The Kawai Complex Guide to Manors and Hostel Behavior – Anime Review
Synopsis: Being independent and living alone has come to Usa by way of his parents’ new job placement. However, his hopes and dreams are soon dashed when Usa’s confronted with the indecent behavior of his lecherous neighbor, Shirosaki. Usa promised he wouldn’t complain if he could just live on his own…of course, he didn’t expect so much drama. And it certainly doesn’t help that dream girl Ritsu and Usa live in the same apartment complex, go to the same school, and the landlady is Ritsu’s grandaunt. (Official The Anime Network Synopsis)
Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: Kawai Complex’s main stars, love at first sight Usa, and the girl of his affections, Ritsu are pretty bland. Usa is about the character you’d expect, left vague enough that he can act as a self-insert for the viewer and Ritsu the classic shy, icey-quiet girl that comes off as near emotionless. If Kawai Complex focused squarely on these two, there’d be little reason to watch. But it doesn’t. The anime is saved entirely by its supporting cast of characters, frequently used to spice the situation up.
Linny: It says a lot about the show and its protagonists when it’s the side characters that end up having a bigger presence than the main characters. The side characters are the show stoppers and actually get a lot of screen time and plot focus which really helped keep us interested. The actual main plot of the romance between the ‘hero’ and ‘heroine’ however was a complete letdown and snooze fest. It never really goes anywhere nor has any real development and always felt boring and uninteresting just like the leads themselves.
Tom: Even with the supporting cast the show still has its low points, and those are whenever the series refocuses on our primary characters. The finale, for example, is squarely centered back on Ritsu and Usa, making it one of the anime’s lowest points. Indeed that’s the feel whenever the series strays back to these two, who are so much weaker and less interesting than the utterly bizarre supporting characters with far more going on in their lives. Thankfully, our supporting cast is constantly interfering. From Mayumi, the dorm’s drunkard, constant meddling, to Shirosaki the perverted masochist and Sayaka a college student who can’t help cause trouble for the gang. But even if they inject a lot of mayhem, the supporting characters suffer in a similar way to Usa and Ritsu: no one here feels like a truly original character. Everyone feels based upon some classic anime archetype, but rarely branches out beyond those initial trappings.
Linny: One can still make a bit of an argument that despite being cliches and stereotypes, the show manages to make its side characters feel amusing enough to carry the humour and gags. Sure, there’s nothing terribly fresh about the masochistic pervert, the alcoholic older woman and the bitchy pretty girl but anyone who loves jokes that play off those tropes should still find themselves entertained. In fact, I would urge anyone who picks up Kawai Complex to keep an eye out for a rather cheekily and nicely done parody of Renaissance paintings/aesthetic. Even the show seems to be well aware of how pivotal it is as it features the gag in its credits too.
Tom: Between the less imaginative plot lines, there’s a few really clever or interesting stories scattered about. Coupled with that is the way Kawai Complex plays its comedy, giving the series a final edge to prevent it from feeling entirely bland. This all is aided by some very beautiful animation and use of color that keeps the show visually engaging. All in all Kawai Complex is an odd mash up of stale ideas or characters with enough comedy and fun elements to keep the whole thing from feeling completely worn out. It sits right on the line for me, and while there’s clearly worse out there, I don’t think Kawai contains enough originality for me to give it a hard recommend.
Linny: My personal issue with the show is it really doesn’t go anywhere with its plot. By the end of its run, there isn’t much development in the romance even by chaste anime standards, thus proving to me that this show might be best watched as an ensemble comedy. The visuals are a delight to look at with its breath taking scenery backgrounds and while not extremely original, the show manages to be a decent source of laughs. If those two points alone are promising enough to you, OR you enjoy really slow burner and chaste teen anime romances, then by all means, do give Kawai Complex a try.