As another school year begins drawing to a close, the third-year high school students move steadily toward the next milestone of their lives: graduation. Among them are Mio Natsume, a girl burdened with lingering feelings; Hazuki Morikawa, a member of the concert band but distant from the others; and Haruto Souma, an athlete obsessed with baseball. Meanwhile, second-year student Ena Komiya seeks to revive the photography club to its former glory, refusing to let the organization be disbanded. Though this group lacks a strong connection with one another, their lives suddenly cross paths with the arrival of a third-year transfer student.
While a transfer so close to graduation is unusual for most, it is business as usual for Eita Izumi. Due to his father's work, he has never been able to stay in one place for very long. But as luck would have it, their most recent relocation has returned Eita to his hometown for his final semester of high school. For better or worse, it also sparks the rekindling of old relationships left behind in the past.
With graduation already causing its own share of anxieties, Eita's sudden arrival brings these students' carefree days to an abrupt end. Long-forgotten memories, deeply buried emotions, and inspiring new passions—everything is brought to light in their bittersweet final semester.
I’m not sure why I picked Just Because! But anyway it turned out to be a pleasant surprise.
The series at its core is a character-centric; which mean that no matter how the characters became; whether they're reach their goals or not, it is became a part of and affecting the story. There’s no big overarching plot to draw the viewers in actually. It’s pretty much about these five Student, and how their lives will play out over the next few months. The story essentially played out by the struggling of this character facing the transition to adulthood and also the problem they get when
interacting with each other.
It sounds like typical slice of life but certainly it doesn’t. What makes show a little bit different in my eyes is how 'calm' the presentation is handled. Anime or most of high school anime in general tend to be bogged down by gimmicks, but it did not happen here. The mood is very calm and smooth, the pacing is deliberately slow, most of the characters are quiet and soft-spoken, making the show to be quite atmospheric. Of course being different doesn’t equal to being better, but at least it is nice that every now and then you could watch some drama where you can just sit back and relax and not getting pumped up by bizarre presentation.
Having said that, since the story may sound quite alright at best, thankfully it did deliver (even more) on its focus which is the characters. Although, I have heard many peoples complain about the characters of this series because they seems had no personalities but certainly I am not one of these people. I personally think that the characters in this series is fantastic with each of them has their own motives and justify reason to do what they acts.
Obviously in this series Komiya might be the clearest who has a motives for what she did; she just want to save her club; and doing anything to do so. Haruto always feels left behind. Everyone’s talking about entrance exams and going to college. They have their futures ahead of them. On the other hand, everything has already been decided for him, since he’ll need to work and he feels powerless. Hazuki’s college won’t have a band. At best, it has a band appreciation club. So for now, there are no plans to continue playing the trumpet once she graduates from high school. She failed to reach nationals in high school, so She feels it might be the best just try to graduate as soon as she can, and living normal life by join her family business. Mio is struggling with her college entrance exam and she can’t denied the fact that Haruto confessed to Hazuki and she likes Haruto. Eita doesn’t has any problem with his academics since he got a recommendation but then again he likes Mio, but Mio likes someone else, so he just trying his best to catch her attention.
Nevertheless It is safe to say that the characters is quite interesting in their own way and had some setup to be fully developed till the end of the series. Although it is worth to mention they don’t have loud, tropey, tsundere or ‘genky’ characters. So the series might not very ‘lively’ if you are the type to like some banter or comedy because there’s hardly any . But these character traits are not executed in such an overblown way that you end up thinking you’re interacting with zombies.
As for the visuals, it is worth to mention that the anime really likes to show its characters face exclusively and most of the time you can tell how the character’s feel or whether they’re lying or not which I think is quite interesting. As for the other thing in visual, the show does suffer from production issues.. a lot. The animation isn’t very quite standard of today. The characters perspective looks wrong and the backgrounds aren’t that amazing considering how many these guys are hanging out. Luckily enough, the anime doesn’t have the type of story that really demands any sort of visual fidelity and I don’t think I’ve heard or nor I did the studio behind this anime has much record on its names.
