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The Spring 2023 Anime Preview Guide
Kubo Won't Let Me Be Invisible

How would you rate episode 1 of
Kubo Won't Let Me Be Invisible ?
Community score: 3.8

What is this?

First year high schooler Junta Shiraishi is a mob character who goes unnoticed even when he's standing right next to you. But his classmate, "heroine-level beauty" Kubo, always notices him and is there to tease him. Anyone can become special to someone, but it might be a little too early to call these feelings "love."

Kubo Won't Let Me Be Invisible is based on Nene Yukimori's manga and streams on HIDIVE on Tuesdays.

This series is resuming after previous delays. ANN is reposting the previous Preview Guide entry for this series to remind fans to check it out!

How was the first episode?

Caitlin Moore

Okay, I have been informed by my editor that I have about 40 minutes to get this in, and this isn't an episode worth making them go into overtime over, so let's keep it short, sweet, and to the point: Kubo Won't Let Me Be Invisible is boring. Anime being trend-driven is nothing new but it takes the current fad of bullying-based romcoms and waters it down until it barely qualifies.

It may be part of the joke, but it's true that Junta is aggressively forgettable and uninteresting, so he's not a lot of fun to spend time with. Kubo is the class angel, endowed with beauty, brains, athleticism, and a good personality. She also has, for some reason, chosen to flirt aggressively with Junta. Why? There is no discernible reason. He's not low-key attractive in a nerdy way like Miyamura from Horimiya, he doesn't have a good personality or some kind of interesting skill. He's not a jerk with a sad back story, which wouldn't make me like him any more but at least it would be something, anything to latch onto.

The teasing isn't much to write home about either. In fact, with a livelier couple, it really would just be normal flirting; it just comes across as mild bullying here because Junta is such a nothing of a person that he's hardly used to any attention at all. A girl touching him? His brain short circuits. And so, Kubo throwing herself at him seems like teasing.

There are so many anime romantic comedies out there these days, there has to be something more flavorful to watch that you haven't tried yet instead of this one. Kubo Won't Let Me Be Invisible is destined, like its protagonist, to be forgotten before it's even gone.

James Beckett

Sometimes, as a critic, you have to dig deep into your well of literary analysis, media exposure, and complicated analytical allusions to properly determine what does or does not work about a show you're reviewing. This is not one of those times. Instead, I'm going to exercise my right to be completely shallow and superficial when it comes to criticizing Kubo Won't Let Me Be Invisible: I don't like the girl's face. As in, literally the way her face is drawn, with those permanent blush marks that make it look like she just got mauled by a cat in every single scene. They look weird. I also don't like that tiny, alien-looking teacher dude. He creeps me out. I'm taking off a half star for the weird face and the creepy teacher dude.

Phew! Now that I got that out of the way, Kubo Won't Let Me Be Invisible isn't actually half bad, so far as these kinds of romcoms go. I mean, it's no Teasing Master Takagi-san, but it's cute enough, and I actually laughed at how absurd the show was willing to get with the central joke of Shiraishi being literally invisible to the people around him. It's one thing to not be noticed by the freak-of-nature professor that barely stands a foot off the ground, but I laughed pretty hard when the clerk at the convenience store straight up started talking crap about the poor kid when he was standing right in front of her.

Plus, it seems like the show is willing to get a little more intimate with its romance angle, which is always nice to see as long as it's tastefully done. The bit with Shiraishi serving as Kubo's chair as punishment was pretty spicy for a story within this wheelhouse; it's like the TV-PG equivalent of the thumb-biting scene from Chainsaw Man. So while Kubo Won't Let Me Be Invisible didn't blow me out of the water or anything, it's definitely got the potential to be one of the season's better romance anime, especially if you're more into the wistful kinds about awkward kids and puppy love. It's a shame about the girl's creepy cheeks, though. They're going to keep me up at night for sure.

Richard Eisenbeis

Hey, you! Yes, you! Are you the most boring sack of proteins and enzymes ever to grace the face of our dear planet? Do you have to ask questions of the teacher after each class just so they won't assume you skipped and mark you absent? When you try to buy something at a convenience store, does the clerk think that someone has mysteriously abandoned the items you want to purchase despite you standing right there? Are you so forgettable that you can literally stand on your desk in the middle of class and no one will notice? If you've answered yes to any of the above questions, don't worry, we have the perfect product for you!

