Anime Taste Testing: Meiji Tokyo Renka and Doukyonin wa Hiza, Tokidoki, Atama no Ue

After the entertaining trash fire that is Kakegurui and the conceptual whimsy of Ekoda-chan, I thought I could use a bit of a break. Here are two of the mellower and more conventional shows airing this season.

Meiji Tokyo Renka

It’s difficult to imagine a reverse-harem isekai title that could be more run-of-the-mill than Meiji Tokyo Renka. From the generic heroine and cliché ‘historical’ outfits of the bishounen-filled cast to the slightly below average production values and completely forgettable music, everything about the show all but screams mediocre. In other words, it’s exactly the type of thing anyone would probably expect given the premise and source material.

On the plus side, that means there’s nothing offensive or creepy here. The boys tend to be pretty touchy-feely, sure, but it’s all seemingly innocent enough and clearly not intended to be read as predatory. Some of the material is even vaguely entertaining – while the first couple of minutes almost fool the viewer into thinking this is going to be a relatively serious and overly angsty kind of show, most of the rest of the episode is actually much more light-hearted and/or comedy-driven. Heck, MC-chan (whose name I’ve already forgotten) might even turn out to have a personality that goes deeper than her ability to see ghosts and her extreme fondness for roast beef. Now wouldn’t that be something?? On the other hand, I very much doubt there’ll be any surprises here of any kind. Viewers who don’t particularly care for sparkly-sparkly romance and reverse-harems will likely spend this episode in a state of acute boredom, and viewers who do will probably find Meiji Tokyo Renka perfectly serviceable, albeit still unoriginal. As is no doubt obvious from that description, it’s not my cup of tea. But hey, there’s nothing objectively terrible about it either – Diabolik Lovers it certainly ain’t – so if that sounds more up your alley then by all means, you should jump right in.

Doukyonin wa Hiza, Tokidoki, Atama no Ue./My Roommate is a Cat

This is a) pretty cute and b) not at all like She and Her Cat, just in case anyone was wondering. I’m sure plenty of people will make the reference, and I can see why given the premise. Beyond both starring a cat though, these two shows actually have very little in common with each other; personally I see no real point in comparing them.

I don’t necessarily think Doukyonin is going to be a show that’s especially deep or profound, but watching the opening episode is a perfectly nice experience, and depending on your love of cats and/or cute furry creatures in general, this could well end up being the sweetest title of the season. It’s primarily lighthearted and low-key comedic rather than quietly introspective or melancholic (despite one flashback that, as a cat lover myself, does break my heart a little), with the narrative split between cat and human point of view. The latter takes up the first two-thirds, if not a bit more of the episode, while Haru takes over the last few scenes to rehash the same major events from cat-perspective. I wouldn’t particularly mind if the whole series took this sort of format, although there are evidently a good number of supporting characters, so it may be that future episodes aren’t quite as laid back as this one is in terms of general pacing.

From a more technical standpoint, Doukyonin seems competent enough, if not exactly high-budget. The art style is soft and uncomplicated, with more attention paid to the feel rather than the details (particularly in terms of the backgrounds), while the overall colour palette is mostly bright and breezy. As for the music, I honestly don’t find it in the least memorable, but then again, I didn’t really expect to be. Basically, I think the visuals and sound exist primarily to further the atmosphere rather than add anything extra to the production quality itself – and that’s totally fine, as I don’t get the impression Doukyonin is actively trying for more than that. In any case, I think I’ll be quite happy to stick around for the entire show. It feels like the kind of thing that would be perfect to just sit back and relax to after work, and I could certainly use one of those.

11 thoughts on “Anime Taste Testing: Meiji Tokyo Renka and Doukyonin wa Hiza, Tokidoki, Atama no Ue

  1. Pingback: Anime Blog Posts That Caught My Eye This Week (January 11, 2019) | Lesley's Anime and Manga Corner

  2. I actually enjoyed both these shows.

    Meijin Tokyo Renka has a bouncy energy that’s just appealing to me. I’m actually mildly optimistic about the main character’s personality: the scene where the one girl tries to invite her is sort of down-to-earth and believable, driving home the situation, without casting blame. There appears to be a sound fundament that many other reverse harems lack. The pacing is good, and I like the look, too. Surprisingly, this bod-standard reverse harem ended up one of my favourite premiers so far.

    The cat show is so my thing. The She and Her Cat comparison didn’t even occur to me (neither of the versions). It’s more like Barakamon, I’d say. Just replace the kids with a cat, and scrap the change of scenery, and you’ve got something pretty similar. I liked it a lot. The cat is really well done, in the sweet-spot between realism and cartoon character. Works for me. I’m in for the rest of the season.

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    • Hey, no judgment here. If Tokyo Meiji Renka is your thing then that’s great, I’m certainly not going to try and convince you otherwise.

      Yeah, there’s a certain feel to the cat show that does feel a bit like Barakamon, albeit this one isn’t quite as physically bright and exuberant. Not that that’s a bad thing. I’m looking forward to more, without a doubt.

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  3. My Roommate is a Cat was definitely kind of cute and I’m hoping it can be my feel-good or relaxing show of the season. I like cats and the writer so far has been interesting enough.
    Meijin Tokyo Renka is just kind of there and I’ll give it a go but I’m not really holding out a lot of hope for it. I watched a few similar type shows last year and what they all had in common was wasted potential. Still, it wasn’t bad and while I don’t think it will go anywhere great I’m curious enough to try it.

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    • I think My Roommate is definitely set to be my relaxing and feel-good show of the season too, and I can certainly see why it’s been so well-received thus far by what looks like a fairly large number of fellow anime bloggers.

      Yeah, I don’t think Meiji Tokyo Renka is bad per se. As you say, it’s just sort of ‘there’, neither particularly exciting nor especially fresh. I would almost certainly have watched it if it had aired a decade ago, but since then I’ve moved further away from sparkly shoujo romances and only dip my feet into those waters every now and again. If it still works for other anime viewers though then that’s great – I’m not about to judge.

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  4. I’ll definitely be watching Renka; mostly for the historical aspect since you don’t get to see the Meiji era or literati love interests in most historical otome (it’s always some Sengoku/Bakumatsu period with warlords/ninja/samurai/wizards etc.)And they had the now-gone Rokumeikan, so that’s a plus.

    If you like cute cat series, may I recommend this manga?
    It’s a 4-koma that’s a quick read, easy to digest and is even cuter and funnier. The titular Kyuu-chan’s more outrageous though, being able to walk on 2 legs, bow, and carry human-sized loads at times.
    https://sai-zen-sen.jp/comics/twi4/fushigineko/

    Some chapters on the mangaka’s Twitter are GIF-animaions too.

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    • Thank you very much for the rec, but I’m actually not a manga reader at all. I did try to get into the medium, as I love anime and love reading, but unfortunately it’s just not my thing.

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  5. Pingback: Anime Taste Testing: Winter 2019 Mid-Season Roundup | OTAKU LOUNGE

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