Slow Start

May 19, 2018

Here we go again. Time for the cute girls doing cute things trope for the season. Uh huh. So what is the setting this time for Slow Start? Apparently our main character missed the important high school entrance exam and is now a year behind. Her new school mates are not aware of this but she is hell bent in trying to catch up with everyone else. Yeah, that sounds like a yawn fest but if this is cute girls doing cute things, they’ll try to cover that up with some friendship bonding thingy that will have you squealing in all the cute and moe fashion. Gyah~!!!! So kawaii!!!

Episode 1
Hana Ichinose receives her first year high school uniform from her cousin-cum-roommate, Shion Kyouzuka who is excited to take pictures of her in it. Hana gets message spam from her mom about her first day. After the entrance ceremony, Hana sees Eiko Tokura reunited with a petite childhood friend Kamuri Sengoku whom she has not seen since kindergarten. That’s because Kamuri has not grown too. Hana feels lonely as everyone else has already made friends. Even more so when she sees Eiko introduces Tamate “Tama” Momochi to Kamuri. When the homeroom teacher, Kiyose Enami begins class by having everyone introduce themselves, Hana is first on the register. Being shy on her first day, she didn’t put much enthusiasm in it. Enami then realizes today is Hana’s birthday. Embarrassed, surprisingly everyone claps and wishes her happy birthday. Later, Eiko, Tama and Kamuri give her birthday presents and one of them includes a road safety charm given out for free at the train station. They become friends and decide to show Hana the sakura trees at the station. Along the way, they discuss the origins of their name. While Hana is simply from spring season, Tama is embarrassed to be called her full first name as her parents named her after that folklore box. Kamuri is also an unusual name and it might be derived from some crested serpent eagle. The girls would love Hana to tell them more about herself but since she only moved here a year ago, she can’t say much. Hana invites them to hang out there sometimes. Back home, Shion celebrates her birthday as well as her first day at school. She can tell Hana is in a good mood and has made friends. Aside the umbrella present from Shion, she also gives that road safety charm. Going to school will sure be a lot safe. Before going to bed, Hana calls her parents to tell she has made friends and doing well. Next day at school, Hana fears her pals have forgotten her name as they keep calling her as yesterday’s birthday girl. Luckily they still do. It is just that the birthday part had a great impact on them.

Episode 2
Flashback a year ago, when Hana was supposed to sit for the high school entrance exam, she got mumps followed by high fever. She was forced to miss it and got well after it is all over. She became disheartened about being a year behind all her friends so mom suggested to go live with Shion who is the landlady of her uncle’s apartment. In a new environment where nobody knows her, it will be good to get a fresh start. The friends are eating lunch together. They tease Hana for perhaps dating Shion since she made quite a lovely bento. Eiko’s little sister always makes soup for her. Despite studying for her entrance exam, she goes to great lengths to cook for her. This triggers Hana to rap Eiko to take better care of her sister. Yeah, she feels so strongly about entrance exams. When Hana returns home, she apologizes to Shion she can’t go out with her. WTF? The girls are having a physical sports test. Hana is of course very unfit. Kamuri seems to be able to run faster than the average (less wind resistance?) so a girl who is impressed with her starts praising this and that, scaring the hell out of Kamuri. Luckily Eiko was there to ‘save’ her. Hana continues to flop in many of the tests. Until the final hand-grip-strength test she finally nailed a normal score. However she starts to have cramps. Her friends immediately head to the infirmary to get some compressors but soon get distracted with the new ice cream vending machine. Mmm… Nice ice cream. Meanwhile Hana is still in pain so they think some banana flavoured ice cream would help. Didn’t. It tastes bad too. Luckily Hana soon recovers. However she might not be when she hears the test will continue into afternoon too. As the friends go home, Kamuri just wears shoes without socks. It is an odd sight since she is often wearing knee socks. Hana has a hard time trying to tell Shion not to make bento that would give her friends the wrong idea. Well, Shion gets the hint although she says it right in her face she knows how much a pain she is after living here for a year. Ouch. And so the bento now looks like they have broken up.