As for sound, I like the Opening, “Over and Over” by Yanagi Nagi who also sung for ‘Oregairu’ I think her song and voiced very suited with school drama and this one is no different. The ending is another story because I tend to skip it so I may miss something there. The soundtrack is good albeit not memorable enough to catch your attention but it does serve is purpose. The acting is too plain and uninteresting for my taste but at the very least I don’t hate it. All In all the sound does it best to complement the story but none of it will blow you away (Maybe the opening though but I guess that just me).
The very length of the series, which is just 12 episodes, also aids the story, as it is long enough to explore these characters to a point and not so long as to need more than what was presented. This made the anime simple and casual, giving the content of what was presented a bit more impact, without anything being stretched out for too long.
Overall I wouldn’t go as far as say the anime is unique; In fact, one could say that the story is a remarkably common one. However at the very least the series stays clear of many of the annoyances of romance stories and not throwing in all kinds of situations solely intended to add drama and spice things up. Added with the fact that the series keeping up with the sense of realism (which I think done a great job) but never feels to depressing considering how the series ended.
In this respect, I suppose I just appreciate Just Because!’s sharper focus. It’s far less ambitious, and far less grand in scope, but it did many many things correctly and easily became one of my favorite romance anime in recent years.
Yes, the ending overall is quite pandering and certainly flashback are needed for the romance part. But we can't have all the nice things can we?
Senior year of high school is like a train station.
Pick a train to decide your future. You can’t say for sure what lies at your destination, but you know for certain it will take you away from your school and friends you made there. This is the theme that Just Because puts forward with its story of seniors deciding their futures and many train station scenes. However, it does not have the intimacy necessary for these themes to be believable.
Slice of life shows live or die on how intimate they are. And no, I do not mean romance. I mean the show's connection to
the audience. Without that crucial connection, you might as well be watching bugs run around for all it matters. A lack of intimacy is what prevents Just Because from being engaging.
I have no doubt that the show has subtle character interactions that allow the viewer to make their own interpretations, but when it’s so hard to give a damn about any of them it’s impossible to feel engaged to anything happening on screen.
After elementary school, you typically fall apart from your classmates. The story of Just Because is those kids coming back together in high school and meeting up again. Eita Izumi left his town after elementary school but now that he has transferred back to his friends' town he is reconnecting with them.
The story is as basic as it needs to be for the slice-of-life and romance genres. We've seen this structure many times over, and it is not at all improved upon in this show. It follows 5 high school students through their everyday lives. They study to get into universities, hone their talents, and try to get dates. The show jumps around at such an inconsistent pace between the 5 characters that it's hard to get a grip on who they are and what motivates them, beyond a shallow description. Characters walk around or sit about with bored looking expressions on their faces, forcing the viewer to mimic their feelings.
Just Because wouldn't be the first show I recommend to someone interested in a realistic young adult romance. I wish I could say that the characters make up for what the show lacks in story, but they don’t. In the first few episodes, the story moves at a snail's pace, giving us a few small details about the central characters but also long drawn out scenes to establish atmosphere. Eventually, the pacing gets better. Once all of the characters are clearly established the final half of the show is made up of somewhat entertaining if overwrought melodrama over little petty moments. Moments like going on certain characters going out on dates then the effects it has on the third wheel who's in love with one of the two on the date (trying to keep it spoiler free, sorry to be vague).
I'd say I was disappointed by the ending, but it really is consistent with expectations the show instills in its audience. It's a bleak and quiet moment that puts forth the theme one last time 'there's beauty in simplicity', but it felt so undeserved to me. It felt like a contradiction to the build-up in the previous episodes and I couldn't help but think "Why couldn't this have happened six episodes ago?". Very little of the melodrama experienced throughout the prior episodes felt necessary by the end.
