What’s it about ?
Adaptation of a 4-panel gag manga about an English girl transfering to Japan. (Except the first 15 minutes in this episode are a flashback that explains why she’d do that.)
Shinobu, our initial point-of-view character. A few years ago, she spent a week of vacation in England at some friends of her parents’ country house. (Good thing they were fluent in Japanese, because she can’t speak English to save her life.) By all appearances, everyone had a great time.
Alice, the daughter of said family, was very shy and reluctant to approach Shinobu at first, but by the end of the week they were BFF. And this was such an important encounter for her that a few years later, she transfered to Shinobu’s high school after learning the language. And she’s staying at her home, too.
There are a couple of Shinobu’s school friends (the nice one and the sarcastic one, respectively, in contrast with Shinobu’s ditzy ways) that look like they’re going to be part of the main cast. The OP sequence (shown near the end here) also makes it look like Alice’s best friend in England is also going to be prominently featured, which is a bit problematic, as it’d kinda dilute the uniqueness of this blonde foreigner in Japan (which is what the series takes its name from, after all).
Gorgeous backgrounds, although the CG landscape during the train ride is a bit of a misfire. Still, this is quite nice to look at.
I’m really not sure about the score, which makes damn sure to underscore that Shinobu’s original trip was an Epic Adventure and plays up the sense of wonder up to eleven. It works, but it’s a bit heavy-handed when the events are so mundane.
Il was all ready to dismiss this one quickly, but you know what ? This is actually quite pleasant to watch. We’re all used to foreigners randomly attending anime schools (often rationalized as half-Japanese or whatever), but this commits all the way into re-establishing the novelty factor of it and having fun with the cultural differences. Having all the English characters talking English (with subtitles) when they should helps quite a lot, too (although the voice actors seem to struggle more than a bit with the accent.) I’m less thrilled with how quaint England looks, but it’s not too distracting.
I also quite like the relationship between Alice & Shinobu, especially how once in a while Shinobu will absent-mindedly do something ditzy that’s very scary for Alice. Comedy gold, there.
It’s more than a bit rough around the edges, and I’m not sure the joke can sustain 12 episodes. But I’m willing to give it a bit of rope, which I didn’t expect coming in.