Jinsei Review

This is review number four hundred and four. This anime is part of the Summer 2014 lineup, and it’s called Jinsei – Life Counseling-. It’s a thirteen episode anime about a club with a science geek, a humanities geek and an esper. Wait, no, it’s a sports geek and they solve a bunch of problems using the power of randomness. Let’s read on.

Story

The anime follows the secondary newspaper club as it tries to answer student questions for their life advice column. Along with girls that are knowledgeable in science, humanities and sports, Yuuki Akamatsu tries of answering the questions. The club has a process though, and it often involves randomness and a lot of controlled chaos.

Taking the Pants Off

Oh hey, a light novel anime, and you know what that means. I get to bust out my LN bingo card. Oh gosh, this bingo card makes reviewing LN anime fun. Check out the results below. Jinsei is a really weird anime, because I was bored out of my mind when I first watched it. Actually, the fansub that translated the show did such a good job that it actually broke my MPC player. Luckily, VLC can handle it better and my laptop sucks too. It once died on me while I was playing Sims. Gawd damn sh*tty laptop. Anyways, Jinsei is such a dense light novel, because it just hammers you with so many things. You’ll eventually just watch the show wondering what the hell is happening, and it’s a bit hard to watch at first. LN anime often have good structures, and some of them have wonderful premises, but Jinsei just throws you right into the anime’s madness. The first few episodes were hard to watch, because the anime goes by its own speed. Here’s the weird part though. Around the eighth episode or so, I just fell in love with the anime. The randomness kinda made sense now, and I just love every character in the show. Their interactions began to meld together, the jokes starts actually registering laughs and I was soon saddened that the anime is about to end. I can see people dropping Jinsei in a heartbeat, because the anime sucks at first impressions. It doesn’t really level with its audience, and the premise just doesn’t hook you instantly. It’s rare for an LN anime to botch its premise, since that’s kinda the best thing about LN anime. I consider Inu Scissors a quintessential Gonzo garbage, but I was sold by its bestiality premise. It works in my mind, and that’s how most LN anime journey works. It wasn’t the case for Jinsei, because the first few episodes are just hard to like.

The anime is about the secondary newspaper club’s life advice column. The anime opened with its club president, Ayaka Nikaidou, asking the main character, Yuuki Akamatsu, to handle the life advice column. She also worries about the guy’s love life, and so she gathered three girls to work on the life advice column with him. The first five minutes of the show is just thick exposition that immediately transitions into the three girls meeting Yuuki, and the group answers a question sent in by a student. It’s kinda like Sket Dance, but it’s a club themed anime. This combination is weird though, because Sket Dance thrives by interacting with the students they help. I saw the first few episodes, I honestly didn’t get it, but the show certainly has great potential. It captures a School life premise in a flexible way, since Sket Dance is essentially a club themed anime too. Jinsei is different. The questions have no faces to them, and the characters are just confined in the club room answering the questions. They’ll then spend ten minutes or so arguing about the answers the others gave.

This part of the show is honestly brilliant, because the three girls are good on a single subject. One likes science, the other likes humanities and the other likes sports, and their answers are rooted in their specialty subject. This means that the science girl is more of a realist in tackling the questions, and she often gives black and white answers. The humanities girl would be more artistic though, and also a bit more social in her answer. Since she comes from a historical and artistic subject, some of her answers are idealistic in nature. The sports girls answer is more direct though, and they often aren’t properly thought through. Since she believes problems should be confronted head on, regardless of outcomes or risks, and it’s better to just get it over with so she can move on with life. She’s a true free spirit, who also loves skinship for some weird reason. So, yeah, the premise sounds solid when I describe it, but the anime doesn’t really bring this brilliant premise in an effective way. The show doesn’t slowly contrast the various answers to reflect the characters themselves, and they just drown the audience with dialogue. Sweet flaming Pikachu, this anime just constantly slaps you with dialogue and you are just asked to keep up.

