Review for The Quintessential Quintuplets - Season 1
I tried to resist the temptation, but once again, the simple name of an anime convinced me to buy it. After all, wouldn’t you be intrigued by a show called The Quintessential Quintuplets? I was so invested in this show, just on the strength of the name, that I even bought the second season, without even having seen a single episode. Now that I’ve taken it off the to-watch pile, I’ve looked at the blurb, and see that it seems a strange cross between Charlie Brown and How I Met Your Mother. The show begins in a church, with the protagonist about to get married, before the flashback to the rest of the story, and how he met his wife to be. Only unlike Charlie Brown, who had a crush on the “little red-haired girl”, this show introduces five little red-haired girls, quintuplets, and so begins the story of just which sister he eventually chooses.
Futaro Uesugi is the boy in question, a hard-working student from a poor family. He’s so frugal that he’s got a reputation in school, one that the new transfer student Itsuki Nakano is unaware of. When she sits next to him in the cafeteria, it’s enough to get gossip circulating. It’s a case of annoyance at first sight but when she sees he’s a straight-A student, she swallows her pride and asks him to tutor her. But he’s obnoxious, insensitive, and he refuses. It’s a good thing too, as when Futaro gets home, his kid sister Raiho tells him that they have new rich neighbours, and they are willing to pay five times the going rate for a tutor. So Futaro puts on his best, neighbourly face and goes over to introduce himself to his new student. As narrative fate would have it, that student is Itsuki Nakano, and she’s not alone. Her four identical sisters Ichika, Nino, Yotsuba, and Miku all need to be tutored too. As they are now, none of them have a hope of passing, so Futaro will really have his work cut out for him.
Twelve episodes of The Quintessential Quintuplets are released across two Blu-rays from Manga Entertainment. That’s the logo on the case and the discs, but they’re now just Crunchyroll.
1. The Quintessential Quintuplets
2. Rooftop Confession
3. A Mountain of Problems
4. A Day Off
5. Five Fifths
6. What’s Been Built Up
7. Liar McLieface
8. The Photo That Started It All
9. Legend of Fate Day 1
10. Legend of Fate Day 2
11. Legend of Fate Day 3
12. Legend of Fate Day 2000
Quintessential Quintuplets gets a 1.78:1 widescreen 1080p transfer on these Blu-ray discs. The image is clear and sharp throughout, with the rich, bright colours you’d expect from an anime comedy. The animation is smooth, and there is no sign of compression or the like. Anime character design has its limitations by its very nature, especially for the more mainstream titles, and this show has even more of a challenge, with five identical sisters at the heart of the show. But it turns out that you can work wonders with hair and costume design, as well as distinctive voice acting.
You get the choice between Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Surround English and 2.0 Stereo Japanese with player locked English subtitles and signs. As usual, the audio is acceptable enough, the voice actors suited to their roles in the Japanese version that I watched, and the subtitles are accurately timed and free of typos. It’s an immersive enough show, and it gets a couple of jaunty theme tunes.
You get two discs on each inner face of a BD Amaray style case, wrapped in an o-card slipcover. There is artwork on the inner sleeve, and a digital copy. The disc boots to animated menus.
Disc 1 autoplays with a trailer for the now defunct Funimation Now.
There is a commentary on episode 1 with ADR director Apphia Yu, Josh Grelle (Futaro), and Tia Ballard (Itsuki).
Disc 2 has the following extras...
The Quintessential Quintuplets Game (17:21)
It used to be a mark of quality if an anime TV series got a feature film spin-off, especially a spin-off with an original story instead of just a re-edited recap. But in a saturated anime market such as that which we have today, it’s no longer a guarantee. I admit I bought into the hype when I got Quintessential Quintuplets; as mentioned I bought the second season too, sight unseen. And the show is good. It’s entertaining, with likeable characters, and an engaging story. It’s just that it’s good, not great. It’s another entry into the oversubscribed harem comedy genre; a cipher of a main male character, interacting with girls of varying and striking personalities.
The days of the straight harem comedy is long past. These days, you need a twist, a gimmick to grab the audience attention, and you can’t get a more striking twist than having the harem comprised of identical sisters, five of them. There’s the added gimmick of seeing the end of the story before it starts, confirming that this love story gets a happily ever after in the form of a wedding. It’s just a matter of finding out which of the five sisters the protagonist falls for.
Futaro is a poor, but studious and slightly arrogant boy, who comes from a single parent family, his father and his younger, peppy but frail sister. On the other hand the Nakano sisters are wealthy, but not exactly academically minded. When Futaro first meet Itsuki, she actually asks his help to study, but he blows her off, aware that he’ll be making enough money (five times the usual rate) at the Nakano penthouse to help his family. Naturally he’s surprised to see Itsuki there with her four sisters, but the damage is already done. She’s prideful enough to want nothing more to do with him despite her poor grades.
Nino is more of the usual tsundere type, who takes an instant distrustful dislike to Futaro. But Ichika is flirty and confident, Yotsuba is enthusiastic and quirky, while Miku is introverted but kind. At least he has three of his potential students on side. As the series unfolds, Futaro put in his best effort into tutoring the girls, and trying to get the recalcitrant Itsuki and Nino onside before the midterm exams. On the way, he gets to know the girls as well, and potential romantic feelings are inevitably kindled. All of this build up pays off in the final four episodes, which are set over the School Camp, where all of the girls get some alone time with Futaro to explore their respective feelings. There is inevitably some friction and minor jealousies that develop between the sisters, as this new element enters their relationships. There’s momentum to the story, and feelings do develop by the end, but given that there is another series and a movie, and potentially more, this series goes nowhere near any kind of resolution.
Quintessential Quintuplets is certainly fun, the characters are nice, and the story is engaging, but other than its particular idiosyncrasies, it does little that is different from the average harem rom-com, although given its family dynamics, it’s not as saucy as the usual harem show. It’s a fair bit more wholesome, although it does have its fair share of genre clichés and tropes. When the photo from Futaro’s childhood appears, and he’s pictured standing next to one of the sisters (who looked so different back then that he hasn’t realised), I had to roll my eyes.
The Blu-ray presents the series well enough, and I do appreciate the even split of episodes across two dual layer discs. You can pick it up from Anime on Line, United Publications, Anime Limited, and the usual mainstream retailers.