Kono Bijutsubu ni wa Mondai ga Aru! Review

This is review number four hundred and thirty six. This anime part of the Summer 2016 lineup. The anime I’ll be reviewing is called “Kono Bijutsubu ni wa Mondai ga Aru!”, or “This Art Club Has a Problem!” or just Konobi for short. It’s a twelve episode anime about an art club and um, it has a problem. Let’s just read on.

Story

The anime follows the everyday activities of a certain art club. It has four members. One of them sleeps his life away, the other is a super energetic loli and the remaining two is lock in a will-they-won’t-they sort of love story. Oh yeah, they also draw stuff from time to time.

Taking the Pants Off

This show is my first recommended anime via my patreon page. If you want me to review an anime, against my will, then you can drop by there and become a backer. Full disclosure though, this was supposed to be posted last month but my mental health just wasn’t in a good place to blog stuff. I’m glad I took a break from life, actually, because I realized I abandoned the one thing that could’ve helped me stabilize a bit. I’m talking about anime. Gawd damn it, I really can’t leave it behind me. It’s a part of me and shame on me for forgetting that. I want to apologize to Yomu since this review is a month late, and I want to remind him becoming a backer grants him one recommendation a month! Don’t expect me deliver on those recoms though. I’m only human, and I basically suck. Yomu is an incredible guy though. You guys should give him a follow. His recommendation, on the hand, isn’t as good. He did a collab post doing episodic reviews about this anime, and I’m not sure how it turned out. For me though, this art club has a problem. Yeah, that’s the title but also, seriously, this anime has a problem.

We’re Making S’mores

This anime is really unique, because I find it so fascinatingly dull. I personally hate marshmallow shows, but they eventually grow on me. Yeah, they’re all the same but they always offer something unique about them. These small details eventually make the shows fun to watch, and coupled by the slice of life elements of marshmallow goodness, you’d be hard pressed not to like fluff shows like this. This anime is basically a marshmallow show. It’s a slice of life anime about a club and their school life. It’s pretty straight forward, except there’s something different with this particular show. I personally can’t pin down my particular gripe with the show, but it just feels so generic to me. I don’t like using that word, because it’s such a lame way to describe anything, except, that’s really where my mind goes. The show is just inoffensively generic. It has competent characters, good comedy, amazing animation, and the usual cute stuff but I just can’t seem to enjoy this particular show. For me, every aspect of this anime seems to have been done better in other shows so there’s really nothing this anime can offer to me that I haven’t seen before. I know it sounds lame to expect something from a marshmallow show, except they are usually entertaining as the episodes progress. This anime, however, doesn’t get progressively good over time though. It just stays the same. It just stays so generic. Now, I have six pages of a Word document to dissect this anime, so let’s explore this generic idea much deeper, shall we?

Club Anime

This show is not just about the cuteness. It’s also a decent club anime. In the past, I’ve made claims that these kinds of show are some of the best kinds you can ever watch. They’re not bound by any rule, and the concept of a club really means the show can go out of the box as long as it can be deemed as a club activity. I look back to Haruhi Suzumiya and how it can have time travelling despite being a club anime. Invaders of the Rokujouma had an alien invasion and then a beach episode afterwards while still being a technical club anime. Let’s keep it simple. K-on can feature an entire album of songs while still being a fun and engaging club. Club anime are just really good shows, but this particular show didn’t really feel impressive. It’s about the art club and all the silly things that happen in it, and yet the whole setup just feels so unsatisfying. Episodes are often hard to slog through, because there’s really nothing interesting happening in it. Sure, it’s about the everyday exploits of the art club combined with cute fluff and some good comedy but it just doesn’t look interesting. I think the main reason is because the anime didn’t really do a good enough job to establish the club itself. They might be in a club, but the characters rarely do anything together. Their club activities are often just the cast being in a room while drawing their individual pieces. It doesn’t really feel like a club. It can only be one by name alone. Hence, this is a very shallow attempt at a club anime.

I look back to K-on, and the other marshmallow fluffs with clubs in them, and the main appeal is actually the group doing something together. A club’s anime greatest strength is the fact that the characters do random stuff together. I mention how characters can grow on you, and it’s usually because you learn to love their casual personality. This casual aura often comes out when the characters are huddled together doing things together.  This is the first thing that seems off with KONOBI. The characters don’t really do anything as a group. They’re usually isolated in their own spaces and when they do stuff together, certain characters are often paired off. The spirit of a club anime doesn’t permeate with this title, because it isn’t really a club anime. It’s just a really dull show about a bunch of people. Don’t get me wrong though, the club did do one thing as a group, and it actually highlighted my main issue with the series. In episode eleven, they did a sculpture for the cultural festival and this is the only time you see the entire cast active onscreen. This was the only time they acted as a club and it was so good and yet so bad. This means ten episodes past and the art club didn’t act like an art club. What exactly was the show occupied with then?