In the first episode, I was honestly lost. I don’t know what’s going on, I don’t know who the characters are, and the anime is just forcing a bunch of things together. In the first episode, the main character is forcedly paired up with one of the girls and he’ll have weird perverted situations with her. I believe they were both stuffed under a table, and the guy keeps groping the girl. It was so forced that I honestly don’t know what to think of it. I don’t know these characters yet, so it feels a bit dirty that I’m watching a detached ecchi scene happening for no reason. The forced ecchi is one thing, but the discussions regarding the questions are harder to fathom. Some of the discussions don’t really go anywhere, and it often ends up with the characters poking fun of each other. Some of the answers aren’t even remotely related to the question, and you just see the entire thing devolve into random insanity. The dialogue drowns you so much that you eventually forget the question. It’s not just that though. In some conversations, the sports girl would grope the busty humanities girl for no reason, so you’re forced to watch that too. It’s both confusing and insulting, and then you realize the anime have twelve more episodes of just this heavy dialogue garbage. It’s kinda hard to keep moving forward, and the anime gives little reason to actually come back. At the end of the conversations though, the life advice column is eventually posted and the answer is actually pretty decent. For anyone that wants to watch this anime, pause and read the advice column because the beauty of the premise actually lies there.

It turns out that Yuuki is actually not just a quiet observer when the three girls would dialogue. He actually filters their answer, and he writes the best one using their suggestions. He gives a nice response to even the most stupid question, and it comes full circle. The anime starts with a question, devolve into random insanity, the characters would often do an activity related to the question, and then Yuuki gathers everything and posts their response. We never see the students that ask the question, and we never see if it actually helped them but it doesn’t matter. The beauty is in the life advice column’s process that is both fun and insane at the same time. It’s honestly a hard sell, since I only realized Yuuki does the column when it’s revealed in a closing scene in later episodes. The first few episodes just throw forced ecchi, confusing dialogue, random activities and a competent answer to the advice column with little regard to how the audience will process it. Yes, you are required to follow the show’s groove. You aren’t handheld into the insanity that’ll ensue, like most good anime does. No, you’ll waste your time following the show and it’ll hurt. I tell you though, it’s worth it. The show’s premise might be a hard sell, but this one isn’t: this anime is damn good club themed anime.

Club themed anime is flexible, because anything can happen. Sure, the characters are confined in a club room but it doesn’t mean they’ll stay in that box. In Haruhi Suzumiya, the SOS club made a film, played baseball, got stuck in an endless eight loop and their president is a gawd. In Rokujouma no Shinryakusha, the characters are forced to live in a room but they also fought aliens, ground people and even ghosts. Club themed anime has no limit, and LN often goes nuts with this. While four koma manga would just happily let the characters eat cake, LN club themed anime is insanely different. Jinsei is a good example of this. A life advice question often devolves into some of the most random sh*t, and the audience is often tasked to just bask in all of its stupidity. For example, here is the club watching porn:

How did they end up watching porn? It doesn’t matter, because that’s just how club themed anime operates. By confining the characters in a box, they are forced to just bust out of it. Like in one episode, the characters went ghost hunting:

They got a part time job in a super market:

And whatever the hell this is:

I honestly forgot what is happening here, but this scene just happens. A lot of random things just happens, and you’re just asked to enjoy it. You’re open to be confused with the anime’s motives, but you can also just enjoy the way the show devolves into utter clusterf*ck. Oh, I remember now. The sports girl can sniff things out, and she found that porn they watched earlier. It’s stupid, but that’s honestly what makes the show great. Once you realize the pattern, you can just sit back and enjoy the anime’s insanity.

Despite the show’s randomness, it does have four chapters to it. It’s a very loose definition of a chapter though, since the anime doesn’t really have an overarching story. In the four chapters though, there is a common theme for the episodes that lumps them together. The first chapter is just the first three episodes of the anime. It’s just about the club, the show’s utter insanity, and the true test on whether you’ll drop this anime or not. The characters are introduced to the extent of their role in the following episodes, and the show will just grow on you if you let it. I’ll be fair though, because liking the first three episodes can be a real challenge. Hopefully, the second chapter will be much better to digest. This is where the first newspaper club is introduced, and they immediately claim the second newspaper club as their rival.

