Review/discussion about: Shomin Sample
Unlike the girls of Ore ga Ojousama Gakkou ni “Shomin Sample” Toshite Gets♥Sareta Ken (if you tried to say the title ten times fast, you would not get done for an entire year), I have never been a fancy person let alone a rich person. I do not buy expensive clothes. I do not own exquisite pieces of art. I do not seek out caviar taste-tasting parties.
The fanciest I have ever been treated is at Disney. More specifically, the Disney cruise. Like any cruise, the ocean, the boat, and the activities are abundant. However, what separates a Disney cruise from most other cruises are the unique restaurants they contain. But the restaurants were not the best part.
The best part was that each family got not one but two personal waiters or waitresses. I sadly cannot remember their names, but they were jovial and kind, waiting on our beck and call for food, drink, and anything else we needed. For just a few days, my family and I were not treated as guests – we were treated as royalty. At dinner anyways.
Shomin Sample (shortening the title because the official title is a little absurd), does not have waiters and waitresses, but it does have maids. A lot of maids. But still not enough maids to clean up what this one offered.
Shomin Sample takes a look at a rather interesting situation. Kimito, a boy, or more commonly called a commoner, is thrust into an all-girls school. But this is not one’s run-of-the-mill all-girls school. This all-girls school contains girls of the upper-upper class. The rich beyond words. The classy.
This dichotomy between common and class gives the anime its comedic edge. Having these girls, who are so naïve of the normal world outside of their exorbitant bubble, creates one funny episode after another. One episode has them visiting a replicated, commoner city. Another episode has them learning about a popular gesture. Another still has them discovering the “reliability” of horoscopes.
Besides the dichotomy, Shomin Sample introduces a harem element. Karen, Reiko, Aika, and Hakua each fall for the thigh-loving boy in their own way, but there are three main problems with the approach.
One, the anime does not give equal proportion to the whole cast. Karen and Hakua in particular are not given the same amount of time. They have scenes and even half of episodes dedicated to them, but whole episodes and arcs are reserved for Aika and Reiko.
Two, the harem element does not serve much of a purpose. Nothing ever comes of the relationships between Kimito and the girls, and, when it does, the anime makes a point to regress it.
Three, the harem element arguably conflicts with the main motif. The anime is (mainly) about what common people do, what classy people do, and how these two camps coincide. Common people usually do not have multiple suitors, settling with one man or one woman ‘till death do they part. And while classy people may have the money to have multiple partners, as Reiko’s arc shows, classy people likewise settle with one man or woman (and through arranged marriages no less).
The sexualized nature of the anime can also be called into question. Mostly because it is rather pointless. Having both Reiko and Aika in nothing but their bra and underwear, wrestling on Kimito’s bed, does not help the narrative all that much. Arguably, though, the girls “lowering” themselves to such levels matches the commoner versus class motif.
Then the anime includes this weird side plot. Eri, Kimito’s female childhood friend, is shown quite sparingly throughout the season, wondering where her friend has disappeared to. Like the sexual content, it’s pointless, but it may be unfair to criticize it given that her plotline did nothing whatsoever. Still, they do allude to it, indicating some modicum of importance, importance that is not present.
Besides the comedy, the harem, and the random plotlines, Shomin Sample has a more dramatic side when it so chooses, drama that does not lend itself to a grander message. There may be something to be said about common folk and classy people – that the two sides can be together despite their financial and societal differences. But the show does not explore this route until the end when it tries to tie together every single episode in a few lines of dialogue. I.e., shallow exploration. Instead, Shomin Sample remains content with the muscle-men comedy and the up-skirt ecchi-ness.
Not that this is a misstep since the anime wanted to be nothing more than this. However, having drama that goes mostly nowhere does mostly nothing for the show.
Shomin Sample’s art treads into difficult territory more so than it may wish to.
To be fair, the character designs are cute or attractive in their own right. Reiko and Karen have ample figures, Aika’s orange hair matches her fiery, bubbly personality, and Hakua is an adorable-looking kid. The characters have an odd sheen to them, and they regularly stick to their black-and-white, plain school outfits, but, as harem members, they class it up well enough.
It is everything else that sours the experience. The rest of the art tends to be bland due to the same locations shown over and over – namely, Kimito’s room and the surrounding grounds of the school. The anime does try to diversify its art through comedic representations, like with funny faces and imaginative depictions, but, for the most part, the art is not that impressive.
The last episode, in fact, earns a special negative shout-out. It gets quite rough: Some wonky drawings and even missing animation make the final stretch disappointing to see.
