Today’s review sort of abuses the “Brief Thoughts On” segment, at least in its renewed format. A-Channel is by no means a short anime; it’s a 12-episode series with 3 full-length OVA episodes and a number of specials attached. However, in spite of this above-average length, the series as a whole leaves me with less to talk about than even some mini-movies.
This is a very standard slice-of-life series and it does little to shake up that impression. It follows the comedic lives of 4 girls of high school age: there is the ditzy airhead Run, the dieting-obsessed Nagi, the eccentric Kuudere Tooru, and the easily-teased transfer student Yuuko. They’re just 4 happy friends who go to school and hang out a bunch, which is basically it.
There’s only the slightest hint of depth to the group’s dynamic, namely Tooru being obsessively protective of Run. This causes her to initially dislike and bully Yuuko in particular as punishment for stealing Run’s attention away her. This doesn’t last for very long. Before you know it they are just hanging out on perfectly good terms, only occasionally calling back to the initial hostilities.
A-Channel‘s greatest sin is that it doesn’t do anything that could feasibly go wrong. Its episodes are bog-standard regurgitations of the basic plot lines featured in every other slice-of-life anime ever. Trips to the beach, festivals, somebody getting sick, a brief break in the friendship that’s immediately resolved, holiday episodes, it’s so standard that I had to double-check that my mind wasn’t just auto-filling when giving those examples.
Nothing in A-Channel stands out. Every story line is perfectly standard and the characters are simple stereotypes that undergo little to no development. There’s never any attempt to shake things up, which left me wondering how this could have been any fun to write. Just repurposing the same, boring story ideas already done to death with a cast that often feels like straight copies of more popular characters? How could publishing that ever feel like an accomplishment?
Actually, that is a pretty big concern. Some characters physically resemble girls from other series and Nagi has both visual similarities and character traits that overlap with Koyomi from Azumanga Daioh: A pretty girl with long, brown hair and glasses, who usually plays the straight man to her eccentric friends, but who has an obsession with dieting that sometimes causes hilarity. I won’t accuse “bb Kuroda” of plagiarism, but I will say that such similarities take away a lot of the appeal from this series.
Other then that, A-Channel is just frustratingly serviceable. It’s basically a template anime that never dips low and never rises far. You’re likely to forget about it within hours of watching it, so I could only recommend it to people who have literally never seen an SOL anime and thus need a basic example of one. Optionally, it can also be useful if you need something unchallenging to watch while doing some menial work.