Let’s Give Them a Hand
- Episodes : 13
- Genre : Romance, Comedy, Drama, Ecchi, Shounen
- Airing Date : April, 2004 – Jun 2004
- Studios : Studio Pierrot
Midori no Hibi Introduction
Seiji “Mad Dog” Sawamura is a rebellious teenage boy known for the strength of his “demon right hand” punch, but even people able to beat down entire groups of armed thugs have their areas of weakness, and Seiji’s are girls. It's not that he has trouble approaching them, in fact, he asks almost every woman he comes across out, but he’s so awkward that he can’t come off as anything but uncomfortable and his reputation as a delinquent isn’t helping things. The only girl who likes him is Midori Kasugano, who’s always admired Seiji from afar, but has been shut off from him thanks to a closed-off lifestyle brought on by her rich family. Then one day, they’re suddenly presented with the opportunity to get what they both want, as Midori is now close enough to be Seiji’s girlfriend. The only problem is that she might be too close, as her body appears to have been shrunken down and replaced his right hand. Finally together and with no way out, the pair are going to have to pull out all the stops to make this situation work.
What We Liked About Midori no Hibi (Midori Days)
No matter the countries of origin, it seems that romantic comedies have a reputation of being neither romantic, nor funny, but Midori no Hibi at least nails the first pretty consistently. What especially helps is that we see a solid amount of the characters’ lives outside of their relationship, especially Seiji’s. He has to keep Midori hidden through a lot of the runtime, which lets us see his day-to-day life and shows us how his experiences have led him to be the person he is. Midori is sadly given less characterization, but we at least get some deep dives into her personal life, even if it’s generally just from the outside looking in. The show is never afraid to go the extra mile in making the audience understand the characters and rooting for them as an (extremely) unlikely couple.
The rest of the characters are all developed pretty well too, and each supporting cast member gets an episode or two to explore their relationship with our main duo. The good writing is only bolstered by the stellar seiyuu performances, both in Japanese and in English. In fact, the poignant comedic timing and wide range of the English actors make this probably the best English dub Media Blasters has ever made and the hysterical outtakes included on the tragically out-of-print DVDs doesn't hurt either.
1. Solid characterization in almost every sense of the term.
These characters could honestly be put in the most rote romcom plots you can think of and still make it entertaining. So of course, seeing them navigate such a novel scenario, as the one presented here, makes for a great sit. Great backstories informing great character writing, lending context to great performances means this show has a nearly perfect storm of a cast.
2. Why settle for romance when you can have a supernatural romance?
Let’s face it, at this point we’re all so overexposed to the same frameworks romantic fiction keeps recycling that it’s going to be innately difficult for a completely down-to-earth love story to turn many heads. Midori no Hibi shakes things up just enough to avoid this, as its premise is not just some quick gimmick slapped onto an otherwise platitudinous plot, but a major shift in the story structure that completely changes the romantic progression of our leads.
3. Short, but sweet.
Every year, it seems like there’s more and more anime being made, each season inflated with more and more shows being made for the now archetypal 12-13 episode cycle. This oversaturation has lead to a sort of cultural black hole that sucks a lot of even the best seasonal shows out of the public eye and into a crowd so large that it's hard to tell them apart from the several dozens of dull, mundane 12-13-episode anime that come out every few months. And that's a real shame because, for a lot of people, it's simply more convenient to watch a show whose episode count just barely reaches double digits rather than, say, 291 episodes of Dragonball Z. And since Midori no Hibi is able to develop a complete, satisfying arc over its comparatively short 13 episodes, it can provide depth that compares to some of the most popular anime we know today at less than half the runtime.
1. Good Lord, That Pacing.
Yeah, we just got done talking this show up for how well it was able to pull off its story in just 13 episodes, but honestly, it could probably benefit from being even shorter. There are a few episodes around the series’ midpoint that shift the focus away from Seiji and Midori’s actual relationship and onto Seiji’s classmate who has an obvious crush on him. The result is a drawn-out mess of this character trying to jump the oblivious Seiji’s bones while Midori sits jealously on the sidelines in a story arc that feels like nothing more than filler content, especially with how far out of its way it goes to hit seemingly every rom com cliché on the list, betraying the strengths present in the rest of the show.
2. Visually Uninteresting.
There’s simply not much to look at through most of this show. Aside from the odd nice action cut credited to animator Shinya Takahashi (Konosuba, Log Horizon) the show isn’t animated all that well and the art isn’t very compelling either. As much as the character writing deserves praise, the character designs this writing is attached to are absolutely unmemorable, with most of the cast looking not looking no different than the first thing one pictures when thinking of their respective anime archetype. Even our protagonist Seiji looks at best like a scrapped prototype for Ichigo Kurosaki and the backgrounds are similarly bland, or even barely present at certain points. No matter how you look at it, you’re not likely to find much to see in Midori no Hibi.
3. Not For Those Who Will Spend a Lot of Time Thinking about the Premise.
All narratives necessitate some form of contrivance, but in this series, they’re so numerous that the show comes with a high barrier to entry for any viewers who have a low suspension of disbelief. Most notably, there is no explanation of any kind regarding how and why Midori became Seiji’s right hand. The viewer is simply expected to believe it without asking any questions, or at least not any questions that will be directly answered.
Somewhat more egregious is the way hardly any secondary characters notice Midori on Seiji’s arm, even when they really should. These two have face-to-face conversations in public and nobody notices except for one random classmate of Seiji’s, even his own sister takes a tremendously long time to notice what’s essentially staring her in the face. Of course, viewers who’re able to get past these obstacles will be rewarded with a delightful love story, but these obstacles will still be a deal breaker for many.
Midori no Hibi is a strong showing in the typically flaccid romantic comedy genre that is able to create characters that will stick with viewers for years. Though some structural issues hold it back, it delivers a solid love story with well-rounded characters in scenarios like no other. A must-see for anyone looking for a good romance.