This Art Club Has a Problem!
Episodes 1-2

by Rebecca Silverman,

How would you rate episode 1 of
This Art Club Has a Problem! ?

How would you rate episode 2 of
This Art Club Has a Problem! ?

Groucho Marx once famously stated that he wouldn't want to belong to any club that would have him as a member. Mizuki Usami may be starting to think that he had the right idea. She's a member of her middle school art club, and for a while, she and the club president were the only members. Then one day, Subaru Uchimaki petitioned to join the club, and even though all he wants to draw is his perfect 2D waifu, the club president lets him in. Uchimaki and Usami are like oil and water from the first meeting, with Uchimaki scoffing at the idea of 3D girls and Usami seeing him as not serious about art. By and by, however, she falls for him...but he still only wants 2D girls.

That's the basic set-up of This Art Club has a Problem!, and each episode thus far has been subdivided into smaller titled segments, all continuing the established plot. Fortunately, each bit also elaborates on the overall setup, giving us how Uchimaki joined, when Usami fell for him, and a couple of funnier gag stories as well. The second episode is the better of the two, although the bizarre fact that Usami seems to only draw apples is sort of an unspoken joke. In episode one, when Uchimaki tries to explain the appeal of 2D romance and anthropomorphized animals, he does mention her penchant for drawing apples, but most of the gag comes from how Usami totally fails to get what he's talking about. From then on, it's just a background joke that if Usami is painting, she's going to be painting photo-realistic apples.

Episode two, which has three segments, is definitely the funnier of the episodes. It opens with the club president and Uchimaki accidentally ruining one of Usami's paintings with red paint, at which point they try to cover it up by pretending that the president has been murdered. Not being an idiot, Usami sees immediately that paint, not blood, is involved, but the guys still try desperately to sell the lie. Later there's a somewhat riskier, but still rewarding, joke about Uchimaki turning into Lolimaki – lately he's been drawing child waifus, so both Usami and the president are worried that he's going to morph into a pedophile from looking at “sexy” little girls. This leads to a long, drawn-out look from Uchimaki at a little girl walking by as he walks home with Usami, and if you aren't paying attention, it looks like it's the girl herself he's drooling at. (If you are paying attention, you know what's really going on.) It may not be the cleverest gag, but it's still pretty funny to watch Usami fret over Uchimaki's supposed loli love, and it's humorously uncomfortable if you don't get what's actually happening.

The beating heart underneath all of this silliness is a lot more interesting than the show's jokes though. Uchimaki may protest loudly that he doesn't like 3D girls, but he does notice Usami and try to be nice to her, perhaps a little nicer in some cases than is warranted by basic friendship or clubmate status. Usami's crush on him also doesn't originate from some outlandish thing, it's based on a pretty solid event, giving her feelings more validity than you'd expect from a gag show. Once all of the characters are introduced – I suspect we've met the mysterious Collette, although she hasn't been named yet – it seems plausible that we'll see their relationship develop at least a little bit. We can already see little hints at how the characters have been slowly changing between their first and second years in middle school, such as Uchimaki initially wearing the real uniform before getting comfortable enough to replace his uniform shirt with a grubby orange hoody, or Usami loosening up to be less stiff around him than she was with other people. It may never become anything more than a light comedy, but that doesn't mean This Art Club Has a Problem! won't pay attention to its characters, which forms a large part of its potential.

Right now, it's just a lot of fun. There are serious details to be gleaned, but mostly the show is about one of Uchimaki's waifus ending up in a formal art show or the club president's dedication to flopping in a puddle of red paint. So far it's no Tanaka-kun is Always Listless, but it is a nice way to relax and spend half an hour on a Thursday afternoon.

Rating: B-

This Art Club Has a Problem! is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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