written by Justin Prince (@prince_justin)
Hands down, one of my favorite anime series this season. Finishing up the twelve episode run, I can’t help but feel somewhat bittersweet about the whole thing. During the first episode, I got a vibe from the show that strongly reminded me of one of my favorite anime series of Fall 2012; The Pet Girl of Sakurasou.
The Kawai Complex Guide to Manors and Hostel Behavior tells the story of Kazunari Usa, a fairly straight laced boy who moves into the Kawai Complex when his parents had to move for work. Now starting his first year of High School, he hopes to make his High School Debut, forgetting all the hard times he had during Middle School. On his first day, he catches a glance with a mysterious girl reading alone in the library… immediately intrigued by her he wishes that he can spend his high school days getting to know a girl like her. In true anime series fashion, this girl, Ritsu Kawai, turns out to be Usa’s senpai and housemate at the Kawai Complex. Ritsu comes to live there since the complex actually belongs to her family (hence the name, Kawai Complex).
Usa and Ritsu both have their respective issues, Usa was a bit of an outcast in Middle School and Ritsu is the proverbial loner, preferring the characters in her books and viewing actualy social interactions as exhausting. But as Usa begins to enjoy reading, it seems he’s found a common ground to get closer to Ritsu. Usa often talks about literature with Ritsu and he sincerely seems to love the books Ritsu recommends to him. Their sweet and sincere love story really drove how much I loved the series.
While the core narrative generally follows Usa trying to get closer to Ritsu, the rest of Kawai Complex’s denizens are what make this colorful cast of characters feel complete. Usa’s roomate Shirosaki is a proud masochist with a heart of gold, Mayumi Nishikino is the office lady with a truly unfortunate love life, Sayaka Watanabe is a college student who acts sweet on the outside but has a sour personality, and Sumiko is the sweet natured manager of the Kawai Complex. The way the cast interacts with each other is truly the sweetest aspect of the series. When a member of the house has a bad day, Sumiko goes out of her way to prepare their favorite food for dinner. Much of the charm of this series revolves around how despite the often eccentric cast can act, when the chips are down they really look out for each other. One such instance involved when Usa took a job at a Houseboy Cafe (a themed cafe where the waitstaff dress like traditional Japanese houseboys) and the members of the Kawai Complex saved Usa from a rather unruly bunch of High School kids who were cruelly poking fun at him.
Overall, the series felt sweet through and through. While I really enjoyed how sincerely Usa wanted to be closer to Ritsu, I felt the strength of the series fell into when all the denizens of the Kawai Complex were together. At only twelve episodes, we didn’t get the finality that series like Sakurasou or ToraDora (one of my other favorite anime series) had, but I was satisfied with how it ended. Hopefully we can get a second season, I can’t wait to step back into the Kawai Complex. For now I guess I have to read the manga. An absolute must watch, PRINCE tested… LIFTED GEEK approved.