Hana Ichinose is a normal 16-year-old high school student. However, there is something different about her: She enrolled in high school one year late! Her classmates are unaware of this, and Hana will have to work hard to catch up with everyone else.
#1: "Kaze no Koe wo Kikinagara (風の声を聴きながら)" by Sangatsu no Phantasia (eps 1-11) #2: "Yuuyake to Issho ni (夕焼けといっしょに)" by STARTails☆ [Hana Ichinose (Reina Kondou), Tamate Momochi (Ayasa Itou), Eiko Tokura (Tomomi Mineuchi), Kamuri Sengoku (Maria Naganawa)] (ep 12)
With the massive amount of shallow school-based CGDCT that exist you'd be forgiven for thinking that Slow Start is another one of those. While there are many shows that try to take a simple gimmick and turn it into a CGDCT show, that isn't the case here. It may look like it, after all the fact that one character is a year behind seems like a nice basis for a show so that it can set itself apart that little bit before going back to the old tropes.
Except it's not a gimmick and it's not treading the same ground. Rather it's going farther than most
CGDCT shows ever try to do.
In reality, the core of Hana as a character isn't the fact that she started a year late, but rather how that late start effects her as a person. Hana shows all of the traditional signs of the worrier archetype but it goes beyond that. While sometimes it can be played up for laughs it doesn't exist solely for laughs. Rather it is a core focus of the show. Hana isn't just a worrier but rather is someone who has anxiety and a pretty bad case of that. Whenever something is brought up she is always finding the worse possible scenario for it and then fretting over it. Whether it be a misplaced unaccounted-for screw, fearing if she'd be able to get friends, or fearing what her friends would think about her secret, every event has something to worry about. This isn't something that shows up just when it'd be humorous but something that exists in each and every interaction that she has.
And thusly the core of the show isn't really about a missed year, rather the core of the show is about dealing with anxiety and the support system around her. And what makes Slow Start so magical to me is that it's able to deal with the subject matter while also being fluffy and fun at the same time.
Hana is really relatable as a character. What she goes through and how she approaches situations is parallel to what I and others face as follow sufferers from anxiety. It happens all the time and it can happen from any sort of stimuli. Furthermore, there is this sense of feeling how silly or meaningless the worry is about. Hana remarks several times that she thinks her own fears are stupid but the fears never stop. Anxiety isn't concerned with what makes sense and whether it's logical to be worried or not. It just happens. A scenario pops into one's mind and it cases worry until it can finally be put to rest. And this happens a lot with Hana. No matter what situation she's in there's always something that she can worry about and something that her anxiety can pick on. Furthermore, she's not the only one to have anxiety in the show. There is also Ms Hannen who suffers from social anxiety. In her case, we get to see her slowly come out of her shell as she learns how to deal with society and be able to go out into the real world. She's a shut-in but not even an okatu, just a shut-in, and it's believable in the ways that she acts as a shut-in. And the slow steps that she takes to get out of it. She goes to many convenience stores because it's somewhere to practice being in society at, and while it seems silly there is something real to taking small steps in order to conquer anxiety. Rome was not built in a day, and one can't go straight out into the belly of the beast and expect things to be alright. That sounds like a recipe for a panic attack, and panic attacks are not fun.
The whole show is about taking small steps. And in that way, the name fits. While I understand why shows can try to build up something bombastic and have it resolved quickly, I also really like how Slow Start is comprised of small issues dealt with slowly. Especially the recurring issues like Hana's anxiety are treated with care and are resolved slowly. There is no quick fix for anxiety. There is no way to stop the endlessly worrying mind from worrying. And the fact that this show gets that and rather focuses on having them slowly grow and be treated with love and comfort the whole way is something that I really enjoyed seeing.
The show is even able to show other parts of anxiety rather than just the worry. It also shows the effect of on self-esteem that it has and the ways that it cases Hana to react. Every reaction Hana had was deeply relatable to me. And even better is that they managed to provide this without the full melodramatic pain. Everything was alright. Everyone still loved her. But still the struggle existed and Hana's self-esteem continued to erode at herself, only to be reminded by everyone that her fears were not true. Slow Start shows a level of acceptance I did not expect. Rather than dismiss her worries or how she is, her friends and Shion all accept who she is and that she has those worries. For every fear, Hana has there is someone not just telling her that it's ok and rebutting it, but also telling her that it's ok for her to fear that. That it's ok for her to be herself. That she is ok and that there is nothing wrong with her because of whatever issue is bothering her. Anxiety is not ideal, far from it, but that doesn't mean that the person with it is any less worthwhile, or that their thoughts are stupid. It just happens. And I'm so glad to see that Slow Start not only tackles these issues but reassures that it's ok to feel this way.
