Lately I’ve been watching Love Lab. The synopsis makes it sound meh, but it’s pretty darned good. A lot of people reluctantly go “this show has no business being as good as it is!”, but they’re fooling nobody. (It’s okay to like these kinds of shows, guys!)
What’s surprising is that when I brought this up in the office, I learned that both men and women watch it! Why? Despite the cute aesthetic, the show is earnest about its characters’ struggle to find love. It’s a motivation everyone can relate to. We want to cheer Riko and the rest of the student council as they help other girls find romance as well, hiding from the watchful eyes of teachers. It also helps that the animation is cartoony and vibrant.
The show has character chemistry in spades. I don’t think anyone other than Maki could own a dakimakura without coming off as creepy–she retains that pure-pure naivete despite her insatiable appetite for romance. Riko is the Ciaphas Cain of love, bluffing her way into the Love Expert position with no way out. I relate to Eno a lot (up to you to guess why), and Sayo and Suzu have a lot of character to show for.
One important caveat is that this isn’t really a yuri show. It looks like Yuruyuri, and the director is even the same, but the undertones are kept a minimum. It’s not gay, it’s just incredibly girly in a fun way that isn’t pandering to otaku. They sure aren’t moeblobs! At first I was flabbergasted that there would be boys, but somehow their appearance improved the show. The punchline is the boys are just as clueless as the girls are! It’s funny and realistic–while I went to a co-ed school, I sure as hell didn’t know how to interact with girls as, y’know, human beings!
PS: I wonder what would happen if the cast of Love Lab and The Daily Lives of High School Boys (the boy contingent, at least) were to meet. Girl Tadakuni and Makio, anyone?