First Look: Anime-Gataris

Anime Original by WAO World
Streaming on Crunchyroll

Premise

Minoa is trying to remember an anime she saw as a kid. She enlists the help of the super rich and aloof Kamiigusa, who is also a closet anime fan. Together they decide to form an anime club to help find the anime they’re looking for.

Jel’s verdict: They Have a Talking Cartoon Cat So…

If there’s one thing you might be able to trace all of anime’s problems to, it’s the fact that it is way too much in love with itself. It’s like every new show is obligated to pay its respects to the past in some way, whether it’s through direct homage or sticking to established genre formulas. This not only limits creativity, it limits anime’s audience. Half of every show is part of a 40 year old running gag, and if you’re not in on the joke you’re out of luck.

Anime-Gataris feels like a culmination of that reverence. It not only puts anime on a pedestal as some glorious, unifying quasi-religion, it presents its story in an extremely formulaic school club setting. This should make me furious. The last thing I want to see is another anime studio make show to jerk themselves off. And yet, Anime-Gataris is so well made that it might have won me over.

For starters, it looks fantastic. The animation is top notch, everything stays on model, the directing and pacing is solid, it’s all great. It also has a little touch of weirdness to break up the boring “let’s gather club members” premise. Most notably, our heroine finds a talking cartoon cat and a (possibly) magic beret in the closet of an old club room. It all hints at there possibly being more than meets the eye here and I’m kind of interested to see where it all goes. After all, the show ends with the talking cat asking us not to drop them after one episode and I how can I say no to a talking cat?

So ultimately, had Anime-Gataris been about literally anything else I probably would have really liked it without reservation. As is though, I can’t help but have a bad taste in my mouth. It’s charming enough that I’m willing to give it another episode or two but if it ends up being nothing beyond worshipping at the altar of anime I’ll probably bow out.

Zigg’s Verdict: Surprise of the Season

I was honestly expecting this to be utter garbage, given the bottom of the barrel premise. We’ve seen so many shows about plucky girl joining an anime/music/cycling/motorbike/occult club that it’s incredibly difficult to make one stand out, but Anime-Gataris does so through some witty writing, good animation and an overall charm that’s lacking from so many similar productions. The jokes are largely on point, there’s not a smidge of anything creepy or fanservicey, and there’s an appealing weirdness on the fringes of the story that’s intriguing enough to make me want to give it another go around. I take Jel’s point about anime’s relentlessly self-referential nature, but some of the callbacks in here are pretty amusing and it’s cool to have a show that’s just so….nice for a change. I’ll probably stick around for episode 2.

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