Review/discussion about: Kono Bijutsubu ni wa Mondai ga Aru!
Kono Bijutsubu ni wa Mondai ga Aru! brings me back to when I was a teenager.
In middle school, I enrolled in an art class. I was (and still am) not an artist, and I had no huge drive to become one. So, I mainly saw the class as a free period or at least one where I didn’t have to worry about much at all.
Despite my low motivation, I learned a lot. Colors, shading, and perspective. I distinctly remember creating a two-faced jar and a rolled-up tube of toothpaste. Both were made from clay (then painted), and both were placed on the shelf in the basement for family and guests to see.
Konobi does not teach its audience anything about art on an educational level, but it certainly knows how to get its audience laughing.
Konobi centers on an art club filled with a handful of kooky characters. Usami, Uchimaki, Collette, and President (the senior without a name) are normal students like everybody else at their middle school. However, and as the title implies, they encounter random problems on the regular, putting them in silly, everyday situations.
This anime is like a multicolored can of paint. It contains one part slice-of-life, one part romance, and one part comedy. All mixed together into a colorful concoction that works on most blank canvases.
The blue slice-of-life takes on a mini-story format. Each episode contains two or three small stories that target mundane situations. Losing an item, getting locked in a storage room, and trying to clean a pool are not exactly exciting, but they give the cast the opportunity to explore the simpler side of life. Almost as if each tiny arc is a new drawing that the show creates and the audience beholds.
From the list above, a key factor is missing: art. Like many anime of this type, art is not the point but rather the glue that holds it all together. Yes, they make a sculpture or participate in competitions, but the bonding that they share is infinitely more important than the brush techniques they are using.
It should be noted that the anime has an ever-so-slight focus on sexual material. Tachibana-sensei attempting to put on a tight maid outfit or Uchimaki pointing out that he can see Usami’s panties for the hundredth time are funny in the moment. But, in hindsight, these instances do not fit well with the anime’s friendly, everyday tone (let alone that the setting is literally a middle school).
The red romance seeps into most of the gaps. Due almost entirely to Usami, her mega crush on Uchimaki drives much of the anime’s direction. From the small, endearing jig she does after getting his number or threatening President with deletion should he delete said number from her phone, most of the situations, in some form, relate back to the romantic tones.
Unfortunately, “romance” may be too strong of a word, for what the anime shows is more akin to “extreme teasing” or “ultimately nothing” than the lovey-dovey gushing the audience wants.
Usami more than brings the romance; it’s Uchimaki who is the problem. He does not just misunderstand Usami but rather actively turns her down. He will wave off her thoughts with a “Just kidding!” or constantly remind everyone that he only likes two-dimensional girls. His utter lack of interest ruins many of the scenes in a frustrating manner, leaving the audience to roll their eyes as Usami (inevitably) fails to get across her feelings.
The yellow comedy arguably stands as the foundation of the entire anime. The jokes it delivers are not necessarily clever, but they can be subtle, rewarding its audience with small fits of laughter should they pick up on the references to earlier episodes or the actions taken by the cast. When Uchimaki points out that Tachibana is passed out on the floor again or when Usami’s arm is raised into the scene before the punchline hits, Konobi allows for simple yet effective jokes to thrive throughout its run.
Subtlety isn’t its only comedic brand, but that’s both a blessing and a curse. Straightforward funnies, such as when the manga clerk puts on a smile and says to herself that she wants Usami, Imari, and Uchimaki to leave because they are causing a ruckus, are easily funny. Same goes for its visual gags: a red punch mark imprinted on Uchimaki’s cheek, President slowly losing his sanity with cleaning pop cans. And again with its on-the-spot humor such as when Usami and Uchimaki never recognize the overly competitive student who challenges Uchimaki to contests.
But when the anime constantly relies on the say-it-will-not-happen-but-it-happens-anyway shtick or the he-said-something-weird-so-let-me-tell-him-it-is-weird formula, the anime devolves into a series of same-y jokes that keep the characters from being as comedically creative as the art they produce.
Altogether, Konobi’s paint is not the most appealing in the world, but it forms enough fun to make it worth using on the walls of any clubroom.
Arguably, Konobi’s best quality is the art and animation it so regularly uses.
Although, to start out, it should be noted that the settings itself is plain. It’s in a school and, worse still, it primarily takes place in the same location – the art club – almost the entire time. However, what it lacks in background variety it makes up for in artistic appeal.
