“You are the new manager for the apartment building where three guys live as roommates!” Through a fourth character’s eyes, you interact with your new tenants and get to know them personally.
I’ve seen a couple of anime shorts like this one, most recently Makuranodanshi. It means to create a way for the viewer to inser themselves into the storyline by providing a character that they can’t see but that they ‘see through the eyes of’ in a kind of first-person perspective. In this instance, this is the character of the newly-arrived live-in manager of a dorm rented by three men. They all directly address this manager character and respond to their (usually benign) questions, used to reveal parts of each tenant’s personality. It tends to be rather one-sided though as our first-person manager doesn’t really tend to speak much; and when they do, we can’t hear them but obviously the other characters can. The manager’s view moves as the viewer’s character does, such as when they open doors, when they are handing objects to the other characters or when they do little jumps of joy. However, these are often limited to a general, static view, which gives the whole thing a kind of deliberate ‘otome game’ feel.
The artwork is okay. It’s not bad but nothing really stands out. The main scenes and backgrounds are all of the inside of the house (usually in the main communal areas such as the living room and kitchen) or just outside of it in the garden or on the roof. Some scenes are used regularly in each episode, such as a side-shot of the house that I image is to set the scene before switching to the main focus of the episode.
The viewer has three room mates to choose from, all with varying personalities so they get to choose which one to ogle the most. There’s reserved Takumi who likes sport and exercise and seems to also be unconsciously showing off his athletic body; Aoi, who’s an actor and who’s generally cute, fun-loving and playful; and lastly there’s the rather cold and formal Shinya who is surprisingly rather forward in his advances. I guess the idea is to have three very different personalities in order to have more people watch in order to see their favourite.
The ending credits are a little amusing. It featured an image of the three room mates posing together whilst their clothes slowly melt away (nothing shocking shown because of how they are tactfully holding their arms or posing for the occasion). It’s like watching one of those clear nude pens being turned upside down and watching their clothes filter away. I guess it’s supposed to be titillating, but I actually find it hilarious.
Room Mate isn’t the best anime short out there this season by any means. But if you’re not put off my anime characters seemingly breaking the fourth wall and unnerving pauses whilst they patiently wait for the ‘manager’ to finish talking I would give it a go. If you like a big of light male fanservice with episodes that are mere minutes long, I would give this one a shot.