The fourth episode is a very boring beach episode though, and problematic since this clichéd episode is presented way too early. The first newspaper club eventually challenges the main characters though to a duel, and the winner has to drop their life advice column. The main characters agreed, and a game show is setup for the eventual duel. It’s a rather pointless and stupid duel, but the anime does get significantly better from here. The characters are finally interacting with other people, and this honestly makes the show more tolerable. Seeing the same characters do the same jokes in the same predictable manner honestly made me sleep, but the appearance of new characters made the dynamic different. It was refreshing, in a sense, because the show is doing something new. With a common theme to tie the episodes together, the show is also growing some structure so it’s easier to follow from here.

With proper structure and new characters to introduce, the third chapter is where the anime honestly peaked. The jokes started to pack a punch, the characters and their unique quirk starts to make sense, and their interaction becomes livelier. Investigating who burned the club’s suggestion box, the characters decided to enlist the help of a local market hero to catch the culprit. It’s a random idea, but it did give us some of the best stuff of the show, like the sports girl sniffing porn and the characters watching it for no reason. It also introduced running gags into the show. While the life advice’s process of answering questions can be considered routinely, the appearance of Koganen with Kei Grant’s voice (with the show actually hiring Kei Grant to do the voice) is just insane brilliance. I instantly loved the anime for doing that, and I also laugh since I kinda know who Kei Grant is. Oddly though, the fourth chapter is actually the best part of the anime. Like, the entirety of the last chapter of the anime is the most audience friendly and ripe with comedy. The anime should’ve just started the series with the last chapter, since I know people would respond positively to it.

The fourth chapter introduces us to the student council president. She’s a blond devil who seems to hate the secondary newspaper club. For their cultural festival piece, the president tried to crush their efforts. Luckily, the fourth girl that always appeared in the opening sequence is also introduced in this chapter, and she joins the group to fight the president. The last two characters honestly completed the show, because it gave the episodes direction. The student council’s constant antagonizing ruffles the familiar pattern of the show, and the art girl’s inclusion livens up the life advice answers. Art girl works well with the characters, and she instantly gel with them. She forms a kinship with sports girl, riles up the modest humanities girl, and she often steals the show with her insanity. She is honestly the missing fourth ingredient for this anime, and I can’t believe the anime only introduced her with only five episodes left. The same goes with the student council president, because she gives each episode purpose. Her constant antagonizing just makes the episodes interesting compared to the dull insanity of the earlier ones. She also looks like Sena Kashiwazaki, from Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai, and I love Sena. The president’s inclusion also finally introduced the School life aspect to the show as it finally gave faces to the questions. Some episodes have the characters meeting the person that needs life advice, and these episodes are just dumb fun. It’s honestly better than the characters being crammed in their clubroom just being random.

It’s weird. It’s like the anime is intentionally designed to get better after each episode. I understand the anime’s approach though. They followed the light novel to a tee, so the constant progression matched. It also means that further chapters of the LN gets better as it introduces more things for the life advice column to handle. The show was really patient in adapting the original source. Even though the best bits of the LN was later down the line in further volumes, the anime still stuck to adapting the original source in order. The show could’ve softened the blow of the first few episodes, but I think the anime was designed to be a bit overwhelming in the first chapter. The director was confident enough to gradually let the anime grow, and it shows. From being utterly confused to suddenly feeling saddened the anime is about the end, the experience is one of a kind. I also urge everyone to try this show, because it’s really incredible. It doesn’t break any ground, but it’s a good practice at patient storytelling. I mean, the show could’ve teased the art girl’s appearance in the first half. She could’ve done little gags or even just made cute cameos in the background, since she’s one of the highlight of the show. They didn’t though. They kept the best part of the show in the latter half, and it was f*cking worth it. Her appearance is special, and it really stands out.

