Note: This is the my review as part of the Reverse Thieves Secret Santa Project.
Romance can be sweet. Romance can be exhilarating. It can be mellow, dramatic, fun, bitter, and much more. But often times the best word to describe this roller coaster ride we call love is “silly.” Not trivial, not foolish, and not frivolous, but the kind of silliness that reminds you that, as serious as love can get, it’s best to approach it with a genuine smile. That is the lesson Lovely Complex teaches over the course of 26 episodes.
Lovely Complex is the story of a girl and the boy who sits next to her in class. The girl is Koizumi Risa, an energetic high schooler who towers over nearly every guy in the class and often believes that love is beyond her long reach. Opposite Risa is Ohtani Atsushi, a diminutive fellow with lots of attitude who is very sensitive about his size. If love is a roller coaster, then Ohtani constantly feels like he can’t meet the height requirement. Though they may argue constantly and are quick to use each others’ height complexes to rub salt in each others’ wounds, Risa and Ohtani are actually friends even if they believe otherwise.
As an anime, Lovely Complex has many strengths. The characters are fun, interesting, and very human. The story moves along at a brisk pace; you never feel like it’s dragging or going in circles even when you think it might be, and the interaction between Koizumi and Ohtani is very entertaining and will have you smiling constantly. The best moments are when the two start to bicker, as even the most heated argument between the two can be defused by their shared enthusiasm for the silliest things, be it arcades, sweet drinks, or their favorite (fictional) hip hop star “Umibouzu.” Watching their bond develop is perhaps the most enjoyable part of Lovely Complex, and the result is that the show gets better and better as it progresses.
If the show has any weaknesses, it’s that not much emphasis is placed on the art. Characters will go frequently off-model and the show often sticks with a “good enough” mode of animation, but fortunately the format of Lovely Complex with its exaggerated expressions and constant style shifts is such that it doesn’t seem too out of the ordinary and it doesn’t lessen the impact of any scenes. In some ways actually helps to emphasize the characters’ personalities over their looks.
If it isn’t obvious yet, Lovely Complex is very much about the characters and I invite anyone who watches anime looking for a more down-to-earth, real sense of romance to take a look. Looking at the cast, if I had to pick a favorite character it would have to be Risa. She builds up her courage and makes a big move, and then immediately frets over it the next day. She’s tall but not “sexy,” clumsy but not “cute,” yet still has her own unique charms that make her feel less like an “anime heroine,” and more like a person. She’s a really wonderful character to the extent that I wish that somewhere out there is a “Koizumi Maniax,” because she really deserves it.
Lovely Complex: it’s a good romance anime where the drama is always cut through by good cheer and laughs. It’s silly, it’s serious, it’s a good thing to enjoy by yourself or with another.