The Ayanoi High School features the Geijutsuka Art Design Class (GA) that focuses on the arts. Five close friends — the energetic "hime"-prankster Noda Miki; the level-headed, cynical Nozaki Namiko; the intelligent, observant, and kind Oomichi Miyabi; the lively and mischievous tomboy Tomokane; and the curious, innocent, glasses-wearing Yamaguchi Kisaragi — attend this class with great enthusiasm, learning about the many art techniques. Every day seems to pose a new and interesting challenge, be it struggling with the latest assignment or when dealing with the daily strangeness of school life.
One of the problems with anime these days is the tendency for studios to stick to formulae, and to capitalise on what has gone before (also known as jumping on the bandwagon). It's unfortunate then that GA: Geijitsuka Art Design Class is a victim of this mindset, especially given the subject matter and the potential for experimentation.
Originally a yonkoma (4-koma), manga by Kiyuzuki Satoko, the anime adaptation is actually based on the 2005 serialisation that was published in "Manga Time Kirara Carat", and while the series is very much aimed at the moe market, it has benefitted from the directorial talents of Sakurai Hiroaki (Di-Gi-Charat,
Sweet Valerian, Majokko Tsukune-chan), and the art direction of Kasuga Reiji.
The story follows the lives of five girls who attend a specialist design school, where they learn about various aspects of art and design, art history, and various other art related subjects.
And that's it. Seriously. That pretty much describes the entire show.
One of the biggest problems with GA is that the entire show has been done before, be it with Lucky ☆ Star and K-On, or with more relevant comparisons like Sketchbook ~full color'S~ and Hidamari Sketch. In truth, GA offers nothing new or different in terms of settings or characters.
What it does offer though, is information, and this is ultimately it's saving grace. Unlike most other school based slice of life shows, GA is far more informative about it's related subject matter, and much of the humour is actually derivative of this. The plot focuses far more on art and design than it does on the characters, and while this may be an anathema to some, it's actually a rather refreshing approach as the viewer doesn't then need to worry about things like plot or character development.
One way to describe GA would be to call it a moe documentary about art, and the show makes good use of the subject matter to produce some surprisingly well executed sequences and comedy scenes. In truth, the majority of events are designed to provide visual examples of whichever style of art is the current topic (Kisaragi's surrealist dream being a good example of this at work), while the rest of the show is more along the lines of a typical slice of life comedy.
Given that the show is about art and design, it would be fair to expect some great visuals and animation, and while GA is good in this department, it lacks a certain something...
Let me explain. Visually the show is a bit too "cutesy" to be taken seriously. The characters are designed to attract a specific audience (the moe marketor younger children), and the over-use of soft focus scenes reinforces this aspect. While there is nothing overtly wrong with this, it does mean that the show will only really appeal, at least in visual terms, to those who like shows like Lucky ☆ Star, or to those who simply don't care what the characters look like. That said, the series is colourful and cheery, and while the majority of the design falls on the side of cute, there are some superb moments when the designers really get experimental with the show.
As far as the animation goes, the series is actually pretty well executed. The characters move well, and while the general animation is of a good standard, it can't quite make up for the "too cute" feel of the show.
The voice acting is pretty decent for the most part, but here again the show adopts a more "cutesy" approach. While the seiyuu are able to deliver the humour fairly well, the show lacks a certain depth of character due to some wooden moments.
The OP is a fairly upbeat track called "Osaki ni Sil Vous Plait", which is sung by the female seiyuu who play the lead roles, and bears a surprising resemblance to the infamous "Happy Material" (Mahou Sensei Negima), in terms of it's composition. The opening sequence is very well choregraphed though, and while the track is a little on the boppy side, I found that I didn't actually get too bored of hearing it (unlike a certain other song I mentioned).
