This girl is cute. That dog is cute. This scene was cute. That show was cute. There are a lot of things we call “cute,” but what exactly do we mean when we say that? In this review, and this entire month, I will be focusing on Cuteness in some recent anime series. Since this thing we call “cute” is used a lot, you really don’t have to go very far to find examples of it. But since I like to find stuff that most people tend to overlook or never heard of in anime, I’m here to take a look at relatively less popular examples.
But seriously, this show is overflowing with cuteness. And just to prove that to you, the voice actresses (of which some of them made their debut from this anime) made a music video of the opening theme that’s too darn cute! Don’t agree with me? Well, I can’t help you there.
Invaders of the Rokujyoma!? (Rokujyoma no Shinryakusha!?) brings us to a familiar setting, where a high school boy, Kotaro Satomi, leases a rokujyoma because his parents live elsewhere. But little does Kotaro know, he’s not the only one signing up for Corona Apartment No. 106, as four more girls vie for that exact room! In this quasi-romantic comedy, Kotaro must learn to cooperate with his fellow occupants, but he’ll soon find out that there is more to his relationship with all of them than just a common contract.
For those who didn’t know, a rokujyoma is a single-occupancy apartment roughly the size of six tatami mats put together. It’s the equivalent of a “studio apartment” in Western countries. Needless to say, having so many lessees for such a small space is going to lead to a lot of chaos, misunderstandings, and love in all the wrong places!
Now why do I bring up cuteness as the main subject of this series? Because frankly, that’s all the anime really has going for it. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed this series plenty enough for a lot of reasons, but the four major arcs of this series feel the same. Not to spoil anything, but you might notice that the storyline doesn’t really change that much in each arc.
Recycling story elements isn’t really all that new. Hell, even I did it while writing both of my fan fictions (which probably indicates that I fail at telling stories, but I digress). But if you’re really curious about how any of this ties together, read the light novel by Takehaya.
Retelling the same plot aside, I find myself talking about the characters of this series more than the story itself. When I talked to one friend about this anime, his immediate reaction was trying to piece together all of the archetypes of every character. And when it comes to discussing archetypes of characters in any series, anime or not, fans go nuts over trying to pinpoint exact descriptions and argue over who’s the best character.
It’s a messy part of “fandom,” but I have to be honest. I do it too. But I won’t be talking about the specific archetypes for each character here. I don’t want rhino beetle haters to stalk me!
But whether you like any of these characters for their visual appearance, their voice, their actions, or their personality, just about all of them can be described as “cute.” The moment people identify specific traits for each character, the archetype takes on an idealized object. Not that I would agree, but there are fans out there who can only stand very specific variations of certain archetypes, be it by appearance, by role in society or the story, or by the character’s actions. And while none of us can really agree on which kind of archetype is best, it seems that every character is standardized this way in any anime.
I suppose that’s part of the “cuteness” appeal, but it really narrows down the potential for these characters to be something other than ideal, fictionalized objects. But at least for this series, some of those archetypes are tested (albeit in very minute ways), to make this series as a whole feel like something that isn’t totally expected.
I’m sure a lot of anime fans out there have made “Senpai noticed me” a catchphrase, but in a slight change of pace, Harumi who’s older than Kotaro Satomi (and therefore qualifies as Senpai), wants to pursue him rather than the other way around! Not that this element hasn’t been used before, but it is rather different from the typical interaction that I usually see.
One less obvious thing, the apartment manager Shizuka isn’t romantically interested in Kotaro at all (at least from what I can in the anime, she isn’t). While the average harem series has every girl fighting over the one boy character in one way or another, Shizuka seems to have developed a kinship of her own with the only other boy in the series, Kenji! Finally, someone cares about the other male character that often goes unnoticed in these kinds of shows!
Furthermore, every girl in this series eventually discovers that they have a relationship with Kotaro from some forgotten past. From that realization, the characters appear to have fallen in love with him in varying degrees, but I see it more as just a strengthening of a past bond that they have with the central character. Again, not to spoil anything, but Kotaro is definitely not some average high school boy.
This is a comedy series that made me laugh, but there are moments that brought out a lot of my other emotions. Maybe that’s just my own response to the cuteness of this series. I have grown attached to every one of these characters. Despite their seemingly cookie-cutter archetypes, this series still contains situations that audiences can relate to, which are often described as “cute” moments. And every time this happens, both Kotaro and the girls learn something about themselves and each other to keep the story going.
So it isn’t so much the archetypes of each character that makes this anime worthwhile, but the relationships and interactions each of them have with each other that do. And when all of these girls come together at the hub of a not-so-average high school boy in a small apartment, such dynamics can only be told through this story in a rather unique way.
But enough about recycled plot points, archetypes, and the most common displays of a harem anime. At this time, I will just come clean, start a fan war, and tell you who’s my favorite character. And since I’m already talking about cuteness, and I think of cuteness as an element that is more immanent to personality, I guess you can say my favorite character is “waifu” material. And that girl is none other than Kiriha!
Why? I don’t know. She’s nice to everyone, but she can also be quite the sadist. She’s got two of the funniest haniwa familiars at her disposal. And she dresses like a shrine maiden. She may come across with ulterior motives, but she’s very friendly and– oh who am I kidding–
SHE’S GOT HUGE KNOCKERS! =P
So if you’re looking for a cute series that brings together very niche characters in a romantic comedy, watch Invaders of the Rokujyoma!? And I do apologize for the strange outbursts in an attempt at making comedy out of this review. But I really do think Kiriha’s the best!