Episode 3
The girls are discussing what they’ll be doing for Golden Week. Eiko leaves for a while when a girl from another class calls her. This makes Kamuri shy even around Tama and Hana. So when Eiko returns, Kamuri gives her a big hug! Like as though she has never seen her in years… Tama suggests hanging out on Golden Week so Eiko thinks it would be better to form a study group as the test is around the corner. Even Hana agrees! You lose, Tama. Since they want to see Hana’s place, she agrees to make her room their study group session. During the week, Hana’s parents visit her and are glad she is doing fine. The next day, Hana’s friends arrive. Even after a year moving in, her room is so empty. Well, she always goes to Shion’s room for meals. But what does she do in her own free time then? Study. Oh. Before they get to that, Eiko and Kamuri surprise the duo with a happy birthday confetti (oh great, now the ‘clean empty’ place is all messed up). Although today is not Tama’s birthday, hers and Hana’s fall in the same month so they think it is good to celebrate it before their study. They also give a proper birthday present this time, twin teddy bears. When Kamuri notes they are now the same age, Hana starts crying. Uhm, I don’t think that can be passed off as tears of happiness. Blissful moment is here when they have some cake and start feeding each other. Then the study session begins. When Eiko leaves for the toilet, Kamuri again becomes shy. The duo try to ask questions but she gets scared and runs. Tama starts chasing her! Luckily Eiko returns and hence the ‘bullying’ ends. The friends leave at the end of the day and they hope to come back again even if it’s not to study. Hana opens her birthday present from her parents. It is a beautiful snow globe and she puts it next to her teddy bears. At least her room is less empty now.

Episode 4
Shion forgot to bring a package for Hiroe Hannen, the tenant who lives upstairs and since she is busy with cooking, Hana offers to do it. But knocking on Hiroe’s door for the first time is scary because Hiroe thinks this is a scam. The last time was a busty woman (Shion) and before that an old man (her uncle). When all calms down, Shion introduces the duo. Both are nervous and shaking while shaking hands. It seems Hiroe is staying here as she is studying for the entrance exams. However she failed them all and is still failing! Hana knows the feeling. You know it is too good to be true because it is just a dream when Hana tells her friends about her situation and they quickly accept her. Hana sends another package to Hiroe. She feels like invading her privacy although Hiroe invites her to stay for tea. As she doesn’t have much, she always orders via online. Besides, she can’t just go out to the convenience store as she has no proper clothes to wear. Flashback reveals Hiroe was a top student and had everything going for her until the day she took her college entrance exams. It was snowing heavily and she got stuck for 2 hours. Everything went downhill from there and that’s how she ended up here. Yup, Hana knows that feeling and reveals her similar situation. To improve her makeover, Hana thought of lending her clothes but it’s too small. Shion? Let’s say it is too roomy in certain areas. So she calls her friends to help. With Eiko exerting her dominance over her, I hope Hiroe doesn’t get traumatized. Hiroe has a complete makeover till the others almost doesn’t recognize her! Cast away all that fanciful makeover, Hiroe looks quite decent. Now they are all able to go out and help her shop for proper clothes. Bought quite a lot. Those salespeople must be really pushy. Oh right. It’s her first time outside since. At the end of the day, Hiroe is thankful to Hana for being ‘dragged’ out of her room. Otherwise she would never have changed. This motivates Hana to tell her friends her situation when the time comes. Well, take your time. Hiroe is now able to go out with confidence and looking presentable.

