Anime-Gataris Episodes 1-2
by Lauren Orsini,
How would you rate episode 1 of
How would you rate episode 2 of
Before I turned off my brain for Anime-Gataris, I had to ponder exactly one thing: what is a “gatari?” I can only guess the title means something like “Anime Stories,” where “gatari” is short for “monogatari,” making this a potpourri of connected tales about anime. After two episodes, that seems to be the case, as the show gives us scene after scene of light and funny interactions between members of a brand new high school anime club, told with humor and a little bit of whimsy.
But that's enough thinking for now. There isn't anything cerebral about the story of Anime-Gataris itself. Instead, this is straight pandering. In the world of Anime-Gataris, anime is something that appears awe inspiring and even deep to outsiders. Perhaps this isn't the most realistic anime club portrayal, but it's certainly an affectionate one, with enough self-awareness to poke fun at itself and common tropes in a loving way.
Our introduction to the fascinating world of anime fandom is through Minoa, a girl with ribbony hair who remembers really enjoying an anime from her childhood. When she brings this up to a friend within earshot of two hardcore anime fans in her class, Alice and Miko, she gets sucked into reestablishing the school's dormant anime club. Add in a glamorous older girl, a chuunibyou boy, a princely Love Live! fan, and a surprisingly articulate cat, and all the main characters are on the scene by the conclusion of episode two. While there are some generic plot points to contend with, such as getting enough members for the club to be legitimate, finding a place to meet, and dealing with the student council, this anime will live or die on how its characters bring out the best (or worst) in each other, and whether its jokes about anime manage to remain funny and sincere.
While our main character is an anime newbie, Anime-Gataris is absolutely targeted at fans who are more similar to Alice or Miko—people who can rattle off anime quotes, reference a show's source material, and debate the pros and cons of any series with no preparation. And for a lot of the show so far, that's exactly what the characters do. Fans will enjoy the numerous references to anime titles both popular and obscure, always slightly mangled to avoid copyright concerns. (I especially loved “Sold Out Offline” for Sword Art Online.) The group debates what constitutes a “classic” anime while Minoa's head spins. “Anime's way too deep,” she says, patting all of us nerds on the back through the screen. Even as the club members discuss certain aspects of anime as being too tropey, Minoa wears a bunny girl costume and trades dialogue with a talking cat mascot: two of the oldest tropes in the anime playbook! So this show doesn't take itself too seriously and fully knows what it's doing.
Anime-Gataris isn't particularly innovative, but it presents immediately likable characters, lands its jokes, and knows its audience very well. If you like high school club-focused anime, it's definitely worth a shot.
Anime-Gataris is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Lauren writes about geek careers at Otaku Journalist.
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