This post was originally written for the FinallyAnime! group blog and published there on April 13th, 2013. Since that blog is largely inactive by now, I’ve decided to archive the post here in its entirety. The original post: http://finallyanime.com/2013/04/first-impressions-photo-kano/
As the second episode aired on Friday, I finished my first impressions a little late. Nevertheless, cue the opening song “Koisuru Lens” (Lens of Love) and here is my take on the first episode of a series, translated as Photo Girlfriend. (Written in katakana it is フォトカノ with the ‘kano’ part taken from the first character 彼 of kanojo, a girl or girlfriend.)
Quick Summary: Photo Kano is adapted from a PSP dating sim and therefore we expected it to boast many characteristics of such a game. The male protagonist may be almost the most ordinary high school student to ever walk the Earth, but he has at least one distinguishable trait – he keeps picking up hobbies and dropping them, which is more than frowned upon in Japan. You should choose a club and stick to it until you graduate, right?
When our main character, Kazuya Maeda, receives his father’s old digital camera (from the company Canan, paraphrasing Canon) at the beginning of the first episode, photography becomes his new hobby. Thus he spends the whole first day of school snapping pictures between classes, smiling at a girl here, taking a photo of a friend there. Little does he know a fellow student is watching his every step. Leaping out of the bushes, the president of the Photography club appears and Maeda-kun is doomed.
There are two photography-oriented clubs at the Photo Kano high school. The female Photo club with 2.5 members, who focus on capturing the beauty of changing seasons, nature and are official school photographers. On the other hand the Photography club aim for borderline eroticism. With a low-angle specialist, almost a bird’s-eye-view photographer and a perfect stalker, not a single pair of ladies’ undergarments is safe from being documented. If you’ve seen the episode you know Maeda-kun enters the latter under some undeniable pressure from the Photography club president.
Enough with the summaries now! Is this what we expected? And what did exactly we expect? What about the beautiful girls I completely omitted in the above summary?
Let us not even consider the possibility of not reading a single series description and thinking Photo Kano would be this season’s Tamayura. What the majority expected was probably a regular harem and/or ecchi anime, just like with any other dating sim adaptation. In most aspects we were close to 100% correct, I believe. There were both moments of unquestionable lewdness and a rather boring (and all-encompassing) selection of potential dates.
Photo Kano is hardly innovative in its array of females. From the left on the above image, we have the Student Council president Aki Muroto, the baseball ace Nonoka Masaki, clumsy Rina Yunoki, the childhood friend and school beauty Haruka Niimi, the sister Kanon, the loli gymnast Mai Sakura, shy and mysterious Misumi Tomoe, and ice-cold Hikari Sanehara of the Photo club. All of these are pretty archetypal characters and while that is expected of a dating sim, it doesn’t have to be a rule. Think back to some ren’ai games, for a very different example consider Katawa Shoujo.
Since the anime is an adaptation, the creators don’t have much freedom when it comes to the characters. On the other hand adding a few idiosyncrasies to liven up those cliché archetypes would be welcome. Who knows, maybe some will come to light in the upcoming episodes. After all the first episode introduced most of them rather briefly to Maeda-kun’s advantage as his character was given more space to gain the viewers’ sympathies. Nonetheless the gang of weirdo photographers might just be the most interesting characters in the series so far.
There are two ways the anime can continue now. Either it can touch upon every girl and in the end choose one winner or it can walk us through all the routes with six restarts in between. Personally I’m betting on the former approach. There are seven girls (discounting the sister, Kanon) to choose from and the series is to have only 12 episodes. I don’t think that would be enough to go through every route. So who will be the winner then? As far as I know many, maybe even most, bloggers are placing their bets on the osananajimi, Haruka Niimi, to win. On top of that the “first girl to appear on screen gets the boy” theory is working in her favor.
To sum it up, Photo Kano was a letdown in some areas, but a pleasant surprise in others. While it gets points for still less fanservice than similar works, the amount of ecchi was certainly not low. The animation quality varied through out the episode and some anatomy blunders were a little too much, especially with Madhouse listed as in charge of the animation work. On the other hand I appreciate the Photo and Photography clubs rivalry, I did not expect pretty much anything apart from romance from the series. I am curious as to how the borderline eroticism brothers’ photography tips will go. Hopefully we really will get some of those~
Final assessment: The first episode was pretty good and if it was an original anime, it would certainly be a should watch. But knowing how it’s going to play out (probably), it will most likely be rather generic, although still above average. It is not a masterpiece, but deserves at least 6/10 score nevertheless.
How did YOU like the first episode? And what is the deal with sisters and (suggested) incestuous relationships lately?