My Senpai Is Annoying // Episode 1 Review
The first episode review of the office worker romance story, Senpai ga Uzai Kouhai no Hanashi.
It almost surprises me at how quickly My Senpai Is Annoying is already building a bit of a following. I read quite a bit into the manga in preparation for the Fall anime season, and it definitely captured my attention. The show is all about Igarashi Futaba, a young office worker who is very short, and her much larger senpai, Takeda Harumi, who dotes on her in thoughtful ways. The first episode has a poignant sweetness to it that I see people drawn to online. I think it is a combination of a few things. First, the unorthodox setting of an anime. Second, the quality of the production around the show of such an unorthodox setting.
The Short, Sweet, and Simple Manga
If you are unfamiliar with the manga, it has quite a different structure than what is already laid out in the anime. Most chapters are between four and eight pages. The first episode of the anime actually covers quite a few chapters from the first volume alone in how much it covers. After reading through most of the first volume, I expected the show to be more like a handful of vignettes. Instead it is actually taking most of what is in the manga and trying to string together a cohesive episodic narrative.
Overall it does a good job of weaving a story between the scenes. In the manga there isn’t much of a plot other than Igarashi pretending to not have feelings for her senpai, Takeda-san. This is still very much in full view of the audience, but it feels like the anime has an opportunity to weave more of Igarashi finding herself as an adult. That plot point is definitely found in the manga, but half the time it is in contrast to her being slighted by Takeda’s oafishness. In just the first episode of the anime, the whole office setting has already taken a larger role.
Love & Office Work in Japan
Maybe I have been watching anime for too long that I find a show about mundane office work in Japan exciting. I probably have seen too many high school puppy-love stories that one where the characters are adults who aren’t trying to save the country/world/galaxy/universe is interesting. My Senpai Is Annoying isn’t trying to do anything truly special, but for a Japanese anime, set in a Japanese office, it feels a bit revolutionary. I am certain there are plenty of anime and manga out there with a similar story. Its just that at this specific point, when the most popular anime is starring a young boy trying to save the world, an office romance story feels fresh. It all being from Igarashi’s (low) vantage point makes it all more interesting.
The “Will They? Won’t They?” genre is admittedly a bit overdone. My Senpai Is Annoying keeps it from being stale with the endearing nature of Igarashi. Its prevalent even in the first episode all of the different aspects of her character. She is coming to terms with her crush on the giant who works in her office, and he clearly has a soft spot for her. Neither is certain of their feelings for one another, and since this isn’t high school, they can’t just leave a secret note in each other’s locker. They can only get into wrestling stalemates when Takeda tries to tussle Igarashi’s hair only to have her fight back and embarrass herself in front of another coworker.
One thing I noticed a lot of people online pointing out is the quality of the animation. To reiterate, this is an anime about office workers who might be falling in love with each other. I cannot imagine that it takes nearly as much manpower to produce this show, but clearly the team at Doga Kobo is putting some elbow grease into the show. My hope is that they continue to mix and match the otherwise disparate parts of the manga into an actual cohesive narrative. I don’t believe the show needs a large driving force in the show other than Igarashi and Takeda’s budding relationship, so I hope they can continue to push that forward.