Wave, Listen to Me! – Anime Review
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Synopsis: On a drunken night out to complain about an ex, Minare Koda absentmindedly shares too much information with a stranger from the radio station. The next morning, she’s shocked to hear her voice on the radio. Bursting into the station with intentions to justify her previous night’s rant quickly turns into an interview on-air and the offer to share her chaotic life with an unsuspecting audience! (Official Funimation Synopsis)
Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Linny: Wave, Listen to me! starts strong with radio-centric themes. Heck, the series literally opens with Minare in the midst of a rather peculiar and unusual radio show where she’s acting out being attacked by a bear whilst reading write ins from the listeners. This sequence however, is a bit of a misleading move. Not only does it take some time before Minare truly becomes wrapped up in the world of radio, but even once the show gets going, it remains, unabashedly, the Minare Koda show. What I mean to say is that Wave, Listen to Me! is focused much more so on following Minare around and exploring the various misadventures she gets herself into, thanks largely to her brash attitude and lax approach to work responsibilities. Radio just happens to be one of those said adventures. Yes, we do get a peek now and again into the going ons at a smaller radio station, as well as even a quick look at how old school radio sound engineers came up with various sound effects on a budget. But at the end of the day, you are meant to be watching this show for Minare’s crazy hi-jinks and not so much radio based entertainment or an enlightenment as to the inner workings of the industry. Even with the opening and ending credits showcasing a large cast of characters, Wave remains largely fixated on Minare, further cementing that you should not pick this show or keep it on your watch list if you are not amused/entranced by Minare’s explosive personality early on.
Tom: To be fair, Wave, Listen to Me!’s best content is when Minare’s overbearing persona leads her straight into drama. While learning about radio can be fun, and is whenever the show decides to, however briefly, focus on that, what makes Wave, Listen to Me! a delight to watch is seeing Minare get mixed up in the sordid lives of those around her, and the way her boisterous personality often lands her in trouble. That said, Minare’s use is a double-edged sword, much as Linny described. Either you’re with this girl and her absurd self or you’re not. It doesn’t help matters either when Wave, Listen to Me! becomes perhaps too fixated on one particular vein of drama, really what sets off the whole show; Minare’s hang ups over her horribly selfish, man-child ex. Once we hit mid-season the show starts to obsess over this particular plot line to its detriment. Even after Minare finally thrashes herself free of said ex, and his effect on her mental health, we double back to rehash the ex-drama into one of the show’s experimental radio segments. This effort, besides giving audiences the, at this point, typical off-beat radio we expect, seems tailored to try and give Minare a catharsis to her ex-troubles. The double down might be fine if Minare was the kind of character to grow from it, but she’s not, and thus that then somehow doesn’t feel worth it, particularly as other drama offered throughout tends to feel so much more enthralling and hilarious, like when Minare accuses her kindly neighbor of assault and later an even worse crime.
Linny: Part of the trouble here might be that Minare herself can be a rather divisive character. She has a fiery, self obsessed, outspoken personality. This makes for great entertainment and drama on a purely fictional basis but view her with even a modicum of reality and she strays right across the line into unlikable. Some will likely find her grating as she spews self-centered selfish lines and occasionally even mildly homophobic sentiments. While others will find that very volatile personality of hers and the ensuing drama she constantly causes hilarious or perhaps as far as endearing. There will even be those who find themselves stuck somewhere in the middle, able to appreciate her at certain times and lose patience with her at others. She may spew negative and aggressive thoughts but is also quick to burst into tears and offer her undying devotion to those she deems pure and kind. To the show’s credit, it does constantly make her have to face the consequences of her actions or even be called out by other characters but even so, there’s a fair chance she might never win you over.
Tom: Trouble might also stem from simply how centered the series is on Minare. There’s quite a large cast of characters; from the man who pulls Minare into radio in the first place, Matou, to the kind and pure AD, Mizuho or perhaps Minare’s co-workers from her part-time job at a local restaurant, Nakahara and Makie. Each of these characters has their own narrative, with goals that the series clues us in on, but rarely gives true attention to. By the end of twelve episodes most plot lines, outside of Minare’s, are left hanging. We make only minimal progress with certain characters, or perhaps a big step or two with others, but ultimately none of these other stories are offered any kind of closer or significant attention. It’s frustrating because these additional characters ARE interesting. You want to know more, see their drama develop, and when that doesn’t really happen, it’s a let down. While Wave, Listen to Me! is based off an ongoing manga, one that is likely to come back to these threads, the anime leaves you feeling let down with these other characters, particularly if Minare isn’t totally your cup of tea.
