Original Run: April 4, 2020 - June 20, 2020 Number of Episodes: 12 Genre: Comedy Based on the Series Created By: Hiroaki Samura
***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Wave, Listen to Me. Reader discretion is advised.***
One night, Minare Koda (voiced by Riho Sugiyama) drunkenly vents about a recent breakup. She pours her heart and frustration out to a fellow bar patron. The next day, Minare is horrified to hear her story and voice over the radio.
In a rage, Minare rushes down to the station and bursts into a live broadcast. After a quick, well-articulated rant about the situation, the studio is impressed by Minare’s clarity, quick wit, and energy. Rather than seeking out a punishment, they offer Minare a chance to host a show.
Before she knows it, Minare is staring in a late-night radio program. To her shock, she is even getting quite the reputation as an up and coming celebrity.
Wave, Listen to Me (Wave) was weird, and that is an understatement. To this show’s credit, its brand of weirdness helped it out immensely on many occasions, thus making this one of the most fascinating series of 2020, let alone the spring season.
It is rare when I come across a dark-comedy anime. Although Wave had its fair share of goofy slapstick, there were plenty of situations that were hilarious thanks to their strange, often unnerving setups.
For instance, during Minare Koda’s first broadcast, she played the role of someone who had just murdered her lover. She went into graphic, disturbing detail about what her character had done and was felling (all improvised).
If that wasn’t odd enough, at the same time Minare was on the air, someone was attempting to murder their lover in an eerily similar way to what Minare was describing. There was no warning for this; Wave just jumped to a scene where a person was tied, gagged, and having their check caressed by the edge of a knife. All the while, the victim and attacker were listening in to Minare’s show. This freaked the assailant out enough to the point where they ran off screaming, only to be struck by a passing car.
Why was Wave compelled to go in this direction? Not a clue, but it was incredibly off-putting in an awkwardly funny sort of way.
This series did this a lot, and it would work, provided Minare was involved in the proceedings.
Regardless of any other praise or critiques I might have about this show, I want to make it clear that Minare was a treasure. Out of all the characters I have come across so far from 2020, she is amongst my favorite.
There was a unique kind of energy to Minare. In a way, you could say she was always on. She talked fast and talked a lot. It was no real surprise why she gravitated towards radio. Given her personality, it made sense why Minare’s improvisational skills were so developed; when there’s no filter already, it’s no challenge to pull an entire story out of a simple prompt.
Plus, Minare was the perfect catalyst to drive Wave’s brand of humor. She cared enough to recognize when a situation was messed up, but not enough to shy away from it. Therefore, Minare could fire off rude jokes, puns, and outlandish statements even in the middle of what looked like a brutal crime scene.
I must also praise Ms. Riho Sugiyama, who voiced Minare, for a spectacular performance. From what I can tell, Ms. Sugiyama doesn’t yet have many titles to her name, which will hopefully change, given the fantastic job she did in Wave.
Lastly, I suppose I should clarify something. Although there were numerous aspects of this series I enjoyed, I am still having trouble recommending it. There might be things I want to encourage people to check out – Minare, for example – but I don’t think I can give my full backing with this show.
Wave was weird, and that is an understatement. To this show’s detriment, its brand of weirdness hindered it considerably on many occasions, thus making this one of the most underwhelming series of 2020, let alone the spring season.
A show is not often engaging and dull, but this one sure as hell was.
The biggest problem with Wave was every character who was not Minare. Or, more accurately, there wasn’t anyone other than Minare who could carry this series. If someone else was the focus, and if Minare was not involved whatsoever, everything felt like padding and a waste of time.
Two of Minare’s colleagues, Chuuya Nakahara and Makie Tachibana (voiced respectively by Masaaki Yano and Mamiko Noto), were given there own plotline that played out simultaneously with Minare’s. This was fine in the beginning because Minare was more heavily involved in what was taking place. As Wave progressed, though, Chuuya and Makie were often doing their own thing, to the point where they probably could have starred in their own series.
Had Chuuya and Makie had their own spin-off story that didn’t have anything to do with Wave’s main narrative, that might have been something worth watching. However, having it compete with whatever Minare was doing made this show quite jumbled.
Chuuya and Makie had little impact on Minare’s role as a radio personality. Conversely, Minare’s program had no bearing on what the other two were doing. There may have been some cross over between the two plots, but they were separate entities.
It also didn’t help that Wave tried to have the same level of strangeness it employed with Minare’s story with Chuuya and Makie’s. In this case, the random happenings and bizarre encounters were out of place and distracting. This was a problem since it was already hard to care about what was going on with this pair.
It was odd every time I realized I was no longer paying attention to this show because I remembered all the times I was enraptured by it. The unfortunate bit is, I was ready to move on with Wave long before I reached its final episode.
What to do?
On the one hand, this series knew how to be fantastically weird in such a way that it encourages engagement and interest. Much, if not all, of that, is thanks to a brilliant lead character who could adapt and deliver. On the other hand, that same strangeness was sometimes directionless when carried by anyone else.
This show lived in two worlds. Therefore, although I can’t wholeheartedly recommend Wave, Listen to Me, I won’t go so far as to dissuade you from checking it out.
But these are just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this series? How would you advise Wave, Listen to Me? 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.