Original Run: July 6, 2018 - September 21, 2018 Number of Episodes: 12 Genre: Comedy, Slice of Life Based on the Series Created By: Tadataka Kawasaki
***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Chio’s School Road. Reader discretion is advised.***
In the life of an average student, nothing can be more mundane and innocuous than the walk to school. Such an activity is so expected and so commonplace, people often don’t consider it as a significant part of their day. However, that is where most people would be wrong. A simple commute can end up being incredibly exciting if you’re willing to be a little unconventional.
For high-schooler Chio Miyamo (voiced by Naomi Ozora), the very thought of being anything more than normal is scary, as well as a tad bit annoying. What good can come from being the center of attention? According to Chio, none at all. Be that as it may, Chio has a special knack for getting into unbelievable situations that are sure to be the talk of everyone.
Whether it is taking a shortcut, talking with her friends, or dismantling the leadership of a motorcycle gang, Chio’s dream of having a no-nonsense, utterly ordinary reputation will always remain just that – a dream.
In multiple reviews, and sometimes on multiple occasions in those reviews, I have used the phrasing “It would be a lie if I said.” I now find myself in a position where a series has presented me with an unusual opportunity to say that phrase in two seemingly contradictory ways.
First, it would be a lie if I said Chio’s School Road didn’t have some hilarious moments.
Second, it would be a lie if I said Chio’s School Road was one-hundred percent engaging.
There were instances where this show was funny as can be, and it was an excellent display of anime comedy. Then there were also many instances when segments were painfully uninteresting. In the end, and in this series’ favor, I would have to say the reality was more often the former of the two scenarios.
Overall, Chio’s School Road had decent visuals, an extremely talented voice cast, and a brilliantly simple premise. Think about it: most of this story focused around a girl’s daily commute to school. How much can you really get out of such a concept? Well, if this show is anything to go by, apparently quite a lot.
If there was one thing this series did well, it was taking risks. The commitment to doing whatever the hell a story wants to do is something I can respect, and I commend Chio’s School Road for the effort. For that reason alone, I am happy to come to this show’s defense and say it was alright (enough).
Granted, from the same Summer 2018 season as Chio’s School Road, there came two phenomenal comedy series – Asobi Asobase and Grand Blue. In case you are wondering: No, Chio’s School Road was not as great, funny, or memorable as those two shows were. However, all three tapped into the same well of off-the-wall insanity that can be just so much fun to watch.
To get at the heart of Chio’s School Road, we must understand its anchor, Chio herself. She was the necessary constant a series like this needs to remain grounded. That said, “constant” doesn’t mean “calm.” Chio was not at all calm. She was selfish, manipulative, adventurous, violent, conniving, a coward, and was always trying to stay “normal.” Her complete failure to achieve the latter was the first of two main ingredients which allowed this series to occasionally knock things out of the park.
The second ingredient was dependant on Chio’s partner. Whoever she happened to be sharing a scene with was critical. There were a few characters who had decent chemistry with Chio, and yet, there was only one person who was able to help Chio bring out this series’ A-game. That person was Chio’s best friend, Manana Nonomua (voiced by Chiaki Omigawa).
Chio and Manana were fantastic. They were BFFs who had been together forever, and therefore, there were no boundaries between them. They had no filter. They had no more lines left to cross. These two were just as likely to lend the other a hand as they were to sell one another out when it was most convenient for them. They were equally nasty, equally mean-spirited, and equally amazing.
Whenever it was Chio and Manana working as a team, Chio’s School Road was at its peak. These two girls could counterbalance much of the more troublesome aspects found in this series. Unfortunately, they couldn’t do everything.
Chio’s School Road was oddly sexual, even though I wouldn’t consider this an ecchi series. However, there were an awful lot of random, unnecessary upskirt shots and boob physics that left me scratching my head.
The problem this show had with these fanservice-y details had less to do with their existence, and more to do with how blatantly haphazardly they were thrown into a scene. There was never any reason why we had to see up Chio’s – or anyone’s – uniform. Women on the street didn’t need to have their breasts continually moving and swaying as they just stood there.
When a show initiates perv-cam, that is usually a sign said show has no faith in anything else it is doing. Accordingly, I haven’t a clue why Chio’s School Road would have felt such trepidation since it had the material, talent, and humor that could have easily carried this series.
This was a shame to see since this type of fanservice (the in-your-face-because-why-not kind) only served to sour an otherwise solid series.
Then, once you add that to Chio’s School Road’s tendency to lose its stride with poorly delivered jokes and the we-are-screaming-therefore-we-must-be-funny brand of anime comedy, this show was more than capable of leaving a bad taste in your mouth.
Although I did say the Chio-Manana pairing was this series’ best asset, I wasn’t trying to insinuate these two characters were the only ones capable of producing a laugh. On the contrary, Chio’s School Road had a healthy diversity to itself. Nevertheless, there is a risk that comes with taking risks. It is possible things are going to fall flat.
For instance, I do not care about the sport of kabaddi – and I apologize to all my kabaddi playing readers out there because this series convinced me your sport had to be fake. Also, it was disconcerting that a former (and I assume adult) delinquent might have been trying to impress the high-school-aged Chio.
It is challenging to list Chio’s School Road’s lower points because I’m having trouble recalling the details of those particular moments. My brain is a little fuzzy on this matter because I was trying to stay awake during these points.
The bright side to this was, Chio’s School Road never went too long without delivering something worth paying attention to.
This show was great, except for the times when it wasn’t.
I am unable to tell you the reason why this series felt it necessary to rely on low effort “engagers” such as cheap and pointless fanservice. While there may have been jokes that fizzled and sputtered, there were far more examples of sharp comedy.
To give credit where it’s due, this series nailed it with its two lead characters, and it wasn’t afraid to just try something. I would much rather have a story take a chance than play it safe. When a show tries to go by the book, that is when things become forgettable. If nothing else, this won’t be something I will forget anytime soon.
Chio’s School Road had plenty of good to its name for me to recommend it.
But these are just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this show? What would be your advice concerning Chio’s School Road? 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.
Post Edited By: Onions