Sell Me in 20 Minutes: Wake Up, Girls and Nou-Rin

We’re approaching the end of the Winter slate, and we’ve finally hit on the biggest economic-side enigma of the season. Wake Up, Girls had an unusual setup that, nominally, required viewers to watch the movie before the first episode. It’s an interesting setup from a commercial perspective, to say the least. I talked in my post about the upcoming Tamako Love Story movie about how movie sales could be an effective way to tap a larger, less enthusiastic fanbase. Based on the fact that the show is targeting fans from a similar demographic to Love Live’s upcoming season 2, the argument is that it’d be better to get something than nothing. But to make that movie ticket and 50 minutes of time a required entry fee to the franchise seems less advisable. You might simply end up with a really small fanbase if you don’t let them test the waters for free; even if otaku audiences are more willing to burn money on things they might like, this is a season with two sequels to 10k+ shows in the mix for their attention. I didn’t watch the movie and skipped straight to episode 1, because I’m not spending 70 total minutes on an unknown quantity from a director I dislike, general principles or not, until and unless it becomes a known plus.

Anyway, I watched the first episode of the TV series, and I did like where that went. For one thing, the atmosphere was very, very down to earth in a focused way, reminding me rather heavily of a body language-dependent late-90s show. I also liked how the characters sort of serendipitously meeting each other on new year’s day pervaded most of it. What I like less is how the team is being put in a stack of bad situations – it’s a degree of unnecessarily forced drama straight out of Hanasaku Iroha to have them be in debt due to someone running off and have them get involved with a super-sketchy production outfit within the first day of the franchise’s rollout. I worry about the show’s future if it’s going to continue along with serious drama built on bad luck; this is the third time this season I’m saying this, but it’s not funny or particularly compelling to watch bad things happen to good people through no fault of their own. For now, I’ll give it another week to evaluate what they’re actually doing; the first half did show a fair degree of promise, and the I-1 rivalry element holds a Knicks vs Hicks ceiling if done just right.

On the other hand, it’s actually quite fun to watch bad things happen to average people if they’ve all got a little bit of selfish asshole inside. And that was Nou-Rin in a nutshell, especially the money scene in the second half where the main character spent the majority of his time in a body pillow case and went from accidentally trying to get his friend to verbally make the connection between eggplants and anatomy to purposefully trying to get his friend to verbally make the connection between eggplants and anatomy. The show as a whole was vintage Oonuma Shin; energetically vanilla with a few hints of visual spice tossed in at the right intervals. As a bonus, the show is somewhat built around Tamura Yukari, one of the few voice actresses who I’ve actually gone to the trouble of owning discography for. The stage is very well set for Nou-Rin to be a BakaTest-tier comedy with cute elements of romance mixed in, so it’s getting 3 more episodes from me.

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