Just as soon as she enters Sakaneko Private High School, Asagaya Minoa is dragged into the anime club by her classmate, Kamiigusa Alice, even though she knows next to nothing about anime. A classmate, Kouenji Miko, along with other anime-loving senpais, quickly turn her into an anime fan. Fighting off the incessant shut-down threats of the student council, and completely oblivious to the coming apocalypse, the anime club talks about anime in the club, at Akihabara, at anime Meccas, and at hot springs
I came to Anime-Gataris expecting lots of anime-related tropes, hefty otaku conversation and some great gags. I was not disappointed.
On first inspection it would seem that this is just a general run-of-the-mill club anime. Normal high school girl Minoa finds herself being drawn to ojou-sama otaku Arisu Kamiigusa and so into the newly-resurectected anime club with a group of otakus that all have their area of fandom that they sort of ‘specialise’ in. Arisu is a straight-up anime consumer whilst bookish Miko is more of a manga and light novel enthusiast. Senpai Erika is a very keen cosplayer and loves going to cons, upperclassman Kai is very much into his fantasy/magic genres, which complement his chunibyo behaviour and the princely Nakano is a huge fan of idol anime. But, as you quickly become aware, this is an anime about otakus for otakus. You get to see a group of students coming together to talk about something they all enjoy whilst at the same time learning more about different aspects of the fandom, such as the differences between light novels and anime, the ways in which cosplay can bring people together and the difficulties of discussing current anime internationally to do broadcast delays.
Despite the group’s desire to get the anime club up off the ground, the student council is just as keen to see it abolished, for reasons that no one seems to want to divulge. Back in the day, the school’s anime club was said to be legendary, but in recent years numbers have dwindled and all attempts to jump-start things have been promptly shut down. Nevertheless, the club intend to do everything they can to keep the anime club going. Upon being accused by the student council on not actually doing or producing anything, the small group decide on the rather ambitious objective of creating an anime short and we are treated to some knowledge about the process and the work that has to go into making everything from start to finish.
Even though their status as a school club is in peril, they still go out on trips together such as to Akihabara to buy cosplay items and merchandise and go to conventions. By me just saying that, it seems like not a lot is really going on, but the best thing about Anime-Gataris is the discussions abut anime and other mediums. Each member is very passionate about anime and is happy to share their hobby with other like-minded people. When Erika moved overseas and become lonely, she rediscovered anime and it cheered her up when she was feeling low. I can identify with that and no doubt most of the intended audience can too. It makes you root for the anime club members from an early stage, despite some of their annoying idiosyncrasies. I want the Sakaneko Private High School anime club to go from strength to strength.
Apart from the characters and the story, nothing in particular about the art or music stands out for me. The character designs are a little inconsistent, though not enough to be too noticeable, the backgrounds have a satisfying amount of detail and the opening and ending music is catchy and upbeat, but not altogether memorable.
It does take a couple of episodes to build up, but you find something rather sincere about Anime-Gataris and its characters. Everything started out as a bit cliche, the characters a little stereotypical and one-dimensional, but as the story progresses there’s something good in there that makes it all worth watching. The love of anime slowly spreads from these few individuals and begins to build in the minds of everyone in school – showing in a cheesy yet well-meaning way the power of anime. It doesn’t use any brain cells to watch Anime-Gataris, but I have really enjoyed the ride.