Eita Izumi, constantly on the move due to his father’s work, has returned to his hometown after his father was forced to relocate again. Former classmates recognize Eita, and they quickly form a new bonds in the last few months of school. Love and studiousness take form as the students finalize their tests and post-graduation plans before the end of their final semester.
Just Because was a show I was very much looking forward to this season, but as it turns out- I shouldn’t have been so terribly excited. The key art and promos tricked me into thinking the animation would be movie-quality and consistent, but after watching the first episode I found myself a little sad to see average level animation and non-discerning art. Everything about the show, including the story, was average.
Since we have an omniscient view of the world, you never feel like anything is at stake- even when a character is worried or taking a plunge – because we know there is a safety net the character hasn’t learned about (yet). This took the drama out of a slice of life drama anime, leaving us with average storytelling, at best.
However, I’m not sure the normalcy of the anime is a bad thing. Even though nothing terribly interesting is happening, you get a great sense of each character’s life and troubles. Just Because is a true slice of life show, and you are given a relatively accurate account of the ups and downs of high school life.
It may sound a little condescending, but Just Because was never bad. In fact, I really don’t regret watching it. The show managed to be average on all fronts, but that’s better than some shows who try to take on this monolithic genre. The show is easy to watch because it’s so basic.
Being that Just Because is a character-centric story, we should discuss the characters, right?
Just Because doesn’t choose to have interest pieces on each person, and instead wants to tell us an overarching story of youth. Because we are not focusing on particular characters at a time, we naturally expect development.
This is where Just Because falls apart.
You see, only one character shows any form dynamic growth: Mio Natsume.
Mio learns to step out of her sister’s shadow and apply for a large Tokyo University, the same as what Eita was accepted to. It takes Mio most of the show to realize her feelings for Eita, and through that she is able to choose her own path instead of the path she believed to be laid before her. This is played as a significant realization, and Eita seems to have been needed for her to come around to the idea.
Eita experiences no growth that I can tell over the course of the series. He is in love with Mio when he arrives at his school, and still in love when he leaves. He has a few events that added to his high school experience, but nothing that changed him as a person. Even in the end, he is content with the ebb and flow of life after failing to get into Mio’s original choice school. It’s a little sad that he didn’t even confess properly to her before going to college, and though it all works out in the end- it’s just not satisfying and leaves you disheartened with Eita overall.
The last three characters take a supporting role, though the anime attempts to give them each their own light in a way. Haruto Soma, Hazuki Morikawa, and Ena Komiya all manage to maintain the status quo of their humanism without a touch of change to the end of the show. You get the sense that each character didn’t really learn from their experiences the past few months, and instead, they have returned to their own routines, adjusted for their new lives.
There’s just a severe lack of character growth or even character interest in such a character-centric story; that would have to be my biggest issue with the entire show.
Here’s some bonus, fun background on my interest in this show: I own the doujin Tawawa on Weekend, which is a parody of Kiseki Himura’s Tawawa on Monday. Kiseki did the original character designs for Just Because, and Mio strongly resembles Ai-Chan from Tawawa on Weekend. By this leap, I own a Just Because doujin… just a fun fact for you “would be warriors” out there.
Just Because is an average show in an overcrowded genre where being average causes you to fall to the wayside. While the character designs were cute, the animation, art, and story did nothing to persuade you to watch any further than episode one. Just Because would work far better as a manga or similar short than the current animated work.