one of her bad moods again. Drunk. Sitting on Shiro’s shoulder. Whacking his head with the sake bottle. You sure you want this kind of woman? So what is it this time? One of her b*tchy colleagues got a boyfriend. You can guess the rest from there. Uh huh. It’s like Mayumi needs someone below her to feel superior. Sumiko finds a guitar in the closet and this brings back unwanted memories for Mayumi because her first love was a loser and this sets the streak-cum-curse for the rest of her life. She climbs up to the roof and starts singing her song, strumming her pain away with the guitar. Trying to spread the despair? Since she’s already in this state of mind, the rest just play along with her. Eventually they manage to coax her to get down. Can’t stay up there forever, can’t you? That night, a loud scream is heard from Mayumi. Usa rushes out to see what is happening but Ritsu crashes into him followed by Mayumi. Seems while Ritsu was reading on her bed, a centipede fell down. She freaked out and slammed it with her book. She ran to Sumiko’s room for help but got freaked out by her Japanese dolls so she went to Mayumi’s room. She slipped and crashed into her. Because Mayumi can’t see well without her glasses, she thinks Ritsu was holding up a centipede when it was her black string panties (unused) and thus the scream. Shiro reveals the many methods to get rid of it (which feels like a horror story) and since Ritsu is begging oh so pitiful, I guess this is the one time Usa gets permission to go into the women section.

Mayumi wants them to check her room first but it is so messy that they don’t even want to look. Usa is motivated to enter Ritsu’s room. Feels like a mini library. He has to fight his raging horniness when he can’t help think about Ritsu’s bed. Even so, Ritsu’s ambiguous words she doesn’t mind wetting the bed (they’re going to pour hot water on the centipede). When Usa flips the book, the centipede is not there. Ultimate horror because it might have run off somewhere in the complex. So the horror search begins. Usa thinks he saw something. Could it be his imagination? And then… And then… it’s right on Ritsu’s back!!!!!!!!!! He tries to take it quietly and swiftly but Ritsu already felt something wriggling. She panics and shakes like mad to get it off. In the process she risks getting scalded by the thermos flask but Ritsu blocks it with his arm and got minor burns. Usa catches her and this looks like a seemingly romantic situation before they got embarrassed and realized this. The centipede is before Mayumi. Oh, what to do?! Suddenly Sayaka the saviour kills it. Her old place has lots of them so she is used to it. Nobody could kill centipedes and look as good at the same time. Now they can sleep in peace. When Ritsu notices Usa’s scalded hand, she takes the cool pack to treat it while trying to eke out a thank you. Usa feels so good that he probably could upgrade from sleeping in peace to dying in happiness. Next day, Tagami makes his surprise visit because he really wants to get to know Mayumi. Usa tries to make him go away but here comes Mayumi in her sexy pyjamas. Tagami tries to hit on her and this only serves to increase her dominating confidence. All that gloom just blown away, huh? After Usa shoos him away, Mayumi is starting to feel real good but learns that Tagami isn’t the legal age yet so she loses interest.

Episode 10
Usa wonders if he should continuing working here after summer ends. With his weird colleagues around, definitely he is going to quit. The cafe is also stocking up on old books and since Ritsu’s room is running out of space, they plan to store some here. While Shiro is enjoying the heat stroke (yes, he is), he sees Hayashi trying to peek into the cafe. Seems she felt guilty over that day and wants to apologize. Flashback reveals she overheard girls in her class badmouthing him. However they also noted that Hayashi would have been bullied left and right if not for him always sticking around her. When Usa spots Hayashi, she musters her courage to thank him for everything and then apologize. It would have ended great had she not cried so much and end up looking like some horror ghost because her makeup melted. Hayashi wonders why he could forgive her so easily. It’s because he had others supporting him. Had Ritsu not been there that day, he might not have been able to forgive her and thus wasn’t hurt that bad. She should go thank her too. Kurokawa returns Hayashi a handphone strap she dropped the other day and tells her to take care of her good spirit guardian. She starts taking a liking for him.