Speaking of animation, the animation overall sticks more on the low end. Action sequences are not prevalent (and they are not expected to be), but even the everyday happenings like dressing up as maids or playing a dance-centric video game do not have the characters moving all that much.
(Also, as an aside, there is a sneaky picture of a dude giving two peace signs in the moon depicted in the OP. He’s upside down and faded, blending in with the craters and colors. Perhaps he is related to the standup comedian they emulate. Probably pointless, but it was at least worth pointing out.)
The cast of Shomin Sample are a mixed bag, but, ultimately, they are financially unstable.
Perhaps it is best to start with the best: Reiko. Reiko is perfect beyond words: She is unbelievably kind, articulate in action, and a beauty to boot. Naturally, she falls in love with Kimito, wanting nothing less than to take his hand in marriage. Her time in the club and, more specifically, around Aika reveals that she may not be as perfect as one is led to believe. She has difficulty grasping commoner topics, and she (initially) despises Aika and Aika’s behavior. And, for a time, this is all that is given of Reiko.
It is not until the final few episodes that more to her character appears. Forced into an arranged marriage, she finds herself not wanting to follow the tradition of her household. Instead, she desperately wants to be with Kimito and her best friends – Aika included. After they come to her rescue, Reiko demonstrates courage in standing up for what she wants, proving that, however slightly, her character has changed for the better.
Aika comes next. Aika is initially shown to be quite shy. Seemingly ostracized from the rest of the school, she finds it difficult interacting with anyone due to her accent and due to her accidentally (and constantly) blurting out what isreally on her mind. Thankfully, Kimito arrives, giving her the opportunity to form the “Commoner’s Club” and the chance to finally attain the social life she has always wanted.
To get to that point takes several episodes filled with foregone chances and comedic asides, but, eventually, Aika finds comfort in friendship from the other students. This friendship almost immediately gets revoked, however, calling into question the point of her conflict to begin with. At the minimum, her time in the club provided her with everlasting friends and a social life that is a sure step up from where it was before.
At this point, the rest of the cast sharply falls off in terms of strength. The other two main female protagonists – Karen and Hakua – miss out on the character investigation that Reiko and Aika received before them. Their characteristics are more than made known. Karen’s swordplay is unrivaled, but her willpower is weak. Hakua’s genius literally causes her to strip naked, and she has quite the adorable crush on Kimito. But as relatable people, ascharacters, they more than fall short.
The same can be said for Miyuki, Kimito’s personal maid at the school. She is oddly passive-aggressive towards Kimito, yet her true feelings for him are apparent when the secret of her “I wish you had never woken up” mantra is made known.
But, again, very little else about her character is given. Their past connection is not shown. The reason for her actions and feelings is not shown. Even something as simple as having her interact with the other cast members is not shown.
Yet the worst character in Shomin Sample is undoubtedly Kimito. Now, yes, Kimito is designed as more or less a self-insert male lead. He is nice, he is plain (impressive relative to the school and the students), and he is followed by a harem of pretty girls. I.e., Kimito is a rather bland character. But these traits are somewhat expected given the harem, ecchi, and comedy genres that the anime steeps itself in. So his traits are not so much negatives as they are acceptances.
No, what makes Kimito the worst character is something that he never gets. To reiterate from earlier, the main motif of the anime is the common versus the classy. And, for the most part, the classy people learn a lot through the commoner Kimito. But the opposite, that Kimito learns a lot through the classy Aika, Reiko, Karen, and Hakua, is almost nonexistent.
The girls learn and grow and change as a result of Kimito’s arrival and subsequent help, but it almost never seems as if Kimito takes advantage of the same chances. Arguably, the events are designed not for him but for everyone else, but, by failing to reciprocate Kimito for what he did for all of them, his character consequently fails to make his experience a worthwhile one.
He even gets in the way of the main theme of the cast: the tried-and-true importance of friendship. As has been said, Reiko and Aika both better themselves through the friends they find. Karen and Hakua, despite not having their own exploration, are no longer lonely (due to, arguably, personal estrangement) because of the friends they make.
For Kimito, friendship is usually on his mind. After all, he did not aid Aika, fight for Reiko, and put up with Karen and Hakua for the fun of it. He did it because he considers them his friends. Then what is the problem?
