As we know pretty well by now, real life and current affairs can really get you down. For many of us, anime is the antidote and escapism we need from daily life. However, with so many series coming out each season to choose from, it can be hard to know which films will leave your spirits high. It doesn’t have to be something amazing or ground-breaking, it can be something rather simple that cheers you up and leaves you with a smile after each episode.
Senryuu Shoujo is based on a 4-koma manga, it’s half-length, and much of the communication is done in 5-7-5 microbursts. You’d think something as simple as syllables would be an easy concept, but nothing is really simple when trying to translate Japanese concepts into English ones. What they call syllables are actually “On”, and while in English syllables are as close as we can get to the idea, they aren’t the same thing. The subject of Senryuu Shoujo is, fittingly, senryuu—the first such anime I’m aware of. Senryuu is similar to haiku in using a 17 “On” format but tends to be a little earthier. Haiku might be about frogs, the Buddha or true love, while senryuu tend to be humorous or more everyday-centric. Specifically, this show focuses on two people—Yukishiro Nanako and Busujima Eiji. Both are first-year high schoolers—she an awkward airhead who uses senryuu to address her inability to speak in public, he to find solace from the world which treats him as a terrifying yankee.
It’s cute without being a CGDCT series—there’s actual substance to the premise. In point of fact, folks with speech impediments are often able to communicate verbally by other means (like singing) without a problem, and it would have been even more interesting if Nanako had been able to speak but only in senryuu, rather than just write them, but it’s still a clever conceit. And Eiji’s story is actually pretty relatable—a gentle soul trapped in a body the world sees as threatening and scary. These two are at the subject of romantic subtext. Through each episode, the bonds our duo protagonists form slowly blossoms into love. Their relationship is what makes this a cute little show, very heart-warming, and brings a few good laughs in the process—which mainly comes from the supporting cast, who cheer on Nanako and Eiji, pushing (the good kind) them together. The Literature Club president Amane Katagiri is the main person responsible for this and she is always coming up with plans to have our duo partaking in activities that bring them closer together.
The other characters fit really well and are very likable. All have some quirkiness to them like I really enjoy Kino Yakobe’s character. She too doesn’t speak like Nanako but instead of writing senryuu, she draws pictures to communicate through. She is one hell of an artist, the way she draws her facial expressions when reacting to things, and holds the drawing over her face is quite hilarious. Koto Ootsuki plays the big sis role to Eiji but she secretly likes him but knows that Nanako is a good match for him. Tao Hanakai is mysterious and she has two sides to her, which matches her fringe that constantly switches sides. It is the right kind of chemistry here, and in addition, the main protagonists’ families play an actual role, which is always welcomed. Additionally, Nanako is just the sweetest girl whose smile is infectious. She’s the type that doesn’t have a bad bone in her body, she’s very appreciative of everything and treasures those close to her dearly.
Her backstory is pretty heartbreaking which shows how and why she is, the way she is. There’s a vein of sadness running through it, but feel-good series don’t have to be relentlessly positive, they just need to make you see the world in a better light. And her light is Eiji and this will show why she is so fond of him. And it was one of my favorite parts in the show, it was poetry in motion and Studio Comet did an excellent job of making that moment emotional—she had dark times but she found her light at the end of the tunnel. Visually, this show looks pretty. It is bright, soft, vibrant and fluffy with its art style and color palette. The animation has a gentle touch, and for a TV-short like this, it is quite smooth as well. Both the soundtrack and voice acting are superb—Hana Kanazawa (Nanako) and Tasuku Hatanaka (Eiji) are excellent as leads and nailed their given character. OP “Kotonoha no" by Sonoko Inoue, and ED "ORDINARY LOVE" by Rikako Aida, are beautiful song choices and very fitting for the themes of this series.
This is one of the better short series if you’re looking for something simple, relaxing, and something to unwind and have a breather from other series you may be following, especially if they have a more serious tone or if it’s a battle shounen. I like to think of this Senryuu Shoujo as a warm cup of hot chocolate on a cold day, it warms and soothes your soul. It’s a bit lightweight, but that’s fine—it’s cute and heartfelt, and some of the humor is rather effective. Surprisingly, the writing is really good and shows some creativity. This is definitely an enjoyable candidate to be this spring’s “healing” show of choice.