Chio’s School Road – Anime Review
Synopsis: Miyamo Chio, a first-year at the completely ordinary high school Samejima Academy. Chio just wants to get through her school life without standing out too much, but for some reason, all kinds of obstacles await her along the path she takes to school. Her long-time friend Nonomura Manana, who’s trying to quit being an otaku; the flawless Hosokawa Yuki, who occupies the top caste in the school; and lots of nameless people about town find themselves in Chio’s path as she employs the (useless) techniques she’s acquired from her Western video games in her daily efforts to get to school. (Official Crunchyroll Synopsis)
Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Linny: The good news is that despite what sounds like a restrictive and simple titular premise, Chio’s School Road is anything but that. It does a good job of diversifying gags to pull off as our protagonist Chio makes her way to/from school; often to such bombastic degrees that you wonder just how early Chio leaves for school to have so much time to get sidetracked. Chio and her friend/s engage in all sorts of pranks, often against each other, trying to embarrass or impress the other and often ending up the victim of their own mischief. However, Chio’s School Road loves repeating its gags and shticks to a point where characters can come off as one note (example; a kabaddi obsessed senior) or certain traits end up feeling more like minuscule afterthoughts rather than strong selling points aka Chio’s love of gaming that seems to pop up only when needed for a gag.
Tom: Chio’s far greater problem is how often the comedy outstays its welcome. Frequently Chio drags skits out, forcing a funny scene in and of itself to become stretched so it makes for half the episode’s length. This might work if the material was strong enough to support such intense focus. But the truth is Chio’s School Road’s comedy is incredibly hit or miss. Sometimes it finds an amusing vein and runs with it, but more often the series drags a lukewarm gag out to epic proportions and it becomes a chore to sit through. This becomes especially true in the back half of the season, where the series starts to return to various characters, who are married to their own, singular silly trait. Frustratingly Chio’s sexual comedy becomes its major downfall. Sex focused humor often extends little beyond the ‘hilarity’ of groping, and the series gradually starts to drift its gaze to Chio’s crotch and butt for increasingly frequent bouts of unnecessary fan service. The show isn’t sexual beyond the kabbidi, groping closet lesbian girl (one of the show’s most pained elements) only making the fan service feel so much more forced and out of place.
Linny: As Tom stated, the humour of the show can be a little controversial. All the more specifically when it involves a senior from their school, Kushitori Madoka, whose obsession with playing kabaddi actually has a very lecherous ulterior motive i.e, the chance to grope other girls intimately. Anime/manga has always struggled with depicting homosexual/non binary characters in a respectful manner and this character is one that comes off abrasive and insulting and even the ‘excuse’ of ‘it’s just a joke’ fails to negate how strange and upsetting her character is, particularly when the show takes every opportunity to depict her with a long, non human tongue lapping up and whipping about in clear sexual excitement. It doesn’t help that later on she is shown to be training under a homeless man who reveals himself to also delight in groping high school girls.
Tom: Chio’s School Road teases gaming references as part of Chio’s established character: She’s a gamer girl, one obsessed with Western video games and who stays up late through the night just to play online with the community on the other side of the world. Yet this factors into things sparingly, more so than you’d think based on some of the opening imagery. In the end it often feels like an afterthought and could leave viewers, hopeful for some fun jabs at their favorite triple AAA franchises, a little disappointed at how minimal the series is with its video game based gags.
Linny: Despite that lesser used element, Chio is the perfect character for people who enjoy despicable comedy leads. She’s irresponsible, has an inflated ego, always shrugs off all responsibilities and has no issues with lying even when confronted face on. It often blows up in her face for those who also enjoy seeing such characters face the music. Similarly, almost all the other side characters are equally despicable people with self serving or selfish motives. The couple of ‘good’ people in the show possess extremely bizarre quirks, making this a cast full of absurd characters such as the friendly, popular classmate who turns out to be a nudist at heart. The show teases and also then confirms that the older looking, thug character, Andou develops feelings for Chio. This actually makes for some hilarious scenes such as when he stumbles upon her buying a BL game centric magazine and goes out of his way to be understanding and supportive by playing them himself with his friends. The one potential problem with this though is that one might wonder about the age difference between them. It is never explicitly revealed and that might be on purpose to avoid having people up in arms about it.
Tom: Chio’s School Road is a frustrating experience. There’s kernels of good, solid, comedic ideas, but are often so stretched and drawn out that they stop being funny. Or sometimes the execution is so poor that it never even manages to crack a smile in the first place. I found the final episode especially disappointing, as it seemed to contain everything that just wasn’t working well. Things do end on a positive note, with a fun animated sequence where we see Chio and Co. screwing up scenes from earlier in the series, as if they’re merely actors filming the anime. But it’s not enough to change my mind. Chio’s School Road isn’t worth your time, and comes out as one of Summer’s more disappointing titles.
Linny: Is Chio’s School Road worth your time? I would say you should definitely give the first episode a chance if you like the sound of a rather despicable school girl getting herself into all sorts of trouble with the most ridiculous characters and gags.If the first episode doesn’t tickle your funny bone, then you can happily and immediately drop the show with the knowledge that much of the humour remains the same throughout. On the other hand, if you take to it, that becomes the good news as you can expect a lot more of the same gags with a small twist here and there. Chio’s School Road has some great gags sprinkled throughout but it requires that you take to the kind/style of jokes it delivers. If they aren’t to your tastes, it isn’t going to impress you much, which was the case with us. It’s a middle of the road comedy, one I wouldn’t rewatch but one I wouldn’t consider unwatchable for newcomers by any means. Go in with tempered expectations and you might just come away impressed.