Every season comes with its surprises. The summer-season last year had Night Head Genesis and Chevalier, the fall-season had Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto and Sasami Mahou Shoujo Club, and winter-season had Manabi Straight. I normally tend to dislike school-based slice-of-life series, and okay, the series wasn’t awesome, perfect, stunning or extremely heart-warming. But I still have to say that I had a good time watching this series.
The thing that immediately strikes about this anime is its energy. Seldomly I’ve encountered an anime which almost sparkles with its energetic characters. The unique art style, the great animation and the perfectly fitting soundtrack turned this into one of the few slice-of-life series which actually caught my interest.
Another strong point of this anime is how it quite easily breaks a lot of stereotypes that have been plaguing other school-based anime oh so often. The most striking is the student-council president: Manabi, the main character of this anime. Up till now, a student-council president either was an arrogant but rather stupid bitch who likes to abuse his/her students or a perfect human (you know, the rich, smart, talented, high-classed and uberpopular one). Manabi Straight finally puts a human being in the seat of the student-council president, someone who loves her school, and wants to keep it alive.
Not only Manabi, but also the four other main characters felt very refreshing. Usually, in a show of this nature, the story usually revolves around two characters, while you can replace the other main ones with paper bags and still not notice any difference in the story. Manabi Straight makes sure that each of the five heroines has a significant role in the story. Sometimes subtle, sometimes obvious. Also, even though Manabi is the main character, and the central person in the story, she doesn’t necessarily get more screen-time than the others. Mikan and Mei get just as much airtime as Manabi, while the other two also are quite present.
Okay, so the anime is not going to go down as the “best anime ever” anytime soon. At times, the drama was a bit too forced, and the ending was a bit cheap. And okay, for a show which is supposed to take place in 2035, the only thing we got to see to illustrate this were strange-looking gadgets. I still enjoyed the unique parts in this one. I liked the quirky humour which showed up once in a while a lot. The animation was excellent and full of creativity, I hope it’ll set a standard for future anime to work towards. It’s a show, perfect for a light watch, but don’t expect anything amazing.