Softenni seems to consistently do one thing right. And that would be the comedy. With the tennis scenes suddenly absent, the ecchi scenes unpredictably censored, and the romance scenes somehow still included (really?), the comedy has continued to remain delightful and satisfying.
The comedy of Softenni has been its strongest and most memorable attribute. Some episodes remain hit-or-miss with their scenes but the eighth episode of Softenni delivered numerous quality jokes. The anime’s style of comedy seems to have progressed to a level where it realizes what it is and knows what the audience wants to see. And that’s good; it’s not trying to be something it isn’t. Most of the jokes are still silly or dumb but they get you to grin, if not laugh. Personally, my favorite scenes are whenever the girls are goofing off and having fun together, since the jokes are often visual and quick (like the first picture above and the one below). The comedy has been the best aspect of Softenni and this episode appeared to be the pinnacle for the season thus far.
Not only was the eighth episode the pinnacle for comedy but for ecchi as well. This episode featured enough upskirt shots, ecchi scenes, and sexual innuendos for an entire season of a regular fanservice anime. And as always, the censors were erratically inconsistent, calling into question why they’re still doing it. For one, you have a scene censored where Shidou flashes her panties. Okay, I understand censoring that. But then why did the flashback of the exact same scene go uncensored? It is irrational, letting certain panties go free while others are repressed by giant animal faces. You’d think with an anime like this where fanservice is one of the major selling points for certain fans that the ecchi scenes would be a little more lax with the self-censors. Guess we’ll find out when the BD/DVD sell numbers are released for this anime if it helped or hurt its case.
The eighth episode also introduced a new character, Shidou Misaki, the soft tennis national champion for middle schoolers. She fits in well with the steadily growing cast of tennis players but she has a charm many of the newer characters lack. Her range in personality and reactions goes from an intimidating and serious character to a gag character with cat-like characteristics. Shidou is one of the more versatile characters in Softenni, similar to Asuna and Kotone, in that she can be serious of amusing and switch between the two in a few frames. She seems to be embarrassed easily which contradicts her elite status as a tennis player. Her cat-like characteristics add another layer onto her personality, giving her a cute side that many of the characters lack.
As for the other new characters, the cast of Akadama Middle School, I can’t help put feel those characters are simply lacking. Aside from Sumino, the rest of the girls were virtually absent in the episode, aside from being lifeless bodies at the beginning and background characters during the playful scenes at the mountain inn. Sumino and Seriha are the only ones who’ve been examined, while the rest have been featureless in the series thus far. I don’t think Nagumo (the tall girl with glasses) or Tsuchida (her partner) have had more than 5 lines throughout the whole season. They seem like they could be interesting but they’ve had no chance to show what they can do aside from the short match they had with Elizabeth and Leo. I’m hoping to see more of them and the rest of Akadama’s soft tennis club in the coming episodes, especially if they are tennis related, since introducing them and then doing nothing with them is unnecessary.
And for the normal cast of characters, not much has changed. Asuna seems a bit more aware and serious about things going on and Kotone has been used in more comedy scenes than before. They are my two favorite characters and seeing them have a varying range of emotions and personalities only helps strengthen my fondness for those two. I’ve gotten more accustomed to Elizabeth’s voice and speech pattern but her role is still dumb, obsessing about Mishi the whole time or being the support for Kurusu’s jokes and never doing anything else. Kurusu and Chitose have not changed much, either, but their jokes are getting better. I guess only the two main characters are getting the development in Softenni, which is not surprising. At least it is the two best characters.
With only four episodes left in the season, I’m a little clueless on where the series will go and then conclude. I expected them to play in a tournament (not the championships) and place but I am not so certain anymore. With the appearance of the national champ in the series, I guess she’ll face off against the two middle schools and eventually lose a match to either Asuna or Kurusu and then lose to someone from Akadama or something along those lines. I wouldn’t be surprised to only see an episode devoted to tennis, which would be disappointing, while the rest are just practice scenes focused on comedy, ecchi, and romance. There will be some pseudo-resolve between Kotone, Eri, and Mishi, too, but that could happen at anytime. Hopefully tennis will return to the series soon. If not, no worries since the comedy is strong enough to carry the series when nothing important is going on.