Episode 5
Looks like Kamuri forgot to wear her skirt to school! Hana is panicking so much that the rest don’t need to panic. Besides, it’s not like she forgot to wear her pantsu. Everyone wears pantsu underneath their skirt too, right? No big deal. Problem is solved with Eiko lending her gym shorts. Tama theorizes she forgot to put on her skirt is because she had dirty thoughts of Eiko. This leads her to show photos of Eiko that were being sold at dirt cheap prices in middle school. Tama doesn’t need them anymore and gives it to Kamuri. Oh yeah, she’ll frame them up. However Eiko feels something off. The Eiko she saw last year looked different. She had long hair unlike in the photo which has short hair. Hana also has this similar feeling because she too thought of seeing someone that resembles Eiko. Meanwhile Enami is wearing sweatpants because the head teacher told her off for wearing some skirt. Tama remembers about the inspection of checking for flashy panties and teases Eiko she might be wearing them. Enami wants her to show her panties! If not, she flips up her skirt! All okay. First time seeing Eiko having a mental breakdown. Don’t worry. Her mental gauge is restored with Kamuri’s petting and hug. Later the friends discuss the possibility of Eiko having a doppelganger. And something about if all of them meet, somebody has to die! Gullible Hana believes them?! Then they think they saw her clone. Kamuri approaches her. Looks a bit different. Eiko? She says yes?! Real Eiko pops up. OMG?! Doppelganger?! Actually, this is her little sister, Miki. She replied so because she thought it was the right thing to do, which isn’t. Kamuri relates last year’s experience when she thought she saw her on the street (it was Miki). She tried to approach her but she was on her handphone. All she heard was the school she might be going to and that’s who she applied here. It was a big gamble because there might be a chance she won’t even enrol here. Anyway, time for their usual big hug that brings tears to the gullible. When Miki mentions she will also be taking the high school entrance exam this year, this triggers Hana as she thinks her breath could jinx her. How long can she hold her breath? Not long. I don’t know how Miki interpreted this to be educational.

Episode 6
Because Shion will be away for a reunion, Tama will be staying with overnight with Hana. Shion and Tama are being dramatically polite with each other over Hana that Hana is embarrassed and confused. Later the duo go pick up Eiko and Kamuri. On their way back, they pass by an eel shop and this brings back memories for Tama who once worked at such a place. It was less than pleasant since lunch wasn’t provided. Didn’t think she could eat eels for free, huh? But since Tama is on a tight budget, she can’t splurge. So she often cooks for her grandmothers and this has the others praising her. Tama is surprised because even though she wanted them to praise her, she didn’t think they would be this serious. They chance upon Hiroe who is coming back from a convenience store. However she is back in her jerseys. I guess she has gotten lazy and hence forgot her fashion sense. They help her regain that sense and in exchange she helps them with their homework (this sleepover is still a study session). Thankfully she hasn’t lost her touch but the rest didn’t think she was this good. What were they thinking of her? They take a bath, have dinner and play a galge (somehow master Eiko aces all the girls so fast). When it is time to sleep, Tama wants to tell ghost stories. Oh, Hana looking scared. Eiko’s lazy story is that she doesn’t remember everything but only everyone dies in the end. Hana is already scared! That night, Hana can’t sleep because she kept thinking how a loose screw she found in her room could topple the apartment. Tama assures her the building’s structure isn’t that flimsy. And something about comparing dating simulations to how different everyone is and hence Hana is an admirable girl for doing her best to live on her own. It puts Hana’s heart at ease. Next morning, there is an indent on Kamuri’s face. She claims it is Eiko’s hard nipples! But Hana fears it is the curse of the screw! It is actually the button on Eiko’s shirt. Hana then finds the loose screw origin. It comes from a switch cover. Why was Kamuri having it?

Episode 7
It’s Eiko’s birthday and everyone gives her hairpins. She’s wearing a bunch of them on her head too. Enami too has a cheeky one: A paper clip. Eiko then cheekily bends it into a heart shape but Enami isn’t a fan of that so she ‘warns’ her to remove all her hairpins before the start of class. Enami might have a weird sense of humour but this is what Eiko likes about her. So she likes hard to get type? One morning, Enami wakes up back in her apartment fresh from last night’s hangover. Enami is sleeping on the floor with her hands gagged! Oh my. What just happened? It seems she had too much of a drink with her friend last night. Eiko saw them and offered to bring Enami home. Enami’s mind was fuzzy and all as she didn’t oppose to Eiko staying. Fearing she would do a prank while she is asleep, she told her to put out her hands and she’ll tie it. Enami feels guilty about it and this only serves to make Eiko laugh as she loves the sight of Enami looking meek. Enami freshens up herself and they have coffee. Eiko thinks of going home to bath but Enami smells her and thinks she smells good. Eiko felt embarrassed and leaves. Like as though she was winning and then suddenly Enami pulled off an upset move and wins it. So in school, Eiko is a bit cautious when Enami is going to get close to her. Later Eiko takes Hana to her secret spot. Panic trigger. Because it means something dangerous is going to happen? Eiko assure it isn’t something like that. Eiko reveals the necklace that Enami is wearing is made by her. She likes making accessories and seeing her wearing them makes her feel happy. I guess Hana was so touched that she started crying. This is Eiko’s first time telling this secret to others. That means you’re the first, Hana. This prompts Hana to wonder if she could share her secrets with her friends.

