What They Say:
Eiji Busujima was a delinquent in middle school, but now that he’s in high school, he’s trying to put all that behind him. He’s even joined the literature club! Unfortunately, while Eiji’s heart might be in the right place, his face didn’t get the memo, and if his scowling, slit-like eyes don’t scare people away, then his attempts at senryu poetry probably will.
But there’s one member of the literature club who isn’t easily intimidated: Nanako Yukishiro, an odd but cheerful young woman who never speaks and communicates only through senryu poetry! So, when the meddling president of the club decides to encourage a relationship between this strange literary pair, the haiku is sure to fly!
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo along with an English language dub, both of which are encoded using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. The series has a few fantastical moments from time to time but largely operates in the realm of the slice of life genre, just with a good bit of sexual comedy. That means it’s pretty dialogue-oriented throughout and there’s some nice placement with it in how it sets the stage with the cast. This can bring in some decent depth from time to time in how they’re laid out and what they’re interacting with, but a lot of it is a standard and natural design that flows across the forward soundstage. The music is the richest part of it as you’d expect in this lossless form and we didn’t have any dropouts or distortions during regular playback of either language track.
Originally airing in 2019, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twelve episodes are spread a single disc since they’re half-length episodes, giving it plenty of room. Animated by studio Connect, the show has a solid enough look as it captures the design and style of the source material itself which wasn’t going for anything really stylized or unique. The character animation gets more of the attention with some good design work and color quality that has some real pop along the way but mostly it sticks to this kind of ethereal and light color palette and scheme. The small moments of vibrancy are really nice and I definitely like how the character designs turned out as they’re fairly fluid when needed and have some good color quality and solidity to them.
The packaging for this release brings us a standard-sized Blu-ray case that holds the single disc. The front cover uses the familiar key visual artwork with the main cast on the roof of the school together leaning against the fence. It’s full of smiles and a good look at their designs overall so you know what you’re getting in terms of animation. The logo along the top is fairly weak overall but it is what it is from Japan so there’s not much to say there. The back cover brings the spring colors around with soft blues and pinks with the flowers themselves. There’s some nice framing for the tagline with the senryu aspect and it has a pretty detailed summary of the premise. The production credits are broken out as well as the extras while the technical grid along the bottom covers the release clearly and accurately. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The only extras included with this release are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.
Based on the manga by Masakuni Igarashi, Senryu Girl is written and directed by Masato Jinbo with Connect handling the animation production for it. The original work kicked off back in 2016 and wrapped up in 2020 with thirteen volumes total. As part of the spring 2019 season, the show is one that you can tell from the title focuses on the short poetry form called senryu that’s close to haiku in some ways but, like the game in Chihayafuru. It’s all Greek to me when you get down to it but it’s the kind of thing that I love about anime because all of these things that may be niche to some degree can warrant a well-produced adaptation to expose it to the world more, which as we’ve seen before can cause some small booms in just how much interest there is as people find out about something they may not have really known before.
Coming in at just about twelve minutes per episode, the show focuses on Nanako, a pretty nice and outgoing young woman in high school who finds herself drawn to a former delinquent that she sees there named Eiji. As outgoing as Nanako come across she has a problem in that it’s very hard to talk in public and to people, though she’s able to with them in her own way. We see some of how that plays out in class as she writes everything down and does it in a kind of poetic way using the paper style you see hanging from bamboo trees during Tanabata. While it is written down we do get to hear her voice “reading” it through the internal dialogue so she’s not a completely silent character, which admittedly could be an interesting approach to handling things.
What becomes amusing is that she finds herself able to connect with Eiji easily enough in her way of speaking whereas everyone else just talks about him or is outright afraid of him because of his reputation and his looks. Naturally, they’re both part of the same kind of literature club that makes it easy for them to spend time together and there’s a kind of beauty and the beast approach to how they come across when together, especially with her being so quiet. Eiji’s fairly amusing with how and what he talks about, and playing up his reputation comically, which is pretty disarming as well as making it easy to see why she likes him. The show spends a little time with the club side as the two of them plus the club president, Amane, work on creating some new senryu which runs the gamut in cute ways here.
The club side of the show works through the idea of coming up with ways to make Eiji not come across as scary as he does to people, though a lot of that is just a perception based on a very casual observance of him. What he really needs are friends and things to talk about out loud that are normal. Nanako’s not exactly the best to help in coming up with ideas to help him change either since she likes him as he is and doesn’t want him to change – though she offers up a few bits, such as how great he is at sharing. But it’s hilarious when she does this because it just has him realizing how lame he is. Thankfully, the day is saved when his big sister Koto shows up in the club as well to try and check up on him and that means an attractive large-chested pink-haired character that’s now a part of the action to add more chaos.
It’s enjoyable watching Eiji and Nanako together because there’s a simplicity to it that’s tied to his obliviousness. But there’s a bit seeded as well when he offhandedly says that her love of food is making her a bit more round in the middle. That has her worrying about it herself since she wants to be appealing to him and mentioning it at home gets some varied and amusing reactions. She’s still intent on dieting though and hilariously deflects it being about Eiji by telling Amane she wants to look good for her. So close to a yuri moment! Seeing Koto getting in on this is comical as well as she turns it into a kind of self-defense lesson for Nanako but it’s just her way of getting closer to her to help smooth things out between Eiji and Nanako. If only Eiji wasn’t So. Bloody. Stupid.
