Place to Place

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Tuesday, August 20, 2013

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Since getting back into anime a few years ago, slice of life has become my go-to genre. The majority of the shows I have found myself enjoying the most have been those that combined romance, slice of life, and drama together and either told powerful stories or made me laugh. But I’ve found that for as many stand out series there are tons of average ones that play out the same tropes and don’t have any distinguishing factors. One of my recent finds was Place to Place (Acchi Kocchi), a romantic comedy and slice of life anime that was produced by AIC and released by Sentai Filmworks in North America. Initially it seemed like this was going to be a painfully average show, as there were all the usual trappings: a super cutesy art style, tsundere and moe trappings, and all the typical events set up with Japanese school life. But a few episodes in, the humor got more over the top and the character personalities won me over and I ended up enjoying this series a lot more than I was expecting to.

If you go into this one expecting a coherent plot you may come away disappointed, as the only real plot point is that the tsundere female lead Tsumiki is hopelessly in love with male lead Io, who also seems to have feelings for her but doesn’t act upon them. This leads to the awkward quasi-romance that’s all too common in anime, and it’s about the only thing that’s consistently driving the episodes forward. Aside from this plot point, each of the scenarios is based around Tsumiki and Io’s interactions and the side characters as they go through all the usual events that viewers would expect from a slice of life anime. All of the usual school events are represented here, as well as Valentine’s Day. Rather than sticking with one plot point per episode, AIC has structured each one into an A part and B part. I thought this worked quite well as it prevented a scenario from overstaying its welcome and becoming tiresome by the end of the 24 minute running time. So far Place to Place is probably sounding exactly like quite a few of the other romantic comedies/slice of life series that have flooded the anime market in recent years, and early on it seemed like that was the case. But by the time you get two or three episodes in, the humor starts to become more over the top and the show does its best to turn some of the topes completely upside down and this is where it starts to stand out a bit.

The more that you pay attention to what’s happening throughout this series, the more apparent it becomes just how over the top the writers and producers have taken things. All of the usual genre trappings have been messed with to some extent, sometimes with hilarious results ensuing. Instead of the males getting nosebleeds over perverted thoughts like in most anime, it happens to the females in Place to Place and on a frequency of several times per episode. One of the minor male characters exhibits tsundere trappings, and a lot of the jokes end up taking on a more suggestive tone than is typical for these lighthearted shows. The various scenarios have plenty of amusing moments too, like a snowball fight that turns into a battle of automated snowball firing rifles or fireworks that seem to gravitate towards and explode on one of the characters. There’s even a situation where one of the supporting cast dresses up in a costume that looks extremely close to Pedo Bear and tries to scare all the others. As soon as Place to Place started to exhibit this over the top approach to its humor and ran with it the episodes became a lot more memorable, and while it didn’t quite reach the same level as Azumanga Daioh or some of the best comedy centric anime it had enough hilarious moments to make me feel like I hadn’t wasted my time.

In my opinion the two leads were probably the least interesting characters, which is part of why Place to Place didn’t end up as one of my absolute favorite shows but the supporting cast definitely made up for it. Tsumiki has the cuteness factor and is drawn with cat ears any time she sees or is given something she likes, which I’m sure will be enough for some people, but I found it a bit strange that she was so quiet for a tsundere type female lead. Io’s also fairly unremarkable as far as leads go, as he’s the perfect in every way kind of male lead that is intelligent, good at cooking, and seems to know exactly what to say to make the girls swoon. I didn’t dislike either of the two, but thought their interactions were a bit too normal and bland when compared to a show like Toradora! or Suzuka. The supporting cast is great though, as there are two girls and one guy rounding out the primary support role with some other school mates and adults added in to some of the episodes. The three main supports I enjoyed quite a bit, as Mayoi and Sakaki are the pranksters of the group and tend to find themselves incurring the wrath of Tsumiki to comedic effect, while Hime serves as the airhead and seems to get nosebleeds from anything romantic related or cute.

Place to Place’s art style is very clean and vibrant, going for a cute look that sometimes goes for the moe approach but doesn’t make the female characters look like elementary schoolers in high school (which is something I didn’t like in A-Channel). There are a lot of exaggerated facial expressions and changes to the characters, like the appearance of cat ears on Tsumiki on a regular basis. But considering that the show was going for a more comedic approach rather than an overall plotline, I found that the over exaggerated touches worked quite well and helped to add to the humor. I also really liked the overall style AIC utilized, as there were a lot of flashy cut-ins and transitions that were eye catching and gave the show a different look than your average romantic comedy. As for the voice acting, the show seemed well cast and had a nice balance of actors that have been in tons of shows and others that are relatively new. Both leads had actors with more subdued voices, and it did fit the dynamic that Place to Place was going for. Once again the voice actors that stood out the most were the ones acting out Mayoi, Sakaki, and Hime as they helped to add a lot of energy to the script and made the characters stand out that much more. The opening theme is one of those songs that is so upbeat and cute that it will be stuck in your head for days, and it is sung by all the members of the main cast. “Te o Gyu Shite ne”, the ending theme is sung by Tsumiki’s voice actress Rumi Ōkubo and it’s a little more laid back but still memorable. As for the background music there weren’t any particular pieces that really stood out in my head afterwards, but that may just be because I was so focused on the dialogue.

What started off seeming like it was going to be an unremarkable romantic comedy ended up turning out to be a surprisingly fun watch that really pulled off the humor. The more subdued dynamic between the leads was a bit disappointing and the creators seemed to be relying purely on cuteness for Tsumiki, but despite that I can recommend Place to Place to anime fans that enjoy lighthearted fare and moe/slice of life centered series. It doesn’t quite stack up to my top tier series in either the romantic comedy or slice of life genres, but Place to Place does manage to stand out as a solid B-level show that’s a cut above some of the other recent anime of this type.

Place to Place is available as a 3-DVD set in Japanese with English subtitled for $49.98, and is also available for streaming to Anime Network subscribers

http://www.sentai-filmworks.com

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