Though void of drama and staying true to its genre’s name, “Slice of Life,” Just Because’s melancholy nature surprising can win you over.
From just before winter break until the beginning of spring, we follow a small group of youth as the majority exit high school and enter college or the workforce. Breaking it down, we have Izumi who is a pseudo new kid who was friends with Haruto and Mio back in middle school before he moved. However, since he left, they haven’t really kept in contact. Though, upon returning, he picks things right up with Haruto and continues crushing on Mio, but not confessing.
Speaking of unconfessed crushes, Haruto is in that situation as well with a girl named Hazuki. She is a trumpet player who used to play during his baseball games and he is crushing on her quite hard. Whether or not they can manage the diverging path of him going to work and her going to college, and perhaps being together, is the heart of their story.
As for Izumi and Mio? Well, while it seems their story will be rooted in a will they or won’t they, this gets shaken up by an underclassman named Komiya throwing herself into the mix. While everyone else is very pensive about their feelings, once she is sure she likes Izumi she lets him know. She even, partly thanks to her cat Puta, goes on a date with him. Something Mio doesn’t support but, you know what, Mio had a good 5+ years to say something. It’s not Komiya’s fault Mio was infatuated with Haruto and switched to Izumi when she realized he actually was invested in spending time with her.
Leaving us with a show which, towards the end of this summary, may have seemed to have gotten dramatic towards the end, but it doesn’t. It somehow, even with a love triangle in play, stays very rooted in normalcy.
Question(s) Left Unanswered
- Though I have a feeling it was at least mentioned once, what exactly is Haruto’s job and what are everyone’s majors on the show. Intended majors that is since you know, switching majors in college is a norm.
The Sense of Nostalgia
For those who remember high school as not the highlight of your life, but simply a long, sometimes exhausting, maybe anxiety-ridden period, this show speaks to you. It doesn’t include the kind of drama most live action or animated shows have. Everyone, from the boring as hell Izumi to the force of nature which is Komiya are normal people you’d imagine knowing of or being friends with in high school.
But, it isn’t just this sort of familiarity but also the problems and attitudes. Generally speaking, no one seems that excited about becoming an adult. College is touted as an obligation and while Hazuki is excited since she has long had to act as caretaker to her younger siblings, she isn’t necessarily jumping for joy either. Similar to Haruto’s take on going to work, what we see is people just accept that what they decided on is just the next logical step in life and, for better or worse, they have to accept it.
Friendship Matters in Relationships
Whether we are talking about platonic friendships like we see between Izumi and Haruto, Hizaki and Mio, if not Yoriko and Hizaki, or the ones which potentially could become romantic, we are reminded friendship needs to be a base. If you like that girl or guy, it is better to become friends, get to know them, perhaps tear down some walls and really get to know them vs. keep them in this rose-colored glasses appearances.
We especially see this when it comes to Komiya’s crush on Izumi and Mio’s crush on Haruto which gets transferred to Izumi. With Komiya, her relationship with Izumi, and her admiration and feelings for him weren’t shallow. She saw what kind of guy he was from pestering him about permission to use a photo of him and when she was in a bad spot, she was there for him. Also, as time went on, and they hung out, you can see there was some kind of mutual feelings developing. Albeit, Izumi was too stupid to choose Komiya over Mio, but more on that later.
Anyway, switching to Mio, perhaps another reason why it shows how much friendships matter in relationships is it lets you know what kind of role that person can and will play. When Mio was going on and on about Haruto and her crush about him, alongside freaking out about entrance exams, Izumi was there. He may not have necessarily liked hearing Mio talk about another guy and her feelings for him but, like Komiya, it seems the happiness of his crush mattered more than his feelings.
But the moment which probably won Mio over is that Izumi knew Mio so well that, knowing she’d have a bad day when it was time to take the exam, especially with it snowing and trains in chaos, he found her and made sure she made it. When in a clutch, he provided the kind of support Haruto wouldn’t have offered or even thought was necessary to offer. A sign of someone who truly has the potential to be worth more than just the title of friend.
Love Has To Be Realistic, Yet Still Contain Hope
Yet, taking note of how the show does support the idea that friendship is a good foundation for love, it doesn’t imply that with that in place, you are full speed ahead. Izumi had to wait years for it to click in Mio’s head that he was worth her time. Komiya, despite a gallant effort, still got rejected, and when it comes to Haruto and Hizaki, the issue was timing.
But, in all of these scenarios, there is still reason to hope. Though Izumi and Mio weren’t together, they were still friends. They got along, could be alone sometimes and enjoy each other’s company, and so there was hope. For Komiya, considering Mio outgrew her crush on Haruto, who is to say the same won’t happen with Izumi? Then, with Hizaki and Haruto, it was just about timing. Both needed to get acclimated to life outside high school, get accustomed to college and work life and then, they could revisit the idea of dating.
Really pushing the idea that perhaps the show wasn’t just about telling a story but also pushing a message. Of which one of them were, not all romances in life are going to be whirlwind types which happen in an instance. Sometimes weeks, months, if not years are required for everything to come together as your hope. Just take initiative, accept the opportunities that come about to make progress, and be patient.
You Get Coerced To Accept Izumi and Mio Natsume As A Thing
Let me start by saying this all may sound really bias. If only because, with Izumi and Mio, there is no real build to them getting together. There is nothing cute or precious about it. It isn’t like Mio’s crush on Haruto which started with him lending her an eraser. It isn’t like Haruto’s crush on Hizuki which begins with him listening to her play trumpet. It’s pure infatuation.
