Nyan Koi (Cert 12)
3 Discs DVD/2 Discs Blu-ray (Distributor: MVM) Running time: 308 minutes approx.
Cats are very popular in Japanese culture whilst in anime and manga, a favourite fetish of sorts is the cat girl, with shows such as K and Cat Planet Cuties featuring such characters. Nyan Koi is a bit different in that it has cats and girls but not in the same form.
Junpei Kousaka is allergic to cats, which is a bit of a problem as his family own one, a podgy, cynical eyed moggy named Nyamsus who could give Grumpy Cat a run for her money for delivering steely glares. One day whilst walking home from school Junpei accidentally kicks a can into the shrine of a cat god and damages it.
Suddenly Junpei can communicate with cats, the result of a curse placed on him for upsetting the cat god, according to local Buddhist monk Keizo Kirishima. Now, Junpei has to fulfil the requests of 100 troubled cats otherwise he will turn into a cat himself and subsequently die of his own allergy.
An interesting concept to say the least, coming from mangaka Sato Fujiwara, whose series continues to run to this day. With such high stakes the drama is sure to be plentiful while the comedy potential seems incredibly fertile – their wishes and predicaments must run deeper than catching a mouse or being able to open a tin of Whiskers while their owners are away.
If you can feel a “However” coming on then you clearly know your anime because for reasons unknown only to Fujiwara Nyan Koi sprays the whole concept up the wall to bring us…wait for it… another harem comedy! I hope you can hide your disappointment because even though this is a hugely wasted opportunity there is some fun to be found here, despite not leaving any cliché untouched.
You see, Junpei has a crush on classmate Kaede Mizuno, a cute but ditzy girl who loves cats but as she loves in dog household cats avoid her because of the dog odour on her. As it transpires, Junpei’s first request is to save the local cats from Kaede’s over-enthusiastic attention born out of her paranoia that they hate her.
Junpei’s harem grows to include former childhood friend Kanako Sumiyoshi, who sports manba make-up to hide her softer side but ditches it and reignites the flames of passion between her and Junpei. Next is Nagi Ichinose, the rugged head of the athletics team who is in fact the daughter of a yakuza family who abandoned her girly side when rejected by her first love.
Finally there are the Kirishima twins, Kotone and Akari, the former a sweet girl in love with Junpei, the latter a violent tsundere, both later revealed to be magical girls because all conventions need to be covered. Purely for comic purposes Junpei also helps out older girl and postal worker Chizuru Mochizuki who has a terrible sense of direction but she only pops up every now and then.
Equally random is Junpei’s allergy which seems to abate when there are shenanigans to be indulged in involving the girls while the actual the central mission of serving the cats often finds itself a forgotten plot point, unless a new character or crisis is required. For what is already a frustrating series this becomes quite irritating but after years of watching so many shows underperform one learns to begrudgingly live with it.
As mentioned above, just about every familiar and overused facet of the harem comedy shows its face so if you have your check list handy, I can tell you it will almost be completed before the episode count reaches double figures. The school festival, the fairground trip, a visit to the onsen, a day at the swimming pool (no beach trip surprisingly but still plenty of fan service), all are present and correct.
To add to the hackneyed set-ups, Junpei catches a cold and the girls fight over who should tend to him, he is accused of stealing Kaede’s panties, is called a pervert for no reason and is slapped into oblivion on a regular basis. And in the meantime he is madly in love with Kaede who initially doesn’t reciprocate until Kanako, Nagi and Kotone declare their intentions (although Nagi also fancies Kaede).
Essentially I may have just saved you five hours of your life, or you already divined this for yourself since the show is so utterly by-the-numbers predictable, but the annoying thing is that it is quite amusing. Most of the humour derives from the exaggerated reactions of the girls whenever Junpei is in the frame for something – Nagi and Kanako’s angry personae are a hoot – as well as his own reactions with the cats.
The felines themselves are presented as cute comic fodder, representing some of the many breeds as well as jocular references to their owner’s life style – Nagi’s cat for instance preens about with the arrogance of an untouchable Yakuza boss and exudes a pampered flair while a street cat is simply small and grey.
AIC are the studio behind this adaptation and while the animation and designs aren’t exactly groundbreaking or spectacular, they do suit the frippery of the show and make for a bright and bouncy distraction. The pacing remains high and there is always something happening – just as shame the central issue of Junpei’s life threatening curse becomes an afterthought.
I suppose by now we should be used to seeing good idea sacrificed for the quickest return by pandering to the lowest common denominator, and Nyan Koi is a fine example. One can argue that Junpei and friends do go on some sort of journey of self-discovery but did it really need to be via such a trite route when the central premise was so inviting and original?
What could have been a good series is sadly the very essence of a quick fix, rainy day anime, worth a few laughs at the most.
Japanese 2.0 w/ English Subtitles
Clean Opening Animation
Clean Closing Animation
Rating – ** ½
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