One day Chinatsu pays the complex a visit. It’s been a long time and she thought she should spend some time with those lonely people. You don’t say… Also to help complete her summer project, Shiro helps her make shiny mud balls. Because Sayaka is away to her hometown, this prompts Mayumi to as usual berate her trying to grab a boyfriend. This interests Chinatsu since she loves talking about romance and thinks Sayaka has a boyfriend or is a popular girl (both of which Mayumi denies). She then asks if Ritsu and Usa are dating. Ritsu starts feeling uneasy but like young children who don’t know about reservation and just being honest to goodness in your face, she is sure Usa likes her. Ritsu dismisses it that Usa is just a guy who is used to taking care of strange people. She isn’t special to him. Chinatsu could tell she is jealous since Usa is ‘taking care’ of a girl from his junior high at his work place. She’s mad because he is just as nice to other girls. No? So Chinatsu boldly asks what if Usa dates her. What would she do? Call the police. What if Usa dates Mayumi? Call the police. When Usa returns from work, he sees Chinatsu trying to apologize to Ritsu. As he couldn’t read the atmosphere fast and talks like normal, this causes Ritsu to be upset and giving him that death stare before she abruptly leaves. When Sumiko returns, Chinatsu is amazed by the decorative bread she made and will make this her summer project. Nobody cares about the mud balls now, eh? Poor Usa is still left clueless…

Episode 11
Talking about pets, Mayumi refuses to have one but changes her mind when Sayaka teases that it may help cool her head and choose a better guy. On second thought, Sayaka takes that back. The girls continue to tease Usa and he would love to plot his revenge if he knew their weaknesses. Sayaka’s friend, Miharu Tsuneda shows up. Sayaka is not thrilled she is here (her high school is holding a reunion so she thought she dropped by). She tries to make her leave but it seems for the rest, the more Tsuneda opens her mouth, the more stuffs they get to know about Sayaka and gladly allow her to stay. Among the things she reveals include the time she was locked up in a shed and how she busted out of it. And this… Sayaka is into BL?! Holy sh*t! Sayaka couldn’t do anything till Tsuneda passes out after drinking a bit of alcohol. Good riddance? At least she doesn’t talk in her sleep. Next day when she leaves, the gang are shocked to see Tsuneda’s total makeover. It’s like she’s a different person only 10 times cuter! One day a rabbit accidentally enters Sayaka’s room. She freaks out and dashes to Usa. She makes one big hell of a threat if he ever tells this to Mayumi, he is screwed forever. Seems this was part of Usa’s prank as he learnt she hates rabbits. Despite finding her weakness, it opened up a can of worms because he gained another weakness of his own.

Usa walks back with Ritsu just like any other day. One day at the library a girl named Maemura talks to her and shares the same interest of reading. Instantly they become friends. Usa is happy for her but also feels sad because his time to walk home with her is now gone as Maemura hogs every moment to be with her. Maemura asks where she stays and if there are any boys she likes. This of course sends the bells ringing. She wants to visit the complex. Usa hides himself in his room thinking she wouldn’t want Maemura to think they live together. More heartbreaking is that Maemura got her email address when he himself doesn’t. He laments he means nothing to her. So Ritsu the beginner learns how to text a message back. Slow. But it might become a chore since she is forced to reply every message and this interrupts her reading. Maemura continues to spend more time with her and Ritsu is getting more annoyed although she still tolerates it all. One day Maemura invites Ritsu to meet up with her friends who also share the same hobby. She thought they were meeting up somewhere else instead of the library because they’ll be talking. When Sayaka returns home, she tells the rest she saw Ritsu with a bunch of girls meeting up with guys. To Usa’s horror, he realizes the signs and fears the worst. Likewise, Ritsu realizes she has been duped because here she is in this mixer at the karaoke joint and is feeling more than just uneasy.

Episode 12
This handsome guy in the mixer is being pushy. Ritsu tries to push him away but he loves playing hard to get. Oh no. Is Ritsu done for? Good news: This was Usa’s concerning fantasy. But how come this guy suddenly turned into his face midway?! He wanted to be the one, eh? In reality, Ritsu is still uneasy but as Maemura points out, all of them are bookworms. This guy, Mitsui shares the same interest with her. Things seem to be going on fine till he somewhat ridicules other types of readers including those beginners who pretend to read hard stuffs. This makes Ritsu snap at him. That didn’t stop him from trying to get his hands around her. Thanks to her handphone ringing, she leaves to answer it. Although it’s from Mayumi, the text itself is from Usa (he doesn’t have her mail address). As expected, he is quite concerned and probably hoping that she would allow him to come to her rescue. However from the way she says it, despite not alright, she’ll find a way to deal with it herself. So he is not needed? Ritsu leaves the group and returns home but to her surprise finds Usa waiting for her at the bus stop to walk her home. Next day, Maemura apologizes for what she did but her intentions were good as she feared she would back off if she told her guys were coming. She still wants to hang out with Ritsu but when she finds Maemura has been distributing a picture of her unauthorized, that is the last straw. She chides her that she is just looking for someone to hang around. Maemura reveals maybe that is the case because she got into a fight with someone so she may be overcompensating it with her. Soon any form of communicating from Maemura stops. Good riddance to those annoying handphone ringing? Maemura also stopped meeting her at the library. One day Ritsu and Usa heard Maemura meeting up with her friends. She said that she didn’t really click with Ritsu and is trying to maintain some distance. In a way, Ritsu felt bad and started crying. Though she blames the book she is reading. Then I suppose the book must have got Usa to be emotional too, huh? Too bad they can’t be the saddest around because hell Mayumi is going to let them be. Uh huh. Again being kept in the dark for another mixer. Yeah, yeah. She is always the worst case, right? Ritsu couldn’t give a damn…

