It’s Too Sick to Call this Love
Genre: Romance, Comedy
Streaming: Crunchyroll, Amazon
Seriously, what is it with Japan and age gap romances in their animes? There are actually two of these airing this season (the above anime and I shaved, and brought home a high school), and whilst the other anime looks to be more of a drama, It’s too sick to call this love, is more tongue in cheek, focusing on comedy. Or it would be if anything was actually that funny about the situation the characters are in.
The whole premise of the show centres around how playboy businessman, Ryo falls for high school girl, Ichika but despite the attempts to make this seem cute and romantic, it still comes across more as creepy. It’s not helped by the fact that Ryo himself is presented as a thoroughly unlikeable character – he’s rich, successful, and good-looking, but he’s also incredibly shallow, insensitive, and callous to the women in his life, and worst of all perhaps – he doesn’t take no for an answer. Even his younger sister labels him a “scumbag” and if that isn’t a red flag, I don’t know what is. Ichika herself is thankfully very level-headed and quick to call him out on the unwanted nature of his advances towards her, but it’s clear that ultimately she’ll end up giving in.
It’s all the more uncomfortable to watch given today’s social climate – with the rise of the #MeToo culture and the general publicising of the inequality between men and women, an anime like this presenting itself as a cute romantic comedy, just doesn’t sit right with me. Ryo’s actions are presented initially as creepy and predatory (Ichika herself calls him out on this), but ultimately the show doesn’t deliver on that theme and instead chooses to make Ryo the romantic lead, and his actions as cute and misguided. It doesn’t teach a good lesson – that if you’re persistent enough and keep bothering someone, they’ll eventually give in to your romantic advances. What’s worse perhaps, is that this anime is clearly being marketed towards female viewers. We see things from both Ryo’s and Ichika’s perspectives but it’s clear that Ichika is the one to who the viewer is meant to relate to – she’s fairly ordinary and very much the opposite of Ryo and his flashy ways. Thankfully she’s quite likable as a character, though her friend is much less so – despite knowing how out of line her brother’s actions are she seems to find the whole thing rather amusing rather than sticking up for her clearly uncomfortable friend. We see the same pattern with the few other characters who show up – no one seems to see anything wrong with the situation, Ichika’s mom seeing Ryo’s daily gifts as charming and a lady in the supermarket commenting on how cute a couple the two make.
I’m aware this review has been more of a rant than a biased piece of writing, but honestly, the episode left such an impression on me it really did make everything else pale in comparison. There are still plenty of good things to say about the overall production quality – the opening for example is well done with a good music track, if not particularly original. The anime chooses to have more muted colour tones, which make the show come across as more mature and realistic, compared to the more colourful bright tones seen in other rom-com series. It makes sense given the original target audience is more of an older one – the josei demographic. The character designs are not particularly memorable but they’re not awful either – I like how they specifically made Ichika look like a very typical school girl who isn’t romanticised or sexualised at all. Honestly, there isn’t much else to say though – the animation and music aren’t particularly outstanding or awful and ultimately it’s all just rather average.
Honestly, it’s hard for me to recommend this show to anyone given the problematic nature of the anime’s storyline. Whilst it makes attempts to showcase that the actions of Ryo are not okay, it feels like it also excuses them at the same time by making it more of a comedy act than seriously examining the issues. It’s a shame as Ichika herself is a great protagonist who is self-aware enough to know things are not right, but I feel like the show will end up pandering more to the romance aspects than having a serious conversation about one-sided relationships.
It's Too Sick to Call this Love Episode 1
A problematic premise doesn't save this romantic comedy from ultimately being a rather uncomfortable watch.