As if ripped straight out of a visual novel, Photo Kano manages to cover a lot of familiar ground without really bringing any new or fresh concepts to the romantic comedy genre. Yet despite the promise of a decent harem, things quickly go downhill in the last 12 minutes.
Photo Kano (Madhouse Studios) – Genre: Romance, School
We open with a scene at a convention, where enormous throngs of would be photographers flock around female cosplayers. One young fellow asks one of the more popular cosplayers for one last photo. She gives him a few provocative poses for his picture-taking pleasure, before turning to find a group of scowling girls angry at him, waking him from his dream.
Thus we are introduced to our main character, Kazuya Maeda (Nobunaga Shimuzaki). Just as summer vacation ends, he receives his father’s old DSLR as a hand me down. Unsure of what to do, but eager to try out photography as a new hobby, he brings it to school with him in the hopes of finding something worthwhile to capture. His old childhood friend Haruka Niimi (Kanae Itou) asks to be one of his subjects someday, to which he promises.
While walking around school looking for things to photograph, he happens across a young girl practicing in the gym. Aside from the slight creeper factor (more on that later), they get acquainted with each other when she finds out that he is her friend Kanon’s (Mariya Ise) older brother. She introduces herself as Mai Sakura (Hisako Kanemoto) and runs off.
A little later, Kazuya notices a girl taking photos on the roof of the school. Another of his friends, Nonoka Masaki (Chiwa Saito) from the softball team, comes up to him to talk to him. Noticing the camera, she asks to have her picture taken. She makes a face at him at the last second, and bids her goodbyes.
Out of nowhere, a guy comes out of the shadows (or should I say bushes) to praise him. This guy turns out to be Hiromichi Kudou (Hikaru Midorikawa), president of the Photography Club, and one of the shadiest high schoolers I’ve ever seen. After following Kazuya around all day (!), he’s decided that Kazuya would be a perfect fit for the Photography Club and brings him to the club room.
Things get weirder. At the club room, he is introduced to the rest of the members. Itta Nakagawa (Minoru Shiraishi) is a short little fellow who specializes in low-angle shots. Takashi Azuma (Nobuhiko Okamoto) is a meek guy who specializes in high-angle shots. Finally, Yuuko Uchida (Ayahi Takagaki) is the sole female member and specializes in stealth shots. Together, this gang of potential sex offenders budding photography enthusiasts wants to add poor Kazuya to their ranks and corrupt his fresh young mind.
Emerging from a curtain dividing the room in half is the Photo Club president Katsumi Kurebayashi (Kaoru Mizuhara) along with one of its members Ruu Narita (Akiko Hasegawa). Katsumi explains that the Photo Club is the official photography club for the school, and that she created it in response to the Photography Club’s questionable subject matter. Thank goodness someone in this school is smart enough to recognize that the Photography Club’s members aren’t exactly a tasteful sort.
Both groups try to convince Kazuya to join their respective clubs. Katsumi tries to reason with him by saying that they are actually interested in serious photography and that he’ll be surrounded by cute girls. Hiromichi tries to lure him with the promise of taking great erotic photos. Guess which one Kazuya picked.
If you guessed that he went with the Photo Club, you are one optimistic human being. Well, this wouldn’t be a harem comedy if our MP didnt lack brains. After visualizing his female friends posing for they camera, including his little sister (!!), he hesitantly agrees to join the Photography Club. I can see the death flags being raised already.
So what can I say after seeing the first episode? Its got all of the familiar tropes of the harem comedy genre, such as the cast of cute girls, that seems like the start of a good harem comedy. The problem? Too many of the situations are outrageous. The big conflict in this episode was which club Kazuya joins: the one with all the cute girls who are actually serious about photography, or the one with the sausage-fest of creepers. This shouldn’t be an issue if he had any sense of decency and common sense! As a result, the photography element is used as an excuse for cheap fanservice, which is highly disappointing. Kazuya’s lack of rational thinking leads him to the creepiest group of high schoolers I’ve ever seen. From here on, it looks like the focus will shift more and more from the art of photography to what the lens sees, and considering that these are horny high school boys, it isn’t difficult to figure out where the gaze rests on.
- This episode gave me the creeps. Not a good sign when I’m watching a romantic comedy.
- I want to punch Bowl-Cut’s face. Badly.
- Where is the teacher in charge of the Photography Club, and why aren’t they aware that it’s become a cesspool of pervy stalkers?