Ritsu gets drunk when she accidentally drinks something alcoholic. Well, all the unexpected things you never expect her to say are now out. From hating those b*tches to be happy and even calling Sayaka a b*tch 3 times in a row! Surprisingly the ‘relationship experts’ dispense good advice like how Ritsu isn’t to be blamed entirely. It is just because they don’t click. That’s all. Either way they will drift apart eventually. As no two people are compatible, the important thing is to accept that fact and still want to get closer to each other. Thinking about Mitsui continues to rile Ritsu up. So she takes it out on Usa about him being a nice guy especially to Hayashi. It makes him like a masochist. So does she want him not to be nice to Hayashi? Ritsu changes the subject and feels hungry. Since she is prohibited to go out to buy snacks in this state, Usa has a few snacks in his room and will go get them. But the devil women read his intention well of wanting to let Ritsu into his room and won’t let him have his way. So the ladies are at his room trying to find the best ‘snacks’. Nude pictures are only worth 20 points but 50 points for finding a porn DVD? Ritsu wakes up in Usa’s room all sober. She exactly remembers what happened last night. Oh sh*t… Thankfully nothing horny last night. She notices a tough book he is reading and the comments he has written. She takes the liberty to put some of hers only to be interrupted by Mayumi. Usa feels embarrassed the comments have been read as Ritsu dashes out of his room. When he catches up to her, she couldn’t stop laughing at some of the comments he made that just sounds plain funny. She hopes he will show her his notes again when he reads further in. She blushes when he points out this feels like writing a diary exchange. Then he did it. He finally asks her for her mail address. Just in case that mixer incident happens again. She sends it to him. Gladly received. Gladly saved.

Lovely Complex, Complex Love
I actually didn’t thinks about it because despite the very normal and nothing-much-happens ending, it feels like the goal of getting Ritsu’s mail address has been achieved and therefore the ‘good ending’ for Usa and thus the end of this series. I mean, there wasn’t any real sort of plot for this series in the first place so at the back of my mind I was wondering how this anime is going to end. Then it hit me (hinted, rather) that Usa did not have Ritsu’s handphone number or email address so if he is able to get that, it would be a big step and improvement in their relationship. Although from the way I see it, it is a very long way to go. But I guess for a guy like him to get Ritsu’s handphone, it is unlocking the hardest and toughest achievement ever in a game. Beats everything else. I hope he doesn’t continue to annoy her with mails and texts.

The characters are the strongest points of the series although it may seem a little cliché that the complex residences have wacko personalities. Is it a must? I mean aside from the compulsory normal guy as the protagonist (Usa’s normalcy is just like Mahoraba’s Shiratori and Sakurasou No Pet Na Kanojo’s Sorata), we have the unsociable (Mahoraba’s Sayoko and Sakurasou No Pet Na Kanojo’s Mashiro), the drunkard (see the similarity with Mahoraba’s Megumi and Sakurasou No Pet Na Kanojo’s Chihiro?), the predatory college b*tch (a mix of Mahoraba’s Megumi and Tamami), the nice landlady (Mahoraba’s Aoba and Sakurasou No Pet Na Kanojo’s Chihiro except that she is nowhere near nice) and the perverted other guy (except these guys are not perverted – Mahoraba’s Haibara and Sakurasou No Pet Na Kanojo’s Jin). Well, like Mayumi says, everybody is different. Some are just more different than others…

Despite their very strange personality, somehow the chemistry between them works out well and it makes them lovable despite some of their very questionable behaviour. For Usa (whose name sometimes reminds me of the initials of a great super power country), I guess lots of guys could relate to him. Wants to be independent, live on his own and trying to get the girl he likes to notice him. He even fawns and fantasizes about her in certain situations. Most guys are like that, right? Some may find the romance development between Usa and Ritsu to be painfully slow especially with him only getting her email address as the ‘biggest’ development. However it isn’t good to rush things and as they are poles apart in their personality, all the better to take their relationship slowly and tread carefully. It would be unrealistic to see them end up as a couple by the end of the dozen episodes. I mean, for a shy girl like Ritsu who does not open up her heart like she does for her books to suddenly throw herself into Usa’s arms. Can you imagine that? No can’t do. It might be a feel good factor for the short term if their relationship blossomed that way but once that is over, you’d realize that would just spoil everything that has been built on so far. I mean, you can’t compress love into just 12 episodes, right?

