The story centres around class 1-7 of Tennogofune Academy, where all the students with “bad karma” or high levels of misfortune seem to have been gathered. Hibari, a student in this class, meets the unlucky Hanako and the perennially unhealthy Botan on her first day of school, quickly accompanied my the directionally-challenged Hibiki and Ren, a girl who unexplainably attracts females of any species, and together they try to find a way to turn their school life into a happy one.
When I first looked at Anne-Happy I thought, most likely like many people who too a first look, that it was this season’s typical anime of ‘cute girls doing cute things’ – CGDCT for short. However, by the end of the first episode (having been prepared to dismiss this one at first glance), I realised that there’s actually more to this one than meets the eye. It’s cheerful and uplifting in a way that the usual CGDCT gumpf just isn’t. There was something about it that made me consider it again. I found the usual moe cuteness tinged with a real warmth.
It was quirky and colourful from the start and the backgrounds looked a little different than normal – slightly wistful and pastoral in a way that reminded me of the style of shows like HaNaYaMaTa or No Game No Life accompanied with an offbeat soundtrack. From the start the animation appealed to me: fluid and just beautiful to watch with those almost watercolour elements for the ‘pretty moments’ like those in Non Non Biyori that reflect the natural scenes around the characters. At the same time, we are often treated to chibi, 2D-scenes in the funny parts of the story which maintains the lighthearted style that is being aimed for. It’s an easy way to get a bit of slapstick humour across, and if it works for series such as The Fruit of Grisaia, it reached its maximum impact in shows like this one. It made for a very charming and enjoyable first episode.
What I think sets Anne-Happy apart from the usual CGDCT stuff is the fact that these girls are essentially trying to pursue their own happiness. In fact, they are having such a difficult time with just being happy with their lives that their school have noticed and have put the most unluckiest students in a class together and tweaked their curriculum with tests and activities that will hopefully steer them towards a better perspective. There is something in all of their lives that is dragging them down or making them feel next to useless and the idea is to create some wacky therapy sessions in the hope that they will develop a more positive outlook. It’s essentially silly anime escapades for a bigger purpose, which is what I think is warming my hear without me being consciously aware of it.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that there’s not the fair share of ‘cute girls doing cute things’. To start with, the main characters come across as endearing in their own way before we learn more about their adorable shortcomings. Hanako is energetic but a little on the dim side, Hibari is a pseudo-tsundere in love with a construction sign and Botan is often self-deprecating because she can barely shake hands with someone without breaking a finger. They are quickly accompanied by Hibiki, who is cutely in denial about how often she gets lost and of course Ren, who is always getting ‘attacked’ by cute little kittens. On the whole, they are an eclectic and entertaining bunch, and while you can see that nothing groundbreaking is happening, it doesn’t matter because you are always being entertained.
If you’re into the CGDCT vibe, then Anne-Happy is definitely one for you. You’ll get more than your fair share of cuteness, moe and I’m sure you’ll choose a favourite 1-7 girl before long. Even if you’re not primarily seeing something with a high adorability factor this is still a decent comedy. Anne-Happy is my primary source of ‘sit back and give your brain some time off’ anime –it’s colourful, typically nonsensical and will bring a smile to your face. You’ll also be occasionally subjected to a warm, tingly feeling when you see the girls bonding and helping one another try to turn their luck around so they can go on to lead happier lives.