Gakuen Handsome – Preview
Original Air Dates: October 3rd, 2016 – ???
Synopsis: Yoshiki Maeda is transferring into the Baramon Private Academy. But as soon as he enters, he’s already encountering handsome pretty boys one after another, from his teacher, the captain of the soccer team, or even his childhood friend he hasn’t seen in seven years. This is a love story that covers every unique scenario imaginable.
1st Episode Review (Warning: Some Spoilers to Follow):
Linny: Gakuen Handsome is based off a Japanese game of the same name that is a parody/satire of popular dating sim and BL cliches. The show seems to be continuing that very spirit, but in anime form. Expect it to be filled with lots of cliches presented in a humourous manner, but given that it’s based off Japanese culture, there might be a chance that most jokes fly over your head if you aren’t familiar with the material it’s making fun of.
Tom: Gakuen Handsome’s story is absurdly simplistic, acting as a catch all ‘every man’ narrative to ensure it can parody and mock near every Otome game out there. We’re introduced to Yoshiki Maeda as he transfers into a new school and comes to meet numerous “pretty boys,” who, as the joke goes, aren’t actually all that pretty. In fact, they look pretty darn weird.
Linny: The comedy in this first episode feels both absurd and subtle at the same time. Some scenes have lines and characters with physical features that will make you go wtf. On the other hand, there’s a lot that just ‘happens’ leaving you wondering if there was a joke that just went over your head unnoticed.
Tom: When it comes to characterization, I don’t really know what to say. Gakuen is so focused, so intent on lampooning the Otome genre that it makes no effort to really define any of its characters, besides Maeda and his dialogue is cliche after cliche. Characterization isn’t going to be a draw here, but rather Gakuen’s pinpoint accuracy in mocking every overused trope, line and event found in the Otome genre.
Linny: Our main protagonist, Maeda is a young high school boy who’s returned to his hometown after seven years and encounters all sorts of guys who make his heart skip a beat. He’s drawn as bland as possible, and does not even have eyes so he can truly remain faceless. If you can see the humour in that, you’re going to love the show.
Tom: Gakuen Handsome’s animation is pretty god awful. Character designs are frequently off-model in long shots, the movement is stilted, etc. But I think, in this case, that’s kind of the point. So it almost goes without saying, but if you’re an animation buff Gakuen Handsome is the furthest thing from what you should be watching.
Linny: If you love shows that are intentionally horrible for the sake of comedy and parody and would like to see BL stereotypes being made fun of, Gakuen Handsome is only 3 minutes an episode and will help give you a taste of what is an extremely popular Japanese phenomenon. On the other hand, if you have no interest or knowledge of BL and Otome games, then Gakuen Handsome has absolutely nothing to offer you.
Tom: Gakuen Handsome didn’t do a lot for me. Maybe it’s because I’ve only played one Otome game previously, so I’m not quite so familiar with the tropes and archetypes often overused within the genre. It doesn’t help that Gakuen Handsome feels a tad slow, even for a short-form anime, with few jokes jumping out at me. Either way Gakuen Handsome seems targeted at a very specific audience, and while some might find appreciation in it based purely on its odd art and subdued sense of humor, it’s definitely more for the Otome crowd that’s willing to see their beloved genre poked fun at.
Gakuen Handsome is available for streaming via Crunchyroll.com