Reviews of yesteryear: A-Channel

A-channel is a slice of life manga about a group of girls written by bb Kuroda. I know next to nothing about it except that it’s supposed to have a good level of les-yay. Let’s take a look at the anime adaptation and see how accurate that is.

There’s not an over-arching story in A-channel. The basic setup is that a girl named Tooru is starting High School and she’s excited because she got into the same school as Run, the girl she loves. You follow Tooru, Run and two other girls, Yuuko and Nagi as they enjoy their school lives. Frankly, I don’t care about the lack of a story. This is a comedy so the important aspect is the humour. How does that hold up? Well, it’s pretty similar to Azumanga Daioh. The humour is derived mainly from quirky characters interacting and going through everyday situations. The major issue with the humour is that, in the first few episodes, they reuse the same jokes several times close to each other. Fortunately the series does get better about varying the humour pretty quickly so it’s not much of an issue. They even have some reoccurring setups that result in different punchlines, all of them funny. Is it as funny as Azumanga Daioh? Not quite, but it comes pretty close.

The characters are pretty familiar. Most of them come close to following common character tropes for slice of life comedies. They do vary somewhat and, to be fair, the variation they do get is arguably enough to set them apart, but it does feel like they started with the trope templates and modified them only slightly. I thought that it was adequate for what they were doing, but some people are probably going to find them too close to the standard.

Now we move onto my biggest issue with the series, the art. I don’t like the art style. It may even be more accurate to say that I heartily dislike the art style. Like Gakuen Utopia Manabi Straight, the characters look like children with overly large heads, no noses (or noses that are so small someone couldn’t possibly breathe with them), which begs the question of how Nagi keeps her glasses on. It has very basic sets and backgrounds. I’ll be fair to the series, the art doesn’t look bad. It’s bright, colourful and cheerful, which arguably suits the series. My dislike of it doesn’t have anything to do with the quality and is based entirely on preference.

A-Channel has a strong vocal cast. Uchiyama Yumi, Fukuhara Kaori, Yuuki Aoi and Kotobuki Minako (especially) all give wonderful performances. Then there’s the music. For some reason there are a lot of insert songs in this, one in almost every episode. They aren’t bad songs, even if a lot of them do sound really similar, but they do seem like a lazy way to extend the running time without having to come up with jokes.

The yuri factor is a 6/10. This is mainly a result of Tooru and Run but all of the characters contribute somewhat, especially the supporting characters Yutaka and Miho.

My final rating for A-channel is a solid 7/10. It has a few issues, and I didn’t care for the art, but it’s still a fun series with endearing characters and plenty of humour. If you like Azumanga Daioh or Gakuen Utopia Manabi Straight you’ll almost certainly have fun with this one. If, on the other hand, you think the whole slice of life comedy formula has been done to death and you don’t care for it then this one isn’t going to be an exception. 

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