Club themed anime works because of the characters. It’s always a character showcase, where in the story doesn’t matter as long as your characters shine. They glittered brightly in this anime, and it’s one of the strongest aspects of the show. Even in the confusing first half, the dialogue between the three girls wonderfully captures their personality. It’s not about what they’re saying, but the way they say it. You get a sense of the characters in the way they answer the questions, and it’s a good character showcase. The science girl that is classic tsundere, the humanities girl that is classic busty/sexy, and the sports girl that is classic hyper has good chemistry together. You won’t often follow what the hell they’re saying, but the way they interact is entertaining in a dull unexplained way. It’s almost hypnotic in a sense. Soon, you just know what you’ll get from the characters when they do their life column answers. You’ll know how the science girl, humanities girl, and the sports girl will answer. How they explain their answer is the transition to the random insanity of the anime though. Sadly, the characters aren’t fleshed out. Since the anime itself is unstable, the characters need to keep to their stereotype. With how it can turn a discussion into practicing how to ride a bike, you need the characters to keep things controlled. I don’t mind if they’re undeveloped though, since their interaction is just fun to watch. Also, despite their lack of development, the girls still have a chance in the spotlight. Sports girl was heavily featured in the third and fourth chapter, science girl had some solid (forced) moments in the first half, and the humanities girl shines when she’s the straight man to the unstable arts girl.

Yuuki himself is pretty normal as well. He’s incredibly bland, but it’s for a good purpose. He’s the base of the accidental harem, the straight man to all the characters and the one the audience can relate with. When the show goes into a rabbit hole, you’re experiencing it with Yuuki. It honestly comes to a point where you’re quiet yourself just watching the girls talk, and you soon realize Yuuki is doing the exact same thing. He’s a brilliant character in that sense. In a way, he’s the audience and you’re going with the flow just like him.

The show has a lot of other characters, and they have their own quirky nature to feature. I’ll hold myself back talking about arts girl and the student council president, because they’re the treasure of the anime. I encourage everyone to discover these treasures for yourselves. There is also the first student council and a bunch of one off characters that I think becomes regular in the show. Since the anime has established a School life element with various students, I bet the one-off characters will eventually become part of the insanity. Some of them are incredibly forced though. The first newspaper club was haphazardly introduced, and they didn’t really come back. The same goes to the secondary newspaper club’s president. She comes and goes despite being a fifth member of the accidental harem, and I always wonder what her deal is. I do think she gets a bigger role in the story as well, since her unexplained rivalry with the student council president is another element to establish the School life setting. It’s a shame the anime cuts off right when things are properly established. These characters do their part well, but they don’t stand out in a way you’d expect they will.

This anime is presented by Studio Feel, and they did an amazing job here. Animation wise, it’s incredibly high quality but the approach to the adaptation also gets some points. They gave us Yosuga no Sora and Tsuki ga Kirei, so I have full faith that this studio can pleasantly surprise you. Ok, just not with incest, but they do amazing stuff for the most part. They do have some duds as well, but their great shows overshadow their awkward ones. I can’t wait to see how they did in 2015, since I just love being constantly surprised by this studio. Keiichirou Kawaguchi directed this anime, and it’s pretty great. As I said before, he was patient with the adaptation. He trusted the original source, and he truly made the anime special. He also directed Sket Dance, so the anime was in good hands from the very start. He’s been directing for a long time now, and he also did some animation directing before handling a full show. This guy is a pretty solid veteran, and his talents truly shined in this anime. I mean, from the visuals to the actual adaptation of the source, he just nailed everything. Now, if only we can get him to give us the second season of Nyan Koi, then I can die happy.

Sight and Sound

I cannot find LN covers featuring the artist’s work. Meruchi Nanase designed the characters, but I cannot get a beat on her. The manga of Jinsei is actually done by Eiken’s author, and she only did a few arts for it. I’ll just straight up comment on the show’s design, and it does look incredibly beautiful. It’s standard LN cover art though. You have the school girl characters with a sexy built, and it’s nothing new. The character design even reminds me of works from Mel Kishida (Hanasaku Iroha) and Shino (Sunday without God). They do impressive LN art too, and I think Meruchi just knows how to make impressive LN art covers. It translates well into the anime though, because the show is a barrage of wonderful eye candy as well. The beautiful faces of the characters, coupled by their expressive eyes, are just lovely to look at. The show also puts great emphasis on the character’s skin color, and it just looks incredibly pleasant. Again, the design isn’t that unique but it does have a personality of its own. The design nicely captures the personality of the characters, and it’s one of the best elements of the show. I’d also give points to how Yuuki was designed. Look at him:

Next to a beautifully designed character, Yuuki is intentionally made to be as bland as humanly possible. I love it, because it does draw attention towards him. The way he is designed to not stand out actually makes him stand out, and it’s really brilliant. I dunno, I just like this character a lot. He’s like a brilliant meta, and I wish other LN main characters can be as blandly interesting as him.

