I have seen my fair share of anime set in high school over the years. Comedies, dramas, action series, romance shows, you name it. I've seen good, bad, meh, great, and everything-in-between high school anime series. I've seen shows with the most well-thought-out characters facing brilliant situations that I never get tired of re-watching, and I've seen pure garbage wherein the kids we watch interact like two pieces of wet cardboard getting slapped together by slightly retarded toddlers... I've seen everything.
Soooooo... Where does Just Because! land on your spectrum?
Just Because! is almost right in the middle. It's not bad, but it's not great. There's no heavy drama going on, and it's pretty slow, and nothing much happens in it, but for the most part I enjoyed the characters and I wanted to see them succeed in life as they all find themselves in their last few months of high school just before stepping out into the real world (or for those going into college, the slightly more real world).
So, it's just another high school dramedy then?
Well, more like a high school drama-romantic-slooooow-buuuurrrrrrrn series. Where the "romance" is basically a guy and a girl liking each other but NEVER DOING ANYTHING ABOUT IT.
So it's slow? Is is Drag-on Ball Zzzzz slow? Or just like slow and quiet?
More slow and quiet, but goddamn! These kids in this thing are just so blind/dumb/non-communicative! It's frustrating at times, and it feels like they don't ever talk to each other about ANYTHING, EVER, for the sole purpose of making this story last 12 episodes. Honestly, I think there's maybe 3-4 episodes worth of drama in this story. It did not need to be told in 12 parts.
What is the plot of Just Because! then? Is there a plot?
The "plot" is essentially that there are a bunch of kids in high school, and they're facing their final three months of being together before separating for various colleges and jobs.
Some bland guy named Eita moves back to the school system that he lived in 4 years previous due to his dad's job (which moves the family around Japan like a pinball in a machine). Eita's already been accepted into a prestigious university, so he's allowed by the principal of the high school to just chill out in the student council room during normal class hours, instead of, you know, socializing with other students, or being allowed to work a job, or fucking ANYTHING else other than his three-months-long solitary confinement.
Into this situation, Eita comes face to face with two people he used to know when he lived there in this town in middle school: good friend, and baseball teammate, Haruto; and middle school crush, and student council president, Mio.
Eita and Haruto fall back into being the bestest of pals in no time at all. In fact, almost as soon as they reconnect at school on the day that Eita arrives, they head out to the ball field and start pitching and batting away their feelings for unrequited love for girls who don't even know they're alive... You know, high school.
You see, Haruto has feelings for a purple-haired girl in the band because she played her trumpet for him (not a euphemism) at a baseball tourney that the team lost at. He doesn't have the nerve to ask her out though, because he's a guy in a high school anime. But Haruto has a secret admirer too. Mio has a crush on him, and has since middle school, but she never had the balls to tell him because she's a girl in a high school anime. And then there's Eita, who of course has a crush on Mio, but never said anything about it because, well, you know already.
I don't understand... How do Japanese kids live this way? Don't they ever get laid?
I read once that Japanese teenagers have the highest rates of STDs in their age group in the world... They MUST be knockin' boots ALL THE TIME... But I'm guessing that since anime is aimed at otaku shut-ins who've never gotten any action their whole lives without paying for it, it would be insulting a show's core audience to base a series around high schoolers fucking like bunnies. Hence, nothing but shy "nice guy" virgins in every anime ever made. But I digress...
Anyway, Just Because! is all about these three kids and their friends just tooling around, waiting for the school year to end so that they can get on with their lives. A few still have college entrance exams to go to, a few have to get acclimated to their upcoming jobs, but they all have to figure out who they want
to bang to go out with, and then tell them this exciting news, all before the final credits roll.
Well?... Do they?
Ugh...... Kind of.
Okay, there are spoilers coming. You should know by now whether you want to watch this show or not, and whether you care about having this bland story ruined for you.
Let's start with Haruto. He and Eita invite Haruto's crush to a group outing at the local aquarium, to which she brings her bratty and annoying kid brothers with her. After a ton more boring episodes occur, Haruto FINALLY gets up the nerve to ask the band girl out... And she promptly shoots him down. It's painful, it's awkward, but at least SOMETHING INTERESTING HAPPENED. You see, this chick is going to an all-girls' college on the other side of the country, and it would cost Haruto around $300 for a round-trip bullet-train ticket just to see her. She knows that his low paying job that he's starting won't allow him to make this trek very often (if ever), even though they both want to start dating. So her saying "no" to
fucking going out with him was to save them both from the pain of being separated and from blowing tons of cash on transportation fees... But then she reneges in the very last episode, and tells him that they can give it a go anyway.
And then there was Eita and Mio... Fuck my corpse and call me Frankenstein's hooker! What the HELL is wrong with these kids!?
First of all, Mio has NO personality at all. Zero. Nil. And yet we're told that Eita has been carrying a torch for her ever since he knew her in middle school. But we're never told WHY he has this massive crush on her. As for Mio, yeah, she gets all moist in her britches over Haruto at first, even though he doesn't seem to see her because, well, Ms. Mundane and all that. Eventually though, Mio seems to understand that Haruto's only got eyes for band camp chick, and so she then turns her attention to the only other loser around her: Eita.