As the series goes on we get a lot of basically standalone pieces that help to bring the cast together more and more, though Eiji is usually pretty oblivious. One episode that wants to explore the group dynamic works with the amusement park for some fun. Eiji’s not exactly keen on that, which has Nanako guessing that he’s just someone who easily gets dizzy on rides. The trio start working through some memories of their times going to them for pieces to write which shows us some cute bits of them as kids with what frustrated or scared them about amusement parks. It also leads to the group meeting up to go to an amusement park, which has them getting dressed up for it (much to Nanako’s father’s chagrin as his little girl is growing up) and being proper teenagers. It’s a delightful bit and it’s easy to understand why Eiji might be just a bit smitten by Nanako when he sees her.
Naturally, the whole thing is a setup by Amane to get the two out together on a date of sorts to see if there’s really something there. Now, she’s amusing in date-spy mode but you also know she really just wants to be with them and have fun too. With neither of them realizing it’s a date, there’s a lot of silliness as they get some swag, hit some rides, and spend the day together having fun in Nacky Land. For a lot of it, we get pretty standard stuff and it avoids them being super close but there are moments where things get a little bit closer. That also gets brought to the forefront over an awkward discussion about first kisses and a shared drink, which is in itself delightful since both of them play it so innocently. That’s part of the charm though as they do manage that well together and the montage material reinforces it nicely.
Another episode focuses on rainy days which can have some interesting humor to it but also a little more drama. It’s cute seeing the girls complain about how it impacts their hair with Nanako talking about what it’s like when it gets out of control. It’s a silly bit for the opening piece as she goes on about it and shows her friend what it’s actually like. But it also segues into the usual dreamy romantic visions of what the rain is like for high school girls and how it can be used to get closer to the guys they like. It’s simple but it fits Nanako so nicely as she’s doing her best to get closer to Eiji and seeing this as a prime opportunity to do so.
Just getting through a rainy and overcast day is hard enough but we also see what Eiji has to deal with since he doesn’t have an umbrella when he arrives and is soaked, resulting in some pretty nasty things being said by others. This also complicates her plan lightly but has her simply reworking it by offering up her umbrella. Naturally, there’s no rain when they leave and you feel for her because she had such a nice if basic opportunity here to connect with Eiji. Even worse, she loses track of him during the day and then gets caught up in dealing with the rabbit hutch that got messed with the recent rain – which is where she finds Eiji has been already since he’s someone that cares for the rabbits and really likes them. It’s a nice little character moment, played comically as you’d expect, and helps to make him a lot more relatable and accessible.
As I got closer to the end of the show in binge form, it reaffirmed a lot of what I felt during the weekly run. Senryu Girl isn’t a show that has really wowed me and it’s one whose gimmick, with Nanako doing up the senryu writing, isn’t something that I think has been employed well or used to good effect. It hasn’t been a detriment because I’ve enjoyed how it lets more of her expressiveness shine in different ways and the pairing not just with Eiji that’s ongoing but in seeing how she deals with everything. I imagine it could be frustrating in reality and for a more regular thing, but in these little ten-minute weekly bites, Senryu Girl has been a lot more charming than expected.
With the summer festival in night mode and everyone all dressed up, I love that we see how Eiji has caught a ton of fish, showing some amusingly good skill there. It’s nice just watching the three friends make their way through the festival, especially when it goes into letterbox mode montage material as it does all the familiar things but just right, including turning the club president into a third wheel. As the rest of the group eventually shows up, we get a lot of standard festival stuff here as it leads up to the fireworks itself, which has Eiji racing to get back in time as Nanako is sad without him there, but it’s the right kind of low stakes reality / high stakes young relationship material that you expect to see a show like this go through. Ah, teenage love.
Nanako comes across more as just a quiet kid who gets a bit out by writing but even that’s not all that much when added up. The result is a show that has an interesting idea but wasn’t able to exploit in animated form. I suspect it works better in its original manga form, though. That said, it still proved to be cute enough because our two leads, Nanako and Eiji, are pretty cute and watching the little dance that they engage in toward becoming a couple hits the right sweet spots. It doesn’t overdo or complicates things in a way that makes it harder to get into, similar to the Ao-chan Can’t Study series this season where it wasn’t filled with an overactive supporting cast either.
Looking at it over the course of it since Eiji joined the club, he’s really come to enjoy senryu itself and has found something quite pleasing about it. With the finale, we get a story told where we see how the two had originally met though Eiji didn’t quite remember it. It wasn’t through school but he was aware of her to some degree and met her at a night class kind of thing. With it shifted to the Christmas season to tell its tale, we get a lot of fun enthusiasm out of Eiji that fits his age compared to all the grays that are there, which delights Nanako to the surprise of everyone else. It’s fun watching how their paths worked toward each other so that they’d meet at school again and to understand the things they did in that time before they connected there. It does play up that whole fated aspect to it which may rankle some but it works well for this kind of show and its light approach.
Senryu Girl starts off light and charming and maintains that feeling throughout, even if it could have used just a bit more weight to it with its two leads. Nonoka’s well-handled with her issue and it plays into the club side of things but it’s really Eiji that steals the show. As we get to see more of him across the series and he emotes more than anyone else you find yourself really liking him and this pairing since they’re cute together. The path and journey for this relationship can have some obvious ups and downs ahead of it but the opening episode sets it up nicely and has me looking forward to seeing more of it since it has a kind of cute approach to everything. Sentai’s release is about what I expected and hoped for in that first, we’d get a home video release, and second that it gets a nicely done dub with a solid cast to it that likely enjoyed such a laid back show. It’s a simple little slice of life that’s harmless fun and continually made me smile throughout it, making it a winner.
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: C
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: May 19th, 2020
Running Time: 180 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.