I don’t know if this is how complex residences have fun but I’m sure it isn’t so fun for Usa as he is usually the object of teasing from the rowdy ones. Despite so, I don’t think he hates it and somewhat accepts part and parcel as his daily life. Because if he really despises all that mockery, he would have moved out or get so pissed off that the sky would fall. Really. Or maybe he just doesn’t have enough money for another place, has not enough living skills to live on his own and wants to be with the girl he admires. That is why sometimes I am somewhat tempted to make this pun for this guy because as the complex is called Kawaisou which could also mean pitiful or sympathetic. Yeah, pity that guy. But respect him for putting up for what he had to go through.

Ritsu so far has been the best character (because Usa is just too plain and the rest are just plain crazy). Despite being the shy introvert bookworm, she isn’t necessarily always that monotonous robot and if you push the right buttons, you’d find that she shows a different side that you would never normally expect to see her. Especially when she tries so hard to stop herself from laughing but couldn’t and just giggles anyway. Her different expressions from being awed to embarrassed are a rarity too. It makes every moment of seeing her do such expression as a priceless gem. Ritsu might not become a sociable person overnight but I’m sure with Usa by her side, she’ll eventually open up a little. At least I’m hoping not as bad as before. I believe Maemura’s intentions were good and was trying to help Ritsu to be more sociable (Maemura even admitted she likes interacting and mixing with boys). But she was being hasty and rushing it a bit, making Ritsu scared. She didn’t try to understand Ritsu like Usa (he got some painful lessons in the process) and in the end it costs them their friendship. But as noted, it might not have lasted since their personality varies a lot and perhaps reading is the only thing they share in common.

The rest of the complex inhabitants feel like for comic relief because of their strange behaviour. But they don’t feel very much like unimportant secondary characters because their relationship helps grow and develop Usa and Ritsu’s relationship in the process. Shiro for one may be a masochist and would love to forever be the receiving end of just about anything. But there are times he displays his big brother side and it shows that he isn’t just a masochistic pervert after all. He could have been much a cooler guy had he not always ask for some pain treatment. Any kind of seemingly painful stuffs, he wants. In fact, almost anything and everything can amount to that. And thus this becomes one of the funny moments of the series. Don’t be surprise if Shiro always ends up as the punching bag.

Then there is Mayumi who is like that typical archetype of a single woman not getting younger by the day who will always b*tch about the hits and misses (mostly the latter) in her failed relationships. Alcohol is probably her best buddy to drown out her sorrows but I think it only aggravates her situation. Because for her, it’s like if she can’t be happy, nobody else can. The reason why she despises any rom-com situation developing between Usa and Ritsu and would come between them if it ever arises. Her ‘sparring partner’ would be Sayaka because if they aren’t busy teasing Usa, they’ll be busy at each other’s throats, ridiculing, mocking, scorning and poking fun. But not to the point of wanting to kill each other, that is.

Sayaka feels similar but different than Mayumi in this context because although she is single, she isn’t a desperate case like Mayumi. Instead, I think she gets the thrill of dumping her boyfriends. Sometimes I get the feeling that she has that yandere looks… Of course these girls aren’t just useless troublemaking b*tches and like Shiro they have their nice and good side to them. Life would have been better if they show more of that side but I guess it wouldn’t be interesting that way. Can you imagine Mayumi not drunk and having a steady relationship and a Sayaka who isn’t a sly schemer? We’ve already got a plain guy at the complex and we certainly don’t need another.

Other side characters add to the fun like Sumiko. If Mayumi and Sayaka are the devil, Sumiko is definitely the angel. But I think she would love to see something developing between Usa and her niece since from time to time she would be dropping ambiguous hints to him. Partly I believe is to help Ritsu break out from her shell and be more sociable. I wonder if other characters like Maemura, Hayashi and Tsuneda will continue to stay relevant because it feels their roles might have ended somehow with Maemura trying to keep her distance, Hayashi reconciling with Usa and Tsuneda won’t be back in town since she lives far away from her best friend. Well, sadistic loli Chinatsu did return once. Future sadist in the making… As long as Usa continues to work in the cafe, you bet Houjou and Kurokawa will still be in our sights.