Look back at episode three. When Collette is first introduced, and she enlists Uchimaki’s help to find her locket (“the kind that can’t fly”), she eventually stops to inspect a poster. To get Collette’s attention, he tugs on her arm. But he does so off camera, so the shot shows only Collette’s slight jostle.
That honestly does not seem like much, but this nuanced movement highlights how much care the animation is given. I.e., since the art is “immobile,” many more resources are spent on the characters and their mobility. Scenes like Usami running up steps to meet Uchimaki on a bridge are noticeably fluid, and such scenes are seen at different points throughout the season.
The anime also includes many reactions from the characters. Round eyes, triangular mouths, and tons of blushing elevate its comedy to an even greater degree. Often times, these reactions are coupled with colorful or more artsy backgrounds that play along with the fun and the art motif, subsequently boosting the comedy yet again.
As for the characters’ designs, they are not as impressive as the animation or the colorful, comedic art. But they do have their merits.
Usami’s bob-cut hairdo and bunny hair clip gives her a tomboy look while accentuating her girly behavior. Collette’s long, blonde hair contrasts well with her green eyes, her bit of hair that stands up gives her a silly, childlike look, and her short stature adds to her cuteness levels. And President’s ragged hair, loose-and-white button-up shirt, and propensity for wearing no shoes highlight his laziness to the max.
Konobi fails in one major regard: varying up the character scenes.
The cast contains six different people. Usami, Uchimaki, Collette, Imari, President, and Tachibana-sensei. Technically, more characters exist throughout the season, but these six are undoubtedly the main ones focused on.
However, as the opening sentence declares, the anime does not do enough to populate its scenes with different pairings. Most notably, the whole group hardly ever do anything together. As the season progresses, Collette and President appear less and less. And Tachibana-sensei and Imari, who arrived a quarter of the way and halfway through the season respectively, barely get any screen time once their introductory episodes conclude.
That’s not to say that the characters themselves do not have their relationships in place. Tachibana-sensei is harsh on Collette, President always comes very close to revealing Usami’s feelings for Uchimaki, Imari becomes Collete’s “master,” President has a thing for Tachibana-sensei, and Usami (obviously) loves Uchimaki. But, for whatever reason, Konobi does not like to experiment with other and multiple pairings, sticking instead with the ones it already has.
On an individual scale, the characters have their roles and their types, allowing the slice-of-life, romance, and comedy to prosper when necessary.
Usami gets extremely flustered when she deals with Uchimaki or people tease her about her feelings. But she also is not afraid to get overly violent should somebody (usually President) happen to annoy her. Her friends (especially Kaori) support her in her doomed quest, and she never gives up, even when her name is on the line.
Uchimaki cares only for two-dimensional girls, believing that three-dimensional ones are a nuisance unworthy of his attention. He can also draw and paint quite well, and he has a subtle kindness to him that isn’t immediately apparent.
Collette hails from America, and she is about as goofy as possible. Doing magic tricks, wearing bird heads, and believing in justice, this recent elementary-school graduate only sees the happier side to life no matter what she may be doing.
President takes his sleeping seriously, making sure to use the club room’s couch (and their own funds) to his advantage to catch a wink. While he rarely participates in club activities, and he may seem unreliable, he looks out for the others whenever possible.
Tachibana-sensei always has her heart in the right place. She practices her motivational phrases, awards fancy marks as positive reinforcement (even if they happen to ruin Uchimaki’s painting), and she encourages the club in their endeavors. She has a strict side, but her cute behavior (intentional or not) wins over most people that she meets.
Imari is a girl who, like Uchimaki, loves manga and all-things two-dimensional. She has chuunibyou tendencies, believing that her arm contains a demonic power that she must control. Usami sees Imarii as a threat to her (Usami’s) own feelings for Uchimaki at first, but, as she gets to know more about Imari’s athleticism and ability to listen to others, it becomes apparent that Imari is less a rival and more a friend.
Like the story, almost none of the characters here deal much with art. However, and sticking with themes, they each have a “problem” all their own. “Problems” which the audience can clean from their base characteristics. Usami obsesses over Uchimaki. Uchimaki pines after two-dimensional girls. Collette acts like a child. President is way too lazy. Tachibana-sensei cannot speak properly. And Imari plays out her imaginative thoughts.
Since the anime is a romantic-comedy, these “problems” are never addressed as fixable ones. But that’s okay. They are what give the characters and the show in general the foundation to present its content, so one should not expect them to change much at all throughout the season.
Konobi’s musical offerings are once again like the rest of its qualities. That is, while nothing manages to be super impressive, it contains certain pieces here and there that stick out in a positive way.
