A Channel Review : Anime Without Equal

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A Channel is an anime adapted from four-panel manga by Kuroba bb. The anime was aired from April 7, 2011 to June 23, 2011 with total episode of 12. The Blu-ray Discs come with 11 special short episodes dubbed +A Channel. In addition, 2 episode OVA called A Channel + smile was released on March 21, 2012. The studio behind A Channel is Studio Gokumi. A Channel is the first TV Anime created by the studio. The quality is surprisingly unrivalled. The manga was first released on December 2008 and by the time I write this post, the manga has 7 total volumes.

Story
The story about A Channel is about simple daily life of four high school girls. Basically, the concept and theme aren’t special but the improvement from every components of this anime makes this anime beyond very special. While the concept of the story and theme aren’t special, the story is actually very excellent. It’s simple, peaceful, relaxing, and entertaining. Not putting the burden through your head thinking about not important stuffs and allow you to enjoy how the story flows. I didn’t expect a story with simple idea like high school girls daily life can be this interesting.

Characters
Characters in A Channel is far from boring. There are four main characters in the story with five noticeable supporting characters. They have their own personal traits which make each of them different than other characters. Focusing only on 4 characters is a good thing because the screen time for each character will be plenty, allowing us to understand each of them more.

Main Characters
Momoki Run
Voiced by : Fukuhara Kaori
Voice Acting Score : Outstanding
First thing that you’ll notice about Run is her parakeet hairstyle. Run is very innocent and air-headed. She seems to be sleepy all the time including in class time which is perhaps the reason why she is air-headed. Despite being air-headed and slightly weak in academic, Run is not actually dumb.
Fukuhara Kaori is the oldest and the most experienced seiyuu  of the four main seiyuu(s). Kaorin was popular on Lucky Star era due to her role as Hiiragi Tsukasa. Her cute & innocent voice really stands out. And guess what, the impression she left with Run is quite close to Tsukasa. A pure, innocent, and air-headed girl. But Run is just not dumb unlike Tsukasa.

Ichii Tooru
Voiced by : Yuuki Aoi
Voice Acting Score : Outstanding
Tooru’s signature appearance is her short height and overly long sleeves. She always wear a sweater given by Run. Because Tooru has known Run since kindergarten, Tooru loves Run so much. She dislike anyone who tries to make move on Run and will protect Run with anything she could. She seems to be somewhat jealous with Yuuko due to Yuuko’s big breasts. This is shown by how Tooru often teases Yuuko at any possible opportunity. Tooru is the only main character on first year while the others are already on second year.
Yuuki Aoi is the youngest seiyuu of four main seiyuu(s) but the way she did her voice acting here is not like a newbie at all. She able to do her role as Tooru in a perfect way. Tooru’s height is 145 cm which is more or less similar to Ao-chan’s height.

Nishi Yuuko
Voiced by : Kotobuki Minako
Voice Acting Score : Excellent
Yuuko is the tallest of the four main characters. Her height is 168 cm and her body is mentioned to be a model-like. Because Yuuko came from Osaka, she speaks with Kansai-ben. Yuuko is very timid and scared easily. This weakness of her makes her become the victim of Tooru’s teasing.
The name of Kotobuki Minako is clearly familiar with K-ON!’s fan because she voiced Kotobuki Tsumugi on the series. This time, Mina-chan’s demonstrated her ability to speak in Kansai-ben and the result is far from bad. Combined with Yuuko’s personality, her voice acting turns out to be very interesting.

Tennouji Nagisa
Voiced by : Uchiyama Yumi
Voice Acting Score : Good
Nagisa or simply called Nagi is the only character with glasses and pigtail hairstyle. She is a pretty level character with no distinctive personality. As a normal girl, she is sometimes worried about her weight. She can be looks very different when she removes her glasses and let her hair down.
Uchiyama Yumi debut as main character in anime started with A Channel in 2011. That is also the reason I didn’t recognized Ucchii (as called by Kaorin, Ao-chan, and Mina-chan) at that time. However, compared to the other main seiyuu(s), Ucchii’s career  as seiyuu still develops nicely. Her role in this anime is mainly good but hardly impressive. The fact Nagi is the most normal character make her role less interesting and less challenging compared to the other main charas.

Supporting Characters
Five supporting characters in this anime are Imai Yutaka, Noyama Miho, Satou Sachiyo, Kitou Kimiko, and Kamate Taki. Both Yutaka and Miho (also called Miporin by Yutaka) are Tooru’s classmate. Yutaka is very obsessed with Tooru while Miho often try to keep Yutaka from bothering Tooru too much. Miho works as a part-timer in a cafe. Yutaka is voiced by Matayoshi Ai and Miho is voiced by Saitou Momoko.

The other three supporting characters, Satou Sachiyo, Kitou Kimiko, and Kamate Taki are teachers in the school where Run, Tooru, Yuuko, and Nagi study. Satou-sensei is the health teacher. He seems to be kinda obsessed with Run’s forehead. Kitou-sensei is Tooru’s homeroom teacher. She is strict and seems to be well-motivated. Kamate-sensei is the homeroom teacher of Run, Yuuko, and Nagi. She is seems kinda lazy but easy-going. Satou-sensei is voiced by Ono Daisuke, Kitou-sensei is voiced by Chihara Minori, and Kamate-sensei is voiced by Sawashiro Miyuki.

