The Quintessential Quintuplets delivers harem-flavored comfort food in a cold and barren season. This week, Nick and Micchy share the parts of this trifle they've enjoyed and the parts that leave a bad taste in their mouth.
Disclaimer:The views and opinions expressed by the participants in this chatlog are not the views of Anime News Network. Spoiler Warning for discussion of the series ahead.
Micchy So Nick, I don't think I've told you this, but I'm pretty bad with faces. Luckily, most anime is good at keeping its character designs distinct enough for me to--
Nick Y'know I'm pretty bad with faces too. But luckily I'm a connoisseur of harem anime, so I've learned to differentiate between those pretty well. It takes a discerning palate to tell the difference between a modern classic that will revolutionize the medium as an art form for decades to come, and a derivative cash-in made by hacks with no taste or creativity.
It's pretty simple when you get down to it. First, you have the obvious best girl:
And then you have the rest who don't matter as much, to fill time in between more scenes with Nino.
I guess this means you do have some taste after all!
I'm just saying, there's an obvious right choice in this show and it's not the one pixiv has been going crazy over. But yes, today we're covering the obligatory winter harem anime: The Quintessential Quintuplets. It's the story of a young man trapped in a never-ending nightmare of anime romcom hijinks, constantly preventing him from just doing his homework.
Y'know, if the show didn't tease at the very beginning that he was going to marry one of the sisters, I would've thought this was an anime about Potato-kun's tragic romance with academic success.
Harems usually have their potato leads act somewhat reluctant to their growing bevy of love interests, but Uesugi genuinely acts like he's being dragged kicking and screaming into this.
Our boy just wants to keep his tutoring gig and cover for his family's debt, y'know? Who has time for anime girls throwing themselves at you when your finances are at stake? Although at least the girls have some personal hurdles to overcome before inexplicably falling for this sentient potato.
That's the other thing with the show. While it's primarily driven by the circumstances behind our identical heroines all falling for Uesugi, at least it gives some focus to their own issues in the process. Like Miku's shame over her unique tastes:
She's nothing if not relatable, if my Twitter feed full of horny Fate fanart is anything to go by.
The Moriarty fans are rising up.
Granted, Fate fans don't normally go for the actual historical figures as they looked in real life, but it's in the same ballpark as Miku's thing.
It's kind of sweet in a very anime way that she ends up falling for Uesugi not because he was nice to her, but because he took a genuine interest in something she's been uncomfortable sharing with others. Granted, Uesugi takes an interest in her for other reasons. Did I mention pixiv's picked a favorite girl already?
I wasn't sure which one you meant, but in hindsight, I should've guessed it was the shy one with the trendy headphones and sensual sock-stripping scene.
They are savages with plebeian tastes, which I guess makes Uesugi a perfect audience stand-in now that I think about it.
Frankly, the bare minimum for my watching harem nonsense over otome garbage is that the girls have some modicum of personality outside of their relationship with the lead, and this show mostly accomplishes that.
And at least one of them has managed to (mostly) resist the allure of our inexplicably charming hero. Nino is the star of this show just by not immediately falling for Uesugi being nice one time after episodes of fairly negative interactions between them.
I mean, she was the least receptive one to begin with, but it is nice not to fall into the old "romance blossoms from generic courtesy" pattern that mediocre romcom anime tend to fall into.
And Uesugi is only moderately capable of generic courtesy. Frankly, when he's not being a teacher, he's kind of a dick. He's not a huge asshole, but he's definitely the kind of person who can say something insensitive and then not understand when people get ticked off at him.
Of course, a salted potato is better than no seasoning at all, right?
He's a casually insensitive sort of everyman in a way that seems intended to be charming or relatable. It's not a deal-breaker for me, but I do find the bluntness slightly off-putting. On the bright side, he's not creepy about his sister, which is something I'm still a little shocked I have to clarify.
I mean when you have five quintuplets to bang already, why waste your time with some squirt who has a stupid front pony tail? At the same time, the dude needs to reckon with his personality at times. Like when he goes too far during one of his tsundere fights with Itsuki and actually pisses her off rather than making her pout. It just doesn't inspire the kind of introspection you'd hope for and mostly ends with an awkward sideways apology from both parties.
I suppose that's about as much as you might expect from a goofy romcom. It's less about melodrama and huge feelings than occasional emotional vulnerability. They're not going to grapple with their personality flaws in any major ways, at least not this early in the show's run. Right now it's about small breakthroughs between the hijinks.
I mean, plenty has already happened in the show! Seven episodes in and Uesugi's already slept with 1/5 of his love interests. He's well on his way to that School Days ending.
Now that's a stretch, he clearly just slept next to her.
They can't all be Domestic Girlfriend. But yeah, having seen a lot of harem slurry, I'm comfortable saying Quints does just enough to be a decent watch if you're into this kind of thing. Otherwise there's not much to set it apart for people who didn't have the patience to watch all of Yuuna & The Haunted Hot Springs.
It's plenty watchable, which is about all I'm asking for in this wasteland of a season. Sometimes there are good jokes! Like the fact that nobody can tell the difference between the quintuplets if they change up their gimmicks even slightly.
Maybe everyone in this world has mild prosopagnosia.
And sometimes the show drops the implication that Ichika's doing sex work only to pull a bait and switch. Seriously, what was up with that?
Yeah, Ichika's thing was weird—you know because this isn't a serious drama or salacious fanservice fest that she's not actually doing porn or whatever, but it drags that reveal out long enough that it feels kind of unnecessary when she's actually just an aspiring TV actress.
What was even the point of showing her getting out of a car with an affectionate older man if the ultimate reveal was so pedestrian? Like every so often the show drops shit that's questionable enough to take me out of the fun.
I think it's mainly there to give Uesugi (and the audience) the sense of urgent protectiveness where he has to save her from a seedy life or something. It's weird and half-baked though, so I chalk it up to needing some kind of drama to make Ichika fall in love with him since he'd never otherwise confront her about something.
I suppose that's better than having him berate her for being a slob.
Leave the girl alone dude, she's going through some stuff. Until her bed's buried behind three dozen pizza boxes and pickle jars, she'll be just fine.
You shush, I get rid of my pizza boxes on the regular. Chinese takeout and pickle jars, on the other hand...
Listen, we all have our secret shames. Some of us live in our own filth, others own all of Love Hina on DVD. Who are we to judge differences when we can come together over what we share in common?
I suppose you're right. At the end of the day, what matters is that we have something in our lives that sparks joy, and that we share that joy by making each other watch cartoons we otherwise might not give the time of day.
To be fair, Heybot! does not spark joy. I do have one question remaining about Quintessential Quintuplets, though. Why on EARTH is this song in the soundtrack?
If you happen to interact with toddlers at all, you've probably heard the baby shark song at some point, which makes it extremely disturbing when the melody pops up in the Quints soundtrack every five minutes. Like, they'll be doing anime harem hijinks on screen, but all I can think about are slimy baby paws waking me up at 7:00 in the morning.
I guess that's just your brain poison to carry around. But for harem fans who are lucky enough to not deal with children on a regular basis, I highly suggest you share in this good ole slop with me here.
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