At 170 centimeters, Risa Koizumi is taller than your average Japanese high school girl, as such, she feels it’s an impediment to her ability to succeed in love. At 153 centimeters, Otani Atsuhi is shorter than your average Japanese school boy and as such, he also feels it’s an impediment to his ability to succeed in love. As a pair they have a lot in common and make for good friends (a comedy duo of sorts), but nevertheless fight and bicker to no end. Eventually though, Risa’s feelings turn to love, if only Otani wasn’t so oblivious.
summary by Two-Twenty
Highs: Starting and ending; comedy hits the mark almost every time
Lows: Boatloads of wasted potential; melodrama galore; too many throw-away characters; some musical pieces
When it comes to romantic comedies it’s important to get the balance between the two genres just right: they must complement each other. The comedy aspects shouldn’t interfere with the progression of the romantic aspects and vice-versa. Simple enough, yes? Unfortunately, Lovely Complex fails at doing exactly this.
Deceptively though, the first handful of episodes were nothing short of gold. The height gimmick, while may seem a little tacky, is actually a great source of laughs and not a bad story catalyst. The cast of characters are immediately loveable and their chemistry makes them absolutely hilarious. For about five or so episodes it trucks along with fantastic pacing that leaves you looking forward to the extent to which these relationships will develop, then BAM! It screeches to a grinding halt.
The grand majority of the rest of the series is spent watching Risa and Otani run their relationship in circles: Otani says something thick-headed, Risa cries, they make up and do the same thing next episode, ad nausium. The supporting cast is completely side-lined and Risa and Otani go backwards and forwards, episode upon episode, with this will-they/won’t-they garbage. Yes, there are a heck of a lot of laughs in between—it’s what made the series bearable—but it’s not enough when immediately after laughing your head off you’re reminded of just how little this show actually progresses; It is the epitome of frustration. It gets even worse during the second half of the series as a handful of throw-away characters pop up from no where, for the sole reason of causing drama and/or humor, then disappear just as fast. By the end, the supporting cast do get a little development but in a way that’s awfully bland and ultimately does them a disservice. Thankfully, the last episode does return to form, but it’s just not enough to rescue it: it’s simply too little too late. As if to add insult to injury, some of the music is particularly grating: there’s a piano piece that’s played pretty much every time Risa sheds a tear, and given how much that happens, one gets pretty sick of it by episode 24, and while the first theme song is genuinely catchy, the second (and its matching ending theme) is some of the most horribly contrived, boy-band, J-pop I’ve ever heard.
It’s a real shame that Lovely Complex turned out to be such a dive because for a while there it was shaping up to be the next His and Her Circumstances, but when the grand majority of the anime is spent rehashing the same plot device over and over, it’s no wonder it turned out to be such a disappointment. It’s pretty much the perfect example of how not to do a romantic comedy.
Lovely Complex can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.