Boarding School Juliet
by James Beckett,
How would you rate episode 1 of
Boarding School Juliet ?
How would you rate episode 2 of
Boarding School Juliet ?
I thought the first episode of Boarding School Juliet was a delightfully funny spin on the classic Shakespearean tale, featuring some great animation and a truly adorable central couple. The only blemish to the premiere's name was a tone-deaf and unnecessary scene that depicted the Black Doggie House's underlings attempting to assault Juliet Persia to win one over on the White Cat House for their silly gang war. It felt cheap and exploitative in a manner totally divorced from the goofy story that surrounded it, and I'm happy to report that episode 2 clears the incredibly low bar of not having its main character almost get assaulted to move the plot forward.
Generally speaking, episode 2 takes the romantic momentum from the first episode and runs with it, which is great. One of the things that excited me most about Boarding School Juliet was how it got the love confession out of the way in the first episode, meaning we get to spend the rest of the series with Romio and Juliet actually being in a relationship together, instead of having to deal with the two ineffectually pining for a whole season. In fact, I was going to start this review off by comparing it to the other, much less successful romance I reviewed a while back, Love and Lies. At least, until I realized that both Love and Lies and Boarding School Juliet share not only the same studio, Liden Films, but also the same director, Seiki Takuno. You can color me impressed, because while both series definitely sport the colorful and breezy aesthetic needed for a YA romance anime, Boarding School Juliet features stronger storytelling, funnier comic timing, and much better chemistry between its leads.
This week, Romio is determined to show his affection for his new “secret lover” by buying her a gift and taking her out on a date, and of course he ends up being such a giant dweeb that neither scenario works out in his favor. He starts the episode off on the wrong foot by catching up with her right as Hasuki and Scott drop by, which results in Romio picking Juliet up by the face in an effort to continue their mock feud. He tries to make it up to her by scaling the wall of the White Cats' dorm to present her with a rosary he purchased, and there are a lot of excellent little jokes to account for in this scene alone. Romio's goofy climb is a great visual gag, with a deranged Scott following after him – I assume that is this story's take on Romeo and Juliet's famous “balcony scene” (though this version features much more of Juliet's lingerie than Shakespeare could have gotten away with). Even the way Romio gets a hold of the rosary is pretty darn funny; unfamiliar with the customs of the Western Nation, Romio has to creep up on some school-children, decked out like a kidnapper, to interview the Western kids on what to get his new girlfriend.
Naturally, this chain of events leads to a couple of fight scenes and a sweet boat ride on the Dhalia Academy lake, where Romio and Juliet finally get to bond more as a couple. Romio apologizes for breaking the rosary he bought Juliet, and Juliet makes her first real show of romantic affection in giving Romio the rosary she already owned, a gift from her mother that ranks among her most treasured possessions. Being an incurable doofus, Romio tries to shrug the gift off in an act of generosity, but this unsurprisingly ticks Juliet off. I really enjoyed this exchange, because it feels true to how young people start to explore the ins and outs of a new relationship. (I can neither confirm nor deny having also screwed up a gift exchange like this as a young lad.)
The episode's second segment isn't quite as funny, but only because it relies too much on one joke. Romio, ever determined to have a date with Juliet in spite of their rivalry, disguises the poor girl in a Black Doggie uniform and an itchy wig to pose as his younger male cousin for the class' one big outing of the year. Romio tells the others that this new cousin of his is named “Julio”, because of course he does, and naturally every other Black Doggie becomes immediately enamored with Juliet. The rest of the episode consists of Romio's date ideas being ruined by “Julio's” groupies, which is only ever mildly amusing.
However, Boarding School Juliet wraps things up nicely yet again with a very sweet moment of growth for the couple, when Juliet wisely points out that the whole point of a date is for two people to get to know each other better, and that she considers the outing a success because she was able to learn more about Romio. She learns that he's his happiest and most genuine self when he's around her, and that Touwa folks like spicy food, and that she enjoys his company as much as he enjoys hers. Beyond the solid animation and the funny jokes, Boarding School Juliet looks set to live and die on the pure unadulterated cuteness of its central couple. After these two episodes, I'm fully on board with these two dorks' relationship, and I'm looking forward to seeing this Not-So-Tragic love story unfold.
Boarding School Juliet is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
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