Anime Watchlist is ComicsVerse’s anime recommendation series, where we spotlight some of the best lesser-known shows out there.

Picture this: you’re in a classroom, surrounded by your peers. Suddenly, a god offers you a choice. Either strip off your top and shout like a true Japanese man, or strip off your pants and shout like an Amazonian warrior. Now imagine an anime with moments like that five times an episode. Unlike a lot of current popular anime, MY MENTAL CHOICES ARE COMPLETELY INTERFERING WITH MY SCHOOL ROMANTIC COMEDY (NOUCOME for short),  capitalized on humor rather than action. It prided itself on incredible antics, from shooting onion juice into people’s eyes to slapping someone out of a window. Even compared to new shows, this aggressively named anime is definitely the funniest I have ever seen.

The 2013 series revolves around the life of Kanade Amakusa, a high school boy trying his best to live a normal life like his classmates. But what makes him forever different is the strange curse he suffers from. Coined “Absolute Choice”, this curse sends strange and seemingly random choices to Kanade’s mind. Given that the choices are usually as perverted as eating a discarded porno magazine or picking one up and sniffing it (while in public!), whatever he chooses is usually hilarious. Kanade’s curse relegates him to the less-than-popular crowd, earning him a spot in the “Reject 5” and the general disdain of his entire school. Over time, he learns that his curse can be lifted if he truly falls in love, and a god gives him several missions (via text message no less) to find a soulmate.

Watching him struggle to outdo the curse amidst fellow weirdos makes the show incredibly hilarious. The careful folding together of Kanade’s classmates, missions from gods, and a curse that never lets up makes NOUCOME an anime worth bringing back from the archives.

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A Cast of Rejects

Part of what makes NOUCOME so interesting is the main cast. As high school rejects, they all have fun quirks and personalities that make for great comedy. While there is more subtle fan service than a typical anime, each of the main Reject 5 members have noticeable physical traits to complement their personalities. Kanade, for example, is exceedingly handsome, and plenty of the girls in school notice. This helps set up some of the romances throughout the show. Beyond that, it creates a nice contrast between his odd curse, curse-driven actions and the way a handsome guy would normally act.

Image: Crunchyroll
The ‘Reject Five’ in all their glory | Image: Crunchyroll

Comparatively, the other two members of the reject five with the most screen time are strange. Furano Yukihira has silvery-white hair and eyes colored a rather deep pink. She is extremely fond of laughing at her own jokes and making fun of people, especially Kanade. She might do something like refer to someone as a maggot casually during a conversation. Her roasting someone gets even funnier when she chooses not to laugh, instead acting totally casual. Her presence on the Reject Five is almost entirely because of her outward personality, but deep inside, she’s a lot like the other girls at school. Furano loves cute things (especially a white pig cartoon character) and constantly worries about things like what she says and her emotions.

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Ouka Yuuoji is bright and cheerful, and her physical appearance matches that personality. Unlike the other two, she is strange but embraces the status that strangeness gets her. She mixes her weirdness into otherwise cordial actions, like saying good morning to the class while coming in through the second floor window instead of the door. As the daughter of a tech company CEO, she constantly brings gadgets to school, like one that lets her completely mimic Kanade’s appearance. But unlike the other two, Ouka’s internal feelings are pretty similar to how she presents herself. These different layers of personality make individual characters super interesting on their own, but it’s nothing compared to when they’re all together.

Not Your Standard Students

The social standing of each character is a super important backdrop for this show. While the primary focus is on comedy and hilarious choices, they wouldn’t make much sense without some strong context.  This school has a Popular Five and Reject Five, with everyone else occupying space between the two extremes. As one might figure out logically from the low standing of the Reject Five, the Popular Five have tons of power in school activities. If they want, they can have grandiose events like game shows or contests planned almost at will.

Image: Crunchyroll
The Popular Five have the ability to put on massive events on command | Image: Crunchyroll

This type of school is designed in a way similar to the main characters. Plenty of high school anime have student councils or presidents with insane amounts of clout in regard to giving orders and planning. NOUCOME takes the basic substance of that, a powerful segment of students, and emphasizes it for comedic purposes. The respect one might have for someone popular in real life becomes fanatical worshiping in NOUCOME.

