It’s been a while since I’ve seen a harem show that just owns up its gimmick so much. It’s also interesting to note that when you REALLY think about it, this entire show is just one giant flashback, which is both amusing and infuriating at the same time.
Our story starts with the wedding bells chiming as a fated couple is about to be married. On the eve of his big day, Fuutaro Uesugi briefly reminisces back to the time when he and his bride first met, back in high school where he had to tutor her and her four other sisters so they could pass high school.
The most important thing to note about Gotoubun (that’s my shorthand this time) is that the show is all about the quintuplets with a little bit of time devoted to the series protagonist as his relationship with these five girls changes. The show follows a typical ‘harem format’ during the first few arcs of the story where Uesugi systematically cycles through each of the girls with varying degrees of time devoted to each one of them, eventually getting all of them to at least the level of tolerating him and above depending on who of the quintuplets you’re talking about.
And that’s pretty much all the show really has to offer in terms of story. Aside from the central plot of ‘tutoring’ since Uesugi is the girls’ tutor, the show mostly portrays typical slice of life school comedy scenes like go away camps, midterms, and various school festivals/events while falling on the crux of the show having five ‘identical’ girls being the thing that drives the intrigue of the plot home since so many ways that the show executes its plot is done via the show having five heroines. It’s been done over and over again, but it’s one of those harmless things that is at least vaguely interesting given how this show is ultimately character based (like all harem should be).
Fuutaro Uesugi is a more ‘peculiar’ harem protagonist due to his stance and identity towards the girls. While he is certainly dense, socially inept, and frugal to a fault, the primary trait of this man is his ability to focus on nothing but studying and his willingness to help these girls beyond academics despite (probably) not getting paid enough to deal with all of these girls’ various problems. These traits in addition to the show’s lack of reliance on pure fanservice make him an interesting protagonist that seems to have a large amount of personal agency and willingness, which believe me is a trait I’m very thankful for.
Then we have the Nakano sisters: Ichika, Itsuki, Nino, Yotsuba, and Miku. (Aka the oldest sister, the hungry tsun, the “She’s a bitch now but I promise she gets better”, the genki girl, and the shy, reserved one.) While obviously different people as the appearance, traits, and overall attitude towards Uesugi all differ from one to another, the show really likes doing this give and take thing with the quintuplets where in one instance they’re all treated as different people, and another they’re treated as a single unit made of five parts. This comes from the fact that the show really is just about them and how Uesugi helps them break out of their shells, grow as people, and individualize each other because (apparently) no one can tell these five apart. However even if they are five parts, they’re not all equal since there are a few choice girls that get more time in the limelight than others, but that’s really more a fault with how some are inherently written to be more troublesome than others in order to add more ‘conflict’ to Uesugi’s conquest. (I’ll give you two guesses on which one is the most troublesome.)
The rest of the cast is pretty non-existent beyond the Nakano sisters and Uesugi. Primarily consisting of Uesugi’s family and the girls’ father, there aren’t really many characters to note beyond that, mostly existing as the background to fill in the blanks as needed. The only one really worth mentioning is Uesugi’s sister Raiha, who appears mostly to add some easy motivation as to why Uesugi tries so hard in the first place.
Produced by Tezuka Productions, the art for Gotoubun is pretty standard. it’s a bright style with little mishaps or animation errors throughout, so there’s not much to say in the way of art quality since it’s consistent and that’s pretty much all I ask for when it comes to producing a harem show given their historically low or dwindling budget depending on what the story is.
However there are a few things of note in regards to Gotoubun’s art and content. One is the lack of ecchi, which is very welcome despite the easy fanservice given the fact that the series revolves around one dude who consistently goes to the home of five girls. Another is the blatant bullshit when it comes to people not telling these girls apart. I call utter bullshit because all of these girls have their hair in DIFFERENT SHADES OF PINK (Yotsuba’s is orange for fuck’s sake!). A lot of times the show tries to pull off the ‘one twin is another twin’ schtick which does kind of work given most of the girls have similarly long hair, but you are not pulling that garbage when everyone’s hair is literally a different color.
“Gotoubun no Kimochi” is your box standard seiyuu song with the five VAs of the Nakano sisters singing the lyrics. Cheerful with dedicated parts to each of the seiyuus (even though it’s a little hard to differentiate who’s singing or not), the song is reflective to the overall ‘romcom’ feel that the show has. Not bad with a few memorable aspects given how the song begins and ends. Aya Uchida’s “Sign” is largely similar to its OP sister, being a cheerful, poppy song though a lot more mellow in comparison. Personally I don’t find these songs that memorable, but they’re still good listens.
My opinion of Goutobun no Hanayome largely stems from how without its gimmick, this show would be pretty ordinary without much to note. Having read the manga, the adaptation did its job well at putting the source material in animated form, going at a steady pace that didn’t seem to rush or slow down at any particular moment.
Really though I just find it fun seeing a series I’ve been reading get an adaptation and see just how well everything comes together when a team of animators are put to work on it. The adaptation pretty much fulfilled what I expected the show to end up being, so I’m content with that. That being said, I should’ve expected the whole ‘marketability’ of the novelty of the quintuplets. Like I really should’ve seen that coming. Last time I saw this was with Monster Musume back in what, 2014? (The girls even have character songs. Because sure, why not? Not like you’re gonna get green lit for a second season.)
For those looking for a school romcom, Gotoubun no Hanayome is a show that largely succeeds due to its reusing of typical school slice of life scenes while putting a twist on it because “Hey, we got five girls who all are like the same, but not”. It’s a great show for a casual watch due to its reliance more on character rather than story and good pacing, making it a show with enough substance to stand on its better qualities rather than divulging to filler or anything like fanservice. The only real sin this show has to chalk up to its name is the typical ‘best girl’ shenanigans where whatever monkeys that decide the war is worth fighting take up arms and defend or speculate which of the quintuplets ends up marrying the protag.