It isn't just Hana's actions that make her anxiety so relatable but rather the reactions of those around her. Her parents are supportive and try to help her with what they can. Same with Shion. The actions that they take are completely in line with the actions that one would take for someone in Hana's situation. They're careful with her and coddle her a bit more than someone would be at her age. But they still do it because for someone like her it makes sense to comfort her. To tell her that it'll all be alright. She is treated with more care than someone else at her age would be and it makes sense why that is true. Even the teacher knows about it and tries to help Hana along. She tries to guide her as well and tries to give her a good understanding of what's what.
But Hana isn't the only character who shines in the show. All of the characters shine and differentiate themselves from the typical mould of CGDCT. There is Eiko who feels like a real teenage girl, she's fashionable, mature, and is discovering herself like most teenagers do. She has interests that are usually out of the scope of CGDCT, but that fall very in line with who she is as a person. And added on top of that she is a natural flirt who is able to get the attention of almost every girl that she interacts with. It's hard to say whether this is on purpose or not though, on one hand, it all looks innocent but on the other hand, there seems to be a real sense of longing with her, a sense of emptiness that needs filling. Eiko isn't just flirting just because she's the natural flirt but also because it's something that she likes to do and something that makes her feel more comfortable. There is an interesting push and pull with another character from the show that demonstrates this well. There is some level of a game to it for her, and a level, of satisfaction of being wanted and needed. She is an interesting character who I have yet to see another character like.
Tama also shines. She is the typical sort of Genki girl but also an okatu, and unlike what one would expect from that archetype she's actually really responsible. She keeps track of her finances and seems to have a good grasp on what she has to do and all of that. She isn't one of the Genki girls that need to be reminded every episode what's important but rather she knows it already. Really she's just hyper and someone who loves to get the full flavor out of life. And certainly, she adds to the show by giving just that. Adding extra fun and emotional moments that really shine and make the show even more distinct. You can tell her sense of responsibility by how her grandmas interact with her. In many shows, the Genki girl is scolded by their parents over and over again for being too irresponsible and causing trouble, but in the case of Tama, she is revered by her grandmas.
Kamuri is the weakest character of the group but she has her own flavor and certainly, she's better than some of those characters can be. She doesn't have the same character depth as the other three but she certainly does add to the group and is fun to watch.
The character interactions are fantastic in Slow Start, they fully and completely feel like friends and even more so than that it feels like they're fully committed to helping Hana and each other. Both Eiko and Tama go out of their way to reassure Hana and show her that everything is alright. They don't laugh at her issues but rather empathize with her. While the characters certainly can have fun with each other and joke about each other when push comes to shove they're always there for each other and there to try to help out. They're great friends and I loved every moment of watching them grow closer and support each other.
Add onto that the animation of this show is fantastic. The character animation is top notch as the characters are allowed to have small animated movements that make them feel so much more lively. It makes the emotions of each scene that much richer, including the fun which feels that much more vibrant. In fact, I've never been one to care too much about animation quality especially in a CGDCT, but seeing what the emotive animation of Slow Start can do really gave me an appreciation of what animation can do, even for a genre that doesn't rely on it the same way that action would. There are so many little movements in this show that work so well and it's so great.
Slow Start is one of the best CGDCT shows that I've watched yet. It's able to tackle serious issues in the background while still being vibrant and fun. The way that the situations are handled also is very heartwarming and its just so nice to see people bond and care for each other. CGDCT is made off of heartwarming interactions and fun fluff, and for a show to do both so well like Slow Start has, along with providing interesting distinct characters, and dynamic character animation... magical.
Funnily enough considering the title of this anime, Slow Start went from an entertaining but mostly just good watch to one of my favorite series of this winter 2018 season as it progressed.
This story is focused on Hana, a shy girl who easily gets worried that she is a year behind the rest after not being able to do the exams for high school. That affected her and she couldn't handle thinking about what everyone else would think of her, so she ended up leaving her house and went to live in the apartment of her cousin Shion to start a fresh life where
no one would know her. That decision gave her the chance to meet three girls from her new school that she will end up being very close to in this fun and heartwarming anime.
Most of the series is focused on Hana and her interactions with the always active Tama-chan, the more adult and lover of accessories Eiko, and the childrish but surprisingly aware Kamuri, who is really attached to Eiko, these four girls are always entertaining to watch and they were just what Hana needed to slowly overcome her fears thanks to their affection and frienship, creating lots of scenes that never failed to put a smile on my face. There are also three other side characters who give some variety to the series, the previously mentioned and very kind Shion, the quite relatable Hannen (who creates a solid synergy with Hana due to her own issues) and Kiyose, the teacher of the girls and that has some very interesting scenes with Eiko. That together with some moments with Hana's parents as well form a nice cast of characters that I enjoyed a lot watching.