2D Characters, One Dimensional Romance

Yeah, majority of the episodes are about the romantic situational comedy of Mizuki and Subaru. Mizuki is the best girl in the show while Subaru is the guy she likes, except the dude has no interest with 3D girls. A lot of the show is dedicated to the non-romance between these two. Usually, it’d just be Mizuki acting all cute and frazzled when something happens between her and Subaru. Sadly, Subaru is such an airhead that he has no idea the girl he usually spends time with is actually in love with him. That’s really just the gag in constant repeat. A situation will make Mizuki blush and act all stupid, Subaru will be all clueless and then the gag ends with the misunderstanding being cleared up. I’ll admit that the two of them are good together. Mizuki is especially fun to watch, because she is just so cute and innocent. Their chemistry is also pretty adorable, so they aren’t tiring to watch. They are certainly one of the good parts of the show, but it doesn’t really make the show special. The problem is pretty clear: there’s no growth here. Their relationship is in a constant freeze, because the story will forever poke fun of it. So if a gag had Mizuki confess her feelings, you can expect that the confession will be nulled and the status quo will remain the same. Basically, Mizuki will just like Subaru and the guy will forever be oblivious of it. Sure, the main appeal is that he might soon realize her feelings, but do you think it’ll happen in the show’s twelve episode run?

When I first saw the couple together, I think back to Hyouka’s couple. This was a club anime too, and it had a fun romance too. Chitanda and the dude (forgot his name), sh*t, it was Oreki. Chitanda and Oreki’s relationship eventually developed to the point that awkward glances and silences feel so cute between them. That’s how these kinds of relationships should develop. I guess it’s just a personal gripe for me. I’m not a fan of cartoonish set ups like this, because no one can be that oblivious about someone’s feeling. No one should be that oblivious, even if it’s just a gag. Most stories are thoughtful with its characters. There should be some sort of growth to serve as payoff for the audience that enjoyed their relationship for twelve episodes or so. It shouldn’t be stuck on a perpetual loop. It feels unfair to the characters and the audience that invested in their relationship. I sound like an angry fan girl as I type this. I guess I also look back to Denkigai no Honya where the characters eventual become close as the episodes progress. I still remember the main couple sitting awkwardly far from each other in the first episode and the anime ends with the girl resting her drunken head on the guy’s lap. I guess that’s really why this show feels generic. It relies on tropes that makes a certain show work, but it lacks any sort of growth to keep the audience invested.

Colette The Scene Stealer

At first glance, this cute blond haired weirdo would easily be deemed as the best part of the show. She should be, to be honest. She’s a ball of energy and her bright personality steals the show. She should’ve stolen the show, but she didn’t. She was really just there, and that’s a problem. Characters like her should have a lot of screen time, a lot of moments to shine and this anime didn’t really give her any leg room. She acted cute, she acted stupid and she acted weird but it wasn’t enough. She felt like an annoying background character at best, and this was a massive disservice to her. When I first saw her, I had flashbacks of Non Non Biyori and Mikakunin de Shinkoukei. Both shows had this loli character that is just super cute and they easily stole the show. They had the best moments in the show, and they really serve as a beacon for the series. When things feel a bit repetitive or dull, these shot of zany cuteness would serve as a refreshing palette cleanser for the series. Sadly, this anime didn’t utilize Colette to her best abilities. Instead of having the best moments in the show, she was really just there. She would be mixed with the other supporting characters but she never stood out as the gem of a character she was destined to be.

It’s really frustrating to see tropes and ideas this show employed effectively used by other shows. I guess this is really why the show feels so generic. Yeah, it delivered elements competently but it could’ve been better. The club aspect could’ve been better, the romance could’ve been better and the characters could’ve been better. I can confidently say this, because I’ve seen so many shows done this sh*t better. I could honestly just list them here and I hope it could be a good enough reason to why this anime feels so generic. But I guess the problem just goes a bit deeper than that. This anime fails for one important reason. It lacks a theme.

