Sofuteni – 1

There’s a reason I decided to blog Sofuteni this season over a number of much better, more interesting, and popular shows this season.  No, I haven’t gone insane yet (but I expect those results to come back any day now).  For one, I think Sofuteni presents a distinct challenge in its blandness and mediocrity.  What’s the point of blogging if I only chose the best shows or my favorite shows every season and just gush all over them for a 12-week period?  I feel I can learn a lot more about why I’m so passionate about anime by selecting a diverse range of shows and exploring where they take me, instead of picking my favorites and only writing upbeat posts about each show.  Secondly, I figure no one will be blogging this anime since there isn’t gonna be a whole lot to write about each episode.  That is another test the show brings up: I’ll be able to see how my writing and creativity have improved since I started blogging back in January.  It will be a challenge trying to come up with material weekly, but I think it’ll be a fun experiment to grapple with a average anime such as this.

So anyway, onto Sofuteni!

Sofuteni revolves around the main character, Asuna, and her three friends in the Soft Tennis club at their middle school.  Training for the upcoming tennis tournament in two months, the girls prepare for a morning practice before class, effectively allowing us to be introduced to each character when they arrive at the tennis courts.  All the characters lack dimension and are overtly generic but they do have some chemistry between each other.  Asuna, the pink-haired protagonist (I’m not sure if that’s applicable here) is the ditzy girl with a wildly sexualized mind, often imagining her club members in various ecchi situations.  She loves tennis and wants to get better but spends most of the time playing around with her friends rather than practicing.  Kotone is the energetic tomboy who actually has some tennis skills but thinks she’s better than she really is.  She also has feelings for their coach, Mishima, who would rather be drinking with the school principal or sleeping rather than coaching these girls (my hero).  Chitose is the boobs character, having large ones herself and being associated with milk and eating throughout the course of the episode.  She also wears glasses and is an airhead, too, so she fulfills most of the stereotypical roles found in these kinda ecchi animes.  Kurusu is obviously the most dedicated tennis player but is a quiet-type who likes to goof-off.  So far, she’s my favorite girl but she was featured the least out of all the characters in this episode.  And there’s some blonde foreigner who’ll appear in the next episode.  And that’s the entire cast.

Over the course of the episode we see the characters interact with each other in comedic ways (although most of them aren’t funny) and actually practicing tennis.  That’s right, they actually go through some drills and rally for a bit, although instead of showing a real practice, it’s mostly just disjointed scenes used for laughs and times to show off their panties.  There really was no development of a plot besides a quick exchange between Asuna and Kotone about some upcoming tournament.  And there really wasn’t a whole lot of tennis either, instead focusing on the girls talking about random things like it’s a slice-of-life anime.  The comedy and character introductions seemed to be the main focus of the episode.  But with most of the comedy being rather tame or the results of Asuna’s fantasies and with the characters being featureless and ordinary, there isn’t a whole lot to the first episode of Sofuteni.  Oh, and there was censorship, too, with the use of animal faces covering whatever naughtiness was on the screen.  And despite all the negativity, I think the anime actually did a few things right.

For one, I wasn’t expecting a whole lot from Sofuteni in the first place.  And over the course of the episode, while I wasn’t terribly impressed with what I saw, I wasn’t slamming my head against the screen in anger or falling asleep from boredom either.  It actually had less of a focus on ecchi scenes than I had originally thought, although Asuna’s imagination doesn’t help.  I did get a few laughs from some of the gags, like when morning practice ended and some of the scenes when the girls were messing around on the court.  As the episode went on, the comedy did improve, too.  And I’m happy to see virtually the entire episode take place away from the classroom or around any guys.  I never enjoy a majority of school anime since they always take place in the same structured classroom with all the students at their desks and always involve the students either sleeping, daydreaming, gossiping, paying attention, taking tests or whatever.  But I think the best thing Sofuteni does is that there are no guys around their age in the entire first episode.  Mixing guys and girls in an ecchi-comedy always ends with me groaning with disgust, so that’s one big positive to take away from Sofuteni.  There won’t be any painfully dreadful scenes where a guy falls and gropes a girl or sees her naked or anything like that.  And there’s no sign of a harem developing either, which is always a good sign since ecchi/harem anime are some of my least favorite genre out there.  So while nowhere near the best anime of the season, this is nowhere near the worst of the season either.

One thing I’ve always wondered is why it took so long for there to be a tennis-themed ecchi anime to be made.  If you think about it, a girls’ tennis club is about a bunch of girls running around in mini-skirts working up a sweat and bouncing around everywhere.  That’s like the perfect recipe for an ecchi anime.  Sure, there’ve always been scenes in various harem anime where tennis has been employed as a means to show the girls’ wearing different uniforms and providing panty shots but why hasn’t there been an ecchi anime entirely focused on tennis?  It just doesn’t make sense.  But I guess I don’t need to worry about that anymore with Sofuteni finally airing.

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