Cats make me sneeze

No, really, they do. That’s part of the reason I could in some ways relate to the main guy in Nyan Koi!. The similarities end there, however.

But yes, aside from making an attempt to get back on the blogging horse, why am I writing about Nyan Koi!? Well, amongst the sea of harem love comedies out there, Nyan Koi! stands out just a bit with its unique gimmick and sense of humour. Just a little bit, however. But before we get into all that, I may as well try to summarize the, uh, “plot” of the show in the next paragraph… like a real review.

Nyan Koi! is the story of Kousaka Junpei, an extraordinarily unlucky young man who happens to knock the head off of a statue of the local cat god, and incurs its wrath in the form of a curse. That curse being, Kousaka gains the ability to understand cats and has to help 100 of them with their problems, or else he’ll eventually turn into a cat himself. Considering he’s allergic to cats, one can see how this fate would be less than ideal. And since this is a shounen romance, there’s a harem of beautiful girls all vying for Kousaka’s attention, and are they sometimes related to the cats he has to save. This harem includes the traditionally sweet and caring (and primary love interest) Mizuno Kaede, the tomboyish childhood friend Sumiyoshi Kanako, the Yakuza heiress Ichinose Nagi, the eternally lost postal worker Mochizuki Chizuru, and the shrine maiden sisters Kirishima Akari and Kotone one of which is a by-the-numbers tsundere, the other of which is a creepy sadist and stalker. In addition to all of them are a whole host of wacky side characters like Kousaka’s family, the shifty priest that owns the aforementioned cat statue, and all the cats that Kousaka runs into.

Shounen/otaku romance shows can skew in a few directions, and Nyan Koi! skews towards being tongue-in-cheek. The show doesn’t take itself or what’s going on it terribly seriously. In fact, what keeps the show afloat is its use of humour, most of which relies on a lot of loud overreactions to things and in general has a habit of shooting everything over the top. As veterans of comedy anime will know, this isn’t terribly original (what is?) but it’s pretty funny if you get into humour like that. The romance section of the series is strictly by the book, but is balanced out well by the humour, and is sometimes a subject of joking itself. Like I said, this show isn’t terribly serious.

Despite the show’s cat gimmick, the girls are the real reason anyone is watching the show. The focus on helping the cats more or less goes away about half-way through the show, but they pop in every now and again to crack some jokes at Kousaka’s expense. The structure of the show falls back on traditional episodic TV-writing, so there’s not much in the way of serious cliffhangers or a strong romance plot that underpins everything. Characters will refer to past events, and their feelings and thoughts change over time, but things are primarily started and resolved in the span of each 24 minute episode.  This does the show well, since it’s not meant to be that serious anyway.

The characters are somewhat interesting spins on established archetypes, with my personal favourites being the flamboyant Ichinose Nagi and the wonderfully creepy Kirishima Kotone. Perverted mail woman Chizuru is almost up there, too. Mizuno is pretty typical, but she’s very cute and inspired mental cries of “moe~” every now and again. Sumiyoshi is a typical overbearing tomboy with a sharp tsundere edge, but did make her grand entrance in Mamba makeup, so that’s worth noting. As is typical with these shows, the side characters are a bit more off kilter than the main players, and provide a great amount of humour with their own antics. The show could do better with its talking cats, but they manage to pull of some pretty funny personalities with them, as well. It’s pointless to note whether or not these characters break any new ground (of course they don’t) but they’re all fun have a good share of humourous lines.

Design wise, things keep within modern anime convention, but have something of a sharp shounen magazine edge to them. There’s nothing particularly noteworthy about the animation, but it’s all well executed and never really looks lazy. The show’s direction changes between being hyper for humour sections, and being sedate for when the show decides to take its romance seriously. The background music isn’t anything of note, and the opening and endings are typical anisong compositions.

In the end, Nyan Koi! is pretty standard, but has a fairly strong humour element that pushes it beyond the norm just a touch. As one who partakes of shounen romance quite a bit, there are definitely shows I enjoy more, but Nyan Koi! certainly was not a waste of time, and was a pretty fun way to spend 24 minutes each week. If you’re looking for something light and fairly well executed, Nyan Koi! fits the bill perfectly.