Summer 2009 Anime Impressions – Sora no Manimani

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I’m slowly chipping away at the pile of summer shows I still need to review and the latestis the slice-of-school-life, light comedy Sora no Manimani.

I haven’t heard much chatter about this show but that’s probably to be expected since it doesn’t involve late-bloomer crazy virgins or massive earthquakes or story reboots or androgynous assassins. However, there was no question that I was going to catch this show since astronomy and the nighttime sky is going to be a part of this show.

Rating: episode 1 – 9/12A-
Rating: episode 2 – 10/12A
Rating: episode 3 – 10.5/12Strong A
Anticipation Level: 3.5/5 – Medium

Ooyagi’s family moves around a lot because of the dad’s frequent job transfers and as a result Ooyagi doesn’t interact much with his classmates, instead he retreats to his books. When it’s time for him to start high school, the family decides to move somewhere that’ll help him prep for going to a Tokyo university and so they head back to a small city that they lived in seven years ago. He had hoped that they wouldn’t move there since while he lived there previously he was the target of attention from a energetic girl, Mihoshi, and he’s worried about meeting her again. Of course, this being anime, on the first day of high school it takes all of 5 minutes before he meets her. Her love of the nighttime sky has not diminished and so she’s a member of the Astronomy Club and they’re in the middle of a membership drive because they need a few more members if they are to continue to exist. You can probably easily guess where this is going and you’d be right. Needless to say, the club is saved and now they can do the comedic, slice-of-school-life stuff that make watching these types of shows enjoyable.

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Of prime importance for shows like these are it’s characters; if it’s a good bunch, the show is almost assuredly a success but if the characters are a failure, then the show will be a failure. The characters of Sora no Manimani fall much closer to being a great bunch but I can’t deny there’s still room for improvement. Right now they still feel mostly like their respective character types but it’s a good batch of character types since they work together well and the animators have succeeded in not making any of these characters annoying. (Something that Kanamemo failed to do.)

And there’s slight differences in how this show is put together which gives me hope that Sora no Manimani will be able to distinguish itself from other similar shows. The first is how instead of putting the energetic girl, Mihoshi, in charge of the club – they’ve put an anemic senior male in charge of the club who struggles at being conscious for an entire day. Another is that Mihoshi doesn’t fit into the now common mold of girls made popular by Haruhi. If she pushes Ooyagi into joining the Astronomy club it’s because she genuinely loves the stars and just wishes to share this love with as many people as possible not because she enjoys pushing people around. Also there’s the lack of obvious coupleness (yeah, I just invented a word 🙂 ) between Ooyashi and Mihoshi; they really just seem like friends with each other. I’m not against romance in my anime but it would be nice to see that sometimes when you but a male and female main character together that they don’t end up together. I also should mention that there’s a nearly even ratio of males and females in the club which allows for different humor and situations and having the club be an Astronomy club instead of something more common allows for different events to be shown.

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The one area that I really wished would have been improved upon was the animation, specifically the character animation. To me, it would make sense that for character-driven shows that the character animation would be very important but that is not the case here. This really became apparent in episode 3 when CG was used to animate the bus. Who’s bright idea was it to spend money to make the bus look nicely animated when the people in the show look like they belong in an averagely drawn anime from 2004? It’s not all bad, though, the backgrounds look decent but, if pressed, I mention that they can’t compare to Aoi Hana. The night time skies are done pretty good but once again the little voice in my head can’t help but point out that both J.C. Staff and KyoAni could have done a better job.

Luckily, I’m very tolerable about animation; I don’t mark off when the show comes up a little short especially when there’s other things going for it. I already mentioned the characters and how it’s put together slightly differently but I also need to add that the humor’s pretty good as well. Not wall-to-wall funny but each episode earns a handful of laughs and it remembers that chibifying the characters is always comedic gold. Now, if only they included eye catches – I always love eye catches.

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Three episodes in and Sora no Manimani has proven that it’s well worth watching it if you’re a viewer looking for a slice-of-school-life, light comedy anime. I don’t think it’s going to be as good as say Taishou Yakyuu Musume but you can do much worse and the astronomy theme is different.

I almost forgot to mention another reason why I think this is a good series. Oftentimes a good slice-of-life show will feature something and I’ll have this want to do it as well. While watching Sketchbook, I wanted to run out and buy a sketchbook even when I know my artistic skills are pathetic. Watching Aria made me want to visit Venice, watching Cross Game makes me want to play baseball … you get the idea. Sora no Manimani makes me want to look at the stars; luckily I already had something planned out which I’ll mention in my next post. 🙂

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5 thoughts on “Summer 2009 Anime Impressions – Sora no Manimani”

  1. Though shameful to admit I have to say I rarely read your entire review because I just don’t have the attention span to read the whole thing at 1 in the morning. Getting beyond that I will now say that I guess I will at least give this show a chance because your review at least gives me a level of understanding the main character that I just dont get from anime news network. Its a sad thing that most synopsizes tend to give you a setting but never give any idea of the main character often causing me to miss out on what could be a good anime. I may be the only one to feel this way but I thing a well done synopsis is if not more than then it is just as important as great animation quality and story.

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  2. The art picks up a bit in the 4th episode. I think the 4th was the best episode so far, even though it wasn’t as funny as the planetarium episode it had a lot of atmosphere. I was genuinely surprised at how well animated Mihoshi’s cleaning scene and the rest of the episode after that was.

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  3. @ray: Don’t be ashamed, I rarely like to read long entries myself – I can read a physical book for hours but there’s something about a computer screen that limits how long I can stare at it.

    That’s why I start off with my ratings so the reader can decide how much or how little they want to read without having to try to hunt down how well I liked a certains show (and I believe that’s premarily why people read blogs – to find out how others liked a certain anime anyways).

    I hope you like Sora no Manimani. I always like to hear that I convinced someone to try an anime but then I worry that the person won’t like it.

    @Taka: That’s good to hear, I’ll probably have to wait till I get back home to watch it though.

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