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The Spring 2024 Anime Preview Guide
Astro Note

How would you rate episode 1 of
Astro Note ?
Community score: 3.3

What is this?


Takumi, a gifted chef, was just let go from his job. He lands a gig at an old boarding house called Astro-sou, but hesitates to accept after learning he must also live there full-time. That is until he meets the beautiful and charming caretaker, Mira, and he's sold. The two begin to work together, and their connection deepens. But Mira has a secret: she isn't from this world.

Astro Note is an original anime series from chief director Shinji Takamatsu and scriptwriter Kimiko Ueno. The anime series is streaming on Crunchyroll on Fridays.

How was the first episode?

Richard Eisenbeis

There is nothing objectively wrong with this first episode—or Astro Note as a whole. It looks fine and has a color cast of weirdo characters. Voice actors are also up to the task. The issue is that it is an anime that feels 30 or 40 years out of date. The idea of an alien living with a group of eccentric people feels like a premise out of the 80s—probably because such a show not only existed back then but has its remake airing on TV today.

This first episode also makes the mistake of being one big tease—even though it spoils its twist in the cold opening. (You mean that the tall, thin woman in the space suit and the tall, thin woman who manages the apartment are the same woman!? How could that be?) Because of this, this episode mostly ignores the sci-fi aspect and focuses on those living in the apartment building—to lackluster results.

Our hero, Takumi has about as much personality as wet bread. He's a chef who is looking for work... and that's all we know about him. The rest of the cast are quirky in one-note ways—an unemployed guy who always wears a suit, a struggling idol, a professional author with an unknown pen name, etc. Even our alien-turned-caretaker Mira does little to adhere herself to us. She's nice, hot, and incredibly sheltered—which seems to be more than enough for Takumi at least.

Frankly, this episode bored me. Neither the characters nor the humor (nor the attempts at food porn) captured my interest. In the end, I was left wondering, “Who is this anime for?” And the answer is obvious: “Not me.”

Rebecca Silverman

Astro Note's first episode hops back and forth between being intriguing and being far too self-consciously quirky for its own good. It also seems to be leaning heavily on Rumiko Takahashi's Maison Ikkoku for inspiration; Takumi, the young man who falls for landlady Mira at first sight, even lives in room five of the eponymous sharehouse, and by the end of the episode, he thinks she's a widow, like Kyoko. Of course, she's not a widow, but a Wido, a person from the planet Wid because we can't rip things off too blatantly, can we?

Why a Wido is running a boarding house in Japan is the open question of the week. She clearly crash-landed on Earth with her poodle overlord after what looks like a fraught battle out of an anime from the 1970s, and we know that she's the princess of her people back home. But is she stuck here with Naosuke the poodle? Or is this some covert mission to learn about a planet that Naosuke is not overly impressed with? It's no coincidence that these questions pop up at the episode's end; they do a better job than anything supposedly humorous in the twenty minutes that precede them of making the story interesting.

This may be a case of tonal imbalance that will go away as the series goes on. Setting up a story and hooking the viewers isn't easy, and the idea to lean hard into the goofier elements could simply have gone awry. Mostly, that's because none of the "funny" characters are all that entertaining or unique, from the gifted child and his deadbeat dad to the indie idol who looks like a bit of a slob in her downtime. We've seen them all before, and all the weird facial expressions in the world can't cover that fact up. Fortunately, the facial expressions are the worst visual aspect of this, though; there's a delightfully bright, mid-century aesthetic to the backgrounds, with excellent details on floor tiles, the contents of the kitchen and storeroom, and other bits and pieces that make the world feel lived in. It's easily my favorite element of the episode.

It's probably worth giving this a second episode to see where it goes now that the truth of Mira's identity (and Naosuke's) is out in the open. The pesky introductory elements are largely out of the way, so that makes room for the actual plot to develop, or at least for Mira and Takumi's relationship to start to move. I'm not excited about this, but it's not without its promise.

Nicholas Dupree

There's a distinctly old-school vibe to this premiere. The combination of "quirky share house full of weirdos" and "mysterious alien love interest" sounds like somebody got mixed up explaining the Rumiko Takahashi series. The OP song and animation feel like something straight out of the 80s. Even the opening scene has subtle post-processing effects that make the footage look older and fuzzier than the rest of the episode. It makes for an interesting and unique aesthetic, which is good because the rest of the episode is just kinda OK.

Part of the problem is just waiting for the other shoe to drop. We know from the cold open and all the hints about Mira that she's an alien, so you spend nearly the whole episode anticipating that reveal, only for it to happen so nonchalantly that you have to wonder why we spent so long skirting around it. Meanwhile, it's evident that alien shenanigans will be a key part of the comedy, but that aspect is cordoned off until at least episode two, so we're left with an incomplete picture of the show's sense of humor. What we get of the sharehouse and its weirdo residents is mildly funny, occasionally getting a good laugh through a well-timed punchline, but it never rises above that.

The character personalities also don't leave much of an impression. Takumi and Mira are nice enough, and I appreciate that our protagonist's puppy love feels distinct from the awkward flailing of a high school protagonist. Still, there's not a ton of chemistry between them so far. While I'm glad Takumi doesn't spend the whole episode yelling in reaction to the weirdos surrounding him, he feels a little too accommodating. There's not much comedic contrast to be drawn from his role as the straightman of the ensemble.

Honestly, I'm primarily interested in watching another episode solely to look at the show more. It's not an animation powerhouse, but I like the designs and color palette. Some pretty solid expressions are sprinkled in, and some funny little details, like Teruko's unbearably cutesy and impractical phone case. All that goes a long way in making this a pleasant – if not a standout – viewing experience. I'm also just hooked by the novelty of yanking a setup right out of the 80s and supplanting it here, 40 years later. Time will tell if there's anything to return for once that novelty wears off, but for now, this is just good enough for me to sample more.

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