The Understated Drama of Just Because!Posted: November 25, 2017
There are quite a few shows this season getting attention, and they’re all pretty different. There’s the action-packed and weird-as-hell Juuni Taisen which has some surprisingly strong production value behind it; the dark but thoughtful Inuyashiki; the highly anticipated, beautiful fantasy Ancient Magus’ Bride; the well-crafted but surprisingly relaxed Girls’ Last Tour; the long-awaited return of Kino’s Journey (which I’ll probably cover at a later point); etc.
But one show has managed to slip through the cracks in the process: Just Because!. I don’t know whether it’s due to a dislike of the show, lack of viewership, there just not being anything about the show that’s big enough to lead to widespread discussion, or because it’s one of those annoying shows that has unnecessary punctuation as part of the title, but I wanted to throw a bone its way since it’s ended up being one of the more interesting shows I’m watching this season.
Admittedly, it’s due to a few minor reasons rather than any huge ones, so this probably won’t take very long, but if I can get a few more people interested in the show or help add to the enjoyment of those already watching, then it’s worth it. I’ll try to avoid spoilers, but there are some recent aspects that I need to mention in order to make certain points. I’ll try to be as vague as I can in those instances.
That being said, if you only read the synopsis for Just Because!, you probably don’t know what the show is about. Hell, even if you watch the first episode you probably still won’t know what the show is about. When I did the season preview, I guessed based on the information available that it would be a drama dealing with teenagers about to finish high school and not knowing what to really do with themselves since it’s such a sensitive period of time. Turns out I was right, just not quite in the way I expected.
There is a much larger focus on romance than I was expecting, but it ties back into the characters not really knowing what to do with themselves because they don’t know what they should do in regards to these various romantic feelings. One character developed feelings for another due to a specific event, another was from noticing something about another character that they liked and it ballooned into affection, another doesn’t have any of those kinds of feelings for anyone until after they’re confessed to and begin to think about it more, etc.
Every single one of the main characters has feelings or is developing feelings for others in different ways, but they all tend to avoid doing anything about them for equally various reasons. In most shows this behavior is annoying, usually because they back out of doing it despite there being almost no downsides or they just happen to get interrupted right when they’re about to say it. In this show it’s due to more complicated reasons that actually add to the intrigue. Some people like someone who has feelings for another person, others may not even realize the feelings they have are romantic.
It might be cheating to compare it to such a beloved show, but its approach to romance really does remind me a lot of ToraDora! – and not just because that also has an unnecessary exclamation point at the end. In ToraDora!‘s case, it was a single, focused end goal of one relationship blossoming as the characters realized what it actually means to love someone else. With Just Because!, it’s more of a wide range of characters with various ideas of what love can look like and they all intersect in various ways.
Recently in these types of shows the drama comes from misunderstandings or a side character interfering with potential relationships by threatening someone if they get too close to them or whatnot. These almost always come off as artificial or hamfisted in order to just drag out the length since they almost never result in any real development of any kind. Misunderstandings get resolved, and interfering side characters get taken care of in some way.
Just Because! doesn’t do any of that. Admittedly, for a little bit it seemed like it was going to do the interfering side character, but that didn’t end up happening thankfully. The show also actually somewhat subverts misunderstandings the way you’d normally get them. Characters will see or overhear things from others at times, but the things they find (usually the person possibly having feelings for someone else) are actually true. Again, these characters tend to avoid confronting their feelings, so accidentally finding out this information about each other actually makes sense.
That being said – and I know how confusing this is going to sound since I have to be vague – there is one instance of a possible genuine misunderstanding from seeing something without context. However, with the way the show is playing out it may not actually be a misunderstanding.
God, even people watching the show may not know what I’m referring to with that.
Though while I’m at it, I should mention the show’s biggest issue is its lackluster production value. Pine Jam aren’t the biggest studio considering this is only their second real TV airing show they’ve done. The first was Gamers! last season, which is yet another show with an unnecessary exclamation point in the title. I swear I didn’t plan out all these shows sharing this similarity when I started writing this, it’s a genuine coincidence.
Anyway, as a result the art and animation aren’t really much to write home about, and it just had to air a recap episode the week after the sixth one. Even if that was planned to happen from the beginning of production, it just means they knew that they’d need a week in order to not have the visual quality completely collapse by the end. Though if the biggest negative in my view is the production value just being mediocre, that’s a pretty good place to be in, especially considering the show is a romantic drama and not some crazy action show.
It’s just nice to have a show focused more on the angle of discovering romantic feelings in different ways and how those affect how characters perceive and talk to each other. It’s definitely not for everybody, but it’s a breath of fresh air if you’re used to the pointless drama-filled shows in recent years that you usually get.
Or you can try it out… just because.
…I’ll see myself out.