Saturday, 18 April 2015
FIRST IMPRESSIONS – YAMADA-KUN AND THE SEVEN WITCHES
I know. I know. This anime is not dubbed and I’m still watching it.
There are several reasons why I tuned into this series and I can’t wait to get to it, so let’s get started…
So firstly, this anime is about a boy named Yamada who ends up switching bodies with an honor student Urara Shiraishi when they fall down the stairs at school. Your first thought is probably ‘another freaky Friday flip how original’. I wouldn’t blame you. I actually hate this trope and stories that use it, but there have been anime that have done the whole body swap thing correctly. Kokoro Connect is a masterpiece of character development and I really recommend it to anyone who hasn’t seen it yet.
Yamada-Kun and The Seven Witches takes on a more comedic approach to the whole body switching plot, but like I said, it sounded so good, I actually went ahead and checked out the OVA they released last year before diving into the manga. Yes, you heard right. I NEVER read manga and I ALMOST never watch anime subbed, but for Yamada, I did both. Was I disappointed?
Short answer: No!
Don’t get me wrong, all the Japanese still came across as gibberish and very much like two or three characters voicing everyone, but that is almost an afterthought. Instead, the first episode deals mainly with Yamada in Shiraishi’s body and vice-versa, introducing us to these characters from two different worlds. It’s not long before Yamada notices just how sad life at the top is for Shiraishi. She is ferociously bullied by her peers, has no friends to support her and literally the only thing she has going for her are her looks (notice how much she resembles Lucy Heartfelia from Fairy Tail?) and her intellect. Likewise, Yamada is looked down upon by everyone so he doesn’t have a very happy life either failing at school work.
"Who says you can't get into someone's pants by just kissing them?"
IDEA!: Why don’t we switch bodies and I take your tests for you? I like this people. They use body switching to their advantage. Technically it’s still cheating, but who cares? Shiraishi likes school and Yamada needs an A in class. Win-freaking-win. This is such a wonderful idea and I'm glad the characters thought of it consciously instead of just accidentally ending up that way like a lot of body swap shows.
"Big and bouncy? Cool! Nothing downstairs? Well you can't have everything now can you?"
What’s even better is that the fanservice in this show is minimal. Yamada subverts the normal Man, I’m a Woman trope early on by only doing a brief self-exploration before discovering that being a girl is more annoying than one would think. I like this. I really do. It’s funny as hell watching the icy Shiraishi go absolutely bonkers at every little thing. I also don’t like overly fanservice-ish anime – I believe the genre is called ecchi – and what’s weird about all this is that they switch bodies by kissing.
"And the Yaoi fangirls go WILD!"
And yet the kissing is totally played straight. Man/Woman, Woman/Woman, Man/Man. Man-in-Woman/Woman. Woman-in-Man/Man. And a bunch of other combos as well. Makes no difference on this show. All kissing is treated more or less the same. Basically everyone in this show is 1) bisexual 2) has no sense of personal space 3) and has no qualms about kissing strangers. AND YET NO ECCHI!
But it’s not all good and I never thought I’d turn into one of THOSE people, but the first episode felt a bit rushed. Or not really. You see they handled like 8 chapters (skipped most of them completely) in the first episode alone. While it won’t really get noticed by fans who HAVEN'T read the manga, it did distract me a little because I did. God I’ve turned into one of those people who end up comparing books to movies. Pity me!!!!
"I get why he's checking, but why is she looking at his junk too?"
Apart from that, very enjoyable. Really a fun and interesting premise, likable characters and great development. If I had another criticism it would be that the series could easily have been a 24-epiosode series. It’s that rich in story, character and plot. I also enjoy how they do away with double standards. Seems the girls are just as curious and perverted as the boys.
"Let's play the body swap game. Can you guess who is inside this body?"
Another thing I like about this 90 chapter, 12-episode anime is that I heard after chapter 90, they like reset the cast and the story drops heavily. I’d compare it to Infinite Stratos S1 and S2. Yeah, that bad. In that sense, I hope they tie everything up nicely and that this series DOESN’T get a second season. It has the potential to rival Kokoro Connect which in my mind is the best of the best of the best when it comes to using the body switching trope. I am really looking forward to this series and I can’t wait to watch episode 2.
Rating this first impression: 8.2/10. It’s one of those shows I dug into, got excited over and ended up enjoyed even more when it finally came out.