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Yes, with Manic Pixie Dream Girl, you too can experience the fantasy of getting the girl without putting in any effort whatsoever. You can be as self-centered as you want and completely ignore her wants and needs and she'll still strive to make you happy in ways you never thought you could be. So don't wait. Get your own Manic Pixie Dream Girl today!

*Note: Manic Pixie Dream Girl only exists in wish-fulfillment fiction like Kubo Won't Let Me Be Invisible and should not be confused with a real woman. Manic Pixie Dream Girl should not be exposed to direct sunlight, doused in water, or fed after midnight.

Nicholas Dupree

The word for this one is “fluffy.” This is a dirt simple rom-com with a sparse cast of characters, centered on a simple and repeatable premise it can iterate on for eternity. Our hero, Shiraishi, has the amazing power to stop mattering to anyone around him, involuntarily fading into the background of human perception whenever he's still or quiet. But Kubo, his neighbor in class, mysteriously never loses sight of him (hint: it's because she like-likes him) and uses their unique connection to tease and occasionally flirt with her timid chameleon of a crush. That's what every joke of this premiere is built around, and presumably what the entire show will be about, aiming to be cute, sweet, and not a whole lot else.

If that's not your bag, there's nothing else to draw you in. Shiraishi and Kubo make a charming little comedy duo, but they're not deep or complicated, and there's no suggestion that the series will develop them past their archetypes. The production, courtesy of PINE JAM, is charming and round but not particularly noteworthy outside of their delicately illustrated close-ups of Kubo whenever she gets up in Shiraishi's face. This is very much a rom-com made for fans of rom-coms, and if the idea of following these kids through the comedic travails of puppy love doesn't sound appealing to you, it's best to get off the bus now.

That said, this is a generally pleasant and easy watch if you're somebody who voraciously consumes romcoms like me. The comedic pace is slow and a little understated, but in a way that's relaxing if you're in the right mood. Kubo and Shiraishi have an easy rapport that can be charming, but also emphasizes that they're friends – even if Shiraishi is too self-conscious to recognize it and thinks Kubo is talking with him to kill time. This isn't the Wile E. Coyote vs. Road Runner dynamic of Teasing Master Takagi-san, nor the borderline bullying of Don't Toy with Me, Miss Nagatoro, but more of a friendly amount of teasing and prodding that lets Kubo get closer to him. It's not the most thrilling watch, but if you're looking for something with low stakes and likable characters to put a smile on your face, this will undoubtedly serve you well.

Rebecca Silverman

I don't like shows in the teasing subcategory of romantic comedies because they often come off as more mean than anything else. That is not the case with this particular show; the most important piece to understand is that the title doesn't imply that Shiraishi wants to be invisible, and Kubo won't let him. Instead, it means that Kubo is unwilling to let him be left by the wayside due to his natural powers of invisibility. That's a crucial distinction to make because right from the start, it allows for Kubo's teasing to come from a place that is clearly not derision. She knows that Shiraishi is there, and she doesn't understand why everyone else doesn't as well. In a sense, we could argue that this is about combating inadvertent unkindness rather than being a case where someone is too immature to know how to behave around the person they have a crush on.

That does not, however, stop this from being incredibly slow-moving. This is a case where the story works better in its original manga format because, as I've said before, that allows readers to take things at their own pace rather than having them drawn out. This kind of story might have worked better in animated form as a short because it would have been easier to appreciate the character dynamics without essentially seeing the same scene play out repeatedly over one episode. And that is what happens here - no one notices Shiraishi except Kubo, who tries her best to make him realize that she sees him because she has a crush on him. He fails to notice this, and we start again from scratch.

It's worth mentioning that Shiraishi is still uncomfortable with some of Kubo's antics. The way that his invisibility works for and against him is something that the episode does quite a nice job of showing, at times he feels it works in his favor, such as never being called on in class; at other times, it works against him, such as attempts to get store clerks to notice him when he wants to pay. To make the story work, Kubo must realize that sometimes being seen isn't what the object of her affection wants, and it seems like the plot could quickly go in that direction. This isn't all that bad as a low-key, low-stakes romantic comedy that isn't nearly as mean as its title suggests. But if you're easily bored, the dragging pace may not work for you.

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