That is as opposed to his relationship with Komiya which evolved from her just being an outright pest about using his picture up until episode 7, when she opens up to him. But you know what the real kicker is? Out of all the characters of the show, Komiya is the sole one who realized, once she got butterflies in her stomach, to pursue the feeling. Everyone else had to be pushed toward their crush, do some sort of personal ultimatum, or come to a realization which took years. Komiya on the other hand, she took initiative.
The kind which wasn’t appreciated by Mio for with her just realizing, around episode 7, she got feelings for Izumi, after he bends over backwards for her, she doesn’t want Komiya asking him out. Yet, does she say anything? Nope. Not until the last scene of episode 12, in which, again, Izumi has to make the moves. Now, mind you, she was going to say something in episode 10 it seems, the Valentine’s Day episode, but from seeing a picture of Komiya in Izumi’s phone, she decides to drop the idea.
Leading to why I stan so hard for Izumi and Komiya, with them we get to see the little things and the grand gestures. Komiya makes grand gestures pronouncing her feelings, asking Izumi to hang out one on one, and basically being like the girl we often see in romance movies. The only difference being, she is an active participant. And while things can seem one-sided for a while, then comes that aforementioned picture. Him spending a day with her, taking her picture, and not making a big deal or even trying to have that picture no longer be his phone’s wallpaper said something to me. Hell, after all they’ve been through, him accepting that one on one time said something. On top of that, her being able to make him smile with that school yearbook, even if it just triggered Mio talk, triggered something.
For despite all the time spent with Haruto and even Mio, the Izumi we saw and knew was basically a walking zombie. The epitome of someone just going through the motions when it comes to life. However, she got a reaction out of him. A rise even. Also, I’d add that while Mio was leaving her test, I believe, she saw a couple which mirrored Komiya and Izumi. A boy and girl, the girl with heavy equipment the boy was carrying, and they were on a date going somewhere. A bit of foreshadowing which felt like a trick considering the ultimate result.
One which hurts because, in many ways, it seemed like just as Mio grew out of her crush, so would Izumi. Especially when he went to a kind of weird and creepy place of wanting to follow Mio to college to have more time to confess to her. But, I guess, in the end, all of Komiya’s effort didn’t do much besides boost Izumi’s ego to the point he felt worthy of someone’s love and attention. Hence him finally confessing to her at the end of the show and leaving Komiya heartbroken.
On The Fence
It Can Be Dull As Dirt, Unless Komiya Is Involved
Until Komiya becomes an integral part of this show, it can be quite boring. For what praise it deserves for being normal and not much for embellishing teen life, it also takes a ding by not really presenting interesting characters. Are they likable and relatable? Yeah. However, watching Haruto and Hizaki get forced together by Yoruko, it gets boring after awhile. Izumi pining over Mio while she pines over Haruto, gets aggravating. Much less, with no one taking not one bit of initiative but seemingly always waiting for a third party to give them a push, set up a group thing, or something like that, you are left wondering where this show is going?
But then Komiya comes in and with her being the first and only one, to actively pursue who they like and so on, she wakes you up a bit. She provides some mellow drama, just enough to give the show some motion, and it is like Haruto and Hizaki, though they don’t interact with her, take note and start coming alive a bit. Hizaki brings up this idea that while she wants to date Haruto, it is bad timing. Mio gets it through her thick head she can’t be complacent anymore and, as noted, Komiya acts as a catalyst to bring Izumi out of a stupor. Making me mad all over again how things ended for her.
Overall: Positive (Watch This)
I must admit I mark this positive with a heavy heart. What is so likable about this show is that it doesn’t go overboard yet in it not going overboard it can also be dull as hell. Yet, around the time Komiya becomes more than a passing character, like Mio’s friends, the show gets a jolt to its system. And while it never abandons the idea of giving us a story about everyday teens trying to figure out what to do when it comes to their personal life, education, and prospective career, it shows this weird mix of urgency that comes despite having all the time in the world. How, at 16, 17, 18, you may have the world and decades ahead of you, but you always wonder if one decision could essentially screw up your entire life. A weight which perhaps is why everyone takes things so slow and steady as well as Komiya acts as quickly as she feels she must.
|While we are overloaded with the amount of characters introduced, there is just something appealing about each one which makes you want to invest in Just Because!|
|As we get to know a handful of the cast of Just Because! so comes the attachment to characters.|
|Haruto’s crush on Hazuki remains the focus as Komiya is really trying to push Izumi into letting her use that photo she took to save her club.|
|We are waist deep in mundane slice of life drama and while Just Because! has become a bit routine, it still is enjoyable.|
|Everyone deals with what happened over Christmas break and continues to prep for life after graduation.|
|As the school year continues to whine down, we see the girls begin to deal with their latent feelings the best they can.|
|Haruto and his drama are put on the back burner as Izumi takes center stage and we learn he is in the center of a love triangle.|
|The love triangle heats up as Natsume starts really taking notice of how everyone seems a few steps ahead of her.|
|As Haruto and Morikawa move back to the forefront, we’re right back to the show being about everyone’s indecision issues.|
|It’s Valentine’s Day and that naturally means some people’s hearts are left a flutter and others bruised, if not broken.|
|Everything is coming in alignment now for our group of kids. Leading you to wonder will we get something predictable or be thrown a curve ball?|
|Just Because! comes to an end and while bittersweet for some, it is the beginning of something wonderful for others.|