Just Because aims to create realistic characters, yet it fails to develop them enough to even be believable. Sure, very boring people like these characters could exist in the real world, but who would want to subject themselves to watching their bland lives?
Some of them are sort of likable (if you can tolerate their personalities) but I didn’t care for any of them individually. The only time I was ever interested in the characters was when they were with one another. Whether it be their arguments, them making fond memories, or considering their futures. I just couldn’t get myself to care about them while they stare off into space trying to seem deep. We get it Just Because! Your characters are sooooo tragic!! They're going to college, wow! Maybe you can tell us something else about them… like who they are as people beyond the fact that they’re going to college next year. For example; Haruto plays baseball and likes a girl, great, who is he though? Why does he like her? Is there anything more to his life than baseball and a crush? All signs say no.
This sentiment could be applied to any of the leads. I found them to be very one-sided and it destroyed the potential for Just Because to be an intimate slice of life. The show only takes it's characters half way to becoming good, then it stops leaving us half-baked hollow shells (filled with awkward silences and depression). In the end, I just couldn’t see the characters as the real people that they were intended to be. There was not enough believability. Even Komiya, the character I liked the most for her outgoing personality, had very little going on besides her camera and crush.
What makes me the saddest about the characters is that they were nearly good. We're able to get in the headspace of a character and tell if they concealing their emotions, and sometimes if they're lying through the abundance of close-up shots and a very consistent tone. However, the art is pretty bad so those close-ups are ugly and the tone so depressing that it seems to only want to pointlessly wear down your spirit. With a better writer and director, they could have had the believability to compliment their likable personalities.
At least I can say I got into each of the characters' headspaces and became depressed just like they were. But that headspace was totally vacant of interesting details!! I can relate to the IDEA of high schoolers who are struggling to decide their futures at the crossroads of their lives, but no amount of relatable ideas will get me invested in these cardboard cutouts.
Pine Jam dropped the ball on this one. Their last show Gamers didn’t look nearly as rough as this. It’s plagued with weak character art and poor animation. I’m not sure if it was just a simple budget issue or if they couldn’t handle a project as intimate as this, but it to put it bluntly; it’s harsh on the eyes. If you want to make a quiet coming of age story then you need close-ups to get the audience into the character’s headspace. That's not to say that Just Because doesn’t try to close-ups, but when it does they’re so ugly you'll wish the camera would zoom back out.
The backgrounds look nice if a bit gray. I can praise how the mellow colors of the characters and backgrounds blend together. It makes the characters feel just as melancholy as the cold winter town, but keep in mind the show strives to make you feel this depressing atmosphere.
What weighs down the visuals the most is the lackluster directing. Most scenes have very boring camera angles, usually pulled far back from the characters making them feel very disconnected from the viewer. Rarely does the director create intimate moments that connect the viewer to a character, they usually feel like random extras in a greater story that has yet to materialize. Even during the scenes in the characters' homes, there is very little detail to show who those characters are. Their rooms are devoid of defining details. So many opportunities to create believable characters were missed, it's sad really, to see a director waste such great potential.
There’s a bit of CGI usage during the later episodes to no doubt to cut down on the budget (most notably that awkward and overlong first-person bicycling scene).
The opening song is quite good but it sounds very similar to Oregairu’s. Which shouldn’t come as a surprise considering they’re both performed by Nagi Yanagi. I would feel more inclined to score it higher if it didn’t feel like a simple rehashing of an op from a better show in the same genre.
Most scenes have music playing which is nice to keep the show from becoming entirely empty during the simpler scenes. Typically it's orchestral music with a piano at the core. It highlights the mundanity of life by being so basic and plain, but yeah that plainness is boring as hell so... If that thematic consistency sounds appealing to you then maybe it will add something to your experience with it. I think it does a decent job of establishing tone, but I couldn't care less about how it actually sounds because there have been so many fantastic soundtracks of its kind in this year alone. This one's just passable.
