Sansha Sanyou ( Three leaves, Three colours) is a shoujo slice of life comedy, based on a four cell manga by female mangaka Cherry Aria. The adaptation is being made by Doga Kobo who have made some previously hilarious comedies and are the studio behind “Himouto! Umaru-chan “ and “ Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki- kun “ which have both enjoyed great success. The show is director Yasuhiro Kimura’s debut project.
While I am a enormous fan of almost everything this studio has given us , and Sansha is by no means a bad show , it stands up very well on it’s own. But if you’ve come from one of the other Doga comedies you might be in for something a bit underwhelming.
“ Futaba Odagiri is the new transfer student with a super energetic personality; Teru Hayama is the class president with a surprisingly mean personality contrary to her innocent looks; and Youko Nishikawa is from a formerly rich, now extremely poor family who still holds on to her princess attitude. These three unlikely students with clashing personalities become good friends and survive the day-to-day teenage life in a very funny story. “
The story is interesting for a few reasons, one it’s a smart twist on the “ new girl arrives at new school “ by having the girl be a rich girl who’s fallen upon hard rather than just a girl , it instantly gives the show a fresher personality and it presents us with a unique character that is bursting with potential for funny situations which , of course is what the slice of life genre thrives on.
What instantly grabbed me is Sansha’s delightful OP. It’s fast colorful and bursting with happiness. The visuals are slick and match the fast lyrics.It sets the tone for what’s about to follow perfectly. The soundtrack is also very light and pleasant to fitting into most scenes nicely.
There is a pleasant sort of progress that most slice of life lose a few episodes in as we watch Futaba settle into regular life and make friends. There’s a lack of jokes for the most part or they at very muted , I don’t actually mind this as I see this as a more story/character driven show than a comedy but with all the advertising pushing it as a comedy I can see where could be disappointed. Since I haven’t read the 4 cell manga I can’t comment whether the adaptation changed the humour.
I didn’t find myself particularly caring about any of the characters at anything deeper than a surface level. That’s not saying that they’re not likeable , which they definitely are but their characters are too over the top to be relatable. Each one has a definite personality and I can’t think of a single character I disliked. I think that not having any fan-service was a good choice and kept the shows light-hearted tone better.
The designs aren’t all that inventive in any department. The colouring, hair and clothing are all fairly standard and aren’t all that reflective of their characters. Luckily their personalities are vibrant enough that they managed to stand out and I’m glad to see characters that don’t stick to established tropes. What really stood out to me were the character animations , they were miles ahead of what you see in most slice of life’s. There’s a lot of detail in small character movements and to eye movements and facial expressions. I said earlier there’s not a whole lot of jokes but I’m glad to see that the writers didn’t decide to just thrown in some stock chibi faces to compensate. It’s so much better to see a character act sad , rather than to just have their faces turn into one giant waterfall of cartoon-ish tears.
The colour palette is a selection of bright yet not obnoxious colours that almost resemble watercolors. There’s a lot of lighting work in every shot that paints the scene of a summer , the shadows complement this and are so well blended in that you’ll probably glance over them twice before realizing they’re CG.The 2d shading work on the characters meshes very well with the 3d and is not at all noticeable.
Backgrounds are detailed with a lot of layers and depth. The background settings aren’t particularly ground-breaking but it’s a portrayal of a small town and a high-school so there weren’t any high expectations there from me anyway.
What did surprise me was when I saw background characters being animated ! Which’ll seem like a small thing until you think about how many recent shows have you seen that bother to do that ? The show uses a few different art styles and jumps between them with ease so your eyes don’t get bored. There’s a few things that are done to give the show it’s own sense of style such as making the cats having really basic goofy faces.
There’s a key plot-point about food and cooking is a major part of the show in general , the food eye-candy doesn’t fail to deliver. With every single pixel looking like you could rip it out of the screen and eat it.
Sansha Sanyou is not the best show to come out Spring 2016 nor is it the worst show,the most I can give to it’s credit is that it seems like something the studio really wanted to make rather than just purely a profit project. There’s a higher than average level of detail to backgrounds and the shots are very well done for a director's first show.. It has enough going on and enough of it’s own style that I’d recommend it without a doubt to anyone bored with the current formula for slice of life but it just doesn’t have enough depth to keep me hooked. Since there is a manga that’s still going strong the chances of a second season are pretty high and I wouldn’t protest it but I wouldn’t give it the highest priority.