The Gelatin and Sugar Syrup

Surprisingly, marshmallows are just gelatin and sugar syrup. I was trying to be smart here by using them as a metaphor for the heart and soul of a marshmallow anime. I don’t think it translated well. Anyways, let’s talk about “themes”. In ordinary shows with a plot, I guess this would be the premise of the show. When an anime lacks a story, then you should look for the theme or the main idea that makes the show interesting. K-on simply had music from the light music club as its theme. See, it’s simple and fairly straightforward. Non Non Biyori is about the joys of the countryside. Mikakunin de Shinkoukei is about supernatural creatures in a slice of life setting. A theme can go a long way, since it gives the show a direction. It gives the show a purpose. Now, what does “This Art Club has a Problem” has as its theme? Is it the art in the art club? Not really. When the show opened, it had a girl drawing apples and the anime never really explained why. The art club is really just a shallow framing device for the comedy. There’s really nothing wrong with that. Well, is the theme the romance between the two characters? No, it can’t be since the show also features a lot of club shenanigans and other forms of comedy. The romance also never really develops into something that gives the show a purpose. So, this is where the show kinda stumbles. It lacks a purpose. You can actually feel this problem very early on in the show. In the first episode, the anime hurriedly featured gags with the characters the viewers weren’t familiar with. Most shows would have one character introduce the club, or maybe just gradually ease us into the characters’ dynamic inside the club. This anime introduced nothing. It featured the main gags, the various characters and it progressed as if the audience already has an idea of what they were watching. I personally felt lost, but I still gave the anime a chance since I remembered Lucky Star opened the same way. The director was fired for the first episode, and he went on to make Wake Up Girls, and the episodes gradually got better.

Konobi is different. It just felt so lost. Maybe the theme is the school life of Mizuki, since we also see her interact with her friends that aren’t in the club. If that’s the case, then why focus so much time on the art club? Come to think of it, why didn’t you just focus on the art club?

Art is Relatable

This anime had an easy theme on its hands. It could’ve just featured the art. Well yeah, it did have competitions and a bunch of characters drawing stuff, but that’s just shallow stuff. It could’ve done more. It could feature characters not being satisfied with their work, characters feeling lost because other characters are more talented than them, characters trying new ways to draw or paint, or basically just do a bunch of art related stuff. Frustration over artworks, or the feeling of making something worthwhile, is something everyone shares. I checked the manga and it was drawn amazingly. It’s kinda ironic that the author didn’t realize it: it could’ve featured art in its story. While I do understand that it didn’t want to have anything too serious in its story, I feel that a touch of realism could go a long way. I guess this idea stems from the fact that Mizuki just draws apples. Why does she only draw apples? It feels like a missed opportunity to delve inside her head and discover her deep relationship with apples. We could’ve fleshed her character out, bring in the theme of art and establish the appeal of the art club in one fell swoop. I think that’s really the main point lacking in this anime: it isn’t relatable. It’s a gag show featuring characters that just do art. Damn it though, it could’ve been so much more. It had so many avenues to go and really make the experience so much more engaging. Instead, it really just played it safe. It decided to be generic. It is satisfied being mediocre.

Oikawa, Arakawa and Feel

Yosuga no Sora.

For some gawd damn reason, you guys just don’t let up. It’s 2019 you bastards, can’t you just let this anime go? I still get people googling about this anime and I always wonder, did I do too good of a job in reviewing it? Of course not, people just visit for the pictures I posted in the review. Studio Feel did Yosuga no Sora, by the way. That’s why I’m bringing it up here. They no longer do filth like that, because they mostly focus on audience friendly fluff like this. I still pray for a revolutionary anime like Yosuga no Sora, because it’s 2019 and people are still curious about it, but I doubt it’ll come from Studio Feel. I like this studio though, because they’re consistent. This anime might be generic but the studio didn’t let their animation quality slide at all. I should blame Naruhisa Arakawa for series composing a generic anime, but it’s actually not his fault. In fact, he followed the manga’s vision to a tee. Sure, he edited some chapters out and focused on the love story more but the manga isn’t that different. I guess it just featured more Colette. In terms of being a faithful adaptation, then Arakawa really did a great job here. I always say a great adaptation captures the strength and the weakness of the source, and this anime is a good example of that. In terms of animation, this show is superb because it was handled by a really competent director. Kei Oikawa did a lot of key animation in his career, and you can tell his talents doing that carried in this directorial work. I’ll gush more about the animation, but I’ll tell you right now it’s one of the brightest positives of the show. Possibly the only element that’s preventing me from giving this show a score of five, because stripped of its animation then this show is just generic in a bad sense.

