Another sweet and simple entry into the slice-of-life library. A relaxing one at that.
Note: This review is a rewrite with official Blu-ray screen captures.
Episodes: 12 (+11 mini specials via DVD/Blu-ray)
Producer: Studio Gokumi (Licensed by Aniplex)
Genre: Slice-of-life, School, Comedy, Seinen
Recommended/Similar Titles: K-On!, Hidamari Sketch, Hyakko, Minami-ke
Source: Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack (Blu-ray screencaps)
The story revolves around the everyday life of four high school girls: the flighty Run, the reckless Tooru, the timid Yuuko, and the level-headed Nagi.
A-channel is nothing out of the ordinary and even typical to some extent, but for those with a discerning eye and open-mind; an excellent ode to the slice-of-life genre. It follows the misadventures of four high school girls set in the common archetypes fans are familiar with. The timid and shy Yuuko, clueless Run, boisterous and cute Tooru, and the balanced Nagi are the core main characters as they showcase their everyday lives both full of picturesque moments and bizarre ones with the not-so-average people around them. While A-channel does lack anything defining that most slice-of-life shows include, it does manage to make an simple formula enjoyable and truly represents what the slice-of-life genre is all about. Devoid of any extra bells and whistles and specifically character driven, appreciating the minimalism elements toward the genre (such as episodes representing each season in nature) and the undeniable charm of the cast allows the viewer to simply set back and watch the daily lives of the characters unfold and enjoy. Arguably, while A-Channel is closely locked into its 4korma beginnings with a episode focused on a singular point or segment; it sometimes fails to make the most of its time, but this can be debated
Unlike most series that relies on a large cast of characters (common to most of the genre), A-channel does very fine with a limited, but lively crew. With excluding the four main members, the supporting roles are not dynamic, but mildly entertaining and likable when it comes time for their appearance. Not exactly noteworthy in anyway, but still key when it comes to producing that enjoyable quality and minimalist style. Combined with the phenomenal voice acting talent such as: Minori Chihara (Ms. Kitō), Daisuke Ono (Mr. Satō), and main members such as Aoi Yūki (Tooru), and Karoi Fukuhara (Run) just to name a few; it only adds toward that enjoyment and very pleasing, if not fitting to their respective roles.
Studio Gokumi is the primary animation studio in charge of making the leap from the 4korma manga panel to the animated line. Still keeping true to its humble beginnings, both the artwork and animation is faithfully adapted and done respectively. This is most exemplified by the cue to “kawaii” features for most of the cast like rounded eyes and facial features (in Tooru and her underclassmen cases) as well as focusing on other aesthetically pleasing traits. The Blu-ray version is a nice touch, but did not sport much quality drop off from the DVD’s. The soundtrack is also a noticeable feature, with an insert track used somewhere along the episode duration and each sung by one, two, or all the members of the main cast. While it does help add to the existing soundtrack, it is also used as an directorial device that may or may not be of use when it comes to bridging episodes near a conclusion. Most directing for the series is handled by Manabu Ono, mostly known for his work with series like: Saki, Mai-hime, and Dragonaut: The Resonance.
As for my personal opinion, A-channel was an enjoyable series to watch and actually among few I would freely like to revisit/re-watch. Finding little that was an annoyance to me was also very pleasing, but I do realize how everyone might not receive it the same if they are used to more proactive series. Again, the focus on the episodes transitions of seasons and character driven elements are what stood out the most and very delightful to see that many slice-of-life/comedy genres do not forget to emphasis on among other things. In hindsight, I do wish that the supporting roles were used more and the show itself was not too concerned with the 4korma adaption. Both minor complaints and not anything to dislike about the series.
While A-channel is another typical slice-of-life genre, it is also one most people can appreciate and will enjoy despite that. Devotees to the genre especially will find this watch-worthy, but other viewers will find it to be either a hit or miss. If Hidamari Sketch, K-ON, or even Yotsuba&! worked for you, then A-channel will do the same. Lighter than the aforementioned titles in every aspect with content, but very relaxing and pleasing all the same. A highly recommended series to newbies wishing to get immersed in the slice-of-life/comedy genre.
Pros: Solid emphasis the slice-of-life genre, smooth animation, quirky and charming characters, well-adapted artwork, balanced and plentiful soundtrack, excellent Blu-ray/DVD quality, easy to watch and relaxing to engage in (Highly Recommend Series for newcomers to Anime and some seasoned viewers).
Cons: Rigid in its 4korma execution or hindered by it, insert music can sometime be unneeded.