Linny: My biggest issue with Wave however, is that like its protagonist, it too is flawed. Namely in a frustrating and uncomfortable way. Wave, Listen to Me! features an LGBTQ+ character, the owner of the restaurant Minare works at, Takarada. It unfortunately portrays Takarada as the ‘handsy’ gay man; constantly groping male characters’ buttocks. It’s brought up only in a couple of episodes, so one could label it as a more minor issue, but it does the series no favours if you’re a viewer who is tired of tropey, negative stereotypes assigned to non-binary characters in anime. Wave also features an extremely unhealthy, aggressive and controlling sibling relationship where an older brother gets so protective and controlling that he forbids his sister from even attending college. There’s an allusion that his obsessive behaviour is a result of the trauma of losing their parents but the show never shows him ever sincerely apologizing for his actions, suffering any major comeuppance or seeking/receiving the help he needs if it is indeed trauma induced. That sits as perhaps another example of under touched plot lines. Lastly, the final episode packs in a surprise reveal about one of the characters that comes a bit out of nowhere and feels like the show’s last ditch effort to push viewers to read the manga for answers rather than a well built up unveiling.
Tom: Another thing that could be to be a sticking point is Wave, Listen to Me!’s propensity for overwriting Minare’s origins. The initially premise is a fun one; mouthy girl gets caught up in the world of radio, and often her own dramatic antics catch up with her. But Wave’s author felt the need to allude to the idea that perhaps there’s more to her story than mere happenstance. Wave is one of those stories that becomes increasingly contrived as it’s hinted several seemingly unrelated characters hold deeper, surprise connections, almost giving the sense that Minare was destined for this gig. Some love that kind of twist, a whiff of destiny to make everything feel grander. Though, if you lean more towards my side of things it might be more grating a reveal than endearing.
Linny: At the end of the day, Wave Listen to me! still feels like a must try for anyone seeking something beyond the teen-centric content anime is famous for. I cannot say that the show is flawless or a guaranteed ‘good watch,’ thanks to its abrasive lead and its rather underused supporting cast, plus all the other flaws we’ve mentioned above. But with all characters well into their adult years and storylines to match said older cast, its bound to catch the attention of an older anime fan or two. It’s hard to ignore the fact that the protagonist is an endless source of amusing plots; from her tumultuous relationships to the outlandish situations her radio station boss pushes her into for the sake of good, on air, content. The show feels as experimental as the low budget radio show it features, going from a slice of life drama to a supernatural, spooky tone at the snap of a finger. You never know what’s going to happen next. While the finale is not without faults, it manages to be an exciting ride as we watch Minare and her radio co-workers cope with a sudden and dire situation, all while live on air. If you’re highly intrigued by the idea of following the misadventures of a hot headed, strong willed and outspoken young woman, make sure to give Wave, Listen to me! a try.
Tom: Despite my issues, fun but under used side characters, too much focus on Minare’s ex or perhaps Minare herself, and a tease that she was truly destined for radio, I think I find myself still recommending the series. Minare’s motor mouth, and the trouble it lands her in, are a ton of fun, even if Minare might not be the type of person you’d ever actually want in your life. The side characters, for what attention they do get, are equally as likable and I still enjoyed their individual struggles and snippets of stories all the same. The homophobia/disappointing typical representation of a LGBTQ+ character is where the show near pushes me away. I’m honestly sick and tired of writers being unable to present flawed LGBTQ+ characters without caving into the most insultingly common interpretations that are not only overused, but offensive. Perhaps this is where Wave lucks out, since Takarada gets side-lined harder than most, meaning those groping antics are sporadic at best. If you can overlook a number of the series’ flaws there’s still a lot of fun to be had, and assuming you don’t think too hard about what Minare would be like to actually know in real life, she should, hopefully, remain a hoot.
Wave, Listen to Me! is available for streaming via Funimation.com