Episode 8
Hana is supposed to have class duty today with Nanae Takahashi but ends up late. Although Nanae is cool about it, it only worsens Hana’s guilt. When Hana’s friends learn about it, they also learn this is the first time Hana talked to Nanae. In fact, she has never spoken to half of her classmates before since there was no chance as a reason to. Hence the friends help organise the other classmates to introduce themselves and talk to Hana. Looks like Hana could normally talk to them. No big deal. At the end of the day she writes her report on this and hands it in to Enami who advises her she doesn’t need to go out of her way just to talk to people. She is who she is and it is okay. Hana and co are thinking about getting new swimsuits. I guess the flat chests are up in arms when Eiko mentions hers don’t fit anymore. Mob mentality! At the store, Eiko tries a daring one that flaunts her body. Hana tries out a cute one while Tama wears a weird one with stars. As for Kamuri, she already bought hers without trying. Apparently she tried hers during the same time with Eiko and was hiding behind her. On the way home, they ask Hana if she can swim. Nope. Now she acts like a retarded penguin? Is she trying to prove a point that she’s not a penguin? The friends promise to save her if she drowns. They also plan before their next outing to the beach, perhaps they could stay over at Hana’s place. Next morning at school when Hana sees Nanae, she is anxious at first but decides to greet her as planned. And when she says hello, everything from then on flows smoothly. There, it wasn’t so hard, was it?

Episode 9
The girls are so looking forward for tomorrow’s beach trip. Too bad, it’s raining cats and dogs. Wow. It’s like the end of the world for Hana and Tama. But don’t worry. Eiko has this idea of not putting their swimsuits to waste. They can wear it in here instead. Hopefully no peeping toms. Tama is concerned that Hana’s boobs are growing so Eiko gives hope by saying if her chest hurts, it is a sign they’re growing. Hence Tama beats her chest like a gorilla. When Hiroe visits to give lychees, she sees this unholy activity. They won’t let her leave and force on an extra swimsuit on her. While Eiko’s swimsuit has lots of strings for decoration, Hiroe thinks hers is the same and pulls it. Almost gone commando over there! Shion then visits after hearing a commotion. Oh. Closes back the door. Time to panic? Yeah, maybe she’ll kick you all out for good. But then she returns in a swimsuit! I take it she wants in. I guess it is hands down she has the biggest boobs. Shion suggests they can go swimming in a nearby hotel’s pool. The adults go have a body massage while the young ones take to the pool. Hana can’t swim but even wading in the shallow end makes her scared. They also help teach her how to swim. As Hana is resting, she accidentally drops Eiko’s bracelet as it rolls into the pool. She panics and wants to get it and puts on a float. How the f*ck did she get stuck like that? But if you think about it, if she is going to dive in, why the heck does she need a float? Anyway, Tama gets it so Hana doesn’t have to. Eiko thanks Hana for being concern despite not knowing how to swim. When it is time to change, the girls except Eiko realize they forgot to bring their underwear. So what’s the problem of wearing it underneath your normal clothes? No, Eiko is not going to lend you hers. Luckily thoughtful Shion has bought some but they are a bit showy. Only Hana has a problem with it because it literally has a hole at the back despite it is supposed to be some pattern. Hiroe’s has lots of string so Shion assures it is for decoration and pulls it. Commando part 2!

