Treasured idol Yuka Kusakabe takes the stage for a packed-out concert, only to announce that she’s retiring. And poor Kosaku Hata just got done daydreaming about his on-stage introduction as the special guy she sings for. He’s been obsessed with her for years, so he’s distraught by the news. That is, until Ringo Kinoshita, no longer Yuka-tan, becomes a new student at his school. From there on in, it’s out with trauma and in with splashing on the saucy humour. Turns out there’s even more opportunity for this at an agricultural school than you’d imagine.
Amidst the inter-class rivalry between farmers and animal husbandry, a deceptively young-looking, lovelorn teacher and marketing ploys for produce, the bounties of Gaia are practically plucked clean of their euphemistic potential. From natural yoghurt bukkake, to appraising aubergines and the sexual stereotypes hidden in how you like your eggs, it often leans on treating its female characters as self-deprecating fetish templates. But you could say that the guys reap what they sow, tackling toxic masculinity with the Woodsmen of the Forest Class, and jokes at the girls’ expense coming back on Kosaku being the idiot pervert he is.
Even with the relentless, peculiar comedy distracting No-Rin from its character arcs, Kosaku does manage to learn and grow on the down-low. By the final episode you turn around and realise he’s becoming an adult – it’s shoved down your throat a little, but honest nonetheless. Shintaro Asanuma and Austin Tindle, Kosaka’s original and dub voice actors, respectively, are the ones who persuade you of this unnoticeable change. Both naturally funny, they can dial it down to a genuine respect for the earth and friends that bring new meaning and purpose to his daily life. Asanuma has displayed this talent before in such roles as The Tatami Galaxy’s Watashi, as has Tindle when voicing A Certain Magical Index’s Accelerator. Not only Kosaka’s otakuness, but broader pop cultural references underpin his particular humour, intrinsic to his endearing blunders moments of lightning-strike gratitude.
For everyone else, the jokes soon feel forced. Too many flat chest and big boob gags push the unreasonable rivalries between female characters, and introverted Ringo gets stuck in the middle with too much noise around for her to progress. The self-referential humour inevitably leads to jokes falling flat or getting a rise depending on viewer familiarity, and when a mention goes over your head, like Ringo you can start to feel strangely detached. Many times it’s digging deep into the joys and rewards of working the land and the struggles of the farmer that save Kosaku’s supporting cast from losing all significance. Considering that it’s also the story of an idol wanting a more rewarding life for herself, if not for the subtext in her work in the fields, Ringo’s story would be pared down to a portion of one episode.
Subtlety is a virtue that No-Rin gives a good try, but ultimately fails in. What’s left of the theme of moving on from something that once consumed your life is supported by unexpected musical numbers, carrying you away in silliness, hope and feelings of isolation. Though this remains the one solid link to Ringo’s idol past, it seems to be for the best. Despite these later achievements with lessons that don’t need a punchline, in a single 12-episode run, they could only have come too late.
Extras: English dub; episode 3 & 8 commentary; clean opening/closing animations; promos & trailers.