But by this point, Eita has attracted the eye of a really cute, really talented, really driven, and really caring underclasswoman in the Photography Club: Ena. Ena is friendly, personable, and extremely motivated, but she's NOT your stock annoying stalker character. Ena has her own dreams that don't only revolve around getting the guy. But despite her actually really caring for Eita, and going out of her way to make him feel better throughout the show (sacrificing lots of her time and energy), Ena is doomed to be the third wheel in Eita and Mio's retarded relationship.
Oh! So Eita and Mio DO get together?
.......Maybe. After Eita and Mio spend the bulk of the series NOT talking to each other (about ANYTHING), and both of them planning their entire futures on going to the other's college of choice (without the other even knowing that they're each planning to switch universities), somehow things work out and they DO end up at the same college (due to one of the two failing their entrance exam). But then all they do is stumble upon the other on campus that spring, and then they smile... And that's it. We're led to believe that they got together, but after seeing how TERRIBLE they are at communication, I give them two months tops.
Seriously, how they both went the entire final month of high school WITHOUT TELLING THE OTHER that they planned to change their college of choice just to be with the other is something they never show or say, and I can never understand. What the FUCK is wrong with Japan?!
I remember being a teenager and being in stupid relationships, and being infatuated with somebody who was totally wrong for me. But my friends and I actually TALKED to each other, and I never planned to go to her shitty school just for the chance to maybe be near her again. We never had something as ridiculous as the main plot of this show occur because this story of Eita and Mio's relationship is just plain retarded. These two idiots in Just Because!.... Jesus fucking Christ. It's maddening.
That does sound really lame.
It is. And the fact that the most interesting character (one Ena) is treated like dogshit by everybody else is the real crime. Honestly, if they only gave Eita ONE real reason to like Mio, I'd have been a lot less harsh on this show. If they just made Mio the SLIGHTEST bit personable... But she's a piece of wood with no real dreams other than kinda wanting to maybe go out with Haruto at first... But he's taken, so she might as well then choose Eita. Fuck that bitch.
So? Did you like it or not?
I sort of liked it. I thought it was okay. I enjoyed some aspects of it, but not others. I liked hanging out with some characters and couples, but thought others (Mioooooooo) were annoying, and I wanted them hit by a speeding Kawasaki Ninja while crossing the street without looking both ways.
The animation quality was sub-par most of the time, making it clear this was a cheap series made with no real love. The music is low key too, with neither opening or ending songs getting stuck in my head at any time. If you played me either of them right now I'd doubt I'd even recognize it.
I did like how the colors throughout the show were pretty subdued. It made it feel a little more real than having a green-haired protagonist, or kids running around in gaudy-colored jackets or whatnot, but it didn't give the show any kind of visual identity. It had your average, every day character designs, and a mellow color palette.
I will probably forget this series entirely in a month.
Oh my GAWD! I am just fucking SICK of it, Japan. The typical Japanese anime show set in high school filled with stupid teenagers doing stupid things for 12 to 26 episodes, and kids "falling in love" with each other for no good reason has been done to death! It's like the American procedural drama: there are 8 on any channel during any given season. We need to move on.
Back in high school, the ridiculous shenanigans having to do with crushes that my friends and I got involved in were us wondering if Thomas really did get the clap from Julia, or if Nadine really did get knocked up by the physics teacher. Is Japan really so fucking tame that the most interesting shit they can put together for a fictional romance/drama show is "will the guy tell the girl that he's secretly stalking that he applied to her college?" And when the answer is "no," and they drag it out for like six episodes, well, I gotta say, you lost me, Japan. You lost me.
I'm just going to go back through my own yearbook now and fondly recall that time my good pal Rich was banging his girlfriend in the band room after school one day, and they got caught by the janitor, and because Rich's girlfriend didn't want her parents to know that she was a slut, she later declared it a rape. Ahhhh, good times.
Yeah, things have gotten kind of lame in Japan lately. No more ESP powers in their high school romantic comedy shows. No more martial artists changing sexes either. And flying aliens in bikinis who electrocute their philandering boyfriends? Not any more...
Instead, what we're left with is stupid teenagers just acting stupid around each other. No, that's no different from any other era, but just that there's nothing MORE beyond that now. Instead of high schoolers finding themselves in a purgatory world where they have to team up and find a way to take down God, or teenagers in a school with strange rules for judging which class they belong in (i.e. if they get good grades they get a classroom with luxury recliners and soda machines and teachers who care about their education, but if they fail all the time they have to use old orange crates to write their notes on, but they get to battle other classes to try and advance), we get kids just hanging out and NOT EVEN talking to each other about anything.
Is this exciting to people now? Watching stupid kids just beat around the bush and NOT connect with anyone? I was truly hoping that Eita and Mio did not get together in the end. The last thing this country needs is even whinier and stupider kids coming from those two idiots.