Animation
The animation in A Channel is top-notch. For a 2011 anime, I’d say the animation still looks better than most anime released after that. It was very groundbreaking. A Channel is the first anime I saw that surpass Visual Novel in terms of background image. The lighting, color, and shadow are very immersive. It’s like something that you can find in a nice quality photos. I have never seen something as detail as this before this anime. It just ‘just’ an anime about daily life but the Studio Gokumi, the studio behind A Channel anime really takes the works seriously. I am surprised I didn’t get the same impression from Kiniro Mosaic and Hello! Kiniro Mosaic which are also from the same studio but released in 2013 and 2015.

Music
The music in A Channel is also something outstanding. It’s nice and relaxing and guess what? The title of each background music is started with “a”. Surprisingly, A Channel has more insert song than music-themed anime or idol-themed anime like K-ON!, Love Live! or THE IDOLM@STER! Yes, every episode has their own insert different insert song. In total, the number of insert song is even more than the number of episode! The insert songs are arranged to match the scene in the story, making them feel even better!

The list of the music is as follow :
Opening Theme
1. “Morning Arch” by Kawano Marina (TV)
2. “Balloon Theatre” (バルーンシアター) by Kawano Marina (OVA)

Ending Theme
1. “Humming Girl” (ハミングガール) by Fukuhara Kaori, Yuuki Aoi, Kotobuki Minako, and Uchiyama Yumi (TV)
2. “Sumairu Houteishiki” (スマイル方程式) by Fukuhara Kaori, Yuuki Aoi, Kotobuki Minako, and Uchiyama Yumi (OVA)

Insert Songs
1. “Harukaze No Kagaku” (はるかぜの化学) by Fukuhara Kaori, Yuuki Aoi, Kotobuki Minako, and Uchiyama Yumi (ep. 1; ep. 12)2. “Start” by Fukuhara Kaori, Yuuki Aoi, Kotobuki Minako, and Uchiyama Yumi (ep. 2)
3. “Gyutto Shite Hoshiinda” (ぎゅっとして欲しいんだ) by Yuuki Aoi (ep. 3)
4. “Summer Day Syndrome” by Fukuhara Kaori  (ep. 4)
5. “Mermaid Sisters” by Kotobuki Minako (ep. 5)
6. “Tanken No Susume” (たんけんのススメ) by  Uchiyama Yumi (ep. 6)
7. “Summer Breeze” by Kotobuki Minako (ep. 7)
8. “Ocha Merodikaru Byuutii Ban Ban” (オチャメロディカルビューティーバンバン) by Fukuhara Kaori (ep. 7)
9. “Koi Ichiya, Yume Ichiya” (恋一夜夢一夜) by Uchiyama Yumi (ep. 7)
10. “Tomodachi” (ともだち) by Fukuhara Kaori and Yuuki Aoi (ep. 7)
12. “Kimi no Te” (君の手) by Ono Daisuke (ep. 7)
13. “Tsubasa wa Naikedo” (翼はないけど) by Fukuhara Kaori and Yuuki Aoi (ep. 8)
14. “Okashi na Jikan” (オカシナ時間) by Fukuhara Kaori, Yuuki Aoi, Kotobuki Minako, and Uchiyama Yumi (ep. 9)
15. “Happy Snow” by Fukuhara Kaori, Yuuki Aoi, Kotobuki Minako, and Uchiyama Yumi (ep. 10)
16. “Kitto Zutto Motto” (きっと ずっと もっと) by Yuuki Aoi (ep. 11)
17. “Mikakuninhikou Girl” (未確認飛行ガール ) by Kotobuki Minako  and Uchiyama Yumi (ep. 12)
18. “Taisetsu na Basho” (大切な場所) by Yuuki Aoi, Matayoshi Ai, and Saitou Momoko (OVA ep. 1)
19. “Happy New Days” by Fukuhara Kaori, Yuuki Aoi, Kotobuki Minako, and Uchiyama Yumi (OVA ep. 2)

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Final Thoughts
Anime without equal. Something that might sounds exaggerated from me. But that is how I feel about A Channel. Simply because every part of this anime is so excellent. You can rate an anime as excellent if it had an excellent story even when the animation or music are not special. However, finding one that excellent in every part is something I have never found until I watched A Channel. It brings my experience of watching anime to a different level. Therefore, A Channel serves as platinum standard in my collection.

Story 10
Animation 10
Sounds & Musics 9
Characters 9
Voice Acting 9
Overall 10
Rated as Anime without equal

Pros
(+) Excellent quality animation that is significantly better than average anime.
(+) Background Musics that really build the atmosphere of the story.
(+) A lot of insert song that surpass the number of insert song in music-themed anime.
(+) Excellent voice acting in most of the characters.
(+) A peaceful and entertaining story with virtually no conflict.

Cons
(-) Unless you hate peaceful story, there is nothing to see here, really.

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