Episode 10
Hiroe is at Hana’s doorstep. She looks a bit messed up and a bit panic as she screams Eiko’s name. OMG! Did Eiko rape her?! This is what happened. She was trying a shirt Eiko bought her but couldn’t decide to tug it in or leave it out. Panic, she called Eiko for help. She is fine either way and let her decide before hanging up. Poor Hiroe got so confused and with her bad coordination, that’s how she ended up looking so. Now she is bugging Hana for an answer. Too pressured to answer! Hana runs to Shion and makes it look like Hiroe was going to rape her! Shion has her answer but it looks like she might be turning into a different character. Eiko stops by to help out. She explains she was out shopping with her sister so she wasn’t free to entertain her call. As Eiko leaves, she gives Hana a flower hairpin. Next day in school when Hana bumps into Enami, she talks to her about her dilemma about keeping her gap year a secret from her friends. She feels uneasy doing so. She fears that if she tells, the status quo will change. From Enami’s perspective, things will not change either way. Just don’t overthink it. When she returns to her friends, she gets a shock when Eiko mentions about Shion saying about the gap year thing. Actually she was referring to Shion taking an unemployed gap year. Hana realizes she was too preoccupied with herself to even notice this. Talking to Shion about this, she mentions she did so to focus on becoming a landlady. Hana wonders what Shion will do after this. So I guess need some cousinly bonding as they bath together and Shion giving her a shark pyjamas for her to sleep. Weird… Hana asks more if she would continue to remain as the landlady. Shion admits she was stressed while trying to find a job especially all he friends already got one. She is still mulling over it. It was lonely at first being the landlady but at some point she realized it suited her. She could have met many people if she works but she likes it for who she is now as a landlady. More reminiscing when Hana first came here to stay. She was quite shy and Shion tried to make her feel at home. Hana cut her hair as Shion said it suited her well. Hana is thankful to have her as her landlady. This has Shion motivated to continue as a landlady. She notes everyone staying here is experiencing some gap year. They should call this the Gap Year Apartment. Hana disagrees with hers but it’s lights out.

Episode 11
Hana is sad that they won’t see each other during the summer vacation. However they have plans like visiting the fireworks festival. So prepare your yukata and get ready to gear up for more fun. First up, all the friends meet at Tama’s place as she introduces them to her mom and grandma. Then they head to the mini vegetable farm to pick up some fresh vegetables. They enjoy their tomato but Hana doesn’t know how to eat it and almost stain her white dress. So hang a plastic bag over her ear and eat it? The old ladies help the young ones put on their yukata. They note Hana as a very kind person. It makes her face beam with pride but this somehow embarrasses Tama because of some flag like a dating sim whereby a character’s favourability goes up? Huh? At the festival, they bump into several of their classmates. One wants to hug Kamuri and another one had her sandal broken and when Tama uses her handkerchief to temporarily tie it up, she insists she does not. Please take back your handkerchief. Shion and Hiroe are also enjoying themselves at this festival. It takes a great deal of burden off Hiroe’s shoulders about her college stuffs that she is stressed about. The quartet stumble into Enami. She claims she is on patrol duty to watch the students but something tells me she’s a bad liar. A little adult moment when Eiko wipes ice cream off her face and instinctively Enami licks her finger! System shock for Hana. The girls play sparklers and Tama wants to know the wish they made at the shrine. The rest won’t tell but Hana notes hers was more of thanks because school has been fun for her every day. Cue for terrific fireworks display. Tama and Kamuri return with a stash of seemingly super big fireworks but they turn out to be some mini black snake fireworks that soon sputter out.

Episode 12
Hana receives an envelope from her mom that contains some money. Hana starts crying but is not tears of joy. She thinks mom doesn’t want her anymore! A quick call to mom as she assures her that this is her allowance as Hana is now a high school girl and would love to get her own clothes. In school, Hana discusses with her friends if it is strange to wear clothes that mom picks out even though she is at this age. Each has their own opinion but essentially to each her own. They agree to go out shopping for clothes together. After a tiring day, Eiko hands Enami a candy. It is the type she likes but as she pops it in her mouth, the head teacher calls her. Enami puts the candy back into Eiko’s mouth and tells her to hold it for her. Of course by the time she is done, the candy is also gone. Eiko hints the taste is still in her mouth and gets a knock on her head. Eiko actually had another candy but I guess teasing tastes better. Hiroe tells Hana that she has registered herself for a summer course and shows off the school uniform she is wearing from Shion. But Hana notes that it is summer vacation so nobody is going to be walking around in those clothes. That night, Hana had a strange dream whereby Shion the spring fairy has her choose between a gold or silver Tama. Since she wanted neither, she praises her for her honesty. Her reward is that all of her friends reveal they have a gap year. In turn, Hana also reveals the truth and everyone laughs it off. But it’s not the same in reality as Hana regrets believing all that in her dream. Hana and her friends make good their promise to shop for clothes. Then they buy coloured teddy bears to represent their friendship and unity. Hiroe is before the summer course building and she has cold feet whether to turn back and procrastinate. Excuses, excuses. Thankfully she sums up her courage to take the first step. As promised, Hana takes a photo of her newly bought clothes with Shion to mom. Shion distracted her so please forgive that slightly funny face.

