Don't you just hate spoilers? I do, too. That's why I always try to include warnings. However, I sometimes ramble a bit too much here or there and maybe a few (or many) key plot points slip without me giving proper notice. So I'd like to include a blanket spoiler warning for the weary internet travelers of the world: Here There Be Spoilers. You've been warned.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Photo Kano (Foto Kano)

Having legally streamed the first ten episodes of Photo Kano on Crunchyroll (the site for legal anime streaming, of course), I think I can successfully state my opinion of the show without having to see the final to episode of the season (or show if the powers that be choose not to make another season). I stated earlier in my "Anime for 2013" post that Photo Kano seemed a bit too dull and safe. It wasn't over the top funny or as dramatic as it could be. Instead the show just started on autopilot for the first two episodes and I felt the show must surely be building to something, but I didn't have a clue what.

Then episodes five and six come around and the anime takes a serious turn from the better. The pantyshots and the dealings with the Photography Club are kind of put aside and a real plot begins to form. Rather than taking an entire season to pussyfoot around their feelings, our protagonist Kazuya Maeda and Kazuya's childhood friend Haruka Niimi admit their feelings and form a relationship. This is something that rarely happens in anime so I was fairly impressed. This show could legitimately be one of the great ones if this keeps up, I thought, just before I saw the ending of episode six. I was curious as to just what the show would do for the rest of the season, though. My gut told me that there would have to be something to keep Kazuya and Haruka from just walking off into the sunset like that. Something had to happen and I knew that because the ending of episode six oddly felt like the last episode of the series even though it wasn't. And the preview of episode seven didn't really gel with what I had just watched.

Something was definitely up.

Then I realized just what: This show was an adaptation of a dating sim.


Okay, maybe that is a little bit overdramatic, but I was a little irked. Essentially, the show is set up to where you can see what would happen if Kazuya had chosen a different path and chose to date any number of the girls. While Haruka Niimi gets two episodes dedicated to her, all of the other girls get an episode a piece. So the first four episodes more or less serve as introductory episodes to each of the different realities. Basically every girl seen during the main credits gets their shot at dating Kazuya.

While I do think the show is watchable and at times even pretty good, I just don't like the format of the show. I read that this show was the spiritual successor to shows like Amagami SS, but Amagami SS actually took four episodes to build up the relationship with each girl before resetting. I think I would have preferred that to the super short "one episode arcs" that comprise the bulk of Photo Kano (and yeah, one of the girls does get two episodes, but even then two episodes does not quite cover it).

I think shows like this require growth. However, I don't think all the growth in the world could make me like the whole "wax on/wax off" approach the show takes. In each reality Kazuya takes a different girl, but we don't see how his choice affects the girls that he did not choose. In fact, the other girls are almost not even mentioned or shown. Yeah, we see how his choosing them positively affects them, but how does it negatively affect them when he doesn't choose them? And the girls just fall for him way too easily. Kazuya must be one smooth dude considering who his friends and potential girlfriends are, but even then it takes more than a smile and one awkward encounter to win a girl's heart. Not that I'd really know anyway. Maybe it's the camera that does it. In that case, I need to buy a damn camera quick.

I want some chaos, too. All this lovey dovey stuff gets old after you see a different girl with him each time after so many episodes. Maybe one of the last two episodes will feature a girl that tells Kazuya to take a piss on some power lines or something. Not quite sure just how true this show is to the dating sim it is based off of, but there should always be some rejection somewhere if this dating sim is indeed actually trying to "simulate dating."

Of course, it's just a lighthearted TV show and I suppose that there really is nothing wrong with little bit of easy viewing concerning the road not taken.

But if you want more from this show then some easy viewing you just won't get it. Episodes five and six are as close as you get to that and they are pretty good, but the rest of the series doesn't live up to what came before.

The real question is whether or not I'd recommend this anime to anyone.

And the answer to that is... maybe. I mean, it's an average anime. As such it wouldn't be first on my list of shows to watch and it wouldn't be first on my list of shows to avoid. 

But hey, it's on Crunchyroll right now if you want to watch it yourself. 

I will watch the final two episodes. I doubt my opinion will change, but I don't actively dislike the show so that's not really a bad thing. 

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