Sight and Sound

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Character design is pretty decent, and I don’t mean generic. Imigimuru is an amazing artist. I love his bulky character design, and he really emphasized the facial reactions a lot. The characters you see in the anime are basically the ones designed by the author. It is standard moe, but the small details really make up for it. The uniforms are nicely detailed, the accessories and hairstyles are consistent throughout the panels and his shading really brings the characters to life. Of course, points for the anime as well because the author’s vision is wonderfully captured in each episode. If you read the manga, you can tell the anime is changing very little. Every panel is respected, every nuance of facial expression is delivered and the director really knew what he was doing. I really admire dedicated directors like Oikawa, because they are able to bring to life the printed source.

Animation is outstanding. Again, it’s the greatest strength of the show. Facial expressions are the best part, and Mizuki has a lot of incredibly detailed reactions all throughout the show. I really admire how her blushes, constant gazes and fidgety reactions are presented in the anime. During a lot of the dull episodes, it’ll be her bright facial reaction that pulls me back in. Oikawa usually employs a lot of standard wide shots, but he does explore the confines of the club in such a smart manner. He seems to have a good idea of the concept of a “club anime”, and he features the four corners of the club in different angles. I especially love the way he would put the characters at the center to emphasize their role in this club anime. The manga employs this as well, but Oikawa puts the emphasis with the way he moves the camera. Movement is pretty amazing. Studio Feel is a really competent studio, and this anime is a good example of their work. It’s not flashy in any manner, but it delivers the best parts of the show. Manga panels are wonderfully brought to life and the small nuance of Imigimuru’s style is nicely delivered by the animation. Oikawa did one hell of a job here, and I would love to see more of his works.

The anime’s OP is “STARTING NOW!” by Nana Mizuki. This was sung by their club adviser, and I find that adorable. It’s a fairly decent song and there is power behind Nana’s voice. I especially love the OP sequence where it opens with the characters being brought to life. It then features all the characters and all the stuff you’ll basically experience in the show. It also features the amazing animation, especially at the end with Mizuki running, tripping, recovering and then continuing to run. The anime’s ED is “Koisuru Zukei (cubic futurismo)” by Sumire Uesaka. This one is sung by Colette, and it’s a pretty cute song. I love the way she sings the stupidly forced and complicated English words, and I just love the beat. I think it’s a love song, but I mostly just love the way Sumire delivers the song. It’s adorable. The ED is a bit minimalist with the characters featured in a 3D background. Not a fan of the approach, but it has its charm.

Overall Score

6/10 “It’s a standard comedy show about school life. If it wasn’t for the great animation and the effort behind it, I won’t stop myself from pointing out how generic this anime is.”

It’s not a bad show, but it’s fundamentally broken. I’m sure some people will find enjoyment in this anime, but I’ve honestly seen better shows. This anime is generic at best, delivering a good enough experience. It’s not bad in any manner, but it’s not great in any sense as well. It’s just middle tier at best and forgettable at worst. This is just my opinion though. If you like school life anime, then you’ll like this show. If you enjoy slice of life comedy anime, then this one will hit the spot as well. I guess it’s also safe to recommend to others but it’ll be a disservice to other shows that did their elements better than this one.

Thank for my backers, for supporting me even though I didn’t really follow through on my end of the deal.

Suicide_Chef
Vixey
Yomu

Yomu, you still owe me a lot of anime. Four recommendations, I think. If you want to recommend to me one anime a month, then become a backer like Yomu. Of course, support my blog in anyway, and you’re name will be attached in my reviews moving forward as a way of thank you.

3 thoughts on “Kono Bijutsubu ni wa Mondai ga Aru! Review

  1. Agreed on everything except for Collette haha. I think she stood out to me specifically because she was bringing much needed energy to the show – the Usami / Subaru romance gag got old within the first two or three episodes, and yet they kept on hammering it in there as if it was supposed to be funny the 20th time. But I think Collette needed more screentime, just like EVERYONE who isn’t Usami / Subaru. Or if they wanted to show off Usami and Subaru as much as they did, they definitely needed to get more creative with their jokes / relationship.

    Also definitely think the anime would have been better off focusing more on ART and the ART CLUB as you mention. The entire anime just felt like it suffered because too much time and energy was spent focusing on Usami and Subaru and their stupid 2d waifu jokes.

    Nice review! Thanks for slogging through Konobi like the rest of us in the collab did, although we probably had a bit more fun cause we weren’t writing reviews but writing about randomly chosen themes / topics.

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