Animation is incredible. During the confusing first few episodes, the dialogue hold up mainly because of how the characters are animated. Their beautiful design stands out, and the animation would constantly highlight it. The facial expressions are spot on, and they’re dynamic. The tsundere science girl can go from indifferent to shy to tsundere in a single scene. The camera angle is also dynamic, as it flows with the conversation. Various camera angles are utilized, wide shots are used to start a scene, character blocking is used to emphasize a moment, and the emotion of each scene is carefully storyboarded. The director is just a genius to make sure the audience is lost in the dialogue but never turned off with the show’s pacing. The random activities of the characters are also nicely animated. Sports girl is animated wonderfully, since she rarely sits still. The anime is able to capture her hyper personality nicely, and it just makes the viewing experience an enjoyable one. Even the student council’s simple smirk has so much weight to it, because of how the scene is done. Small details are nicely captured by the anime, and it makes for a really wonderful experience. Of course, the ecchi shots are also nicely presented as well. The strong visuals are never compromised for ecchi scenes, and the perverted nature actually comes across effectively in the animation. Some shows are satisfied with pan ups, and that’s fine, but this anime would smartly highlight legs and boobs without going overboard. The ecchi is forced though, but they’re still solidly animated.

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The anime’s OP is “Dekoboko Kaiketsu Sensation” by Ayame Tajiri and Yurika Takahashi. Ayame voices the sports girl, and I’m actually surprised Yurika doesn’t do a lot of voice work. I love this song though, because it’s just frantic and fun. It also nicely sums up the show’s actual plot, if you can follow the lyrics. The randomness they do is all part of answering the questions, and the song nicely captures that vibrant insanity of the show. The two singers also have a great voice. Ayame’s voice stands out more, but I was just instantly hooked by this song. The OP sequence nicely accompanies the song, as it also sums up the show in a wonderful montage. Arts girl is immediately part of the cast though, so it was weird enjoying this character that hasn’t appeared in the show yet. It was actually a very deceptive way to hype her up, because she is a gem of a character for this anime. The OP sequence also features the incredible animation, and a short intro of the other characters. Humanities girl’s grandfather and the student council president had awesome scenes in the OP alone. I love that small detail. The waving of the skirts in the opening shot also stands out, but I don’t understand why it’s actually happening. Subversive ecchi maybe? I like it though.

The anime’s ED is “Jinsei☆Kimiiro [Rino Endou (CV: Hiyori Nitta), Fumi Kujou (CV: Moe Toyota), Ikumi Suzuki (CV: Ayaka Suwa)]”. The song is sung by the three main girls, but I think arts girl hi-jacks the song at some point. I can’t be sure though. This is another fun song, but not as energetic as the OP. It’s just silly and cute though, since the VAs stay in character while they sing. It has the same lyrics as Op about the characters doing life advice, and it is pretty cute. The lyrics are a little forced, but it doesn’t ruin the novelty of the song. It pairs great with the ED sequence as well, as it features chibi version of the characters just running and having fun. There’s not much to say here, since the show is cooling down at this point. It’s a nice cool down for the show’s insanity.

Overall Score

7/10 “It’s random, confusing and stupid but it soon builds into a satisfying anime experience that’ll make you ask for more.”

The anime is very patient with its storytelling, but I guarantee the payoff is worth it. Towards the second half of the anime, the show just becomes enjoyable. Even the awful parts of the first half suddenly work for the second half. The anime is like a baby learning how to walk. It stumbles and falls in its first tries, but it eventually gets up on its own feet and walks. For the audience, the feeling of seeing this baby walking is just so satisfying that you want to see it fly next. The show has some noticeable flaws, but the character showcase is strong and the club theme elements shine fantastically. The first few chapters can turn people off, but patience can go a long way with this anime so I do recommend it.

7 thoughts on “Jinsei Review

    • one of the upsides of watching the seasonal lineups is that you get to enjoy gems like this, but you also watch a lot of awful shows to get here. XD I’m just glad I can spread the love.
      my review of Rokujouma no Shinryakusha actually got people watching, and they’re spreading the love as well. It feels great when that happens.

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