The ED is an altogether different story. The show actually has twelve different ending songs, and the artwork depicts the girls at three different stages of life prior to them entering their current school. What makes the ending sequences even more unusual is that each of the five main seiyuu take turns at singing the ending theme, and each time the song reflects a different aspect of the current episode. The final ED is a group effort, sung by all five main seiyuu, and shows all three stages of life in one sequence. Because of this, I never once found the ED to be boring as each song is highly reflective of it's respective character, and effectively adds to the charm of the series.
Aside from that, the show is reasonably well served in terms of it's sound and music. My main gripe though (although it is admittedly only a minor one), is that there is very little in the way of quiet time in the show as almost every minute involves some form of accompaniment.
The characters aren't that bad for the most part, however they are formulaic at best, and far too moe for their own good. Each of the five main girls represents one particular moe archetype, the clumsy, ditzy meganekko; the brash, monkey-like tomboy, to the cute-but-evil master of games; the normal girl who mothers everyone; and the wierd, quiet girl who has strange powers (like talking to chickens).
One of the problems that some may have with GA is that the characters lack anything resembling a personality, however this is due to the show being focused on art. Effectively, the characters are simply there as a point of reference, a means to better facilitate the viewers understanding of the various forms of art (basically they're tools for teaching, like a pencil or a calculator). However, even with this grandiose intent (to teach using anime), the director and writers should really have found a method to make the audience relate to the characters more, as this would have facilitated a better appreciation of the subject matter.
Think about it. If your teacher is fun and interesting, then you want to learn the lesson. If they're dull and boring, you want to do something else.
On the whole though, this isn't a bad show at all. While there will be direct comparisons made to Hidamari Sketch and Sketchbook ~full color'S~, as well as with shows like Lucky ☆ Star, Azumangah Daioh, K-On!, etc, GA is able to stand on it's own due to it's novel approach and focus. Where those other shows were very much about the daily lives of the characters, GA only uses this as a point of reference. Granted it is very firmly on the moe bandwagon, but the show never really pushes this aspect too much, which actually made it more pleasant as a series.
In this respect it more resembles Sketchbook, as the moe aspect is simply there, nothing more than that.
GA would appeal to fans of any of the shows mentioned above as it has a fair few things in common with each of them. Likewise, those who are interested in art and producing artwork, or are artists themselves, may find this as enjoyable as I did, as there are numerous moments when I found myself thinking "that happened to me as well" or "I did that too". Younger viewers may also find the series interesting, in particular for it's rather simplistic approach to "teaching".
That said, some may be disappointed if they go into this show expecting a moe-fest as, aside from the characters being cutely designed, there isn't any.
GA: Geijutsuka Art Design Class may not be as experimental in terms of art and animation as I'd hoped, and it may be a little too tooth achingly cute at times, but behind that there is actually a pretty decent show that takes a completely different tack to almost every other anime in recent years. The series isn't really trying to tell a story, but is instead trying to impart knowledge - something that is always laudable, and is remarkably absent from anime as a medium. While the show does have it's flaws, the intent and purpose should be appreciated and applauded.
You never know. We may end up seeing mahou shoujo wildlife documentaries in the future, or the news read by shounen icons like Goku, Luffy, Ichigo, etc, or even Yagami Light in a Judge Judy style reality show.
I'm a huge fan of slice-of-life comedies, but that doesn't mean I like every single one out there. K-ON! was overdone and downright stupid. Some would say the same for GA, but I beg to differ.
- Jokes are original because the material they cover is not standard fare. This isn't Lucky Star. This isn't Azumanga Daioh (though both of those series are great stuff). The normal SOL comedy uses stereotyped characters and running gags to stir up laughs. Osaka was funny because she was the constant village idiot. Panty-flashing-girl and dog-with-stick-in-butt from Zetsubou Sensei are funny because they
pop up repeatedly. But does GA rely solely on this? Nope. The Geijutsuka Art Design Class lives up to its name - it makes jokes grounded not only in the usual school life situations (school festivals, etc.), but also in art. "How is that remotely possible...?!" you might ask. But it is, and it works.