The voices are just as monotonous as you’d expect. I'd love to say this isn't a waste of acting talent, but I honestly can't tell if any of them are talent because they're all forced to perform the same subdued style which gives them little opportunity to give the character some individuality/distinction. Excluding Haruto, his voice actor had a few scenes that allowed us to see his talent, but sadly he was just one of the ensemble cast. And due to the overbearing melancholy tone of the show, he was rarely able to be his peppy self.
It’s so disappointing that the comedy in Just Because is bad because in the creator’s previous work “The Pet Girl of Sakurasou” the humor was spot on and made me laugh a lot. There was plenty of good drama in Sakurasou which managed to come across fairly well in Just Because, if only it wasn’t so damn boring.
Its attempts at comedy are dreadful. Typically when jokes are said there is very little feedback and sometimes you can’t tell if it was a joke or just confused writing. The show also uses the social media application Line to show messages between characters. The messages are usually dressed to look like humor with emoticons and such, but the messages are so nondescript that it could be anyone who is texting, they don't at all add to the characters or relatability.
The reason why I'm so tough on Just Because is that it has taken on a challenge. If Just Because strived to be just another one of the trashy romcoms that we get every season then I would treat it like trash and just move.
However, Just Because has a chooses to be realistic and mundane. I don't believe the creator understood just how difficult it would be to make a compelling viewing experience with such a barren presentation. Instead of aiming to be great it settled on mediocrity, which may have made for a passable show if it was just another harem romcom, but it makes this one feel incredibly underdone. No part of Just Because! is deserving of the exclamation point at the end of its title.
Boredom ≠ Good
[Overall Score: 4.2/10]
If you want a standard (and forgettable) high school drama/romance then Just Because has what you’re looking for. That is, as long as you can live with the alienating direction, subpar character art, and a crushingly depressing tone. The humor is cringe-inducing and never funny, but at least the melodrama in the second half is moderately entertaining.
There can be beauty in simplicity, but nothing in Just Because is beautiful and everything is bland. While it has the bones of a good slice of life show, it fails to come together in an engaging way.
High school can be quite an experience for most young people these days. I remember a time during my high school years when everything seems to feel different. It’s almost like setting foot into a new world with new opportunities. Friends, activities, relationships. It’s a place beyond just about learning but for people to build a future. While it isn’t like college for career building, it definitely gives the chance for opportunities, even for relationships. For Eita Izumi, he comes back from his hometown after 4 years as he reunites with his middle school friends.
As an original anime, Just Because felt like a breath of
fresh air despite the simplistic premise. It’s also made by Hajime Kamoshida, the brainchild behind Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo. To me, this show stood out as a coming age of story about characters climbing the stairs to adolescence. It’s a time period for characters to develop and grow up to be more than teenagers. At the heart of the show, we have Eita Izumi alongside a group of classmates. The first few episodes gave me the impression of a melancholic story that’s filled with realistic themes that people can connect with. Beyond just the setting, the characters feel real and can be relatable. This is seen through the example of childhood friends Eita, Haruto, and Mio. As the story progresses, we see the relationship dynamics between the trio that will get viewers invested into the storytelling.
For a show like this to work, it had to make its characters feel they belong there. Luckily, Just Because pulls off the right stops through its characters of diverse personalities. Each of the main characters feel different ranging from Mio’s timid personality to Ena’s enthusiasm. It’s what can draw viewers in as we see how they behave around certain characters. Indeed, character chemistry is an important aspect of this show. It connects between characters visually, dramatically, and meaningfully. Romance is slowly paced and not expressed like a shoujo but rather in a melancholic style. To me, this show focuses on relationships through character building. It emphasizes on establishing character personalities first while giving them the chance to shine through them. Ena is a prime example in the show as her character interaction with Eita is often noticeable because of how different she is from him. Some people may interpret the show’s character relationship dynamics as part of destiny, like certain characters are destined to be with one another. However, that’s not truly the case as expectations can be different after realizing the person they want to be with isn’t what they would expect. Honestly, I think this show sells its ideas pretty well to express that.
