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This Week in Anime
Celebrate Pride with Kase-san

by Nicholas Dupree & Monique Thomas,

Nick and Nicky revisit one of their favorite OAVs just in time for June. If you've put off watching this one (or haven't heard of it) now's a great time to fall in love with Kase and Yamada!

This series is streaming on HIDIVE

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.

@Lossthief @mouse_inhouse @NickyEnchilada @vestenet

Well Nicky, we missed the boat last year, but by god we're gonna cover SOMETHING gay for Pride Month this time around. And seeing as we're nearing the release of a new Pokemon gen, I see no better place to start than Gay Turtwig: The Animation.
I am a 100% Loud Bisexual Woman 24/7 so Pride Month for me is just like any other month of the year, but I'll take an excuse to highlight some of The Good Gay Shit and this OVA is one of my favs! I got to see the U.S. premiere of this at AX back in 2018 and have never stopped thinking about it. A short, almost hour long adaptation of a manga series, it's like a sweet memory that stays with you even after the moment has long passed. Wafting of flowers, the summer, and a young love. This is Kase-san and Morning Glories.
Yeah, this is an adaptation—specifically of select chapters from volumes 2 and 3, ironic since the title comes from the first volume that's condensed to a 20-second montage at the start of this OVA—of the Kase-san and... manga series, one of my absolute favorites.
It was also initially pitched using a short posted online to YouTube before being expanded into a short film. It's directed by Takuya Sato (not the voice actor), who I had previously known for Steins;Gate, so it was interesting to hear that this was actually a passion project for him.
And you can see how a more workmanlike version would've kept this as a TV series or only contained the lead up to the relationship but instead Kase-san starts after Yamada and Kase are already a couple.
Yeah, the first volume of the manga is a pretty steady build up towards them getting together, and it's good stuff, but I won't deny the real Good Shit starts once our central couple are actually together. Though because this is still a modern yuri series, they do have to remind us once or twice about some very vital information:
Having observed at least 10 billion romances in my lifetime that are simply about "getting together" and end immediately after the confession hits, having one hour of figuring out how to exist in a relationship with someone feels like a fresh breeze. Yamada and Kase have not been dating very long, and Yamada has never even dated anyone, be it boy or girl, before Kase, but there's an absolute magic of watching two people in love and this film really captures that.
It also does a great job of capturing the goofy and silly expressions from the manga. A big part of what makes this relatively simple love story so endearing is the sheer amount of energy both of these lovestruck kids exude. Also stuff like Yamada's head sprouting seedlings whenever she's feeling especially gay.
That they're both goodhearted kids makes this a wholly pleasant watch. Yamada is a tiny, anxious, but cute and dedicated little puffball invested in plants. Meanwhile, Kase is a tall, outgoing, slightly airy jock-type. Both of them are in their last year of high school and absolutely overwhelmed with hormones and gay feelings.
The phrase "Too Gay to Function" comes to mind a few times here. Both girls have at least one scene where the hamster running inside their head just yells "I LOVE MY GIRLFRIEND" so loud they have to release a steam valve.

It's an almost idyllic kind of puppy love, but it's one dedicated to two people trying to figure things out as they go along. Love has a way of amplifying things. Maybe it's just that chemical called oxytocin doing its thing but it makes all the small moments feel big. All your sensations feel hyper-real, and time stops mattering. Likewise, it becomes easy to make mountains out of molehills or feel self-conscious about things you might've not had before. Kase-san is ultimately no more a collection of little moments but they all feel monumental in both its ups and downs.

There's not really a narrative to be had here. Time passes, and the characters progress in small, important ways. But there's no big plotline. It's all vibes, and the direction, animation, and music capture the feelings at play perfectly. Whether it's the watercolor rush of a first kiss, or the deflating disappointment of not getting to give your jock girlfriend the lunch you made her.

Also while romance and drama definitely dominate in the OVA, it should be said the series is also funny as hell.
It gets a lot of mileage for it's run time that you get a really nice vertical slice of their lives with all the layers like an aesthetically pleasing piece of cake.
It's also neat that, while they skip over the chapters that lead to Yamada and Kase getting together, there are a few moments that inform how they first fell for each other. Like when Kase talks about watching Yamada from afar and admiring the dedication she has for horticulture.

