First impressions are important: a critique of the first 5 minutes of the episode.
Ok, so before I actually do that let me introduce this project a bit. Yomu really wanted to do this collab where folks would all watch a show, the same show, episode-by-episode each week but with a big twist! That being we’d all (mostly) be focusing on different themes/ideas each time. We get a huge list to choose from and pick one. So, as you can see, I chose to tackle first impressions. We had some choices as to what to watch but we settled on This Art Club Has a Problem! in the end. You can read about the project in more detail here.
I Have a Confession
Alright, so confession time, I also need to let you guys know that I have actually seen some of This Art Club Has a Problem! before (gonna call this Art Club from now on), from back when it aired in 2016 but I didn’t finish it. As some of you know, I also don’t drop shows, so guess this was my chance to officially finish it. I didn’t track how far I got or anything but I believe it was about three episodes in. Additionally, I don’t remember too much about the show except some basic premise stuff and that there were some darker(?)/sad undertones to this seeming comedy show. With that out of the way, let’s get to it!
The First 5 Minutes
In this section I’m going to really laser focus on only the stuff in the first five minutes, what kind of impression this series leaves, and if this is something I’d actually continue on my own outside of the collab (spoilers, this part is probably yes). To that last part, sometimes I sample a show and don’t officially pick it up (hence the no drops), but this is rare. I’m not sure if I did that with this show way back in 2016 or not, just wanted to clarify.
If you really want to get mileage out of this, or really any of the collab posts in this series (linked here), then I suggest you open up Crunchyroll and start the episode with me. With mine it’s five minutes; what do you have to lose? I’ll give you a second to get ready.
Yes, I’m hilarious, thanks.
Ready? Let’s start then!
Right away I notice the episode’s synopses to the right. It reads:
Uzumaki Subaru joins the Art Club with Usami Mizuki. Mizuki has a crush on Subaru, but he’s only interested in 2D girls.
That was something I clearly remembered, outside of the names. I consider this part of the, “first five minutes” because if you are watching this on Crunchyroll or VRV, you are likely going to see this. On another note… they totally get the dude’s name wrong, and this is MASSIVELY relevant to something I’ll bring up later. His name is NOT Uzumaki, it’s Uchimaki.
The preview image shows a girl doing some art with a guy nearby, which establishes the two characters from the above quote pretty quick (at least assumedly, but I can confirm this having seen this episode before).
Once you hit play you get a nice sunset landscape shot which transitions to dim interior shots of what one could reasonably figure to be a school. This is confirmed rather quickly with a short focus on a school club sign, and then shots of art. Accompanying this is a gentle track that sets a relaxed, and almost somber tone. Kind of weird for what should be a comedy show.
Before the opening hits you get a quick introduction to the two main characters, a general sense about them, and a punchline that the guy, Subaru, uses his art talents to draw (in his mind) top-shelf waifus.
Then we get the OP. For those of you not watching at home, I’ll link you that here. This is actually a pretty big portion of the first five minutes we are lookin’ at here so let me do my best Geoff impression. What’s in Art Club’s OP?
Right away it communicates that this series is about art. That’s really cool! Mizuki’s line art appears, then slowly gets colored in with water colors in time with the music before going, “full anime” on us. This continues with other characters whom we haven’t been introduced to yet, but we can assume they will be future club members. The final shot is of Subaru, and who we can reasonably assume is the club president or club’s adviser.
A quick note here, with each character stuff goes on in the background which gives you a little insight into what each character is like. For example, the older looking guy has pillows, and I remember that he was one sleepy dude. I wouldn’t call this subtle, but it’s something you might not pick that out right away consciously.
We then get an avalanche of art supplies before the title card, complete with pulsating paint tubes. This is all done in time to the music, which up to this point has largely been a rad sounding guitar. The vocalist comes in to sing, accompanied by the other instruments, and the result is a song that I’m not crazy about but don’t hate. I do like how well the animation matches the music though, that’s good.
After a solid transition we get a boring walking shot. These often feel lazy, and this is no exception, even if there is a little more going on here after the appearance of another character on the moon orbiting the earth. There’s some purpose here if I remember right, but seeing how the rest of the OP is, this is a pretty weak bit.
