Haruhi Happiness.jpgAnri Happiness!

I don’t want to hide the fact that I don’t really have a clue why I have ended up enjoying this show quite a lot. Nothing really stands out (except Yuuma’s crazy mother) when I try to analyse Happiness! but I guess this is just another comfirmation that some things are more than the sum of their parts. When you look at the show you can easily classify it as yet another romantic comedy that takes place in a high school, a concept that is one of the main pretenders for the most beaten to death idea. Yet, this show does make me laugh out loud and no character has yet made it to my list of characters who should be put out of their misery, actually none has even managed to get on my nerves at all. And let’s face it – bright colours, light-hearted atmoshpere, beautiful girls and some comedy is a winning formula when done right. Alas, things seem to go wrong very often when the formula is tried, so I need to enjoy the successful attempts as much as I can.

The plot revolves about a high school student named Haruhi. Seems like this is quite a trendy name for the female lead characters these days. Anyway, Haruhi is most talented student in her school, which is not an ordinary one but one that teaches magic skills. We learn very early on that she has had a fateful childhood encounter with a boy who has saved her from some bullies using magic when she was a little girl. Did anyone say that this is such an annoying cliche? Well, yes it is, no doubt about it but I do hope for a miracle – i.e. her not ending up with that boy.

Anyway, Haruhi is almost a texbook example of moe-girl – often blushing and embarrassed, soft voice, nice to everyone almost to the point of stupidity, general cuteness, etc. That said, thus far she hasn’t managed to get on my nerves. I suspect this is because despite all the moe-ness she still behaves more as a high school girl than as an elementary school brat, unlike your average moe character. But maybe I am just deceiving myself and refrain from bashing Haruhi because her character design is much better than that of the Kanon girls? I accept such a possibility but I think her seiyuu is also an important factor. Haruhi’s voice somehow manages to emphasise the “cute and innocent” part of moe that I can tolerate, rather than the childish and silly part which I loathe.

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Since I already started describing the characters let me continue with Haruhi’s sidekick – Anri. She is a really genki (lively) girl who always seems to bite more than she can chew and ends up making a fool of herself. Apparently her goal in life is to take the position of number one mage in the school away from Haruhi which funnily enough does not stop her from hanging out with the latter all the time and being her best friend. Although this character achetype is very far from original and is not exactly one of my favourites, thus far I like Anri the most. Her over the top antics often make me laugh. The moment when she arranged all the chairs with magic was an instant classic. Why? Because she arranged them very well…but on the ceiling, not on the floor, so they ended up falling down in one big heap in seconds.

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Yuuma is the romantic interest of Haruhi. No, let me just say that he will be the romantic interest, for now she is trying to deceive herself that he is not but we have all seen such plots and know all too well that this means only one thing – they are so going to end together sooner or later. So far he has beeen thoroughly unremarkable which is more than common for anime guys who have girls falling in love for them for some inexplicable reason. But we know that Yuuma does not like magic which is an obvious hint for magic related traumatic experience. Haruhi is a mage so we will follow one of the oldest cliches in the book, I guess, the one notably made famous by Romeo and Juliet among so many other books, plays, moves, etc .

mini-bscap0006.jpgJuns crazy mom

At first glance Jun seems like Haruhi’s rival for Yuuma’s heart which makes Yuuma something of chick magnet. There is a catch though – Jun is actually a boy who likes to dress in feminine clothes and pretend to be a woman. Of course, if we weren’t told we wouldn’t have noticed this since Jun looks and behaves exactly like a girl. This I can accept – unlike in Otome wa Boku ni Koishiteru his classmates know very well that Jun is not a girl, so the suspension of disbelief is much easier. It’s interesting that although Yuuma is not too happy that Jun claims to be his girlfriend, he does allow the latter to cling onto his arm possessively for a time in episode one, something most boys would not do, even if they happen to be very tolerant of crossdressers or gays. Jun is a funny character who unlike some others traps from this season actually can use his brain and his presence makes the story a bit more unpredictable. Of course, right now it seems inconceivable that he would beat Haruhi and end up as Yuuma’s sweetheart, mainly because the producers would not dare to offer the audience yaoi relationships (and also because childhood fateful encounters have a mystical power in love affairs) but I am curious what his role in the story will be.


I can’t be bothered to write about the rest of the characters but I simply have to mention Yuuma’s mother. She gave her son chocolate for Valentine’s and generally behaves as if her son is actually her lover or something. She also decided to redeem herself for her mistake in episode three by getting naked in front of everybody. She is just crazy in a very funny way.

The animation is memorable mostly due to its more than liberal usage of bright colours. The girls are good looking and unlike recent abominations like Lovedol, it’s very easy to distinguish the characters and remember who is who, even if you don’t rely only on remembering their hair colours. The voice acting is one of the most appealing features of Happiness!, at least for me. The voices suits the characters almost perfectly – the voice of Haruhi is full of shyness and the moe levels reach heights usually reserved for seiyuu godesses like Noto Mamiko, but it also shows determination if need be, Anri’s one is literally dripping with enthusiasm and Jun’s so girlish you start suspecting it’s trying to hide something with that which is exactly the case. If we trust ANN, the seiyuus for Jun and Haruhi are new to the world of anime which is given bonus of their voices not reminding me of their previous roles.

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So I get to the end of this entry and I still can’t explain why I praise rather than bash Happiness!. Feel free to accuse me of hypocricy next time I criticise some anime for its large number of cliches. I think the problem is that a series needs almost perfect execution and great attention to be paid to the details, in order for me to get over the lack of originality. Plus, Jun is something of an original element. The bottom line is that this show makes me laugh, the characters are more than bearable and there is not an annoying amount of stupid fanservice. If this remains the case I think I will watch it to the end with pleasure and I will complain that it’s only 12 episodes long.