- The humor is consistent. There are no dips in the humor throughout the entire series. Even though this may sound like a quality that every comedy has to have, that's often not the case. Kannagi turns to drama, Gintama becomes hardcore action at times, and Full Metal Panic hops between action, romance, and comedy. It's easy to appreciate an anime with more than one aspect, but it's damn hard to keep an anime in a single genre. When you watch Gintama, you don't know whether you'll get an action-packed episode or a comedic one. When you watch GA, you know that you'll get a light-hearted comedy, and that you won't be disappointed with what you see.
- Sounds, visuals, other stuff like that. It sounds good and looks good.
- The "cute" art style. Personally, I found this appealing (it really works with the the humor that's put forth), but some people really hate this style. But then again, people who hate this kind of art probably wouldn't like SOL comedies in general.
- Predictability of characters' actions. A slice-of-life comedy requires somewhat formulaic characters for its humor to work, and GA is no exception. The characters stay pretty much the same throughout the entire series (honestly, would you expect a high school student to undergo incredible changes in a month?), and this leads to somewhat predictable situations. But as I said above, this is something that anti-SOL comedy viewers would pick at no matter what.
Suffers from usual problems that slice-of-life comedies face, yet breaks the mold with its art-based humor. Consistency in humor and good visuals and sounds add to my score of 9/10.
"Hitosu, Hitosu, Hitosu, Hitosu", if you watch the opening of this anime every episode, you will not forget where this came from.
GA: Geijutsuka Art Design Class is a slice of life series which is about art much like the more well known Hidamari Sketch. Despite that, GA: Geijutsuka Art Design Class is unique in it's own way and is pretty entertaining.
Like most slice of life anime series, there is no plot. It takes a similar approach to the genres as most slice of life anime where you watch what the characters do in different situations. However this series is unique in it's way. For one,
everything that happens is art related, which isn't too uncommon but it also teaches you about art. All these lessons about art fit in very well with this anime and they add to the effectiveness of the jokes that this series makes. Another thing that this series has going for it is that the jokes are pretty funny, and the comedy works most of the time.
An advantage that slice of life anime have is that there is no need for character development. All you have to do is take a bunch of girls with contrasting personalities and throw them together, that is also what happens here. The personalities of the characters' drive this series as it makes it very interesting to watch, and it also makes a lot of the jokes work. Each character is also very likeable in their own respect. This approach to the characters, rarely fails but it also makes the characters not very memorable. That's what you call playing it safe.
The art is like most anime but it does use a variety of different art styles throughout the series. The cute art style also fits in with the light mood of this series. The animation itself was fine, the characters moved fluidly and nothing really seemed odd.
For the opening we have an upbeat song which fits the anime but not really memorable (except for the opening line). There are also six different endings (one for each main character, and one for all of them) which fit the characters quite nicely but like the opening it isn't too memorable.
GA: Geijutsuka Art Design Class is very enjoyable, even if you are not interested in art or don't know much about it. The jokes are still funny because of the lessons the series teaches you. Also for most people who already enjoy anime in the slice of life genre, this will not disappoint. However if you aren't into the slice of life genre, it would probably be best to stay away.
Overall GA: Geijutsuka Art Design Class has a lot of similarities to a typical slice of life anime but it also has a lot of differences that separate it from the rest.
GA just throws you right into it. Though not uncommon for the genre of Cute Girls Doing Cute things, being pushed straight into the day to day lives with no attempt at character introduction is jarring, especially for people who are not already into the anime scene. The story really goes no where; even within episodes it is unclear what the struggle of that day is. The art style is fitting to the characters and the show's tendency to launch into an over the top exaggeration. The music and sounds of the show are solid, with an added bonus of the sounds will often be
represented on screen with words from where the sound is coming from, labeling the sound.
This anime is probably better than I'm giving it credit for, but as I just finished binge watching K-On!! I find many aspects of it lacking, leading to it being not too enjoyable but at the same time not a snooze fest.