AnneHappy is the TV adaptation of a small shoujo manga that began it’s run in 2014 and picked up by studio Silver Link and if you even have a remote interest in slice of life you’ve probably seen one of their shows. WataMote , Non Non Biyori and the show I’ve gushed over ,this season Tanaka kun wa itsumo kedaruge. So what's with the very large gap in the quality between these two ? Well , now keep in mind this is just a theory, but I think that there was for more work put into AnneHappy and therefore it came out as far more formulaic whereas the Tanaka team were given far more creative control.
“The story centers around class 1-7 of Tennomifune Academy, where all the students with "bad karma" or misfortune seem to have been gathered. Hibari, a student in this class, meets the unlucky Hanako and the perennially unhealthy Botan on her first day of school, and together they try to find a way to turn their school life into a happy one.”
It’s not an un-common occurrence to have your SOL protagonist be a slight outcast/underdog and they do seem like they have perpetually bad luck so I guess the way AnneHappy takes this character standard to the next level by making it the entire premise of the show. On it’s own it’s a fairly clever,very cute show but it’s hindered by the very standardized humour and writing. I’ve often said that simplicity is usually best in a low-key series like this but the writers supplement it by fitting their shows quirk ( bikes , guns , neets) and making the shows seem like its has far more personality than it actually does and like I said AnneHappy doesn’t really have that option available.
The OP is visually creative and filled with more humour than the actual jokes in the show , it’s a catchy little beat and something pleasant to hum along to. The sound-track ( minus the visual part ) is just as appealing it’s varied and combines a wide range of instruments to create a style I can’t exactly name. Despite all that it boils down to another OST indistinguishable from the others on the market.
The voice cast is very well rounded of actresses with a decent amount of supporting roles in their portfolio and AnneHappy is their first real project where they’re portraying a main character. They’re good enough , I’m a bit disappointed on how generic they chose to play their characters , the timid girl sounds like every other timid girl and the loud one sounds like just another loud girl.
Now the backgrounds in this show are simply beautiful , I’m sure the show would be just as good if it was just a slide-show of still backgrounds. The watercolors are sublimely done with the coloring and shading giving each scene depth, you can tell what time it is with how light or dark the palette is. Why do I say I’d prefer 24 minutes of just this ? Well because the budget , it seems , can only handle the high quality art for above five minutes before leaping straight back into the comfort zone of sticker chibis and single tone wallpapers. I’m grateful for the five minutes we get but I won’t stop being a little bit bitter whenever the far more artistic moments are interrupted by screaming little puppets.
The visual gags are predictable and just a mixed bag of what can be found in every show , chibis , floating text , characters imaging things cartoonishly in their head , all of those check. They’re executed well and switch fluidly but are just so unambitious that I slowly forgot to take note of them.
I’m quite surprised with how the rather standard character designs fit in really well with the watercolor backgrounds. Since all slice of life characters eventually start to blend together in the viewer's mind , having a specific niche attached to their outfit helps the viewer recognise the character with their respective series. Girl with a gun ? Sabagebu , Girl on a bike ? Bakuon. Again Unhappy doesn’t have a niche that can be as easily represented visually. However I don’t know how Silver Link though these designs out, Watamote is instantly recognisable and highly adored in her community as the champion of NEETS and Tanaka kuns listless-ness is outwardly shown in every line on his face. Surely there could have been some way to portray an unlucky person ?
I think given the lackluster characters and writing AnneHappy would have worked far better with say 11 minute episodes rather than 24. Sure the situations they get into can have a decent amount of drama and suspense but I think tightening the shows time down would improve the humour and speed of delivery as well as allow for the good art to be showcased more.
Why should I choose AnneHappy over any of the other SOL this season ? Is what you might be asking yourself at this very moment , well I can’t really answer that , there’s two reason I can give neither of them very good ones : you have a strong loyalty towards Studio Silver Link or you just want to view some great watercolour backgrounds. I doubt we’ll see a second season.