This is a first for me: I’m subjecting a show to the rigors of The Shredder just three days after the pilot’s airing!
Soni-Ani is a slice of life comedy starring Nitroplus mascot Super Sonico. Sonico is an eighteen-year-old college student that’s a bit of a klutz that always sleeps late. But that’s okay! She gets top marks in her courses, so we know she’s smart, and she raises a gaggle of adorable kittens, so she has to be kind-hearted! That’s just how this shit works!
Anyway, on top of being a college student, Sonico’s also keeps it real in this crazy economy by holding down two jobs. When she’s not busy being late for class, Sonico works part-time as a model, and helps out in her grandmother’s restaurant as a waitress. When she’s not working herself to death and not studying, Sonico spends her time performing in the all-girl rock band First Astronomical Velocity.
And that’s really about it at this point!
The first episode of Soni-Ani presents a show with, quite literally, no real comflicts. Every potential problem that’s thrown at Sonico is resolved within moments, and there seems to be nothing that will keep Sonico from living her vapid, perfect life. She has to work? It’s okay, because she loves doing it! She has to model in a bikini that’s a bit too itsy bitsy teeny weeny? That’s fine too, because her manager shows up to suck all tension from the room! In short, Super Sonico carries the stench of a studio vanity project. the character, as the mascot, is treated with kid gloves. Everything goes her way, and even when they don’t, there’s always a knight in shining armour to help her.
As a character, Sonico is a two-dimensional stereotype. She’s a flat canvas with the same damn “girl next door” personality that we’ve seen billions of times before. She’s oblivious, she’s saccharine sweet, and she’s just plain boring to watch for more than five minutes, let alone as the lead of her own damn show. The rest of the cast fares little better, as the world seems to exist to prop up Sonico. Everybody, from friends, to total strangers, seem to be little more than set pieces that aren’t too unlike Washu’s shoulder puppets in Tenchi Universe. They’re omnipresent, and exist only to proclaim “Look at Sonico! Sonico is great!”
And that therein is the rub.
Soni-Ani , as a comedy, utterly fails because there is little risk in the humor. The jokes are the same tired gags and one-offs we’ve seen hundreds of times before. The characters are flat, and the very concept of chemistry seems to be a fevered dream of a madman, as everyone rushes to support Sonico (poor, sweet Sonico!). In many ways, it’s like watching a group of frantic people try to hold up an unbalanced statue. It looks great at first, but we all know that things are going to come crashing down in a spectacular fashion at some point.
As one would expect, the slice of life bits fail just as spectacularly as the comedy. Slice of life shows feed off of the characters and the situations that said characters are placed into. Unfortunately, since neither the cast nor the writing have more depth than a piece of copy paper, the series feels like it’s little more than a collection of loosely-related events. Sonico seems to float from one scene to the next, with her motivations typically coming from outright commands from her friends and associates. At times, it felt like I was watching a dog going through obedience training, rather than the exploits of the character herself.
The general inconsistency carries over to the show’s art style. Sonico, as a character is generally attractive. Her design’s cutely drawn, shows a permanent blush for some reason, and changes into oodles of adorable outfits. However, she seems like an alien in the world she inhabits. Every single character not named “Sonico” is drawn in a different art style that, while not bad, is inconsistent with the character herself. Sonico is colored differently, drawn differently, and even shaded differently from the rest of the cast, which makes for a number of awkward shots, where it looks like Sonico’s receiving light from some ethereal source, while everybody else is lit by the sun, or some other normal light source.
After its first episode, Soni-Ani: Super Sonico The Animation screams “weak.” The characters are vapid, the writing is subpar, and the art is inconsistent. The biggest sin, though, is that the viewer is given zero reason to really engage himself, let along find interest in the world or the characters. While there are still eleven episodes remaining in Soni-Ani , there is little reason to bother with the series going forward.