Do you want to unite the anime community like you’ve never seen? Give them a waifu worthy of their love, affection and protection and they will move mountains. Do you want to divide the anime community like you’ve never seen? Give them five in a single show and watch them battle over who can claim the title of best girl. The Quintessential Quintuplets was always going to be a recipe for war thanks to the deluxe buffet of personalities engineered by science to attract everybody but the protagonist. Spoilers ahead.
Welcome to the anime that finally made me read the manga (thanks, I love reading manga now). Episode after episode I was left with the all important questions of “Who will win?” and “How will they resolve this in only 12 episodes?” Yes, I can hear you all now: “Oh, my sweet summer child.” My anime naivety was showing. We went twelve whole episodes and it didn’t feel like a single thing was resolved. So I picked up the manga and, you guys, there are probably somewhere between two and four more seasons of material in there. And it still isn’t finished.
I’m telling you all of this now as a warning. If you start this show…even worse…if you like this show, prepare to wait. A lot. Is it torture waiting week to week only to still have no resolution after more than one hundred chapters? Yes. Is it all worth it? Absolutely….at least for now.
If you were to go on the Quintessential Quintuplets largest subreddit (beware of spoilers), you will find a community that, on the surface, feels like a contradiction. Pretty much everyone has their chosen best girl, but is, for the most part, supportive of everyone else as well (except for the author, sometimes). Honestly, it’s one of the more fun ways to meme about and commiserate over this ridiculous roller coaster that we’re all on. But we aren’t here to discuss the manga and subreddit. We want to talk about the anime.
The story begins with a wedding. Our main male protagonist Uesugi, Fuutarou is getting married to one of the five Nakano sisters. Which sister? Well to answer that, we have to rewind back to high school to a time when the sisters were failing and needed a tutor. That tutor is of course, Fuutarou, a man who hates the idea but needs the money to help with his family debt.
The majority of the sisters aren’t on board with the idea, though their reasoning varies. It’s up to Fuutarou to convince them to participate and raise their grades or lose his position as tutor. And thus we have our conflict and motive for the season.
Given the nature of harem anime, part of draw is keeping each of the girls “in play” as a suitor for Fuutarou. If you keep us guessing and the possibilities interesting, you will keep your audience coming back week to week. Especially in the case of this anime, you want the audience doing their best to guess who could be the perfect fit as the bride that was already foretold. The anime begins this formula, but it’s clear by the end that we haven’t seen anywhere near the entire story (and like I said before, the manga reinforces this idea).
The first season really spends a lot of time building up one sister in particular. You could really call it the Miku season. While there are little moments of “meet-cute” or interest building moments between Fuutarou and all of the sisters, Miku stands out as really the first one to take a genuine interest back.
Miku is the quiet sister in body, mind and spirit; everything from her soft voice to her muted outfit (including a stereotypical “loner” attachment to her headphones) broadcasts the idea that she’s the unassuming caterpillar just waiting to transform into the butterfly bride.
The formula that this sets up (and continues in the manga) is basically a large arc for every sister. Unlike some harem anime (such as Highschool DxD) where there are obvious stronger candidates, The Quintessential Quintuplets is determined to keep the playing field level. Just when you think you have everything figured out, the arc swaps and a new appeal for a new sister begins. While this might feel like it’s drawing everything out for no reason (and a little bit like cheating), it does allow for a lot more depth to be given to the characters. It isn’t an elimination style bracket; when new arcs begin, it doesn’t drop the other sisters as contenders. It’s better thought of as just elevating other options (but I digress).
As expected, while they are all sisters, each one has a unique personality that will appeal to a different person. Besides quiet Miku, you have the bubbly Yotsuba, the tsundere Nino, the studious
Eatsuki Itsuki, and the cunning Ichika. I’m sure each of them have a “dere” type that can be assigned, I’m just too afraid to label the ones I’m not absolutely sure about. As you can see, there’s pretty much somebody for everyone.
This arc is paced out well. There are plenty of moments and events to help you learn about each sister and understand motivations for their personalities. They’re different, but the family bond keeps them as a mostly united front, for better and for worse for Fuutarou. Crossing one sister is guaranteed to blow up in his face, so he has to carefully consider his actions or risk losing his employment, giving us as the audience plenty of popcorn moments that are both entertaining and informative.
I don’t have a lot to say on the subject, but this harem anime errs on the side of wholesome. The fan service is fairly tame, so there’s no need for distracting censorship.
My mind knows that this isn’t the world’s greatest anime. As I haven’t seen a lot of harem anime, I can’t even confidently say that it’s one of the best in the genre. What I can say is that, for whatever reason (Miku…Miku is definitely the reason), this anime clicked with me personally. I never would have picked up the manga if it didn’t; I just had to know more. It must have been popular enough, though, because a second season has already been ordered. My honest hope is that they adapt the whole series instead of just stopping halfway.
If harem/romance anime is your thing, I can honestly recommend at least giving this one a try. I’m no expert, but it’s been a crazy ride. If you do, hopefully you enjoy it as much as I am.