Also, I second the backgrounds and the sound quality being absolutely breathtaking throughout. Especially when it comes to flowers, something much loved by Yamada.
And since this is a one-and-done production, there's room for a lot of expressive character animation too. Romantic kisses are already few and far between in TV anime, but I'm hard pressed to think of one with this much attention to each person's body language as they lose themselves in the moment.
Its atmosphere is another great argument about why this wasn't a TV series. While we occasionally get some nice ones, I love stuff like Bloom Into You, but I think especially since true yuri/girls love manga adaptations are pretty niche overall, it's rare you see it get this kind of attention to artistry. It sells everything! Even the more low-key moments feel good.

Also, while it's not objectified, the two girls get quite a good amount of physical intimacy and it doesn't shirk the sexual aspect of their relationship like many romances between girls do. There's a part where Yamada invites Kase over to her room and both of them have a bit of a misunderstanding about the implications of that, though they settle it well.

And while that's both a funny and sweet bit, I do have to complain just a tad about the adaptation. Because they didn't include the follow-up scene with the best series of manga panels of all time.

Though actually Yamada's relative inexperience is a big part of the OVA's small list of conflicts. Yamada's never dated anyone, and doesn't entirely know how to process or express her attraction to Kase. Meanwhile Kase has seemingly been hurt before by falling for girls who seemed into her until things actually got physical.
Yeah, Kase has much more of an appetite and understanding of certain things than Yamada does and that's mostly played for comedy. But we get the occasion where things that were previously normalized like public baths or being in the same bedroom make Yamada self-conscious about her awkward teenage body or how she should be acting. They're very real conversations to have. It's the kind of self-awareness you don't get until you try getting things to work with another person.

Though she's also just intimidated by how hot her girlfriend is. Like I said, too gay to function.
This is also how I act around girls. It's very relatable.
My reaction tends to be more like Kase here.

For real though, I like how this whole conflict plays out. It's a way to explore Yamada through how she idolizes Kase in comparison to her "plain" self, while highlighting how the seemingly confident Kase can be just as prone to anxiety and worries as her girlfriend. And that it's tacitly a critique of the kind of schoolgirl love stories that treat lesbianism as a phase that ends at graduation. Hiromi Takashima has 0 patience for "pure yuri" nonsense.
As I said, there's lots of things that are idyllic about their romance but there's still lots of consideration for a real couple's struggles. I have a hard time relating to a majority of yuri stories as a sapphic because they feel more in the realm of fantasy than my reality. I'm not saying it has to be ugly and it's nice escapism, but it's these nuances that make it clear that Kase-san is more of how the real world elevates into something fantastical. Like how knowing that somebody loves you somehow makes everything better.
One of the best parts about the manga is getting to follow these two as their relationship grows and changes as they get older. Heck, it's already pretty rare for anime romances in general to acknowledge life after high school exists, so it's especially nice to see them directly tackle that at the end of the OVA.
Yeah, especially with the stigma involving Class S stuff. It's normal for high school romances to fade once people head into college, but here both characters are heavily invested in trying to keep their magic long-term. Yamada also has a pretty visually stunning dream freak-out moment, followed by some sweet melancholy. And of course the conclusion is wonderful too.

It's great stuff, and I like that it's not just framed as Yamada wanting to stick with her girlfriend. It's clear that staying close to home and doing only what her parents/teachers think she's capable of is just another symptom of Yamada looking down on herself. The choice to follow Kase to Tokyo is just as much about choosing better for herself as it is about dramatically chasing down a loved one at the train station.

Warning: Rapidly and unexpectedly tackling your beloved GF into a departing train is not recommended in real life and could lead to something a lot more tragic than just this pile of sweet weeping lovestruck fools.
If skipping train fair for an impromptu trip to the big city with your jock girlfriend is wrong, none of us should ever be right.
One of them could've scraped a knee with that high-velocity Pokémon move!! I want nothing to ever harm these girls. I will protect them at all costs.

But as real, magical, and foolish as their love is, it's also so very normal. They could be any average couple and that's what's so beautiful about the whole thing and why I think anyone could enjoy this. Love is love, after all.

Kase-san can be extremely fluffy and simple, but that's also what makes it so charming and effective. I am decidedly not a gay high school girl, but there's still a ton of relatable emotions at play in this OVA and the manga as a whole. I thoroughly encourage anyone with even a hint of interest in romance anime/manga to check it out.

We here at This Week of Anime have and will forever always support people of all kinds and love of all stripes. As lovers of art and anime we're always seeking to highlight the beauty of life and all its colors reflected in this special medium. Happy Pride Month, everyone. We love you.
And always remember to keep your Turtwigs well fed.

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