Ah yes, High School… or… the trip to High School. Many memories made on those, long, exhausting, early morning trips. However, if there is anything that I could definitely relate to in Chio’s School Road, is the total mischief my friends and I would totally get up to before getting to the school gates, like an unassembled heard of sheep, ready for our teachers to greet us a “Good Morning”, followed with all the unnecessary berating; “Tuck in your shirt!, Why Aren’t you clean shaven!?”, or my personal favourite “Why are you late, again!?”. I mean, let’s face it. We all copped this stuff in High School, it’s what made High School either a good time, or a bad time. Either way, we all have our unbelievable stories which I think in turn, act out in phases and make us into who we are today. Regardless of that fact, Chio’s School Road totally relates to my time in High School, with the titular character, Chio Miyamo. An unpopular, nerdy gamer, who loves to stay up late all night, playing FPS shooters, snacking, getting few hours of sleep, then waking up “at the crack of dawn” … or let’s be honest here, at the last minute to rush out the door to make her way to school. That is the plot. It’s not what happens during school, it’s not what happens after school… The main plot of the entire series, is what happens, each and every morning, on Chio’s School Road.
(Warning: Minor Plot spoilers ahead)
Some of the quirks that make this Anime great, is the total disposition it has in completely relatable, and awkward moments. Now, obviously being a male, not everything would be relatable in some sense, however, going back in the memory bank there were totally unbelievable moments that make me think how we got away with half the pranks we pulled on our way to school in the morning. To give some context, my personal road to High School in the morning was a 35 Minute train ride to the city, and then a 30 minute walk to school. Ample time to think of ways to get up to no good, or even ways to plan our day, or just more sleeping time to survive late nights of gaming. Chio’s route to school is similar in that sense. Waking up early to meet up with her friend Manana Nonomura, they usually will gossip on gaming, or in Manana’s case, how to be popular, and attract the cool kids. But once again, juxtaposition kicks in, and the plot thickens… or… not… when the track and field school champion, and the most popular girl in high school Yuki Hosokawa, suddenly becomes good friends with Chio. I mean, why wouldn’t Chio suddenly become a little skeptical on why this is? Who cares though, it’s high school. Friends are good, just take it!
Along the way we meet other characters such as Gotō, the only school teacher we see in the series who waits at the school gates and greets the students in the morning. While stern, he definitely seems like that one cool teacher we all had. Alongside, we have the Public Morals Comittee member, Momo Shinozuka, who waits with Gotō every morning to greet each student, only because she secretly has a crush on him. We later find out that she’s a very much, by the book, good girl who hasn’t experienced all the “good things” life has to offer… No you perverts. I’m talking about candy, soda, snacks, take-out and other things we all enjoyed with friends on our downtime. We also meet Mayuta Andō, biker, and gang leader who has a completely random run-in with Chio, when she accidentally burns her knee-cap on his bike’s muffler. Andō threatens Chio with an older witness fleeing from the scene, which leads to Chio completely and unintentionally, knocking Andō out, then knocking over his bike. The hilarity ensues when an unconvincing scenario between the two begins, with Chio totally convincing Andō that she is in fact, a gang figure herself that goes by the name “Bloody Butterfly”. The name becomes a total meme through the series, but leads to total admiration from Andō, to the point of a total crush on Chio. Along the way, Chio meets more characters, but I’ll leave it you to find out the rest.
The series is lewd, rude, and crude. What you would want out of an adult themed Anime, that would connect with a vastly potential audience that understands the old high school struggles. I personally loved how each episode devoted a unique plot each day, and split the story into acts. It made for a refreshing vibe to each scene, that did have some backtracing to different acts along the way. Almost like, having a million problems to sort out when you’re a kid, and having them sequentially connect only in story bridges. It’s a great, and unique formula that’s rarely used in Television series, but something I dearly appreciate when used properly. If I were to compare the humour to another Anime’s out there, it would definitely be a cross between the randomness of Love, Chunibyo & OtherDelusions, and the crudeness of Shimoneta, combining to make the mind of the everyday high school student, into random acts of hilarious continuity. Each character you meet, has their own personal quirk about them, which in turn becomes part of each episodes unique acts, as Chio and Manana’s complete lack of social skill, yet cocky confidence yearn to churn out more and more mischief, with each “accomplice” they befriend.
The series animation style is standard Anime. It’s nothing of grandeur, but has moments of personality, that sets the tone, and pace of complete and utter hilarity when it calls for it. This includes funny sound effects, that rip apart all sensibility of some moments that the series quirks itself of. Just when you think that you’re in for a completely heartfelt moment, the Anime will rip that from you, with great comedic timing. Chio’s moments of self-narrated, and narrated scene’s take you from whatever moment you thought you were in, and turns it on it’s head, randomly spinning the story’s act, and making you remember that this is a comedy about being in high school, and that there are a million problems you’re dealing with, and the one you are facing right now will only lead to an existential crisis, but won’t be important until you take care of the other problem from two days ago… Yes, confusion! High School! God, I miss it! I did watch this Anime twice over, in it’s original voice over, and English dub format, and I can definitely say that the English dub is incredibly done, just as well as the original Japanese voice work. Mikaela Krantz (Fruits Basket 2019, Pop Team Epic) does an incredible job, in her role as Chio, bringing the troubled teenage high school girl to life, along with Emily Fajardo (Meiji Tokyo Renka), Kristin Sutton (Keijo!!!!!!!, Free! Eternal Summer), Marcus Stimac (Fairy Tail, That Time I got Reincarnated as a Slime), and many others.
Chio’s School Road, is incredibly funny. It’s rude, and crude demeanor is what makes it relatably charming. I mean, we don’t always watch Anime for those Romedy moments, where the guy meets the girl, and they get torn apart, and then embark on this massive journey across space and time to meet each other again… But instead, take the piss out of everything we know, land total moments of rude humour, with the relation of high school moments we all know and love, even the one’s we keep secret to this very day, that only our inner circles will ever know, and essentially spout them out in this fantastic tribute to teenage-hood. If there’s one thing we can’t do, is turn back the clock to re-experience our years of rebellion, the years of total lack of self respect, and that unto our elders. The years of staying up late, playing games, talking to friends, watching late-night TV, only to wake up to our torturous suffering of making it to school on time. Then the prospect of getting up to no good, being the pesky kids we’ve come to despise as we begrudgingly get older, the one’s that spout the obscenities, the years of pubescent discovery, and the secrets we’ll never share with anyone. The millions of problems we cause ourselves to only solve with randomness, and utter acts of despair, and moments of probable triumph, but lack of victory. Yes, it’s all as glorious as I’m trying to make it out to be… It’s Chio’s School Road. It’s funny as hell, and you should watch it.
Chio’s School Road is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Tadataka Kawasaki. It was serialized in Media Factory’s Monthly Comic Flapper magazine from April 2014 to September 2018. A 12-episode anime television series adaptation by Diomedéa aired from July to September 2018.