Original Run: January 7, 2018 - March 25, 2018 Number of Episodes: 12 Genre: Comedy, Slice of Life Based on the Series Created By: Yuiko Tokumi
***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Slow Start. Reader discretion is advised.***
Hana Ichinose (voiced by Reina Kondo) is thrilled to finally be starting high school. Although such a sentiment is not uncommon for many first years, for Hana, she should be a second year at this point in her life.
Due to an unforeseen complication, Hana was unable to take her entrance exams, and thus, was unable to move onward with her middle school friends. For the past year, she has been diligently preparing to make up the time she has lost.
Sadly, the unfortunate thing about time is, once it passes, it doesn’t come back. Hana will have to spend the rest of her high school days slightly behind. However, this will only become a setback if she allows it to be one.
Hana isn’t starting late, she is merely starting now.
Wishful thinking aside, Hana can’t get over how awkward her situation is. She does want to make new friends, but she isn’t sure how people will react to her lost year. After all, to her classmates, Hana should be their senior.
For Hana, in the end, she needs to decide: Does that matter?
- standard or ordinary; within the norms
- unremarkable, both positively and negatively
- Slow Start
I cannot remember the last time I saw a series play it as safe as Slow Start did. You could not ask for a more by-the-book slice-of-life anime. This show was the definition of its genre.
In a way, I’m impressed by how unimpressive Slow Start was. In my entire catalog of reviews, thus far, I wonder if there has been a series better suited to be called: average.
Fortunately for Slow Start, “average” doesn’t mean bad. Naturally, it doesn’t mean “great” either, but perhaps the exact middle is good enough. This show wasn’t garbage; it did everything necessary to be watchable. I certainly don’t regret sitting through this series. There were plenty of moments that were sufficiently enjoyable.
Most notably, since this was an A-1 Pictures production, Slow Start was amazingly well-animated. In fact, this might be the closest I will ever come to saying a show was needlessly over-animated. Nothing within this series required these high-quality visuals. Don’t get me wrong, though, I was happy to see the A-plus effort.
To hopefully give you a better idea of what this show was: Slow Start was like one of the thousands of online cat videos uploaded to the internet every day. It was inherently adorable, amusing, and a decent way to kill time. And just like said cat videos, it would have taken a distinct brand of incompetence to mess this series up.
I want you to imagine your stereotypical “kawaii” (cute) anime character. I have a feeling that most of you will come up with something – or somethings – that were in this show:
- Big round eyes
- Colorful hair
- Small and dainty
- Energetic and outgoing
- Twin tails
- Awkwardly shy
- A huge appetite
- A distinct fang in the mouth
- Mature for a character’s age
- Easily embarrassed
- Heavy on the innuendos
Did I miss anything? If I did, never fear, Slow Start probably didn’t.
With so many elements pulled straight from the Big Book of Moe (patent pending), this show knew what it was. If you’re in the mood for something cute, then why not give Slow Start a shot?
Aside from its vibrant visuals and easy going designs, this show’s strength was the interactions between its characters. Specifically, this was at its peak when different pairs went off and did their own thing. Keeping in mind its lack of inventiveness, Slow Start relied on – and successfully pulled off – its many heart-to-heart conversations.
For example, there was a pleasant exchange between Hana Ichinose and her neighbor Hiroe Hannen (voiced by Maaya Uchida). Much like what happened to Hana, Hiroe was forced to miss her college entrance exams, and thus, could not attend university with her friends. This shared experience between the two women allowed them to understand on – a foundational level – what the other was experiencing.
To give credit where it’s due, that was a lovely bit of bonding. This segment stood out amongst the status-quo-incarnate Slow Start.
In addition to this, on a more individual level, certain characters had certain quirks that reliably gave a good chuckle. The occasional lively reaction or a subtle out-of-left-field comment fortified this series immensely. After all, pure averageness can be incredibly dull. It was always wonderful when this show managed to get a laugh out of me.
