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Worth the Binge | ‘Play it Cool, Guys’ is a sweet and bite sized slice-of-life comedy

By December 28, 2022March 29th, 2023No Comments4 min read

Perhaps the greatest method to suggest Play it Cool, Guys is to highlight how little of a commitment it is to get into. With each episode clocking in at just around eleven minutes with the OP and EP taking up a fair amount of that time, the lighthearted series won’t take a lot of time to barrel through. And, if you aren’t digging the general vibe of the story after an episode or two, you’ve only given it the amount of time a normal anime episode might take. That said, Play it Cool, Guys is an easy watch, especially for slice-of-life enthusiasts, the bite-sized episodes are perfect for winding down at the end of the day. 

Directed by Chiaki Kon (The Way of the Househusband, Naruto: Shippuden) the series, based on the webcomic written and illustrated by Kokone Nata is charming due to its easy, deliberate pace and relatable characters. Through the four main characters ranging from a 17-year-old high school star athlete to a later 20-something office worker, the narrative is simple and straight-forward but makes a meal out of its blink and miss it length with gags that anyone who has made a harmless blunder in public — pushing on a door when it says to pull, knocking utensils off a table at a restaurant, or responding to a wave you thought was for you when it was for someone behind you — will keenly understand. 

What it’s All About 

Art student Souma Shiki, office worker Takayuki Mima, university student Hayate Ichikura, and high-school athlete Shun Futami weave themselves into one another’s lives despite distinct differences in interests, age, and personalities. What they share, however, is their clumsiness by way of forgetfulness, general social awkwardness, or laugh-it-off mistakes. While all four maintain a public demeanor of calm, not all of them handle their public stumbles the same, from Souma’s inability to stifle laughter at his errors to Hayate’s inner distress and turmoil when he fails to succeed like his peers manage. 

That said, despite the micro misadventures of their daily lives, their public-facing facades remain unbothered, making them hilariously desirable to the outside world. 

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Planning to continue or calling it quits

Considering the last episode airs December 27 and that the total runtime will clock in at just barely two hours, it’s an easy series to stick with through the end, even if watching it with middling interest. However, there’s real humor here from visual gags, to the innate understanding anyone who is an introvert will grasp onto as social engagements exhaust Hayate, to the miscommunication and surprising way each character relates to and/or envies the other. 

The animation is crisp if uncomplicated, with plenty of scenes occupied by sedentary characters aside from a few action shots. It’s workmanlike in approach with little need for flourishes beyond smart, fast-paced writing, and likable characters. Chief animation director and character designer for the anime Eri Taguchi instill each main with a level of distinction beyond different hair colors, from demeanors that range from playful to hunched in, and effortlessly confident. The lack of motion is a hindrance only in that it shows the limitations of the budget, less so an indictment of the artists involved. If it is to get a second season, hopefully, studio Pierrot – known for works such as Naruto and Bleach, will put more funding behind it and allow it to stretch outside of its ten-minute intervals. 

Final Thoughts 

It’s tough to assign too much meaning to the series which, as evidenced by the above, is lightweight fare. That said, beyond the silliness, there is an acute understanding that as individuals we never know what another person is going through on a given day and that despite projected confidence any one of us could be struggling with either expectation from ourselves or others or, vain as it might be, embarrassment we perceive we should have even if others would argue otherwise. Sweet, wholesome, and a balm to utilize after a stressful episode of another series (as I write this I’m about to watch the finale of Chainsaw Man so the Play it Cool, Guys finale will be necessary,) check out this character-focused comedy for a relief inducing escape. 

All episodes of Play it Cool, Guys are available on Crunchyroll. Watch a clip from the series below.

Featured Image Courtesy of Crunchyroll/Pierrot

Allyson Johnson

Based in New England, Allyson is co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of InBetweenDrafts. Former Editor-in-Chief at TheYoungFolks, she is a member of the Boston Society of Film Critics and the Boston Online Film Critics Association. Her writing has also appeared at CambridgeDay, ThePlaylist, Pajiba, VagueVisages, RogerEbert, TheBostonGlobe, Inverse, Bustle, her Substack, and every scrap of paper within her reach.

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