The problem is that friendship, while a staple part of his character, does not affect his character. He did not seem to have trouble making friends. (“Did not seem” because his past life is almost never shown.) He never has any conflict that requires the girls, his friends, to help him out. And although he sets up the opportunities for friendship for Reiko, Aika, and the others, he rarely explores the concept of friendship – what friendship is, how friendship is obtained, and so on.
As has been mentioned, Shomin Sample likes its comedy and its sex, so it not having deeply explored themes is not necessarily an issue. Still, when it tries to push one but cannot even get its main character involved, the theme falls flat. Combined with the problems with the other characters, it is easy to see just how much in debt they end up being.
The music and sound-work of Shomin Sample is arguably the anime’s best trait.
The opening track is surprisingly silly, relying on onomatopoeia for many of its parts as well as strange sound-effects. The upbeat tone and the fast-paced nature of the piece continue the silliness. It also helps that the piece includes multiple vocalists, symbolizing the group of four girls. While the OP is not superb, it is a fun little song that fitsShomin Sample nicely.
The ending track slows down the tempo slightly when compared to the OP. It also ditches the multiple vocalists in favor of a single one – the childhood idol friend. It is still a happy song and is a pretty catchy one, too. But the ED is not particularly unique enough or emotional enough to make it into a piece worth remembering.
Even more forgettable is the original soundtrack. One piece includes a serene, floaty composition filled with pianos and pipes. One piece is backed by a choir to accompany Kimito’s fantasies. And another is more triumphant in tone. Most of the pieces have an air of class to them. As though they would be played in a tranquil garden or at some ritzy auditorium. Hence, they may be forgettable, but they are quite fitting for the anime.
(As an aside, the water-droplet sound-effect that accompanies some of the steamier moments made those moments that much funnier.)
As for the voice acting performances, they are generally above average in quality. Rika Tachibana as Reiko drips her words in refinement. Yuu Serizawa as Aika gives the peppy girl a thick accent wrapped in happiness galore. And Yuuki Kuwahara as Hakua whispers her way to cuteness. Chitose Morinaga as Karen and Saori Oonishi as Miyuki deserve shout-outs for their oft weird and intimidating voices, respectively. And for Ms. Tachibana and Ms. Morinaga, these roles are their first major roles, earning them even further accolades for a job more than well-done.
Despite all of the problems the anime may have, I quite liked this one.
It achieves the rare feat in a harem: Each girl is likable. Karen is easily my favorite of the bunch. She is hilarious in mannerisms, attractive in her actions, and crazy in her sword skills. Karen is followed closely by Reiko and Miyuki. (Miyuki may not count as a member of the harem at this point because of her lack of screen presence, but still.) Reiko’s constant romance angle made me overjoyed and Miyuki’s horrible attitude towards Kimito, while undoubtedly rude, never failed to make me smile. And the ecchi content helped to make Karen, Reiko, and Miyuki that much more attractive.
Now for the other half of the cast. Hakua is adorable. Whenever she grabbed onto Kimito’s sleeve with her tiny hand, I let out an audible “Aww!” Then when she got upset and very lightly punched Kimito, I just had to “Awwww!” even longer and louder. However, I was not a fan of the slight sexualizing of her. She is already a cute and fun character; she is also a child. So when the anime gave her a naked running joke, I frowned and shook my head at the unnecessary inclusion.
Aika and Kimito were funny in their own right as well – Kimito less so than the girls, but he still had his moments. Aika’s genuine efforts, Kimito’s “You got me mad now!” joke, and their silly interactions together added that much more to the hilarity. And when they were all together, the anime had no trouble getting as many laughs out of me as it could.
Ore ga Ojousama Gakkou ni “Shomin Sample” Toshite Gets♥Sareta Ken has a lot of shortcomings. Its art is weak, its story is weaker, and its characters are weakest. Still, parts of the sound are composed well, and the anime makes it difficult to doubt just how funny it is. Be it served by maids or waiters, this anime ends up as quite the mixed dish.
Story: Bad, commoner versus class motif creates comedy, but the pointless harem, the distracting sex and plotlines, and the improper handling of its common-and-class theme shrinks the narrative’s strength
Animation: Bad, nice character designs, bland artistic direction, and below average actual animation
Characters: Bad, Reiko and Aika are mediocre characters, Karen, Hakua, and Miyuki needed more, and Kimito ruins the whole experience
Sound: Fine, good OP, okay ED, okay OST, above average VA performances
Enjoyment: Good, fun characters, hilarious moments, but Hakua’s naked running joke was unnecessary
Final Score: 4/10
Thanks for taking the time to read my review. If you want, take part in the discussion below! :3