A lot of anime have appropriately fitting titles, and this isn’t one of them. “Tsuyokiss: Cool x Sweet” is an anime making claim to two traits it does not possess. It’s a harem anime with a perplexed premise, confused in its aspirations and unsure of itself.
Part of the reason this anime becomes so lost in focus is likely due to the fact it’s based on a PowerPoint slideshow, or as the Japanese like to call them, visual novels.
Tsuyokiss kicks off to an incredibly fascinating start, believe it or not. Completely contrary to what all the promotional images and even the source material might suggest, it’s not a harem romance anime at all – not at first. Tsuyokiss as a whole originates as a romance game, but upon this anime’s start, it has none of that.
Indeed, there’s no romance, there’s no harem – not for the first half of the show anyway. Still, isn’t that something?
A high school anime full of attractive girls who aren’t lesbians and don’t sit around drinking tea and eating crumpets sounds too good to be true – but you better believe it, Tsuyokiss doesn’t thrive off the conventional tropes. High school girls lead a fulfilling life in this anime, at least for the first few episodes.
Our heroine is a redhead named Sunao. Her name is of interest because it means being honest, and other characters repeatedly mock her for not being “Sunao” about her feelings.
She’s newly transferred into a high school that hasn’t got a drama club and thus she wants to start her own. Sadly, this matter is regulated by the student council president, a scumbag blonde girl that likes to stomp on Sunao’s wishes for no reason other than to give her a hard time.
It becomes a contest of egos. The not-so-sunao Sunao, a new girl on the block with nothing but motivation by her side, trying to get one over on the scumbag blonde girl who has a position of authority and a number of bishoujo minions composing the remainder of the student council.
Eyeopening about this anime is how the characters all carry their individual motives for their actions. It immediately stands out how unusually immersive this anime is as it doesn’t follow the predicted path, and the characters flourish to unexpected qualities.
Initially, upon the introduction of the girls who follow the scumbag blonde, I thought they’d be little more than ants that take after the command of their leader – but they’re not. In fact, they don’t really help her with anything besides basic student council obligations.
They do what they’re told sure, but they spend most of their time arguing with each other and tending to other matters. They also think for themselves, and they don’t hold any hostility towards Sunao just because their scumbag leader does. The other characters don’t have any opinion of Sunao at all one way or another for that matter, not until they meet her for themselves.
This is where the anime truly gets interesting, because Sunao, who hasn’t got a friend, starts to gradually get on good terms with the student council girls one by one. That was never something she planned, it was purely through her unwavering will to establish a theater club that she manages to inspire them.
Once lonesome, now Sunao finds herself a friend supporting her ambitions – not even because they care for theater, but merely because they recognize Sunao is a nice girl.
As the anime continues on like this for a time, a struggle of one cute girl to have the club of her dreams, it proves a splendid comedy with wonderful friendship elements making for a pleasant experience that keeps you eager for the next episode.
But, catastrophe strikes…
Among the student council was also one male character, who the anime hinted at, and increasingly made obvious that, he formerly knew Sunao from an earlier grade at school. It wasn’t an issue at first, since he showed no particular romantic intrigue in her, and she none for him – but it doesn’t stay that way unfortunately.
The problem isn’t that they develop feelings for one another, the problem is that the anime forgets all about theater clubs to focus instead on generic harem garbage. Tsuyokiss succumbs to the fact it’s originally a girl game and puts its awesome starting premise in the backseat so it can have an illicit relationship with a new storyline.
It’s not an impressive one either, the male character is a complete hollow shell of a man who the heroine inconceivably happens to be in love with. It’s a tragedy, ruining the anime as the focus rapidly shifts from the struggle of Sunao to make her goals a reality, to Sunao acting like a typical tsundere all over a bland failure at life.
Captivating merely an episode or two ago, Tsuyokiss transforms into a nearly unwatchable mess. The excess of emphasis on a faceless male character no one asked for is simply unbearable, not helped by how it arrives late in the anime, annihilating the once smooth path towards the finale.
By the end of it, the only great part of the anime remaining is the opening sequence, amusing in its camera cuts accenting the characters and their various interesting accessories:
At the same time, the OP is also testament to what this anime could have been. A quirky presentation meets great artwork and character designs that now go wasted, as does a formerly fabulous foundation for a fine story. Tsuyokiss’ positive points vanish in an instant. The anime transforms from sporting new ideas to becoming another drop in the bucket of everyday harem anime.
Most regrettable is that, that’s exactly what I initially expected of it, but I was taken aback to find that’s not what we got! At first, the anime was shockingly superb. Yet in the end, it fell to become what I always worried it would be.
Tsuyokiss starts off cool, but it doesn’t end that way, and the sweetness quickly turns to a bitter taste.