I’m kind of disappointed by both the current reviews (except the first one - “wholesome” this show is, indeed) and the LACK of ‘current’ reviews. Thing is: ‘topping off’ at the 4th episode, why isn’t this show garnering more attention and reviews further than that? I’m very confused by this, and you can bet I’ll darn-well explain why:
So, firstly, I don’t expect my review to change between this point in the season and ‘by the end of the season’. It has been extremely consistent and, frankly, I’d almost bet my life that it’ll continue to uphold its standards of storytelling, animation, (mediocre) sound design, whatever else, and just its overall feel. (I’ll edit this bit and the intro out when the show is done since, lel, I’m certain it will be a “keeper” for me).
I’m sure I’ll rewatch this show for funzies when I’m in the mood to re-live my “newbie” passion for board games - something I’ve only ‘cracked the surface of’ (Dungeon Pets is my intro to board games :3. Check it out! It’s a top 10 of sorts, ya know!) whilst refuelling my ambition to play board games with more people!
Thing is: I can relate to this show quite a lot. I’m an older guy (urgh... 25+, k?), and having moments of ‘intellectual connectivity that’s “inconsequential”’ is really fricking hard to come about in normal ‘attempts at “bonding”’. ... Board games are something special here. They are an ‘inconsequential, intellectual activity’ for adults to ACTUALLY ENJOY. ... Board games are MASSIVELY underrated!
I’ve talked enough about the setting if this review—so let’s talk about the actual show/anime.
50% of the show is about board games and their ‘novel poetic-complexities’—the other 50% is about showing the beauty, the artistic zeal, and the compatriotism you feel during an ‘intense board game’ as you slowly become familiar with the personalities of those who you are “sharing the experience with”; you see, the ingenuity and limitations of ‘board games’ leave an opportunity for your ‘own’ personality to leave its unmistakeable mark! Houkago Saikoro Club gets the core facets of this hobby across to all those uninitiated in the drunken nature of ‘imagination’ + ‘innovation’ + ‘limitation’ that a board game carefully guides you upon. So many times whilst watching this did I want to order whatever game they were playing (especially ‘The Island’ in episode 7).
Houkago Saikoro Club is more then just an advertisement of Board Games. It’s a love-letter to the hobby that SIMULTANEOUSLY deals with the stigma AND ‘common stereotypes’ of those who play/would enjoy board games.
Well: though I phrase it like that, our Main Character is very real and isn’t all that “tropey”. I really like this as she grows in an acceptable manner (that’s a total plot twist for a show meant to be just about ‘board games’) as she finds herself through the relationships and interactions she forms through these board games. It’s extremely unexpected that any character participating in such a show would have sooooo much depth—I mean, I did say it was 50:50, right? That’s the point: if thus show is that dedicated to ‘showing its art’, then just imagine just how much time we get to see each and every character grow alongside each other. :3
Thing is: I have a personal agenda to talk up the ‘board game’ aspect—however, the character-‘personal and meaningful’ prospect of Houkago Saikoro Club takes the spotlight over the board-gaming side... Even if I’m super proud of how they’ve addressed the ‘art of boardgames’, the characters are ANYTHING but ‘last-minute throw-ins’! Heck, even though our MC is but 1 character to experience growth out of the many that do: the board games are ‘literally a supplement (of many kinds) of growth’ towards our angelic protagonist - which is so extremely well-devised by the author(s)/screen-writers that I’m extremely disappointed by how many people aren’t moved ~like I~ by this precise work of art!
Fact is: the quality is consistent, the character-building is continuous and unpredictable, the artwork is very fair and pleasing, the ‘messages’ are wholesome and realistic (philosophically speaking!), and the show builds up from simple games to hard games, but also from simple relations to complicated relations - all which involve the growth and self-discovery of our main character.
Seriously: how is this show not an utter ‘cult-masterpiece’?! 9/10 - only because it is, technically, ‘inspired and unique, as well as perfectly arranged and presented’, but... it isn’t a ‘masterpiece of the ages’ if I’m to compare it to other ‘blockbusters’—however: it never intended to be this, and it was always in a different ‘zone of ambition’; so, in other words: for what it tried and wanted to be (aka probably a ‘7/10’), to narrowly miss the criterion for a 9/10 (for how well it culturally supported and propelled its medium - board games), it’s absolutely incredible what Houkago Saikoro Club has managed to pull off! ... Be it an 8/10 or a 9/10, I very-much have to gift it ‘bonus points’ for accomplishing something that none of its ‘competitors’ could hardly ever come close to...
Rightfully so: 9/10. This won’t change. An amazing show that’s absolutely ’inspired’ from beginning to end! Well... How’d you feel now for a game, perhaps? :D