Review for Shomin Sample
I don’t know why it is, but when Funimation titles move house, there’s a far bigger brouhaha than with any other US distributor. I’m hardly ever fascinated by the wherewithal of which UK company is releasing Sentai, Discotek or Aniplex titles, but when it comes to Funimation, there seems to be an all-in approach that also means a periodic drought when they are changing houses. Right now, with them owning Manga Entertainment, you’d expect some permanence, but I have to admit that I had that same sense briefly when they were releasing through their (at the time) UK sister company Revelation.
Before they bought out Manga, they were releasing product through All the Anime, and things seemed to be ticking over pretty well. Certainly they were releasing more than just the usual shonen and isekai fare that Manga seems to concentrate on, and there was a wide variety of genres to appreciate. But once the Manga thing happened, there was a notable period where All the Anime Funimation titles dried up and dropped off the schedules. Shows that I really wanted to watch like Rolling Girls, Dagashi Kashi and Haruchika just vanished. But, they did release Shomin Sample...
Sekain Girls’ School is an academy for the elites, preparing the daughters of the rich and powerful for the world. It’s obviously not doing a good enough job, as when the students graduate, they suffer such extreme culture shock from the outside world and boys, that some become recluses. So a new plan is formulated. They will recruit a commoner schoolboy to serve as an example for the girls, to gradually ease them into the outside world. But they have a duty to keep the students safe. They need a homosexual boy.
For some reason, they believe the schoolboy Kimito Kagurazaka is the perfect candidate, that he has a fetish for big muscled men. He’s kidnapped and brought to the academy, installed in a dormitory and transferred in before anyone thinks to check. He’s not gay, and the only muscles he fetishises are girls’ thigh muscles. But when he’s informed that if he doesn’t conform to expectations, he’ll lose his masculinity, he’s incentivised to keep up the pretence.
Twelve episodes of Shomin Sample plus extras are presented across two discs from Funimation, distributed in the UK by All the Anime.
1. Welcome Commoner
2. Reiko is Who We Wish to Be Like
3. It Was Like the Garden of Eden
4. The Tea Party Incident
5. Just Friends
6. Step Outside
7. The Tsun-Pure in Her Element
8. Aika-sama Has a Lot of Friends
9. Kagurazaka-sama Is Here
10. I’ve Been Curious About This For a While, But What Is Gets?
11. Is This Not the Sky That Kimito-sama Was Looking At?
12. Inexperienced Though I Am, Please Accept Me Forever
Shomin Sample gets a 1.78:1 widescreen 1080p transfer. It’s a decent presentation of an unchallenging anime. It’s a comedy show with lots of bright colours, and simple but effective character designs. The world design too is pretty straightforward, so there isn’t much opportunity for visible compression, aliasing or banding (There’s a bit of banding in episode 12, the traditional point in every anime comedy series where the storytellers get a little bit serious and throw in some drama). The animation does what it needs to tell the story, and of course the bulk of the animators’ efforts are applied to fan service, at which the show is competent enough (it’s no High School DxD). Shomin Sample is watchable enough, transfer-wise.
Shomin Sample gets Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Stereo English and Japanese soundtracks, with subtitles and signs locked to the appropriate tracks. I stuck with the Japanese throughout and was satisfied with the experience, with the actors suited to their clichéd roles, delivering just the performances that you’d expect from a comedy of this genre. The music is forgettable, but fits the genre, and the action comes across well. The subtitles are accurately timed and are free of typos.
You get 2 discs on each inner face of a BD Amaray. The inner sleeve features character art and a contents listing. The discs boot to static menus.
Disc 1 autoplays a trailer for D-Frag!
Episode 5 gets an audio commentary with ADR director Aaron Dismuke, Dallas Reid (Kimito), and Sarah Weidenheft (Aika).
Disc 2 autoplays with a trailer for Sky Wizards Academy
The Shomin Shorts comprise the following...
1. Kujo’s Sadistic Counseling Center, Animated Edition (3:36)
2. Hey, How Come These Socks Are So Loose? (4:08)
3. Let Us Have an Eating Contest, Within Reason (4:33)
4. Do You Know About Commoner Magic? (4:43)
5. I Am Interested in “Gyudo-n’b-owls” (4:52)
6. Ichizu Recipe, Commoner Club Ver. (2:52)
You also get the textless opening, two textless closings, and trailers for Yurikuma Arashi, No-Rin, Fairy Tail Part 22, and Good Luck! Ninomiya-kun.
Shomin Sample is bad. It has a premise that is borderline offensive, and it crosses the border on more than one occasion. It’s an example of harem rom-com desperation, where creators come up with ever more outlandish and contrived scenarios to allow for a milquetoast central male character to become surrounded by a bevy of beautiful anime females, while further emasculating him in the process, lest he ever appear to be more successful with the opposite sex than the assumed target audience. And yet, I have to say much to my eternal chagrin that Shomin Sample resides squarely in guilty pleasure territory. Still, while I may have sheepishly enjoyed the episodes on these discs, chuckled, laughed, grinned and grimaced at the on screen antics, I wasn’t empowered by the experience to take time out and watch the short animations. So it’s not that good.
We’re in a world where the daughters of the rich and elite are so aloof from society that they are practically disabled; they’ve never seen the outside world, they have no concept of mainstream societal culture, and they’ve no idea what a mobile phone is, let alone a smartphone. They’re waited on hand and foot by maids, and they attend school to learn etiquette and flower-arranging. When some of these girls eventually encounter the real world, the shock can be crippling. So the plan is to conscript a ‘commoner’, a boy from the outside world to acclimate the girls. But, this boy can’t be a threat to the girls, so they go looking for a gay male instead. They find Kimito Kagurazaka by mistake, who isn’t gay, but who now has to pretend to be gay (by loudly professing his love for half-naked, sweaty and muscled wrestlers), lest his genitals are less than surgically removed.
At least Kimito isn’t the personality free zone that most male characters are, and he love to pull pranks. The first member of his harem is a prime target. Aika is a shy girl who, following an accident or illness, lost her posh elite accent, and developed a tendency to speak her mind. As a result she has no friends and can’t fit in, among her classmates, thinking that she sounds common. But when she sees the curiosity and fervour that Kimito engenders in the class, she realises that being common is something she can use to her advantage. So she compels Kimito to start a Commoner Club where she can learn everything about the outside world and use it to become popular.
The class rep Reiko is the ultimate in poshness, but she takes a shine to Kimito, and an adversarial stance to Aika, and also joins the club, and through a case of crossed wires, starts believing that she’s engaged to Kimito. Then there is Hakua, 14-year-old savant scientific genius in the body of a five-year-old, who needs to scrawl equations whenever she’s inspired and strips naked while doing so. Kimito manages to get her to engage with the real world, for just a bit, and as a result she latches onto him, finds a comfortable seat in his lap, and gets in the way of any romance that might develop with any other girl. Of course there is a violent girl with a sword who has to punish the main character (a staple since Motoko Aoyama in Love Hina), and Karen refuses to take any nonsense from him. Only he’s able to counter her sword moves, and she’s distracted (and sexually aroused) every time Hakua gets naked. Yes, this got a BBFC rating!
The group gets up to all manner of antics, and trot out the usual clichés, hot springs and day trips and the like. There’s a whole heap of fan service, and a fair bit of sauciness, but it’s hard to get past the fact that all that Shomin Sample really does is take one joke from Ouran High School Host Club, and stretch it out to twelve episodes. The premise is offensive, the execution isn’t much better, but I can’t get past the fact that I was entertained by Shomin Sample. This might just be your next guilty pleasure.