Anime Movie Review: Kase-San and Morning Glories

by Brittany B. | 07/29/2020

Kase-San and Morning Glories is a 2018 OVA (original video animation) adaptation of the wildly popular Japanese manga, Kase-San, written and illustrated by Hiromi Takashima (the film is commonly referred to as Asagao to Kase-San). This OVA is short at approximately 60 minutes, super cute, and has an excellent English dub!

A relationship is like a garden. It’s hard, really hard, to plant the initial seeds. Once you’ve gone through the agonizing process of wondering if the other person even likes you, fought the fear that telling her could destroy everything, and made your confession, the most difficult part begins. Because you have to keep nurturing this wonderful new feeling to keep it growing. Not just in your own heart, but in hers. And since even the most beautiful rose can cut you to the bone with its thorns, who can you talk to for advice? Especially when you’re both girls in high school? For shy Yamada and boyish Kase, time is running out. High school is coming to an end and they must make a choice: stay together and let their love grow, or separate and let it die in KASE-SAN AND MORNING GLORIES.

This OVA is adorable. There is no denying that. It has all of the typical things that I remember being anime staples from my teenage years – face consuming blushes, flailing around with excitement and embarrassment, overly exaggerated facial expressions, and high school students fumbling over themselves as they try to navigate being in a relationship and their attraction to someone. And while it had all of those staples, Kase-San and Morning Glories didn’t have any of the things I remember disliking in anime; there are no disproportionately busty high school girls or bouncy physics and gravity defying breasts, there are no panty shots or really any shots that objectify the girls’ bodies, and there is no central male character. Kase and Yamada are believable high school girls and they are depicted wonderfully, both in the writing and how they were animated. The animation is gorgeous and their dynamic movement is fluid and such a pleasure to watch.

One thing that I immediately enjoyed about this OVA is how the English voice actress for Kase (Morgan Berry) was allowed to do Kase’s voice. Kase a deeper voice for what I’ve seen in anime and it was spot on. Kase is a tom-boyish track and field star and as soon as she spoke in the film I immediately smiled – she didn’t sound like any other anime high school student I’ve ever heard and I liked that they went that route for her voice. She is immediately a standout character and she sounds like a real person. Yamada on the other hand sounds like what I remember most anime girls sounding like: high pitched and breathy. It’s not my favorite voice to listen to but because Kase and Yamada have such drastically different voices, Yamada’s voice didn’t bother me nearly as much as it would have otherwise.

The main thing that I disliked about Kase-san and Morning Glories is that the film relies heavily on the viewer having read the manga. I’ve read it (spoiler alert, The Queerblr is reviewing the manga next week!) so I was able to understand what was happening. I watched it, however, with my girlfriend who hadn’t read the manga and she was extremely confused. She admitted that it was cute but didn’t quite know what was happening. And because it relies so heavily on the viewer having read the manga, most of the tension isn’t there. The film starts after the first manga’s story arc and the two girls are already together and dating (though neither of them really knows how dating works yet). The film felt like a lot of scenes smashed together vaguely in chronological order, but the story was light and the tension was even lighter until the very end. The tension wasn’t helped by several scenes lingering on the scenery and natural sounds for an extended period of time, like this one:

The scenic images are beautiful but served little purpose. At one scene, my girlfriend and I thought that the Blu-ray we were watching was defective because the scene lingered on a still for way longer than it needed to. These scenic moments of stillness I think were supposed to add to tension or stress the passing of time (which is relevant to the light plot the film had), but in most cases it erased it.

Despite the tension being a miss for me, the film does a decent job of showing the internal tension that the girls are feeling. Most notably when their phones go off. The film doesn’t do too much in the way of chibi stylization (an art style common in anime featuring characters with large heads, large eyes, and small bodies) but does a nod to it when the characters are startled. I enjoyed it because the film could have been serious the entire time but the moments of levity really made the story feel relatable and created moments where the viewer could laugh alongside the character’s own missteps.

Aside from the weird pacing of the film and the over-reliance on the manga, I enjoyed it. It was a slice-of-life film about two high school girls and it wasn’t afraid to show these girls actively learning how to be in a relationship with one another. Most yuri anime’s or manga shy away from showing the girls kissing or being romantically affectionate or actually confirming that the girls are in a relationship, often leaving it so subtle that a relationship is entirely missed and the fandom is the one to fill in the gaps. Kase-san and Morning Glories has several kiss scenes and several scenes where the girls are actively trying to figure out how to act in their relationship and actually have dialogue say “we’re dating” and try to figure out how to stay together after high school. It was wonderful to see the women loving women validation that I haven’t seen from Japanese animation in the past. (Granted – I don’t watch a lot of anime anymore and by no means proclaim myself to be “in the know” on current anime trends.) I also liked that it showed the ups and downs of the relationship while showing relatively healthy communication between the two, especially for young inexperienced teenagers.

3.5 out of 5 Rainbows

Recommended Viewer: Anyone looking for a yuri anime that isn’t subtle about the relationship between the two girls.

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