Isshukan Friends was set up by pretty much all the promotional material as a heartwarming drama, which made the fact that it was a 4-koma adaptation an interesting one. We’ve seen exceptionally well-handled 4-koma adaptations very recently*, shows that succeeded by building a more cohesive flow out of the generously loose framework offered by the source. Apparently, that’s an approach that works just fine for a more somber atmosphere. This episode did a great job of varying the mood from somber to lighthearted as needed, keeping conversations flowing while mixing in background cutaways and other spices to break up the action between days. It helped that said background art was pretty great by itself (even if it played a minor role). I’ll be spending three more episodes on this one, since it seems to have a vice grip on its identity right off the bat.
Kanojo Flag didn’t have super-polished animation at any phase in time, but it did pack a level of fun energy into most of the show. The characters weren’t jump-off-the-screen interesting, and there was a fair bit of flashback melodrama bogging things down to a degree. But the opener seemed to get a lot of mileage out of the “flags as physical manifestations of the power of narrative” schtick, which was equal parts clever and funny and made for a cute climax. You can build a show around that if it gets used like it was this week. I’ll give this one another two episodes to build up a cast and a broader arsenal of jokes.
*Vis a vis Sakura Trick and Seitokai Yakuindomo Footnote.