Written by Richard Brown
I have a love/hate relationship with romantic comedies. In anime they tend to be a bit off the wall, go on for ages, and often don’t resolve the relationship. Kasimasi however interested me. Shorter OVAs do tend to resolve themselves, and the concept seemed pure brilliance. Who could not be intrigued by a romance where all involved are female, and where one used to be male? How could that fail to entertain? Read on to find out how.
The basic plot
Harimu is a gentle and slightly effeminate teenager with an interest in botany. When he is turned down by a girl had a crush on, he travels up to mountains and takes a UFO to the face. The aliens rebuild him, but acceidentally his switch his gender, announcing it to the world. However, seems the object of his/her affections has a strange illness, young Yasuna cannot distingish between men. Things may work out between them yet, and the aliens are sticking around to watch.
Not as naughty as it sounds, sadly
The animes greatest strength is that is handles an all female love triangle without adolescent sniggering or a stream of dirty jokes. The basic concept could so easily have been used for a fanservice anime, which could have been fun, but most likely would have been crass. Its weakness is that while it handles things with charm and subtlety, it avoids dealing with some of the likely consequences. Very little actually happens in early episodes, and I found myself wondering why things are so placid and calm in the face of a truly life changing event. The anime desperately needed to show Harimu having a real identity crisis, or possibly some scenes with the girls questioning their attraction to her. Don’t get me wrong, I can live without predictable scenes of Harimu in shock at the loss of certain body parts, but the anime does not ask the dramatic and obvious questions. The anime does not make a commentary on gender identity, as Harimu is rather girly even before the big change. The gender switch seems to have been used as a convenient, and safe, way to set up a yuri scenario. This is a little disappointing, as you know real comedy and drama could have come from this. However, after episode two, Harimu’s transformation is accepted and largely ignored, while her growing attraction to two other girls plays out gradually and without controversy or comment from the rest of the cast.
With the main plot being handled in such a timid and slow fashion, the anime compensates with humour. For the most part, its amusing, but often a little weak and out of place. Harimu’s perverted father, and the alien observers, do have their moments, but its by the book stuff. The inevitable beach trip episode is an exception, as we see Harimu’s male friend dealing with the extremely awkward situation of seeing his best mate in a bikini and then in an apron. Once the love triangle is out in the open, the drama and comedy do start working a little better, but it’s not enough to save the series. The episode which sees one of the girls finally make a move is a series of extremely predictable misunderstandings. This led me to realise what was annoying me about this series; regardless of who the players are, the parts they play are almost stereotypical of romantic animes. Kasimasi plays out exactly like any other anime love triangle, and not very well at that.
What we have here is an interesting idea is smothered by a painfully slow pace and desire to play things safe. Kasimasi is a fairly conventional love story where the only noteworthy thing is that all involved have the same gender. This is fine if you like that sort of thing, but the anime is average at best.