To make things run better, the show never forgets about its themes such as adolescence. Every character has a goal for the future and although there’s a feeling of uncertainty, they strive to work towards that. Whether it’s becoming a photographer, be part of a band, or just to go to college, it’s inspiring and realistic. Think about the time when you were in high school and had that feeling of what you wanted to do in life. Relating to this anime doesn’t feel so different, now does it? At the same time, the storytelling continues to build relationships between the main characters. While it feels like a ship tease at times, the show never exaggerates or oversteps its boundaries. The drama is mostly lighthearted and doesn’t force it down viewers’ throats. It keeps its pace steady while getting its point across, like the way it should be. In several ways, the drama of this show is realistic enough to relate and easy to get attached to. There are some awkward segments between certain characters but the timing usually feels right. The downside about the drama is that it occasionally feels formulaic and repetitive. Not to mention, character relationships feel a bit predictable as to who will likely get who in the end. Still, it doesn’t hold the anime back. The characters are all very self-aware and realize what it means to be a high school student. Haruto is a good example as we see his life as a baseball player. The way he adapts to build his future becomes evident like a journey of life discovery. This also expands to other characters such as Mio and Ena. It’s like their chance to climb the stairs to adulthood and high school is one of the biggest steps they have to cross over.
Original anime like Just Because doesn’t suffer from adaptation standards but there’s an instinct to recognize if the amount of episode is suited enough. For 12 episodes, it honestly felt just right to sell its story without going over. The first half of the show does a well job at establishing characters like their personalities and roles. The remainder half builds on them through relationships, discoveries, and characterization. It’s like a life journey these characters take for their future and stories like this can be inspirational to viewers.
Adapted by Pine Jam, this show is expressive at crafting its visual elements. The key visual itself gives an atmospheric feel with characters being at a train station. Besides Eita and Mio, the others are going on about their daily lives like moving with their future. By raw quality though, Just Because’s biggest selling point is the character expressions. It fortifies their personalities and expresses attitude that connects with their personalities. It’s important to realize that human expressions often depict what a person feels at every moment. This anime does a clever job at capitalizing that to make them feel real. On the other hand, I can’t say the character designs are too impressive. Most of the main characters look too normal while the female cast doesn’t stand out much dynamically. Photography is also a part of the show itself and some of the photos taken by Ena doesn’t really make memorable impressions. Still, I think the show hits mark overall. Every character feels very alive and moves the story together.
For soundtrack and music, it’s clear that Just Because needed a melancholic style to make it work. Thankfully, this is accomplished thanks to the music director for its creative themes. It’s lighthearted, slow paced, and consistent to make every segment work. Both the theme songs has a very realistic tone and lyrics that matches with the style of the show. Character voice mannerism is also important to convey character personalities and it hits the mark just right. The dialogues makes the characters sound believable and that’s what it’s important.
Four years of high school really can really be quite an experience. For some people, it can feel like a quest to start a new life. For others, it may be like living a world of hell. Then, there are people who think high school may just be part of their journey to adulthood and there’s much more ahead. The characters in this show embarks on that journey and takes the viewers with them. For that reason, Just Because is worth watching as it explores high school relationships, making memories, and discovering what life really means.
*Minimum Spoiler Nostalgic Review*
TL;DR: Love Pentagon between high school teenagers trying to figure out their future while keeping their emotional spillage in check. Also... Just Because.
[Story: 7/10 , Characters: 8/10, Art: 5/10, Sound: 9/10, Enjoyment: 8/10]
"It's all in the past" - Eita Izumi
Just Because is an original anime by Hajime Kamoshida, the genius behind Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo. However, just because at a first glance it may seem like this is a generic story about confused intertwined love relationships between group of friends trying to get through high school, the adaptation feels way to close to reality. For those that finished high school
or those finishing up high school, it will definitely bring back memories of your teen years. This anime shines in the tear-jerking nostalgia department and just because of that, it outshines from the rest of the generic love stories in the ever popular genres of slice of life combined with romance and school. From it's use of orchestra music to piano accompanied backdrops whilst looking back at your past, despite it's suboptimal animation standard given it's by the studio Pine Jam, this under the radar anime is definitely worth the watch.