Slow Moving…
Sure, Hana’s happiness is slowly moving along but my real main concern is how long is Hana going to keep a secret her gap year? I know it is not really of a big deal or issue to me but it is one that is plaguing her throughout the series. That is why it is still remained a secret. Hence if she procrastinates and delays it year by year, by the time she is an adult and assuming she is going to reveal her big secret then, would it really matter? Yeah, it would have been like, it happened so long ago, girl. Why now? Why should I care? Or she can take this gap year secret to her grave and nobody could ever find out. Just live the rest of her life with that anxiety that someone would find out…

As usual, the plot doesn’t really matter and if you have seen this kind of show seasons in and season out, you can expect very much the same. Just presented in a different way and setting. Hana starts out as a socially awkward person because of her ‘disability’ but because after spending time with her closest friends, she feels at home and starts to open up more. The girls bond and grow their friendship to a point that this could be the best point in time for their memories. Uh huh. Don’t expect much from the storyline except for the girls in their daily shenanigans that also provide a few chuckles.

Even though a one year difference might not seem much but during schooling years I figure it feels very much like ages for a young person (after all, how long has a young person started living in this world?). With bullying and ostracizing on the cards, it feels like starting from a young age people like Hana has already learnt to lie. It is a situation of damned if she does, damned if she doesn’t. But knowing the trend of this anime and the friends that she has made over the year, she would have very well known that her friends are not the kind to start mocking her because she is a year older. Maybe they’ll tease her about it but won’t go so far as to intimidate or tease with ill intentions. I mean, let’s face it. We have seen generally the characters of Eiko, Kamuri and Tama. Are they the kind of people who will do such a thing? If so, they are not worthy to be her friends. But I am betting 100% that they aren’t.

Therefore Hana being scared to tell them their secret despite this sometimes feels it makes no sense because she is so just for the plot device. If she is quite comfortable and feeling at home with her friends, perhaps it is time to let the cat out of the bag? But then again when you think further about it, no matter how close you are to a person, perhaps human nature and guts will tell us to still be wary and not tell all of your secrets. I mean, what is human, right? Nothing but a miserable little pile of secrets! Oops. Wrong series. If her friends are her true friends, then revealing her secret would be best described as the people who matter don’t mind and the people who mind don’t matter.

About the characters, they are as generic as they can get in this kind of genre. Nothing out of the ordinary. But I guess I need to be a little fair too because these been-there-done-that type of characters give the series its own charm. In the sense that it is likeable in its own right as with other cute girls doing cute things series.

So like Hana as the main character has some sort of flaw to overcome. Hence in her bid to play catch up, she becomes the panicky type so as not to get her secret busted. Because it is greatly assumed that if you are a year older, you should know a lot of things, am I right? Yeah, kids always think they know everything. I can understand why Hana doesn’t want to look dumb before her friends but it also makes her look more gullible. Despite her slow start, she is making steady progress. But just like in a race, if you are catching up from behind, you need more stamina and power to draw level. Will Hana run out of steam by the time she does so? Will she even reach the finish line? These questions will not be answered this season. For now, just keep running.

Eiko stands out as a lady killer because it is her character’s personality as well as the series’ running joke that she can land any kind of girl with her natural charms in any second. If she was a guy, I figure the other girls would just die swooning over her. It is no surprise since Eiko has quite a mature body and is a little bold when it comes to ‘flirting’ (in the loosest sense). It is hinted that Eiko might have a thing for Enami since she is probably the only girl who won’t easily fall for her charms. With a face like that, is it any wonder why Enami is still single? Haha! Oops. Sorry. But I’m wondering because she is seemingly the most mature for her age, could it be that Eiko too holds a secret that she is a veteran gap year? Like that dream? Is she really 20 years old? Nah. Then there is the obligatory shy and emotionless petite girl Kamuri. It feels like either she is part of Eiko or Eiko is part of her because without that tall girl around, she ceases to function properly. Rounding up the quartet is Tama who is the usual obligatory noisy one. Yeah, every group needs one like her so as not to be seen as too boring because the other trio are like mellow enough that sparks cannot be lit.

