A completely average, but enjoyable title.
More often than not, Visual Novel adaptations rarely tend to do well. Not that I inherently hate Visual Novel adaptations outright, there are a few that I would actually like to see animated, but adaptation decay is the staple element when you take pages and pages worth of dialogue, exposition, and monologue of different characters into around 12-13 episodes of content. The bigger problem arises is that most visual novels that get adapted are bishoujo games, which demands a hefty amount of characterization, but also require the main protagonist to choose a girl by the middle to experience a fully fleshed out character, this does not tend to happen all that much.
So with this already set, Shoujo Tachi wa Kyou Kara Mezasu, or Koya for short, is a bit of an oddity: Koya is an adaptation of a visual novel that wasn’t even out yet, with the game itself releasing a day after the final episode aired last week. Essentially, what we got was the “common route” while the actual development probably happens in the game. But we’re here for the anime so let’s talk about it already.
Koya takes place in the perennial Japanese highschool setting and features Hojo Buntarou, our rather hardworking and outgoing main protagonist who is lauded for his writing ability. He is joined by Kai Atomu and Kobayakawa Yuka, his two friends with the latter being a very good performer. Buntarou is approached by the usually silent Kuroda Sayuki who invites him to a pseudo-date where she unexpectedly asks him to join her in making a bishoujo game.
While you didn’t hear me speak about it, this series sounds similar to Saekano but instead of the guy being the main motivator to make a bishoujo game, it’s the girl this time. The superior caveat that I prefer Koya to Saekano is that Koya’s “source” is a visual novel while Saekano is from a light novel. As mentioned before, Visual Novels aim for an endgame while light novels usually don’t so that alone makes Koya a special case.
Buntarou is an upstart young man but like many other protagonists, he does not know what he wants to do with his life. But unlike other protagonists, he’s popular, has friends, works a job, and is a very talented writer. Such is his proficiency that gets him scouted out by our main female protagonist, Kuroda. Kuroda is a mixture of the usual silent, witty, and intelligent black-haired girl but she has her own charm with her extensive knowledge on game development as well as generally being amiable and approachable. Atomu is absolutely hilarious and fulfills the role as an assistant while Yuka mostly stays in the back until she finally voices her lines. She’s also the first to show a hint of attraction and has a small number of episodes to show it. On the outer circle, we’ve got Ando Teruha and Yuki Uguisu. The former is the quintessential fujoshi whose views and lack of teamwork has her be a problem for around half the series while the latter is the soft-spoken artist who tends to overwork herself.
Not too many side characters are present other than the eccentric Hosokawa and the two individuals from the rival company that show up near the end. Since this is technically the common route, all focus was put onto the main cast of characters and I think they did a decent job with it. Said development was actually mostly focused on reeducating Ando while Yuka got a fair share of time on her too. Hell, an episode was focused on giving Buntarou some time with his writer’s block, when was the last time the main character actually got himself an episode to deal with his own struggle in a series like this?
Being a highschool series about making bishoujo games and all, there were wasn’t that much to be wowed with in any sort of form. Character designs were handled by Matsuryuu who happens to be one of my favorites and I generally think the transition from the original design and the animation design were decent. While I did say it didn’t wow me, it still looked decent where it counted and there weren’t too many hiccups to note since there weren’t any complex scenes to look at.
That being said, nearly everything about the series isn’t really worth mentioning as far as the visuals and sound goes. Voice acting had no issues worth mentioning that were bad and it was generally nice to hear. An easy way to tell if the soundtrack was good or not was if I could come up with some tracks that stuck in my head and seeing as how I really can’t name or remember any tracks that stuck with me, I can’t say it was memorable. The opening was pretty decent and the ending was alright but nothing I would listen to again and again.
The story progression is very simple, Buntarou gets recruited, his friends join, and then Andou and Yuki are discovered and recruited. Andou takes a while to be convinced on the project, partly due to her lack of team ethic, and Yuka has a small fit with romantic issues. Atomu doesn’t really get anything other than a few fantastic lines and moments and Kuroda doesn’t really get all that much other than at the end. Yuki is only relevant for a bit and it just deals with her passionate overdrives, something that’s fairly common. Gathering and nurturing the crew took most of the series’ air time and drama ensued for around the last 2-3 episodes. While I wasn’t aware of it before it aired, the writer for the series, Romeo Tanaka’s presence alone apparently had a lot of people looking forward to this. He was responsible for Cross Channel, a rather prolific title in the visual novel community (as well as the source of a rather humorous flashgame) so I guess I had some expectations to look forward to as well. Did I really expect something from this series with the rather predictable progression? Not really.
Koya is not anything new from the genre and while it has a decent cast of characters that face the technical nuances of making an developing a game from scratch, it doesn’t really tell any other sort of story aside from it. Given that it’s a visual novel adaptation, I didn’t really expect it go anywhere past the general introduction so that point alone doesn’t really surprise me. The series is there to set up the visual novel and the characters have enough charm for me to want to play it. But make no mistake, if you’re looking for some breakthrough story of kids finding out what they want to do, you’ll find a minimal part of that here and for those expecting a full blown romance, that isn’t here either.
At the time I wrote this, I’ve been looking over some reviews on the visual novel itself. Praise is there in general at how the storyboard and characters were nicely written but nothing much else past that, literally. Not too many scenes exist past the anime, take that for what you will. As far as I take that, I’d say that’s a disappointment since I expected this “common route” to be a prelude to the more personal character arcs. In the end, I took it for what it was so my expectations weren’t all that high but it was enjoyable from what I knew to expect. Be mindful is probably the best recommendation I can give.