So, there is no real reason to know this unless you’ve seen some of the show before but Mizuki has this thing for drawing apples. You kind of see it in the first few moments of the show though. Anyway, you see her trying to get Subaru’s attention with her ever-increasing apple art but he’s laser focused on his waifu art, ignoring her… at least until he starts picturing Mizuki in various Otaku-centric outfits.
The way this is put together implies that Mizuki is kind of into this but then she suddenly realizes what’s going on and becomes depressed as Subaru has a good laugh about things. I seem to recall some things that lineup with this, but I’ll chalk that up to speculation at the moment since it is rather fuzzy.
After this bit the music gets a lot more energetic (and better) with some fun character shots that don’t really mean much of anything. We then get ANOTHER walking type shot, but this time Mizuki is running with a paintbrush, painting the background as she goes. This kind of reminds me of Barakamon’s OP.
She then trips a bit before getting back into her happy-running-fun-time. More characters doing their dance thing and then…
F A N S E R V I C E
Ok, back to more, “Jumping Up!” and Mizuki’s patented happy-running-fun-time. You then get the payoff as the camera zooms out and it is revealed that Mizuki was painting a portrait of all the characters the whole time, which keeps inline with the art theme, and is just a really neat shot in general. We finish up with one more character splash for everybody before Mizuki shatters it all with her bat to reveal the title card one more time.
Episode one is titled, “These People Have Problems | Goodbye, Uchimaki-kun” which makes me think that we are going to see how dysfunctional the actual cast members are, as well as some insight into possible hangups. It is also implied that Subaru is going to leave but given that he is the love interest here, he’ll most definitely NOT be doing that.
I love this dude’s line, “She’s my seventeenth waifu.” As somebody who doesn’t really buy into the waifu/husbando thing, that just really tickles me. I know that this isn’t even necessarily a lot, but given that Mizuki kind of gives me normie vibes, it certainly sounds excessive, which is the real point here. That and the, “reveal” as to what Subaru’s dream is.
Outside of that you get a quick introduction to some other characters, reaffirmation to Subaru’s Otaku nature, and then the five minutes ends with the big question, “What’s the fun in drawing apples?” Ok, so there is five more seconds after that bit but I like the idea of ending it there.
Really, these first five minutes give you just enough of the idea to what you are signing up for and not much else. This isn’t really surprising, but I also know that this doesn’t plant a lot of hooks either. Unless you really care about Mizuki’s pinning for Subaru or you hardcore identify with one of them, this probably won’t be enough for you to commit on its own.
If I were to judge it on just this, I would say this is easily a generic high school show with not much going for it. There are some things in the OP and some unusual shots from the first few establishing moments that makes me think otherwise for a few seconds, but in the first five minutes, there isn’t any callback to them so I could just assume that it was all for the sake of setting up a joke.
It’s not like this leaves a bad taste in ones mouth or anything, it just comes off as slightly more than generic as a first impression. Would I watch this outside of the collab? Yeah, probably if I was bored and just wanted something light, though it wouldn’t be high on my list of even then. Still, it seems like I’ll enjoy watching this for the collab at least. To answer my final question, as to why I never finished this, I really don’t know. Maybe something happened later that put me off? We’ll just have to see!
The First 5 Minutes… and Beyond!
Well since I watched the whole episode I thought I would quickly sum up my thoughts on it here. This will be a pretty short section since it isn’t the focus of my prompt.
Ah, yeah that was probably what put me off to finishing. Most of this is pretty funny but I’m not a fan of how it does fanservice. That said, I’m just not big into fanservice in general. I may have just sampled this and never returned, not sure.
Anyway, the more interesting bits is that as the episode goes it gives you a MUCH better idea of things (hides a few things to be tricky too; astute viewers will know), who the characters are, and that makes it a lot more compelling than it may initially seem. Especially factoring in the second half of the episode.
There is some nuance in Art Club, especially regarding its direction. It has several good shots and directorial moments that, don’t exactly feel out of place, just more than necessary for this type of show. For a, “fluff” type show that doesn’t really seem like it would otherwise stand out, especially from those measly five minutes, it really makes you think something could really come out of this show by the end.
So will you be joining us for our weekly dive into Art Club? Let me know your thoughts on the first 5 minutes of the show in the comments below. Be sure to follow Yomu while you’re at it as well! If you’d like to support my writing please consider donating by hitting my donation button down there. Lastly, thanks for taking the time out of your busy day to read and I hope to see you back here at Jon Spencer Reviews again soon!