CGDCT, or “Cute Girls Doing Cute Things,” doesn’t really sound like an “official” anime genre like “mecha” or “rom-com.” But using it as such really makes classification of anime more convenient. After all, there are many shows which feature character casts that entirely or almost entirely consist of females who only care about very specific activities
such as playing mahjong with everything on the line or making music as a light music club. School clubs are often involved, too, which means these types of shows could also be called girls’ club shows.
Unfortunately, some anime viewers consider such shows to be boring immaterial or cute fluff. And since the Winter 2018 season is filled to the brim with CGDCT shows, they in turn claim the current anime season sucks.
Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, however, so I can’t truly deny or dismiss such accusations. If that’s what you truly think, then who am I to say you’re wrong?
However, I want to insist that Winter 2018 has yet to really get going so such statements shouldn’t be made yet. I also want to claim that one of the vanguards for the current anime season, Sora Yori mo Tooi Basho, does have substance despite being just “another” show featuring a bunch of cute anime girls.
Sora Yori mo Tooi Basho, otherwise known as A Place Further Than The Universe, can be summarized as a group of girls traveling to Antarctica. But it’s also about making the most of your teenage years before you’re burdened with mandatory responsibilities. It’s about wanting to achieve dreams you’ve held for years at all costs even when others have put you down for just as long. Be that as it may, the girls are refusing to be complacent and are choosing to spring into action by aiming for an extraordinary destination. They’re setting out on a journey and you’re coming along with them.
The series does an excellent job with shot composition, as noted by Jenn from anirambles.wordpress.com. She has pointed out that the opening scene, in which we get to see Mari lazing about in her cluttered room, lets us know exactly what kind of girl Mari is – an undisciplined, uncertain girl with scattered interests and no direction in life (EDIT: I know it’s not the very first OPENING SCENE, but what’s done is done). After Mari’s made up her mind to join Shirase on her quest to the frigid continent, she cleans up said messy room which serves to convey her resolve in making the most of her youth.
Jenn also observes how Sora Basho makes great use of negative space – Mari always ends up becoming too scared to take the plunge and her tendency to lose courage is almost palpable in these wide shots since she comes across as being pensive and doubtful.
Finally, Jenn notes that the many lingering shots on Mari’s fidgety feet serve to let us visually and spatially experience her anxiety without having her voice them out loud. We even get to see from her own point-of-view as she stares down at the ground.
It’s not all rainbows and sunshine, however. Karandi from 100wordanime.blog notes that the SHINY artstyle could be considered distracting and that viewers could potentially fail to relate to the characters due to their motivations and their polarizing stances on what it means to have a meaningful youth. Prattle from SeasonalPrattle.com has voiced concern over how Mari seems to have exposed all substance or concerns she has as a character within a few minutes into the episode. It remains to be seen if she’s just a boring, one-note protagonist and we have no choice but to wait with bated breath.
Two other CGDCT shows also premiered this week. The first one, known as Ramen Daisuki Koizumi-san, is a series that plays with preconceived social norms. If this was a show about a boy who enjoys eating ramen, I imagine much less people would be interested in it. After all, ramen is an oily, greasy, hefty meal and society has come to associate the guilty pleasure with men. But here we have a cute girl who is a walking encyclopedia on ramen. Furthermore her preference for ramen despite being a girl has already been questioned in the first episode.
We also get to see exactly why this got to air whenever she eats ramen as if it scratches the itch, as it were.
Something that is mildly interesting is the fact that
the titular character Koizumi seems uninterested in getting along with others. In many CGDCT shows, the expert of the subject upon which the show revolves around is often desperate for company. However, Koizumi remains a stoic and cold-hearted girl for the most part as she claims that eating ramen is something to be done alone.
I want to pretend there’s a chance she stays aloof until the series is over, but that never happens in CGDCT shows and she already drops the cool facade whenever ramen is involved. But do give it a shot if you want to see another girl act like a desperate dog in an attempt to hang out with Koizumi. Said girl, Yuu, also ends up stalking Koizumi in an attempt to befriend the ramen lover. It’s likely something that won’t even register on most people’s radars, but it’s there and isn’t called out and should be mentioned.
The last series, Yuru Camp △, is about camping. Or it theoretically should be, but so far it’s more about a girl playing with her phone and reading a book at a campsite while another girl suffers because of her own reckless behavior and misfortune. I don’t have any experience camping, however, and indoor camping IS a thing in Japan. The expert in this series, Rin, also comes across as being cold, but unlike Koizumi she at least is open to the idea of doing things as a group.
When the group of five girls finally get together within the next few episodes, you can expect Rin or the mysterious male narrator voice to tell us all we need to know about camping. And maybe we’ll eventually work our way up to comfy camping scenes involving large campfires and s’mores like the one that was presented in the beginning of the episode. For now, however, the folksy, rustic music, combined with the beautiful backgrounds, already makes Yuru Camp△ seem like it’s a healing anime. Some people may not get the point of such shows, but for others it’s a form of cathartic release. Your mileage, of course, may vary.
So in talking about these CGDCT shows, I want to say that I think two of them have potential while the other one seems to be a bit more mundane and less exciting. But at least it’s almost guaranteed to educate viewers on ramen as the finer details flash on the screen.
To round this all up, I just want to encourage you to jump into the Winter 2018 season with an open mind. Don’t be too quick to dismiss the anime season and have fun!