Anime Review: Happy-go-Lucky Days

by Rakka   Tags: review

Happy-Go-Lucky Days adapts SHIMURA Takako’s manga collection into a short anime film. Overall, I’d put this film at a 6/10 (or a 7/10 for just the third story).

Warning: mildly NSFW

The movie poster for Happy-Go-Lucky Days

The first short story follows two women who are former lovers of a woman named Yuri (rather on the nose); they meet at her wedding and start going out. This story felt rather hollow; nothing really happens, other than an out-of-place comment about how Yuri was a bitch. (The film only shows Yuri once, and never really describes her.) The next features a student confessing to his teacher, and his teacher obsessing over his memory of that confession. At this point, it’s starting to feel like Shimura’s relying on homosexual relationships to carry the story; there’s no real development or even plot points other than “oh, look at this couple”.

The characters keep flirting with sexual assault; in the third story, a college-age woman at one point starts harassing her teenage cousin about whether he’s started growing pubic hair, and continues to be physically close to him while he’s clearly uncomfortable. At some level, I can kind of see that Shimura wants to show things like the awkwardness in puberty and the relationships that aren’t pure and innocent—it hints at him having wet dreams and trying to figure out sexuality, with his girlfriend also starting to struggle with the fact that he feels physically attracted to his cousin. However, the intent just doesn’t land; things feel off-puttingly clinical as you don’t get much time with the characters and their thoughts, and there isn’t enough time for anything to actually happen. So I’ll give this story points for being actually willing to talk about puberty and sexuality, and I think this third story gets better as it develops, but unlike O Maidens In Your Savage Season, it doesn’t have the humor or heart to carry it through.

Overall, things just feel a bit dry; this isn’t a slice of life, or if it is, it’s a bit withered and has been left out in the sun for too long. The art is a bit plain, but looks pleasant. Disappointingly, other than a few brief backgrounds, there’s no sign of the beautiful watercolor pastels that I associate with Shimura. Something about the timing in scenes is also a bit odd; awkward pauses here last just a few seconds too long, and at one point I wondered if the film had frozen. There’s an afterword with some of the voice actors discussing how the film was trying to show all the different sides, all the highs and lows of love, and while that’s there, it just doesn’t come across strongly enough. I feel this film would have been better had it devoted all the time to the third story to give it more time to develop its story, and so it’s a disappointment overall, as it did take an interesting approach and there was potential here.

As a side note, I’d also like to complain about Festival Scope, the streaming platform, which has draconian DRM blocking Linux users entirely. While Netflix at least serves a low-resolution stream, this website refused to stream it at all, forcing me to watch on an Android phone.