If someone asked you what genre of anime Sofuteni would be, what would you say? The best answer would be that Sofuteni is some sort of tennis/slice-of-life/comedy/ecchi anime. But what is the dominant genre? In other words, if you could only choose one genre to categorize Sofuteni, which one should you choose?
Let’s start with the first choice and say it’s a tennis anime. It’s rather obvious that there are tennis elements, seeing as everyone is in the soft tennis club, most scenes take place on the tennis court, and the cast is primarily shown in their tennis uniforms. Okay, that should be enough to classify this as a tennis anime but there’s fairly important one thing missing: the girls never actually play tennis. Sure, they’ve gone to practice and done some drills but they’ve yet to play a real match yet. In these first two episodes, the most we’ve seen are a few clips of the girls rallying which actually has been my favorite scene thus far. But there hasn’t been any real focus on playing tennis aside from about 1-2 drills per episode. Until there are more matches, or even rallying, I’m hesitant to tag this as a tennis anime.
Next up is seeing if the slice-of-life tag fits. Sofuteni actually does the slice-of-life aspect pretty well, showing various scenes throughout the day of the girls doing a variety of things. The tennis practices are always unconnected scenes, never showing a full transition between each other, and often on entirely unrelated topics. It allows for us to see some of the more interesting snapshots of their lives. But it can’t really be considered a slice-of-life anime with those elements alone. The entire episodes revolve around the tennis practice rather than the lives of the characters. We have yet to see most of the school they go to, the rural town they live in, other characters in their lives, or what the girls do outside of tennis. It can’t really be considered a slice-of-life when the episodes encompass the couple hours they spend before- and after-school practicing.
When I heard Sofuteni was a comedy anime, I was a bit skeptical about how much comedy you could milk from focusing on a soft tennis club. Well, the answer is probably very little. Sofuteni actually makes most of its jokes outside the realm of tennis and school, which is a pleasant surprise for me. The diversity in humor is probably the strongest aspect of comedy in this anime. That and there’s an obvious focus on comedy as most of the scenes tend to lead to some sort of joke or gag. And while most of the jokes are misses to me, there are always a few that make me laugh, or at the very least, somewhat amused. But I’m not ready to label this as a comedy anime simply because of how weak the comedy is. I’m not just saying that because I don’t think most of the jokes funny but rather that a majority of the jokes are clichés or ones that are so obvious that you know what’s going to happen and thus kills the build-up. Sofuteni just doesn’t have a strong delivery when it comes to most of its jokes and some of the humor it uses is rather bland or clichéd. Although I did laugh at the one below.
Sometimes I think Sofuteni uses the tennis theme primarily to put the girls in tiny skirts so they can flash their panties whenever they jump, dive, sit, or even just stand there. It was slightly confirmed when Elizabeth, the transfer student, was about to put on shorts but Asuna refused, tackling her and revealing both their panties to the audience. And then there’s Asuna’s imagination, taking virtually every sentence into some sort of ecchi scene. But there really isn’t a whole lot of fanservice outside of Asuna and her mind. There have been fewer ecchi scenes that I would’ve expected from this show and in fact, only one shot was censored this week (and it really could’ve passed censors easily). In fact, with the small amount of fanservice in Sofuteni doesn’t warrant the same label as other ecchi anime like Seikon no Qwaser, Rosario + Vampire, and Agent Aika where you can tell those things are selling points. Sofuteni only has a minor focus in ecchi compared to some of the other series out there, so it wouldn’t be right to label that as the primary genre.
So despite there being four possible genres for this anime, there are problems with each. However, if I had to choose one of those, I would label this a tennis anime. While it is unclear what to call it now, I’m positive we’ll be seeing tennis matches sometime in the near future which would solidify this category more than any of the others. I’m sure the slice-of-life will begin to grow as the girls do things together outside the tennis court, but the common connection between the girls will be their soft tennis club membership. And there’ll be more of a focus on comedy and ecchi-moments as the series progresses, it won’t be enough to overtake the constant tennis theme presented throughout the anime. But still, I wonder when we’ll see our first match.
I didn’t plan for that to happen at the end but it was a very Kotone-focused episode.
One of the things I liked about the first episode of Sofuteni was that there was no romance or school-related activities to be seen. Too bad it only lasted one episode as those two specters appeared in the second episode. The romance, or rather, the love-triangle developing between Kotone, Elizabeth, and their coach Mishimagi is painfully cliché and unoriginal. If only they could air two version of this show, one with the love-triangle scenes and one without, then I wouldn’t have a problem with it. The school aspect, however, wasn’t bad at all. Instead of having the girls do schoolwork or just sit in class and talk, the scene actually had a few jokes and provided a chance for Asuna to meet Elizabeth. Still, I hope most of the scenes take place on the tennis court rather than the classroom. Hopefully the third episode can keep the relationship to a minimum and keep the girls on the tennis court. With any luck, maybe we’ll see a tennis match, too.