On a little trivial note, there is something refreshing about in seeing a girl like Ritsu compared to others these days. She is reading a book! Not just an e-book but the physical cold hard bounded pieces of papers! Ironically she doesn’t even know how to use her handphone unlike kids her age these days who are such ‘pros’ (because you can type and send messages faster than the speed of light) and stuffing their face at their iPhones and iPads checking their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or whatever social network that is trendy now. Seeing such a scene is a rarity these days and maybe in the near future when people have become tired of too much wired and technology in their life, perhaps being such an old fashioned geek isn’t so bad after all. Yeah. Maybe there is some hidden potential for a new type of moe here. However I still can’t bring myself to read. Not even manga.

The drawing and art are another of the strong points of this anime. Although mostly like conventional Japanese animes these days, they are pleasing to the eye. Unless you prefer those edgy and unconventional art styles and odd angles (think SHAFT), the art won’t be much of a surprise in this department but certainly any reasonable anime viewer won’t be complaining about it since the quality is consistent throughout the episodes and sometimes it goes even into more detail especially when you have those close ups on Ritsu, the detailed effects that make her look so cute and adorable despite being a bookworm. Speaking of which, because of Ritsu’s short haircut, sometimes she looks like a girly cross-dressing boy in certain angles. You know, animes have lots of characters that have that androgynous looks. Bringing unfounded horror yaoi thoughts if Ritsu and Usa becoming a couple. Yikes! She definitely has that very uncanny resemblance to Ouran High School Host Club’s Haruhi (which happens to be cross-dressing as a boy under a certain circumstance).

Therefore it is also a lesson to learn to watch this anime: Never judge a book by its cover. Yeah. I think that is pretty apt too. Not all bookworms are nerds. They are human beings just like you and me. Then there is the makeup aspect because we see the tremendous transformation of Hayashi and Tsuneda from their geeky look into hot beauties. If they entered some reality TV, I’m sure they would win the grand prize. Of course most importantly, don’t be deceived by the looks because despite Mayumi and Sayaka looking like Miss Universe potentials, they have a dark side that the devil would shiver in his pants.

Increasing Ritsu’s cuteness up another notch is made possible thanks to the talented Kana Hanazawa who voices her. Despite Ritsu‘s character usually displaying a monotonous and emotionless tone, unlike her other expressionless characters like Roku in D-Frag!, there are parts where Ritsu does go into other forms of other expression like embarrassment and trying to keep her laughter. This is played to perfection and makes the character more believable. In short, adorable. Moe gap? What happens when you turn To Aru Kagaku No Railgun’s tsundere Mikoto into a luckless mood swinging eternally single woman? Yeah well, Rina Satou definitely sounds like that when she plays Mayumi. Likewise, what happens when you turn a naïve gullible squid girl into a b*tchy college woman? That is how I thought Hisako Kanemoto sounded like. Just no “~de geso”… I haven’t heard Ai Shimizu in a long time but recognizing her making her cameo as Chinatsu certainly does bring back memories way back when I first heard her as Mikoto from Mai-HiME and Karen from Onegai Twins. That cuteness in her voice is still there.

The other casts in the line-up includes Yuuichi Iguchi as Usa (Mitsuki/Sariel in Hataraku Maou-sama, Gou Shinomiya as Shiro (Mao in Jormungand), Sanae Kobayashi as Sumiko (Lucy in Elfen Lied), Manami Numakura as Hayashi (Riko in Love Lab) and Ayaka Suwa as Tsuneda (Tokaku in Akuma No Riddle). The upbeat opening theme is by fhana entitled Itsuka No Iku Tsuka No Kimi to No Sekai while the ending theme is My Sweet Shelter sung by the trio of Kana Hanazawa, Rina Satou and Hisako Kanemoto.

Overall, this series might have some typical overused cliches but there are many parts of the slice of life romance that feels realistic and people can relate to. Some of the comeback lines are spontaneous, witty and funny without going overboard too much on the dirty stuffs. Despite my initial mistranslation of the series’ title as “We Are Being Pitied By Everyone” or “Everyone Being Pitiful”, thus making me think that this would be some sort of slapstick comedy or some tragic unrequited love story, once you get into the flow of the story and know the characters, you’ll find that this is a pleasant and decent anime to watch. You’ll be rewarded with Ritsu’s classic expressions. You won’t regret that. Otherwise, it would be a pity and pity for you if you don’t give this anime a try.

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