Review: Kenka Banchou Otome – Season 1

Girl Beats Boys. When you first read the title of this 2017 anime, you might think “abuse” or “misandry”. But that is not even close to what the story is about.

I was intrigued when I first saw a promotional image for this anime because it is beautifully drawn and the synopsis made me curious.

The story is about a girl, Hinako Nakayama, who, seemingly by coincidence, runs into a boy who looks exactly like her. So much so, that he convinces her to take his place in his new school, Shishiku Academy: a school filled with delinquents where students rise to the top in their own class hierarchy (and later that of their seniors) through winning fist fights and challenging the current ‘bosses’ of each class.

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Hinako is an especially lovable character. She is a bit shy and gets flustered easily because she is being exceptionally careful to hide her real identity. And we find out, as we are led through her backstory, that she has had trouble finding friends and people to connect with in the past. So in a weird way, this is her chance at an entirely new beginning, a chance to be herself, if not in the way she had expected. Her older adoptive brother taught her a few fighting skills which she went on to practice rigorously. Thus, she is able to beat the other kids who are fighting to be the top of the first years. And so it is not surprising that Hinako makes friends in this delinquent school rather quickly. Totomaru Minowa and Takayuki Konparu are her two new BFFs who will stand by her side against anyone and everyone.

But not just the protagonist is a character more interesting than one might initially think.

Minowa, at first glance, is nothing more than your stereotypical slacker, comic relief type of character. But he really isn’t. Top of his class in academics – so much so that his high test scores make his teacher cry – funny and a loyal protector for Hinako, he is the kind of best friend any other anime character can only dream of. We don’t need to learn about his past or his motivations, because in terms of outward emotions, behavior and personality, what you see is what you get.

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Konparu’s character has a similar appeal to me. He has the typical no-nonsense, silent loner allure but don’t let that fool you. As soon as he hangs around his siblings he becomes the biggest brother bear you’ve ever seen. It is adorable. Though, if you threaten his brothers and sisters, harm them or even look at them funny, he will FIGHT YOU! And most likely beat you, that too.

Another inkling of backstory we get for our protagonist is related to an older student and it is a heartwarming/-breaking story of family and what it means to stand up for yourself. And we learn that Hinako, or rather her identical male counterpart, has an older brother – the head fighter at the school’s senior class. He’s a pretty curious fella because you don’t know much about him but one question continues to tickle my brain: how can you be in such close physical proximity to your brother, someone you likely know better than anyone else, and not realize that it’s not actually your brother?? Even if not by looks, shouldn’t you be able to recognize him by mannerisms, behavior and especially voice?

As I’ve mentioned, the drawing style is completely up my alley and the story interests me and has my attention completely focused even after a 12-episode whole-season binge-athon. Only, the episodes are a mere 8 minutes long on average, which is just very unfortunate. The limited time each episode offers is also the reason why it seemed to be difficult to explore the story and characters in depth. And I have to agree, I would have liked to see, well, more of everything.

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Even more unfortunate is that despite its somewhat decent ratings, it is likely not popular enough to warrant a second season. My Anime List gives it an above mediocre rating of 6.62 and it’s at a 3.8 on Crunchyroll. But if you want to experience more of the story, don’t fret, because the anime is actually a visual novel spin-off of the Kenka Banchou Beat-em-up game series.

You hadn’t heard of this little project before? Watching the show’s 12 episodes will only take about 2 hours, so have at it! Two black eyes…I mean thumbs up from me!

7/10

by Leonie

 

Pictures:
http://aminoapps.com/page/otome/5847761/kenka-banchou-otome
http://www.crunchyroll.com/anime-news/2016/12/09/romance-is-rough-in-kenka-banchou-otome-girl-beats-boys-anime
http://unimetv.com/girl-meets-boy-switches-lives-and-makes-a-friend/

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