|Streaming:||Crunchyroll | Funimation|
I had zero idea what exactly the show was going to entail (and truth be told, it seems like a fair amount of viewers didn’t either). What initially drew me into this show was simply the fact that it was an anime about an anime club. The premise alone was too amusingly meta for me to pass up on. And sure enough, while the first few episodes of Anime-Gataris is your usual slice of life school club story, I had fun watching it. I like seeing rookie otaku Minoa Asagaya navigating the anime landscape with the anime club she enjoys. The other characters, be it the chuunibyou-induced Kaikai or the posh Arisu, were entertaining as well. The conversations can be amusing, even meta at times. I really have to tip my hat to the staff who made sure the characters would talk about the three episode rule during the third episode.
Also, those fake anime titles are pure gold. Seriously, someone give a raise to the person who came up with “Sold Out Offline” and “Fresh Prince of Tennis”.
Sure, there was a talking cat and a demonic beret and that had me horribly confused at first. But I don’t know, they were pretty minor elements in this otherwise grounded slice of life show that I ended up saying, “Whatever” and pressed onward.
By the second half though, things start to take a…strange turn to put it mildly. The Student Council President keeps trying to disband the anime club through increasingly extreme and unrealistic methods. Then, there’s this crazy anime conspiracy involving the school principal that necessitates the help of the entire Japanese population. THEN, all of reality just tears apart, plot details get retconned, the staff change art styles from time to time, and Minoa becomes the only sane character who’s even aware of all the strange happenings in her world. I kid you not, THIS ALL ACTUALLY HAPPENS IN THE SHOW. And that’s just a brief summary I gave; there’s simply too much to keep track of.
To be fair, a lot of individual gags in the second half are insanely funny. I won’t deny that I laughed pretty hard when Minoa noticed that the aspect ratio changed from 16:9 to 4:3 and when she almost gets killed by an eye-catch. The production isn’t terribly ambitious but the visuals and direction do get really creative during these episodes. Furthermore, it wasn’t like Anime-Gataris outright abandoned its subject matter. It still remained a show about how much the very activity of watching and discussing anime and how people execute their hobbies. I don’t think the show lost focus in that sense….I just don’t get why it took a strip of acid halfway.
Truth be told, I’m not sure if I’d readily recommend Anime-Gataris. I can see someone absolutely enthralled with just how bonkers this story gets but I can also see someone feeling less frustrated in the simpler, more grounded state that the show originally started with. Really, the biggest turn-off is how, even if the story was meant to be this ridiculous, it didn’t hint towards that direction very well. There were signs early on, yes, but no one in their right mind would expect the show to tear apart its own internal reality so suddenly and swiftly. Even with a sparse amount of foreshadowing, the change in internal logic is such a 180 and perhaps too much for the show’s own good. The comedy may be strong but the story is just too dysfunctional and jarring. There is definitely fun to be had with Anime-Gataris but it is most certainly pure nonsense.
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