Synopsis: Tooru and Run have been best friends since childhood so, when Tooru learns that she has passed her exams to enrol in the same high school as Run, she is ecstatic. However, when she runs to tell Run, she finds her in a compromising position with another girl- Yuuko! Join the tiny, protective best friend as she integrates with her new social circle of Yuuko, Run and their bespectacled companion Nagi. As the four girls make the most of every day and, with Run around, the unexpected might not be too far away…
A-Channel is the sort of show I love. Sitting firmly in the Slice of Life camp, A-Channel foregoes any overarching, dramatic story and instead focuses on the relationship between two childhood friends, their ever-growing social circle and the entertainment found in their everyday lives. And boy, was I entertained.
Being a slice of life show, A-Channel is heavily character driven and almost solely focuses on the relationship dynamics between the main group. We have Tooru- a short, tsundere-like girl with a penchant for teasing (bordering on a minor level of sadism), Yuuko- kind, easily spooked and the main target of the aforementioned teasing, Nagi- often the straight man, lacking in motivation but cherishes the groups friendship and finally Run- an almost indescribably weird being; where calling her an airhead would be a massive understatement; I mean, the girl forgot her own underwear, almost fell out of a window and try to cut a hard candy in half with a penknife… I mean, come on. These characters complement each other well and after getting past the initial drama brought up throughout the first episode, the show then moves on and with the scene now set, focuses on short, relatable and most importantly, funny scenes from the characters ordinary lives. The main focus is usually on Tooru and Run but Yuuko and Nagi have their moments in the spotlight and they rarely disappoint and find a very different way of entertaining than the idiosyncratic Run and sullen Tooru. It is testament to the show that the characters are relatable enough that they can stand alone and with others and be entertaining in any given situation. This coupled with the assistance of a strong supporting cast- such as an anaemic, forehead loving School Nurse, a hyper, slightly annoying but in an endearing way classmate and a hot-blooded teacher, the show successfully introduces you to the characters world and creates a connection between you and the lives of the girls.
Throughout the 12-episode run, the show consistently delivers hilarity. I often found the run-time of around 22 minutes passing in a blink of an eye and found myself watching another episode as soon as the prior one had finished; which, let’s be honest- is always a pretty good sign. Despite this, the show is not faultless; some jokes do fall flat (especially in the middle of the series) and despite the strong cast dynamics: the Tooru vs Yuuko bullying routine along with some of the other recurring gags can become a little long in the tooth after a while. The show also contains all the tropes you would expect from a slice of life anime: a beach episode, a running joke regarding dieting, (friendly) jealousy about a certain character’s ‘nice body’ (poor Yuuko) and there are many, many more if you are willing to look. Personally, I don’t find this a problem but be aware that this show doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel so if you weren’t keen on this sort of thing before, A -Channel will do little to change your mind.
The show is consistently well animated, and I did not note any obvious inconsistencies or errors on that part. On the contrary, I found the animation and art style of the facial expressions of Run in particular constantly bringing a smile to my face. The character designs are sharp – with the variety of differences between the characters appearance abundantly on show. They do sometimes rely on static, non-moving animation (stills if you like) but I believe that this worked with the shows tone rather than against it; meaning that unlike, let’s say, a battle anime like Juuni Taisen or Magical Girl Raising Project where multiple scenes with little movement would cripple the shows watch-ability, a lack of movement in a show practically designed for sitting back de-stressing actually enhances the experience. For a show that does not heavily rely on beautiful art- it does more than an excellent job of bringing the foursomes home to life and successfully adds to the relaxed mood the show works hard to create.
In addition to the lovely visuals, the show also hits the mark when it comes to sound. I found the opening song growing on me each time I heard it. On the other hand, the ending song, despite not being bad, didn’t really capture my imagination although it did probably capture the tone of the show and was more than passable. The main success here though is each episode has its own insert song; each reflecting the mood of the episode it appears in; with the Karaoke episode including even more. I even find one song- ‘Ochamelodical Beauty Bang Bang’, (yes, that is really what it is called…) on my work playlist- and have yet to tire of it.
The writing of the show is very well done but this is only amplified by the assured performances of the voice actors and actresses in the show; delivering the jokes in the right tone; with each character’s voice perfectly reflecting their personality- Yuuki Aoi’s performance as Tooru being standout with her husky, quiet, reserved voice perfectly fitting the fierce yet shy Tooru. Across the board, however, I had no real complaints about the voice acting- only finding minor gripes when I was actively looking for them.
Having read the source material (the 4-koma manga) prior to watching the show, I found the adaption to be faithful to the manga- with various, small additions to bulk out the plot. The ending, if you can really call it that, is original and focuses again, like the first episode, on Tooru’s insecurities with the age gap between herself and the rest of her social group. The mini-drama is quickly resolved and A-Channel ends on a high note.
A-Channel is an excellent show for fans of the slice of life genre; like myself. If you don’t enjoy watching the cute, mundane, everyday lives of various characters; this show probably will not change your mind. However, for anybody after a fix of feel good action- I would recommend this show without any qualms. Heck, I want to go watch it again. And remember if you are in doubt:
A-Channel Episodic Scores
Score: 89/100- An excellent, feel good slice of life experience.
Thanks for reading, tell me what you thought of the show and give it a score below!