When this anime first started airing back at the start of the season, I was a bit concerned that it might become too repetitive and I would lose interest after a while. That did wind up happening to an extent–I took a break from watching it around episode 6–but I think my problem was that I really needed to be in the right mood to watch this show. As I was watching the last couple episodes, I found myself laughing along to Takagi and Nishikata’s antics. Karakai Jozu no Takagi-san wound up being a fairly cute and funny comedy. It’s pairing of simple story and interesting characters makes both the comedy and the slight romance elements stand out all the more. And what an appropriate anime to review on the eve of April Fool’s day.
Karakai Jozu no Takagi-san follows the antics of school desk neighbors Takagi and Nishikata. Takagi enjoys teasing Nishikata every chance she gets, and Nishikata is always looking for a chance to one-up her and get his revenge. The episodes follow the various pranks and teasing between these two as they sit together in class and walk home together. Adapted from the ongoing manga of the same name, it was picked up by Shin-Ei Animation for the anime and was licensed by Crunchyroll and Funimation for the US release this past season.
Shin-Ei has done a pretty great job on the animation for this series. The character designs are pretty fleshed out and I don’t really have any complaints in this area. I wouldn’t say there was anything really stand-out about it either, but then again it’s trying to compete with After the Rain and Violet Evergarden this season in terms of animation. Both of those series have really come to overshadow a lot of the other animes this season. What has left a lasting impression on me the most, though, is the opening song. The song is entitled “Iwanai Kedo ne” by Yuiko Ohara and is super catchy. I love listening to it every episode and find that it will sometimes be stuck in my head the next morning. I love the combination of acoustic guitar, piano, and some electronic elements. It creates a really nice feel for the opening and helps you get psyched up for the anime. I also didn’t realize that Takagi-san has seven different ending songs for some reason. Seven endings for a twelve episode is unheard of for me at least even if they are all by one person, Rie Takahashi.
On the character design and animation front, though, I really think that Takagi steals the show. Her character design is super cute and the way they animate her expressions really steals the show. Her expressions are what really make her character shine and help to drive home a lot of the gags in each episode. But the show wouldn’t work as well as it does if it wasn’t for the pairing of Nishikata and Takagi, and Nishikata’s expressions are well animated as well. He’s your fairly standard everyman character in terms of character design, but his reactions to Takagi’s teasing are captured well in his eyes and constant blushing. I also appreciate that they seem to have put a lot of work into the side-character’s designs, creating people that are fairly varied in appearance. However, much like other gag animes such as Tzuredure Children, I don’t think a lot of detail is really needed, it’s appreciated when the animation staff go the extra mile, but not really needed.
Karakai Jozu Takagi-san thrives on its gags and the will-they-won’t-they kind of plot. I haven’t gotten the chance to read the manga for myself, but I’ve heard a lot of fans of it saying that it’s a lot of the same kinds of plots with not much story progression. So, I may pick it up at some point, but I think the benefit of having the anime is that we get a short twelve-episode season. This means that the gags don’t get a chance to feel repetitive, and we get a tad bit of progression at teases at both main-character’s true feelings. The gags themselves are pretty simple, but the interest comes from the characters’ reactions and our inability to really tell what Takagi is thinking or going to do. Nishikata is a fairly simple character, motivation wise. All he wants to do is be able to one-up Takagi and finally get his revenge. However, it’s also through the repetition of gags that we get to see Nishikata’s feelings for Takagi change over time. He starts to not mind walking home with her anymore and eventually even admits out loud to that fact (prompting a lot of blushing and stuttering). It’s also through Nishikata’s efforts to craft the perfect revenge that we get to see Takagi’s true feels a little at a time.
One of the ways that Takagi-san breaks up the teasing between the two main characters is short gag stories featuring some side-characters. Each episode is pretty much split up into three different shorts, with at least one of them being a story featuring the three girls. I did like this kind of set-up as it was nice to get a bit of a break between stories, but I just wish that the girls’ episodes were more interesting or they got more characterization throughout the series than they did. It wasn’t like they were completely flat characters though, but I did feel like I didn’t pay as much attention to their episodes as I did to Takaga and Nishikata’s. This would probably be a good area to suggest going to the source material for more content. I’m sure their characters are expanded on in the manga, but in the anime, I didn’t find them that interesting.
As I finished up the last couple episodes though, I do have to say that they were some of the cutest of the whole series. We get a slight progression of Takagi and Nishikata’s relationship in that we finally see Takagi crack from something that he says. Though it’s out of sight of Nishikata at the time, I really appreciated this slipping of her calm facade when faced by kind words from someone she cares about. Looking back on previous episodes, the context of her reaction is what makes those episodes so rewarding. In a way, it’s Nishikata inadvertently getting his revenge, but it’s also Takagi showing us how she really feels.
In the end, I think this show is fun to watch overall, though I definitely have to be in the mood for a gag show in order to watch it. Let me know what you thought of Karakai Jozu Takagi-san in the comments below. If you’ve read the manga, let me know if you think the anime should have another season or is one enough? By the time this post goes up, I should be at Anime Boston, so be sure to head over to my Twitter (@amziebka) to check out what’s happening!
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