Over the last decade in the wake of KONs massive financial and critical success many cute girls doing cute things manga and anime series have adopted gimmicks particularly involving school clubs in an effort to distinguish themselves. In most cases for better or for worse the gimmick is just a pretext to get all the characters in one place this is arguably a major reason for the overwhelming prevalence of high school anime. LIDENFILMS Houkago Saikoro Club about an afterschool club where a group of girls and usually a guest or two play board games adapted from the manga by Hiroo Nakamichi is precisely the opposite of this. As a connoisseur of cute anime girls I was lured into watching an anime that really is about board games and I hardly mind. Miki a shy firstyear and her energetic airhead friend Aya catch another girl Midori entering a mysterious building well after curfew hours. What they find is a specialty shop that sell imported particularly German board games nearly all of which are actual copyrighted titles. Midori quickly ropes them into playing and soon the Dice Club is founded at their high school. Emilia a German exchange student is introduced about halfway through the anime series. None of these characters are outstanding but they all receive decent characterization over the course of the series and more importantly bounce off of each other very well something which is important when theyre actually shown playing board games. The secondary characters also work well in this format and one of the best episodes features Miki regaining her memories of a bullying incident from when she was a child as she plays a board game with who she thinks was the bully in that incident. Taken purely as a slice of life anime Houkago Saikoro Club is averagetodecent in most regards and at its worst can feel very procedural when characters are explaining the rules of each game featured. But along with an enjoyable relaxing soundtrack albeit having one of the most generic OPs ever Houkago Saikoro Club is ultimately saved by its central theme. Never in any themed slice of life anime have I seen an author with the level of passion and knowledge for the topic at hand. Every board game featured except of course the one being developed by Midori whose aspiring career is followed throughout the course of the anime and helps emphasize the shows passion for its topic is real and most of them are fairly niche at least compared to the big brand name American board games like Monopoly or Sorry. The show also openly laments the niche status of board games in Japan particularly in comparison to their relative popularity in Europe. Even if youre not particularly enthusiastic about board games its hard not to appreciate the amount of detail placed into the topic at hand. The coverage of the board games themselves as well as how the main characters interact with each other through these games makes Houkago Saikoro Club an anime worth watching. P.S.: Blockus is infuriating.
65 /100
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