If nothing else, Slow Start was the kind of series that did no harm. Since this was your textbook slice-of-life anime, it had the elements that make this genre enjoyable — fun characters, light drama, and general silliness.
Conversely — and this really is the harsh reality of the word “average” — the same reasoning that made Slow Start a pleasant watch also made it instantly forgettable.
For all you astute readers, you probably know what Slow Start’s biggest problem was.
It was average.
Once again, I want you to imagine something. This time, think of every possible scenario that could happen within a slice-of-life anime:
- A swimsuit episode
- A summer festival with fireworks
- Wearing yukatas
- Out of place fanservice
- Shopping montages
- Meeting characters near the end of a series
The only thing that wasn’t in this show was a test of courage. That said, the characters did tell ghost stories, so, you know, close enough.
Lack of creativity aside, nothing was infuriating, annoying, or frustrating about this series; that much I will admit. However, while that may sound fantastic, take it with a spoonful of salt. It was hard to get mad at this series because there wasn’t anything that could produce any strong emotion.
There were no surprises. Nothing was unexpected. Everything was predictable. This show didn’t try to push the envelope. Hell, it didn’t bother to try and take one foot beyond the standard. In fact, Slow Start was so tame, it didn’t even have much of a gimmick to work with.
The biggest dilemma of this show was Hana not telling her friends she was one year older than them. That was it.
Granted, saying “that was it” is both a little harsh and a little unfair. For Hana, this was a legitimate concern that severely altered her life. The idea of not being with her peers was a scary thought for her. Then once she committed herself to her deception, the guilt of keeping a secret from the people she cared about gnawed at Hana. And on top of that, the fear of everything changing once the truth came out constantly filled her mind.
Also, as I mentioned earlier, Hana’s predicament allowed her to connect with Hiroe. Slow Start did understand that it had to do something with the concept that inspired its title.
All that notwithstanding, I am, nevertheless, sticking with my “that was it” comment for two reasons.
- The Hana-Hiroe example was the only example of this series’ main point having any major relevance to anything.
- This issue already felt irrelevant when Hana was the evident lead character. Picture what it was like when the de facto protagonist wasn’t clear.
Concerning the former, you could have damn near removed Hana’s “secret,” and nothing would have changed. It served no purpose. Hana and her group of friends – Eiko Tokura, Kamuri Sengoku, and Tamate Momochi (voiced by Tomomi Minuechi, Maria Naganawa, and Ayasa Ito) – were never in a situation where Hana being a year older mattered. Hana was the epitome of the shy-character trope; being held back a year had no bearing on her already timid personality.
I firmly believe Slow Start could have done something with the gap-year angle. I believe as much because this show kept hinting as if it was going to do something. Instead, it always stopped before it got going.
With point number two, sometimes Slow Start did not focus on Hana at all. I usually love it when a series can diversify itself by doing many things with different characters. Doing this opens up many possibilities. Too bad this doesn’t really work when a show puts so much emphasis on a single issue but does nothing.
Slow Start had a hand it could play, so why then did it keep acting like it was bluffing?
Every detail was surface deep. This series took the standards its fellow slice-of-life anime set and added nothing. Luckily for Slow Start, it was able to coast its way into being something watchable. I suppose that’s fine since that means I can probably watch this show all over again like it was new, and not hate myself.
This series is not going to convert people over to liking the slice-of-life genre. Then again, it’s not going to dissuade those currently on the fence either.
In the end, even though I’ve seen this same anime done a thousand times before, the thousand-and-first time wasn’t bad.
This show did just enough to remain enjoyable and fun. Unfortunately, I highly doubt you’re going to remember it when it’s over.
With that being the case, Slow Start hasn’t earned a skip. Therefore, the only thing left for me to give it is a recommendation.
But these are just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this show? What would be your advice concerning Slow Start? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.
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For Anime Hajime, I’m LofZOdyssey, and I’ll see you next time.
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