Alternative title(s): Good-bye Cramer, Sayonara Watashi no Cramer
Manga Adaptation by LIDENFILMS
Streaming on Crunchyroll
Heading into high school, Sumire Suo is resentful of the fact that she’ll no longer be allowed to take part in a mixed-gender football team. Instead, she’ll have to get used to playing on an all-girls squad, with a variety of different and unique characters around her.
Man, I really wanted to like this. While all-female sports stories aren’t unheard of, they’re rare enough that whenever one pops up (and is not just a blatant fanservice vehicle) it’s notable. And while I wasn’t a huge fan of Your Lie in April, plenty of people were and it proved that writer Naoshi Arakawa could handle some dramatic material. Sadly though, Cramer fails to live up to its potential in pretty much every way. This opening episode is a complete structural mess, jumping backwards and forwards between a far too large cast of characters, and never focusing in on one person long enough to expand their personality and really let the audience form an attachment to them. The unclear leaps around the timeline can be a little confusing too.
The other major problem here is the quality of the visual presentation. Sports anime have been cheating their animation for decades now, but even by those standards the on-the-ball action in Cramer is laughably bad. There’s an abundance of still frames with the only movement being a poorly CGI’d in ball, or character cut-outs being obviously puppeteered against stock backgrounds. Even off the field this is an ugly show, the combination of Arakawa’s artstyle and the extremely low-detail work of Liden resulting in characters with flat, unmoving faces and creepy dead eyes, who stand around gaping vaguely like fish. Direction is utterly uninspired and there’s the occasional totally baffling visual choice, like simply blanking out parts of a fence instead of drawing between the wires. All the goodwill in the world can’t hide the fact this was a bad debut on multiple levels, and that’s a real shame.
Euri’s verdict: Extra Time
This show was on my radar for two reasons – it’s a sports anime, and it’s by the author of Your Lie in April. As far as episode one goes, you’re unlikely to pick up on that without knowing ahead of time; Cramer is about women’s football, and young girls frustrated at the state of the sport. There’s no heavy drama to be had here, at least for now.
The focus on women’s football, particularly from the perspective of high school girls, is really interesting. Fans of the sport are never left wanting for anime that focusses on boy’s or men’s football, and I think it’s about time given we’re a few years late to the women’s football boom. Cramer began serialisation back in 2016, three years before the Women’s World Cup that really catapulted the sport into the limelight in the West.
While I didn’t come away from this show as negatively as Zigg did, the show really is off to a bad start. Particularly for me, any animation that involved running with a football was incredibly inconsistent. Some shots were fine, others looked so bad you couldn’t help but be surprised by them. There’s an awful run cycle in the opening that is particularly baffling – it’s the last place you want to have your worst work on display. It unfortunately screams of rushed work or bad outsourcing, but whatever the reason, it doesn’t at all bode well for the rest of the show.
I also have to mention the sound design, which certainly makes some choice decisions. Some parts of this episode were almost eerily quiet, like they were missing background music that wasn’t finished on time. It’s bizarre – as if they were trying to emphasise a key scene, only they weren’t presenting anything of particular importance. While the episode does indeed hop around the timeline, I have to say I didn’t find it much of an issue to keep up. They do go overboard with the character introductions though – half of the people they introduce could have been saved for an episode or two in the future.
The other thing of note is that Farewell, My Dear Cramer is getting an anime film this year, and it’s apparently being handled by the same team working on the TV anime. Maybe they’re stretched too thin, maybe we’re getting one heck of a movie this year. Only time will tell.
As much as episode one did its very best to scare me away, I think I will be checking back in for episode two. I must stress that so far the show has done nothing to earn that, but I really hope it can settle down with an episode or two more under its belt. There’s so much potential here and I want to see where it’s heading, despite the abundance of warning signs.
One other thing – the ojou-sama character yelling “Why always me?”, the famous phrase footballer Mario Balotelli once wore on the pitch, is extremely funny to me.