"I've only given valentine cards to my dad and my two brothers every year" - Hazuki Morikawa
Just because the story is generic doesn't mean it can't be interesting. The story in a nutshell is about the transfer student Eita Izumi, who moves back again and attends the same high school all of his friends from middle school goes to as well. Reuniting with them once again reignites all the unresolved love and drama they had between each other plus coupled with the new friends they make in high school further alleviates this love triangle to an all out love pentagon between each other. The story for this anime is simple but its the character interactions that gives its complexity. At it's core, the plot is linear driven however flashbacks from middle school days are used to explain why each character behaves at certain situations. It takes two episodes to get used to the rhythm of the anime but given what a stellar first episode was and how the anime continue to build up with the different characters trying to figure out their feelings for one another while trying to finish high school and graduate, really makes it worthwhile to watch. Who doesn't love riding the nostalgia train.
"Can I ask him out on a date?" - Ena Komiya
Just because the characters appear mundane at first does not mean they do not possess complexity. The fun part about this anime are the characters. At its core the five major characters are: Eita Mizumi (the transfer student with a crush on Natsume), Haruto Soma (best friend of Eita with a crush on Morikawa), Natusme Mio (old friends from middle school with crush on Haruto), Morikawa Hazuki (band chick too shy to confess), & Ena Komiya (CANON camera chick too eager to confess to Eita). This complex love pentagon really drives this show. This anime takes its time developing each of the characters and giving them enough time and backstory to justify their importance and reason for the love they have for the other. Not to mention because each character acts as a foil for the other and how unique each of their personalities are, you really start to identify yourself with one of these characters. Soon enough you will be cheering on for your favourite ship while reminiscing about your old high school ship. Like I said, all aboard the nostalgia train.
"If you tell him I'll kill you” - Natsume Mio
Just because the animation is subpar doesn't mean the music has to be subpar. Given the fact that the studio adapting this anime is Pine Jam, a rather small studio not really known for their outstanding animation standards, they've done not too shabby of a job adapting this original anime. There were a few scenes that weren't blended well and seemed a bit choppy however, the overall pencil drawn characters gave it a nice cozy feel to the anime. It's funny how despite each of the major characters being completely unique to one another, they were drawn pretty similar to one another. It could be that it serves as a metaphor for life how we may think we are completely different from our friend sitting next to us in class but we are more similar than we think in the hardship and struggle we go through in our adolescence and teenage years with school and love. Aside from the animation what really sells this anime is the music. From the first episode and onwards the quality of the music never drops. From the usage of trumpets and drums to build the tension up to calm relaxing piano medley to reminisce about the past, this show knew how to use it all. Not to mention the OP and ED songs are both amazing to listen to on their own. It really stands out as a complete OST to listen to on its own. Lastly, the seiyuus for this show did a great job in giving life to these characters. Kudos to them.
"No one likes getting rejected" - Haruto Soma.
Overall, Just Because was a simple anime with a generic premise that surpassed expectations it set for itself. It was not only a great coming of age story dealing with high school love and struggle of school to figure out your future, it served its purpose as a nostalgic ride to let viewers reminisce about their past. As the story progressed you start identifying yourself with the characters in the anime and though it was a slice of life anime featuring a love pentagon, it wasn't a cookie cutter romantic plot that made itself predictable from the start. Plus, who ends up with who in the end will really surprise the viewers. For that reason alone and just because how many puns you can make while watching this anime, I would highly recommend to everyone, not just fans of this genre, to give this anime a watch. Let me know later how you like it as well as share with me your favourite ship and your favourite quote from the anime!
P.S. Thank you for reading. I hope you found this short and supaishi review helpful!