Kenka Bancho Otome -Girl Beats Boys- – Anime Review
Synopsis: Orphaned heroine Hinako Nakayama suddenly reunites with her twin brother Hikaru, who asks her to take his place at Shishiku Academy, a private boys school infamous for its rough-and-tumble student body. Hikaru being the child of a powerful Yakuza family, the Onigashima, is obligated to become the leader of Shishiku Academy. Hinako will have to hide her identity and fight to control the school. How will Hinako deal with a school full of handsome boys who let their fists do the talking rather than discussing their feelings? (Official Crunchyroll Synopsis.)
Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: Kenka Bancho never truly utilizes its characters. Once the cast expands, the show becomes extremely plot focused, directing its near entire run time to making sure we adapt as much of the game as possible.
Linny: All the boys in this romance sim game based show come off exactly like one would expect. While they’re all ‘bad boys’, they’re actually all kind hearted and worthy romance options. They also all seem a bit dim with Hinako’s first rival/ally Totomaru coming off as the dimmest of the lot. It’s no big surprise though to see so many tropes abound in both the story and the characterization as one really can’t have high hopes given its sub 10 minute episodes and the fact that it’s based on an otome game, a genre that’s often formulaic and predictable itself.
Tom: And these pretty boys remain as little more than otome trope archetypal characters. The boys never move beyond their introductory personas and the only perceivable change is that they go from distrusting or disliking our lead Hinako to outright protecting her when things get tough. What’s perhaps most surprising is that for a title based off an Otome game, and tagged as a romance/shoujo, there’s basically no romance. In fact the story centers on Hinako’s desire to remain friends with her harem, never once allowing this to stray into any kind of romantic entanglement. There isn’t even a hint of it, leaving the street fighting as the only real appeal to the series.
Linny: While the lack of romance does lessen the appeal of the show, it’s also a refreshing feature for anyone tired of the cliche where a guy and girl can’t stay friends for long without falling in love. Never once does Hinako express any romantic feelings besides a general admiration for the boys. Though on the other hand, the show does its best to remind us of her gender by having her constantly blushing or becoming awkward in up close situations with the guys.
Tom: It’s this heavy focus on plot that kills a lot of the charm Kenka Bancho initially exhibited. It feels like the primary effort here has been in adapting the biggest story beats of the game, making this feel more and more like an exclusive endeavor to appeal to the game’s fan base. It especially feels that way in the final episode as additional characters appear for the very first time, individuals we’ve never met before in the anime and are likely expanded characters from the game series.
Linny: It’s a bit of a shame really as Kenka Bancho’s over the top premise and premiere episode seemed destined to offer audiences goofy hijinx and jokes. However, it begins to take itself very seriously soon after and even tries to inject melodrama, reuniting Hinako with lost acquaintances and featuring the kidnapping of younger siblings and such. It takes away what fun you were having and replaces it with mediocre to just plain bland drama. The short runtime and the rushed pace means poignant and emotional moments rarely hit like they need to, leaving the viewer frustrated and annoyed.
Tom: Overall Kenka Bancho feels bare bones. It has the basics needed for its story, but none of the character work, or greater personality to make the journey feel worthwhile. It’s pretty by the books and the fighting sequences just aren’t crazy enough to hold your attention through what is otherwise a pretty drab tale. Even at sub ten minutes an episode, Kenka Bancho begins to feel a bit like a slog and is so basic that it becomes unmemorable.
Linny: Kenka Bancho is very devoted to its source material, spewing otome cliches and tropes in every episode that’s bound to turn away all but the most devoted otome fans. The dedication to telling its story in bite sized episodes never really works, especially when what little comedy it has is substituted with drama that just doesn’t grab you thanks to a lack of proper build up. All in all, I second Tom’s opinion that this is a show that might be best left only for the die hard otome or Kenka Bancho fans.