OneRoom – Mid Season Review
Original Air Dates: January 11th, 2017 – ???
Reviewed by Tom
Synopsis: OneRoom is a virtual anime, one where you’re the protagonist. Your life takes an interesting turn as several girls move into apartments next to yours and you find yourself getting to know them as they come by to introduce themselves.
Mid Season (6 Episodes) Review (Warning: Some Spoilers to Follow):
OneRoom is an experiment in allowing the audience to become the main character of their own anime. At least, in theory. The trouble is OneRoom is a bit noncommittal. The series opens utilizing camera perspective to allow the viewer to feel like they’re in first person, interacting with these girls. However shots often stray from that ideal, offering up more typical, third person perspectives, rather than adhering to that first person concept.
But that isn’t OneRoom’s only framing problem. Afraid that the show’s camera work would be too boring, OneRoom tries to guide the viewer’s gaze. At times this is effective in allowing us to take in the beautiful artwork of the girl’s eyes, or lips, or hair, but this forced gaze becomes problematic when our anime self begins to leer at each of the girl’s assets.
Even from our very first interaction, our anime self is leering at our new neighbor, Hanasaka Yui. We periodically drift our gaze down to her chest, which is met with a visibly uncomfortable reaction from the girl. As if that wasn’t bad enough, our gaze also focuses in on the second girl’s assets, who happens to be our little sister! Because of moments like this, the show’s attempt to make you the main character backfires, forcing the viewer to become a right pervert.
But pulling back from that particular angle, let’s discuss the two girls we’ve met so far, Yui and our little sister, Natsuki. Yui, who appeared through the first four episodes, is your typically standard high school student. Despite her goals of passing her exams and improving her grades, much of her dialogue, thoughts and interactions center on you, giving her character more of a ‘male fantasy’ vibe than if she was a real person.
The same can be said for Natsuki, although it doesn’t feel quite as off as with Yui. Natsuki is your little sister, and based on her characterization either really loves her older brother, or strays right into Brother Complex territory. Her being so focused on you makes a bit more sense, as the story goes that she’s here to visit you since you moved away from home. But combine her attitude with the show’s constant leering, and it becomes clear OneRoom is interested in catering to a very specific segment of the male audience, one interested in fantasizing about romantic encounters with these young, innocent girls.
As an experiment in and of itself, OneRoom has some worth. It’s interesting to see what steps have been taken to try and incorporate the viewer into the story, and analyze how effective that really is. But because of a plethora of missteps, coupled with an interest into catering to a very specific segment of the audience, OneRoom exists, entertainment wise, as little more than fantasy indulgement. I’ll continue to watch out of curiosity, particularly in how creepy the series will ultimately decide to get, but I still feel OneRoom is something most audiences should pass on, unless they’re hard up for leering, fantasy laden entertainment.
One Room is available for streaming via Crunchyroll.com