The animation of the show is legit fantastic and honestly surprised me since I didn't expect that from it, the characters move so smoothly and feel so alive. In terms of music, Slow Start has one or two memorable songs and that's really all, but that's something I see in general for most comedy/SoL series, where their objective is just to provide ambient sound. On the other hand, the opening song, “ne! ne! ne!” is one of my favorites of this season with one catchy song I sang along each episode.
Slow Start was a very enjoyable anime that I definitely recommend to any fan of the cute girls genre. Hana started high school a year later, don't take that long to give it a try!
Slow start is one of the most disappointing anime I have seen in the "Cute girls doing cute things" genre and you will see why.
When I started watching slow start I was ready for another relaxing cute anime with cute characters but this was just not like that, I'm all for trying new stuff but that doesn't mean that when it fails then them trying will make it better than it really is.
Most of the characters were bad, 3 out of the 4 MCs are bad, first the MC is probably the most forced always worrying like character with most of the time all
she is doing is worrying about the stupidest shit, then we have the loli character which at this moment feels like a child just staying with them and I'm personally starting to dislike her VA because of how overused her voice is tbh, then Eiko which I don't really like or hate her but the way she interacts with other characters is weird specially with her trying to act flirty and normal at the same time which made it look random and weird, Also the overused joke of how she gets every girl is annoying, repeating jokes is ok and it is necessary at times but when it happens every episode about 3-4 times that is just annoying, it's not funny listening the same joke again and again every week.
There are still good characters like Tama,Landlady, Hiroue and the teacher, they gave out the most enjoyment out of the anime and made it kinda bearable to watch when it started feeling like a chore rather than an enjoyable anime.
The times where Eiko tries to get the teacher to lover her and the teacher always making the comeback so easily was also kinda enjoyable.
Now the worst thing about this anime is the interactions, at times you are watching friends playing together then 1 second later and it almost turns into a full-on Yuri action which made the anime all over the place.
The art, designs (specially the teachers's and hiroe's design) and animation were outstanding specially the animation and how fluid it is, the interactions may have been horrible but the way they were presented was great, the attention to detail is perfect and it wasn't like lots of other anime where a character stays in place for 1 minute to talk instead they were moving and walking around the place which made it seem like a normal real life situation, there was that 1 scene where Tama moved her hand to tell Eiko to set down while Eiko was talking which was rare to see other characters moving freely and normally even though they aren't talking, it may not seem impressive but I thought it was a very nice touch.
"Slow Start" is true to the name in that not much of substance really happens over the course of the whole show. I enjoyed it. I liked it. However, I just want this to be at the forefront for those who are thinking they'll see obvious and planned character development over the course of the season. The entire season seems more like stage-setting rather than altering character, mostly to show the quirks of each character in a much more magnified light.
That being said I'll need to admit two things: This is really the second CGDCT I have ever watched, and I found myself in love
with this show. I just want to point out that I may not be the best judge on this genre, but I want to give my input anyways.
I don't know if it was hitting all the right buttons for me, but while this was simulcasting it got to the point where this was my major weekend highlight. I love the interactions between the characters, as well as the innocence of the thin plot. It's not wholeheartedly complex, but there are references to something more throughout the show. I could see it deserving it's rating of 6.5 if it was doing anything inherently wrong, but I haven't had that inkling the whole time.
Hana and the cast are very cute, and have a chemistry that I really enjoy. Some of the running gags remind me of jokes similar to those made in Monogatari even, which may have suckered me in. Additionally, the show can get somewhat adult at times. I'm not even referencing the overt adult humor, but some not serious subjects can be brought down to earth by these characters trying to navigate what they perceive as a hurdle. An example without spoilers would be one character having a dilemma of embarrassment over buying a bra. This isn't played for gags like a lot of anime, but handled as a pretty serious issue of self confidence that also ties into the character's main internal conflict. Maybe it's too much to read into a CGDCT, but I can say with certainty I felt like the writers knew what they were doing.
Past this, I have to say the animation are absolutely stellar. It almost makes them out of place, but in the first episodes I felt like they had 2x as many frames as I usually see in other anime. Where some shows I know would benefit immensely from this, I still felt like this added animation fleshed out the characters in a meaningful way.
The average rating looks low, but if you want to see some interesting character interactions in a cute and nigh-harmless environment, I strongly encourage you to give Slow Start a chance.