Original Run: July 6, 2019 - September 21, 2019 Number of Episodes: 12 Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance Based on the Series Created By: Mari Okada and Nao Emoto
***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Araburu Kisetsu no Otome-domo yo. Reader discretion is advised.***
For many teenagers, their biggest desire is to become adults. What being an adult means is hard to say. From the sound of it, though, sex appears to play a huge role. However, what is it like to have sex with someone?
For some, the thought is intriguing. For others, it’s scary. For more, it’s practically unthinkable. Representing the unthinkable camp is Kazusa Onodera (voiced by Hiyori Kouno). To her, sex is such an alien concept, it almost doesn’t feel real.
As it happens, Kazusa is not the only one without experience. Her fellow Literature Club members – Rika Sonezaki, Hitoha Hongou, Momoko Sudou, and Niina Sugawara (voiced respectively by Sumire Uesaka, Tomoyo Kurosawa, Momo Asakura, and Chika Anzai) – are equally as ignorant about sex as Kazusa.
With most things that have been mythicized, once the idea of it gets stuck in your head, it is hard for it to get out. They don’t know it yet, but the girls of the Literature Club are about to go on a journey to find out what such an act truly entails.
There are two, let’s call them, consequences to Araburu Kisetsu no Otome-domo yo (Otome-domo).
The first was this series highlighting the distinct, and often mistakenly ignored, divide between a story that tries to be sexy and one that focuses on sex. Regarding the former, sexiness, for the sake of argument when I use it to describe the nature of certain types of anime, is a byproduct. This includes fanservice, beautiful characters with fantastical proportions, lewd and awkward/unlikely situations, and everything else which should be reserved for filler content. It is fine for a story to have these elements, but when they become the primary focus, it can only be expected that anything else loses meaning.
As for the latter, sex cannot and should not be considered in the same light. Sex, the want of it, the interest in it, and the not knowing of the role it plays in relationships, is something everyone must determine. Like happiness, tragedy, friendship, and the other usual topics highlighted in a wide variety of narratives, sex is something worth exploring. The shame of it all, whenever sex is so freely interchanged with the idea of sexiness, when I say something like, “This show was about teenagers learning about what sex is,” how many people will take meaning from the conclusion they assumed and not from what I actually said?
If it sounds like I’m oddly serious about this, it’s because I firmly believe the misrepresentation of sex leads to it being vilified as some kind of shameful, degenerate, and immoral act. And to those who do wish to frame it as such, I take particularly great offense because this mindset is dangerous and can lead to irrecoverable and entirely avoidable harm. Therefore, I get really interested in any show that decides to have sex be central to its story. Which, by the way, leads me to the second consequence of this series.
Otome-domo was a fantastic watch.
Rather than calling this a slice-of-life, I do think it would be appropriate to label it as a coming-of-age tale. Just looking at the most central character, Kazusa Onodera, she started her story not having any idea what being in a relationship was about, let alone a sexual one. Her childhood friend, Izumi Norimoto (voiced by Shinba Tsuchiya), who she had grown up with and cared very much for, had become quite popular with other “more confident” girls. Granted, using the phrase “more confident” is a much more polite way of describing people who were spiteful enough to throwout insults behind someone’s back just loud enough for the target to hear every single word.
For Kazusa, who had been at the receiving end of these sorts of attacks for years, is it any surprise she would doubt herself? How could she (according to Kazusa) a plain, unremarkable girl hope to be with anyone? And for someone like Izumi, forget about it. Besides, what did it matter? To Kazusa, Izumi was the sweet boy she had always known, and it was unthinkable that he would be into sex and porn like all the other guys. Well, that glass window shattered when she discovered that Izumi was, in fact, not a robot. Instead, he was a living, breathing person who did think about those things.
With her illusion gone, Kazusa didn’t know what to do. But although she lost her self-perceived image of Izumi, this triggered a new thought within Kazusa. Whenever she saw Izumi, she would feel an unknown knot in her stomach. Since Kazusa could no longer see Izumi as a child, what could that knot mean?
I’ll let Otome-domo tell the rest of its story for I have already gone on long as it is. But having said that, keep this in mind. I have only talked about Kazusa, who was only one member of the Literature Club. The strength of this series wasn’t that it could effectively tell one character’s story, it was that it could tell FIVE characters’ stories with enough attention, humor, drama, and detail to have everything be satisfactory.
Although Kazusa’s plotline was the most intricate, the most heartwarming was Rika’s; the most troubling was Niina’s; the most uncomfortable was Hitoha’s; and the most difficult was Momoko’s. All five girls experienced widely different situations, situations that would typically make their friends’ much more difficult.
The biggest challenge Otome-domo faced was ensuring it covered everything sufficiently, and there was a lot to take into consideration. Otome-domo succeeded as well as it did not only because it did precisely that; it was because the series made it look easy.
I want to go on record with this next point:
I’m still very torn on how I feel about Hitoha’s storyline.
That pains me to say because, at the start of this series, I thought Hitoha was going to be my favorite character. As everything went on, though, it was her side of this show that left me the most hesitant. Whereas Hitoha’s fellow club members focused their attention on their own classmates, Hitoha turned to her teacher, Tomoaki Yamagishi (voiced by Jun Fukuyama).
As to not misrepresent what happened, let me start by saying that Hitoha and Yamagishi’s connection occurred by accident. How the two became close was the result of a well-told collapse of Hitoha’s confidence as an up and coming writer. According to her editor, Hitoha’s works, which were erotic in nature, sounded unnatural and unappealing. To simplify the full extent of what happened, Hitoha concluded that she needed sexual experience. How she decided on Yamagishi, I won’t say other than their purposes weren’t mutual. It was only after some time did Hitoha begin developing feelings of affection for Yamagishi.
On his part, Yamagishi never instigated anything. He never touched Hitoha, and there was nothing physical between them. What is bothering me the most was Yamagishi’s strategy in getting Hitoha to give up her pursuit. He tried being cool and thought it best to embarrass Hitoha into ending whatever feelings she might have had. If there is a circumstance where those actions are acceptable, then the perpetrator is one hundred percent, not a teacher.
For me, I don’t believe Otome-domo handled this angle very well. Watch the show yourself and come to your own conclusions, but this left quite the bad taste in my mouth.
Besides that, Otome-domo had both humor and drama, and the series was good at respecting the two extremes – in the beginning, that is. In the first half of this show, when everything wasn’t as serious as they would become, the story could jump from comedy to depth rather freely. The closer everything got to their respective conclusions that freedom wasn’t as prevalent, but Otome-domo could never really stop itself.
There were a lot of times where this series’ brand of silliness was inappropriate. There was a point where Otome-domo’s tone changed from lighthearted to dense, and it appeared the show wasn’t aware of the switch. Although this didn’t ruin the story’s enjoyment, it was a glaring misstep. And sadly, this misstep, I think, will prevent Otome-domo from being as memorable as it otherwise could have been.
Hopefully, I am wrong about the state of this show’s memorability. After all, this was one of the more unique series to come out of the 2019 summer season.
This story had something it wanted to say, and it had the confidence and skill to not allow its meaning to be misrepresented. Along with that, this show successfully crafted five outstanding characters whose fears and hesitations were relatable.
This show surprised me, and I wish for it to do the same for you.
Araburu Kisetsu no Otome-domo yo has earned a recommendation.
But these are just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this show? How would you advise Araburu Kisetsu no Otome-domo yo? 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.