For instance, the tiny transition piece that plays when one scene switches to another is this quick, dropping sound that adds a bit of charm to the show. Same goes for the transition piece between the mini-stories. A simple set of piano notes that skip happily along make the switch comforting rather than jarring.
The smaller sound-effects, like the rattling that Usami does when questioned about her romantic feelings for Uchimaki, continue to up the playfulness of the show and add to it even more comedy chops.
Voice acting also has its moments. Sumire Uesaka as Collette achieves silliness with ease, especially when she makes her own sound-effects for teleporting-locket magic tricks. Ari Ozawa as Usami speaks cutely whenever she blushes (which happens all the time). And veteran Nana Mizuki as Tachibana-sensei uses a younger, more girly voice that fits the novice teacher well.
The original soundtrack goes with lots of piano, flutes, and wooden instruments to up its lighthearted atmosphere. Stepping drums, clapping beats, and extra chimes add variety to the OST while continuing with the slice-of-life feel it aims for. Plus, the handful of insert songs, like when the club cleans the pool or as the final, closing track in episode twelve, prove Konobi’s attention to its music.
The opening track relies mostly on guitar and drums for its first half, but, as the song progresses, the distorted sounds, background vocals, and fast-paced instruments craft the piece into a livelier one that starts each episode off with fun in mind. At the minimum, the chanting “Hey!” and beat itself are catchy enough to follow along with.
The ending track goes a little weird. The instruments and sounds are simultaneously all over the place and organized, giving it a semi-chaotic composition that, in a way, comes off as artsy. Techno drums, faint background vocals, and off-kilter notes make this direction even more apparent. The singing itself is normal, but it contrasts with the weirdness, making said weirdness that much more noticeable.
This anime is one of those shows that just goes forgotten among the more unique, popular, or truly awful within its season. I almost never see anyone else talk about this anime in the community since it has aired – and I think that’s a shame.
But I can understand why. From the analysis above, it’s pretty clear that the show does not do anything amazing, and it does not do anything horrible. It just coasts along the middle ground for nearly its entire run.
On a personal level, I see a similar yet different outcome. None of the characters are memorable, but Collette’s carefree quirkiness, Usami’s immense cuteness, and Tachibana-sensei’s good spiritedness were a ton of fun throughout the season.
Many of the mini-stories also had me laughing out loud. President and Uchimaki ruining Usami’s picture with red paint. Collette’s locket situation. The “treasure” they find and subsequently try to hide. These scenes and more had me in high spirits for most of its run.
And, for those that know me, they know that I am huge on romance. It’s my favorite genre, after all. So, when I say that I loved the romantic moments involving Usami, I mean it. Uchimaki visiting her house to give Usami her printouts, the indirect kiss with the drinks, and when they got locked up in the storage room got me smiling wide and “Aww!”-ing hard.
My favorite romance moment, though, was the classic dinner-bath-or-something-else scene. Seeing them as a married couple in Usami’s imagination, catching the reference to Usami’s apple painting hanging on the wall, and watching Usami steam up the room due to having these thoughts made for a wonderful romantic-comedy scene.
I was really hoping, hoping beyond hope, that Uchimaki was playing the long con. That his constant pushback and persona was just a façade to get him closer to Usami. And that, by the end, the show would pull the reverse-reverse and make it Usami herself that he had fallen for. That would have been awesome as a joke and to give me the ultimate romance payoff.
Alas, it was not meant to be. Yes, we got the ending exchange between the two where, for maybe a second, he reconsiders his thoughts on three-dimensional girls and Usami. But that was not enough in my eyes.
Kono Bijutsubu ni wa Mondai ga Aru! may not be on the forefront of everyone’s mind, but it stands solid nonetheless. Its subtle jokes, attention to animated detail, and a penchant for romance justify this mindset. While the characters and the content itself may ultimately be too plain, it no doubt gets higher marks than a rolled-up toothpaste project.
Story: Fine, a colorful mixture of slice-of-life, romance, and comedy that is worthy of being on the walls of any clubroom
Animation: Good, fluid animation techniques, hilarious reactions, and some thoughtful character designs keep the visuals looking strong
Characters: Fine, Usami, Uchimaki, and the others each have their “problems” that form the foundation for the romantic-comedy direction taken
Sound: Good, okay OP, good ED, good OST, and good VA performances
Enjoyment: Good, while Usami and Uchimaki’s relationship goes nowhere, the characters were silly, the comedy was fun, and the romantic moments were awesome
Final Score: 6/10
Thanks for taking the time to read my review. If you want, take part in the discussion below! :3