Adding variety with other characters outside the circle are Shion and Hiroe. Fellow gap year residents staying in the same apartment feels like it is really staying true to the idiom of birds of the same feather. With Shion playing the big sister role and Hiroe who is already a ‘veteran’ being behind, Hana would have all the support she needs to get through this. With such people around her, she just cannot fail. I mean, she can’t right? Isn’t that why Hana got sick on that important day and then who knows what the heck she has been doing for the rest on the entire year. It isn’t like she is hibernating or anything. So call it a blessing in disguise that this delayed start of hers abled her to meet such wonderful people. I am sure she would have equally met others her age but there’ll be no setting for this series already. It will be overly generic already.

This brings me to wonder has Hana’s old friend really kept in touch with her? I mean, assuming she has normal friends back in middle school, shouldn’t they feel something is wrong when she ‘disappeared’? Oh right. She never told them so we won’t know if they have been fervently searching for Hana. New places, new faces. Hana is so afraid to go back to her old place in fear of the negative reception (she thinks) that it’s like as though she is living a life via witness protection agency. Just short of changing her identity. It would have been a much darker story if we see their side of the story. Her old pals looking for her in vain but became worried sick and disillusioned when they cannot ascertain if she is alive or not. Imagine if they bump into Hana and her new friends on the streets. It will be interesting to know the kind of reaction everyone will put up especially Hana.

The art style and animation feels so generic like other similar titles in the genre such as Hinako Note, Blend S, Sansha Sanyou, Gochuumon Wa Usagi Desu Ka, Ebiten, Acchi Kocchi, GJ-Bu and Wakaba Girl that sometimes I get confused if I am watching the correct anime. Especially Hinako Note because Hana has a very uncanny resemblance to the titular character. Oh great. Even their names sounds close enough for me to get confused. Heck, both are also similar in this characteristic trait that they are somewhat not good with other people. No wonder I’m so confused! Is it me or does Kamuri resemble Chino from Gochuumon Wa Usagi Desu Ka? Or Eiko like Blend S’ Miu? And Tama like Kyouko from Ebiten? By a long shot, Hiroe reminds me of a chibi version of Morioka of Net-juu No Susume. Animated by A-1 Pictures who brought to you many of your favourite animes like Sword Art Online, Kuroshitsuji, Nanatsu No Taizai, Ao No Exorcist, OreImo, Saenai Heroine No Sodatekata and Fairy Tail.

Voice acting feels generic. Nothing extraordinary that catches my attention since I recognized none of the seiyuus since the main casts are mainly newbies. The voice talents include Reina Kondo as Hana (Kaede in Lostorage Conflated WIXOSS), Tomomi Mineuchi as Eiko (Yae in Yakiniku-ten Sengoku), Maria Naganawa as Kamuri (Tamaki in Stella No Mahou), Ayase Itou as Tama (Arisa in BanG Dream), Mao Ichimichi as Shion (titular character in Space Patrol Luluco), Maaya Uchida as Hiroe (Eruza in Killing Bites), Manami Namakura as Enami (Saya in Dagashi Kashi) and Tomori Kusunoki as Miki (Hazuki in Marchen Madchen). The opening theme, Ne! Ne! Ne! by STARTails (the main quartet) is a typical lively anime pop befitting such genres. Same case for the ending theme, Kaze No Koe Wo Kikinagara by Sangatsu No Phantasia although it goes by a slower pace.

Overall, nothing spectacular as usual. Everything that is charming is mostly confined within the anime itself. It is okay, not that bad, not too shabby but it is not memorable in the long run. By the time the next season rolls out, the next cute girls doing cute things for that season would have overshadowed this one. So having a slow or delayed start isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I mean, what’s the rush? But don’t take too long and start idling because it will be much worse when you then turn into a NEET. It will not be the case of slow start anymore but rather, never finished. It is worse than never starting at all.