Akane Nishimura is a gloomy fifth grade girl who is teased by her classmates and is referred to as “The Grim Reaper.” A new transfer student, a boy named Taiyo Takada, overhears people referring to her by this nickname and thinks it’s cool. Because of this, Takada decides he wants to be friends with Nishimura. However, Nishimura keeps trying to push Takada away, because she knows that he’ll start getting teased if he talks to her and hangs around with her. But Takada, an easygoing boy, doesn’t seem to care about that.
Most of this first episode establishes Nishimura and Takada and shows the friendship that ultimately develops between the two of them by the end of it. Takada is a nice and earnest kid, but he can also be clueless at times, hence the title of the series. For example, when Nishimura walks by, her classmates will wave their hands and call out, “Barrier! Barrier!” Takada thinks that these kids are really casting barriers, and he’s frustrated because he doesn’t know how. Nishimura keeps trying to explain to him that it’s a game they play as part of making fun of her. When Nishimura comments that if he learns how to cast a barrier he’ll be able to talk to her, Takada says he wouldn’t want to cast a barrier against her because they’re friends. It’s a sweet sentiment, even if it did spring from him being clueless about something.
There’s a great scene early on, when Takada is about to walk home with Nishimura and they are stopped by three of their male classmates. The classmates want Takada to walk home with them, and at first, he misunderstands, thinking they boys are inviting both him and Nishimura. After the boys says they’re only inviting Takada, he brushes them off and asks why he’d walk home with them, since they’re only humans. One of the boys says that Nishimura is only human, too, and Takada points out that they keep referring to her as “The Grim Reaper,” which means she’s not just a human. The boys have no comeback to this, and they end up leaving. Again, while this may have arisen from a misunderstanding, he did correctly point out the boys’ hypocrisy.
There’s a group of three girls that gossip about Nishimura and instigate the bullying in the class. During this episode, the ringleader of this group appears to develop a crush on Takada. This isn’t explored much in this episode, but I have a feeling that it’s going to become an important plot point as the series progresses.
Right at the end of the episode, Takada receives his first instance of teasing for hanging out with Nishimura, but this sweet but clueless kid totally misunderstands the meaning behind what’s written on the chalkboard. While most of his cluelessness didn’t make me laugh in this episode, I admit that this final misunderstanding did elicit a laugh out of me.
Admittedly, the animation and character designs are a little on the simple side, but from looking at the cover for the first volume of the manga, this seems to match the art style of the original source material. Also, with the characters being in elementary school, this simplistic style makes sense. With how young they are and how simplistic their worldview is at that age, this visual style helps to emphasize the stage they’re at in their lives.
When it comes to the writing, the humor of the series is derived from Takada and his cluelessness. However, the show doesn’t appear to entirely be comedic, because in this first episode, there’s also serious moments mixed in as well. In this episode, we get the serious moments with Nishimura as she deals with the bullying she’s gone through up to this point and how Takada fits into her life. After watching this first episode, I thought this mixture of humor and seriousness showed that the writing has heart and has good intentions going into it.
After finishing this first episode, I see potential for My Clueless First Friend, and I hope that this potential continues to be realized as the series continues.
Additional posts about My Clueless First Friend: