Rating: PG-13 – Teens 13 or older
Lovely Complex, going by MAL ratings, is the most overrated show on this site. I don’t mean that in the spiteful, hateful, rage-driven “omg this show is so overrated because I hate it” way (though I do hate it), I mean that objectively – yes, OBJECTIVELY – this show is fucking terrible and the difference between its actual quality and the quality its MAL score ascribes to it is larger than for any other show on this site. And I’m going to explain why.
Romantic comedy is the easiest genre to write for. People watch romcoms to relax, laugh, and relate to likeable characters. It’s obnoxiously easy to write a decent romcom –anyone that can write at above a 6th grade level could do it. You only need two things to create a successful and enjoyable romantic comedy:
1) Decent humor
2) Decent romance
That’s it. That’s literally all you need. You don’t need to be clever, you don’t need great prose or scripting, you don’t have to worry about complex characterization, you don’t need thematic or ideological purpose, you don’t need Biblical references or any of that shit. The average romcom is less funny than actual comedy series, and has less interesting and authentic relationships than the average romance or drama. They are easy as shit to write. Make a nice, likeable couple, make their relationship feel somewhat real, avoid too much drama, sprinkle in a few semi-funny jokes, and you’ve got yourself a solid romcom that most people will enjoy.
Lovely Complex fails at all of these things really, really badly.
Let’s start with humor. There is none. All of the jokes are tired, cliché anime-isms and shoujo-isms like the entire class overreacting whenever Risa and Otani do anything, the guy being retarded and dense 24/7, Risa hitting Otani whenever he does something stupid (which probably causes the head injuries that exacerbate Otani’s mental retardation), and of course, the repetitive height gags that get old after the first five minutes of episode 1. This show is painfully unfunny, and I imagine the only people that laugh at it are people that have lived lives so miserable they’ve never had an opportunity to laugh at anything. You can argue that humor is subjective, and I will argue that subjectivity is no excuse for derivative, clichéd writing devoid of originality (no, making the girl tall and the guy short does not qualify as original writing).
“But humer IS subjektif u arrogant bastrd y r u makin fun of muh favrit show ;_; “ – whatever fine humor is subjective, I’m sorry I made fun of you and your favorite romcom and I’m also sorry this is your favorite romcom.
But we can forgive humor if the characters are good. Unfortunately, LoveCom’s characters are some of the worst in anime, and that’s saying something. The side characters aren’t even worth mentioning because they’re all one-note, with all the usefulness and narrative presence of background noise. As far as Risa and Otani – well, here’s a detailed, incisive analysis of our lead couple:
Risa is tall. She is short-tempered. She is very conscious of her height. She is very dense. She likes Otani for pretty much no discernible reason whatsoever. She likes the band Umibouzu.
Otani is short. He is short-tempered. He is very conscious of his height. He is very dense. He struggles to understand the idea of romantic affection, no doubt because Risa’s beatings have given him extreme autism. He likes the band Umibouzu.
That’s Risa and Otani. Not “in a nutshell”, that’s literally it. There is nothing else notable about their characters. This is Lovely Complex’s second biggest failure. The writer was so focused on exploiting cheap height gags that they forgot about writing decent characters. One argument I have heard is that they are autis- uh, “dense” because many teenagers are dense and Risa and Otani are just “realistic”, “honest” reflections of this. This is false. Ninety-nine percent of teenagers are not nearly as dense as Otani or Risa. Stupid, sure, but not as dense. The other one percent suffer from actual autism. Risa and Otani are gags. They are exaggerated for comic and dramatic effect. They are bland, obnoxious, painfully one-dimensional characters with the emotional and intellectual maturity of toddlers. They aren’t even likeable characters, but here I will concede to the “subjectivity” crowd, because I’m not going to waste my time arguing about what defines the “likeability” of a character. It doesn’t change Risa and Otani being an absolutely terrible lead pair.
I mean “lead pair” in every sense. They aren’t just bad individual characters, they are among the worst, most uninteresting couples I have ever seen in any romance. Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero were a better couple. Arguably the most important aspect of a romcom is to make the relationship feel realistic. Risa and Otani’s relationship lacks any semblance of authenticity. Why are they a couple? Because Risa likes Otani. Why does Risa like Otani? Because “I like my best friend” happens all the time, fine, whatever. So how are they compatible? What makes their relationship go beyond superficial tropes? What makes them right for each other? How are they similar and how do they complement each other? Do they have chemistry?
Well, they…they fight a lot, which is the same thing as chemistry, right? Apparently the author thinks so. Oh yeah, and they like the same band! That’s singular, one band. The author was so lazy that they couldn’t even invent other shared interests. Couldn’t even make it an entire genre of music. Just one band. They sat down one day and decided that giving them exactly one shared interest was enough to validate the authenticity of their relationship. And sure enough, just like with their height complexes, the anime beats this into the ground and reduces Umibouzu to a shitty, uninspired gag. So to sum up – they fight a lot and they like the same band, singular. That is the extent of their compatibility.
This is the caliber of writing we are dealing with, people. Lovely Complex is an utter failure. Romcoms have the some of the most lax standards of any genre, yet this show did not even come close to meeting them. It is an absolutely pathetic attempt at romance and the acclaim and adoration it has received is baffling. I know that the anime crowd is prone to interpreting any premise with even a hint of originality as “subversive” or “deconstructive” or whatever, but god damn.
I’m sorry if you like this show, I really am. I don’t mean that in a condescending “oh I’m sorry you have shit taste” way, I mean that I am genuinely apologetic for ripping on a show you like. I will even the score. I like Kakumeiki Valvrave, probably the worst average-length anime ever created. Feel free to send me hateful PMs about how shitty my taste is. But, unfortunately, it changes nothing about Lovely Complex’s status as the most objectively overrated anime.
*Reviewer actually rated it 0/5 but Avelys wanted to have at least one cute lollipop so :^)