Whole crowds of people follow the Popular Five around and gawk at every little thing they do. A Popular Five girl can command a group of guys to beat someone up with just an angry glance. A handsome Popular Five guy can simply look a girl in the eyes and have her till him secrets and school gossip. These students carry the weight of the entire student body, so if they’re involved in an episode, everything that happens to the Reject Five gets tons of attention from the whole school.

Although the differences between the two groups are emphasized, they’re all still classmates and can identify with each other on some level. Furano, who is self conscious about being flat chested, roasts Popular Five’s Ayame Reikadou, who has implants. These sort of interactions wouldn’t normally happen since most people just ignore the Reject Five. The gods of NOUCOME, however, force the two groups to be around one another through Kanade’s missions. For example, Kanade gets a mission to see the panties of Konagi Yawakaze, the nicest girl in school and someone he struggles to take advantage of. She becomes his friend, but this makes her fan club beat up Kanade to comedic effect.

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Missions From Gods

Kanade’s curse is literally just a couple of gods screwing with him. One gives him the choices in his head, and another (The Flippant God) informs him of his missions. Kanade learns that completing these missions might end the curse, so he begrudgingly tries to complete them. The first mission is seemingly simple: he needs to make Furano laugh. Other missions, like making all of the girls he knows say they love him, are a bit harder for him.

Image: Crunchyroll
Both gods frequently admit to not knowing the rules of the curse and basically just screw with people | Image: Crunchyroll

In the process of the first mission, he learns more things about Furano and the reasons she acts strange all the time. As viewers, we get to see not only each character’s outer self, but some inner thoughts as well. Kanade’s missions frequently involve one or more of the girls he interacts with, especially since the ultimate requirement for eliminating the curse is falling in love. But despite being gods, these deities aren’t the stoic, lordly figures one might expect.

The gods of NOUCOME are carefree, but powerful. When Kanade expresses disbelief in their powers, they turn him into a girl for a bit with no warning. Neither god takes anything seriously, frequently laughing while giving orders and even admitting they have no clue why they’re giving Kanade such a hard time. This show doesn’t take itself too seriously either, keeping a good balance between the (relatively) serious elements and the pure comedy. Missions, like making Furano laugh, are funny when Kanade fails, but still have serious solutions. The end result is him getting closer to his friends, but the journey is what’s hilarious.

A Curse that Delights

The gods are the best. One of the most consistent sources of misery for Kanade is just the Flippant God screwing with him. Sure, a good portion of that connects with the plot and lets him learn more about his classmates, but sometimes it’s literally just to screw with him. And that’s fantastic. The ‘Flippant God’ and others will occasionally force choices with very unfair options. At one point, Kanade has to ask to see a girl’s underwear during a serious conversation. The alternative in this case was turning into panties, something he obviously couldn’t pick. What this show does really well is use that aspect of the missions to break up serious moments and create stronger humor through contrast.

Image: Crunchyroll
When two options are given, the first choice is bad but the second is infinitely worse | Image: Crunchyroll

The level of effort that a shonen anime might put into action is put into comedy. Every joke is executed at just the right moment, and punchlines flow cleanly from dialogue. NOUCOME mocks plenty of anime stereotypes in a satirical way, then jumps to another choice to punish Kanade. Random bits show up, like one guy who compliments Kanade while beating his ass, and another that only oinks. Even the show’s narrator is comically self-aware and insults Kanade constantly. These little consistent gags tie into the show’s other jokes resulting in a constant flow of humor.

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Comedic Masterpiece

Overall, NOUCOME is an anime that satisfies the requirements of a solid plot and great characters. The setting of a school with major social hierarchy is familiar, and usually plain. But this series takes those classic elements and exaggerates them to poke fun at what anime fans might normally expect. All the while, there are plenty of jokes and great scenes to keep viewers rolling with laughter. In his quest to get rid of the curse, Kanade has to make embarrassing choices for our amusement. I usually root for a struggling protagonist to reign victorious over struggles. But if I’m being honest, it’s way funnier when they screw up.

Featured Image from Crunchyroll.

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