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The Kawai Complex Guide to Manors and Hostel Behavior – Review

by Anthony Sulwer

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Part romance, part soap opera, part slapstick, part raunchy adult comedy – The Kawai Complex Guide to Manors and Hostel Behavior takes its first twelve-episode season into territory fresh and unexpected. It would be too generous to say they knock the humor out of the park with each joke. While there are some extremely funny bits throughout the first season, some definitely fall short of the mark, instead tumbling into familiar misogynistic stereotypes about men, women, and their places in each other’s lives.

Set mostly inside the Kawai Dormitory, The Complex Guide to Manors follows the misadventures of Usa Kazunari as he attempts to navigate life on his own for the first time after his parents move away due to their jobs. In addition to Usa is a small cast of roommates who make for some of the most surprising, unabashedly risqué comic relief.

Usa – a high school freshman – has no desire to live in a dormitory at first. In the first episode, “Just Imagine,” Usa attends the first day of high school before making his way to the dormitory. While passing classrooms he sees a shorthaired girl reading a book at a table, instantly falling in love at first sight. The girl, however, sees nothing but the words on the pages.

En route to his new residence after his first day of school Usa encounters what appears to be a Peeping Tom trying to peak in on grade school aged girls. This is but the first of many uncomfortable moments of what is supposed to be raunchy comedy. Unfortunately, instead of being funny, they just seem highly inappropriate at times. Usa makes his way from the scene leaving the Peeping Tom to attempt to explain away his actions to the authorities.

A short tour of the dormitory by Sumiko – the manager and matron of the Kawai Dormitory – the layout of the dormitory is laid out. We also get to meet the other residents.

First, Usa is introduced to his roommate, Shirosaki, who turns out to be the Peeping Tom from earlier. A self-professed pervert and masochist, Shirosaki has absolutely no shame about his proclivities. Throughout the first season of Complex Guide to Manors, Shirosaki often requests brutal punishments meant for others be carried out on himself instead. Not surprisingly, he is also a huge fan of tying intricate knot patterns. Shirosaki is the one character most likely to pop up during an emotionally charged or sappy scene to insert the most inappropriate comment imaginable.

Occupying the girl’s section begins with Mayumi – a professional woman who prides herself on her loose morals, curvaceous figure, sharp tongue, and inability to keep a boyfriend longer than a couple of weeks. She insists she is single by choice, though throughout the first season she only has one dalliance with a former boyfriend and it ends in typical hijinks more befitting a farce. Mayumi treats most everyone with disdain but also extends a helping hand whenever it’s needed. Make no mistake, though, she is as selfish and materialistic as a character can possibly be. She knows she’s sexy and uses it to torture every man she has no interest in.

Mayumi’s biggest irritation comes from Sayaka, a college student living in the dormitory who is always trying to fondle Mayumi’s breasts or grasp her love handles every chance she gets. Mayumi does not enjoy the attention she receives from Sayaka, always making for some of the most unpredictably hilarious moments of the entire first season. Sayaka is shameless in her pursuit of Mayumi’s illustrious body. The episode in which Sayaka and Mayumi get drunk, “Thought So,” has some of the best interaction between the two characters in the first season.

The girl’s section of the hostel is cordoned off with a very strict rule of no male intrusion allowed. The first time Usa mistakenly sets foot into the girl’s section he is met with the thunderous swing of a wooden sword. The wielder of the sword turns out to be Ritsu Kawai, the girl with whom Usa fell in love with earlier that day. Rita is the niece Sumiko, the proprietor, and also living in the Kawai Dormitory.

Perhaps the most refreshing aspect of Complex Guide to Manors is the relatively small cast of principle characters. The main focus of the story arc throughout the first season is the budding relationship between Usa and Ritsu. The supporting cast adds enough of their own rambunctious shenanigans to keep the tension for Usa and Ritsu growing with each episode and each situation they find themselves in.

The underlying story of The Kawai Complex Guide to Manors and Hostel Behavior is actually a very tender and sweet one. Usa is a decent human being though prone to the pubescent thoughts and urges facing all men at that age. He still understands propriety, wanting to treat all women, especially Ritsu, with the utmost respect and consideration. It is a strange dichotomy when the first season is viewed as a whole as the amount of sexually charged innuendo borders on a Benny Hill level of immaturity.

Written by Takeshi Konuta (Devil Lady, Library War) and developed for television by Brain’s Base (D-Frag!, Amnesia, My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU), The Kawai Complex Guide to Manors and Hostel Behavior is one of the funnier, raunchier, simply told anime series released in the past few years. Beautifully drawn with jokes coming so fast you may be forced to rewind in order to catch them all.

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Author: Anthony Sulwer

A freelance writer living in Denver, Colorado, Anthony fell in love with anime while working part time jobs at video stores in the 90s. Nights off were spent watching Akira, Ninja Scroll, Fist of the North Star, and anything else to appear in the small "Specialty" section of the large chain stores.

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