Kazunari Usa makes a deal with his parents, he gets to live on his own on the condition that he lives wherever they pick. The place they pick is the Kawai Complex and on the day Usa moves in, he sees a perverted man named Shirosaki who his head stuck in the fence near a playground. To Usa's dismay, Shirosaki is one of the other boarders at Kawai Complex and he's not the only weird person living there. On top of that, one of the other boarders is his crush from school, Ritsu Kawai. Little does Usa know that he'll end up fitting in just fine with the rest of the weirdos that live there. With the studio Brain's Base, who have a track record including series like Baccano!, Durarara!!, and Spice & Wolf, behind this, is Kawai Complex a hit or is it a mess?
While Kawai Complex is still at the heart of it technically a slice of life comedy series, it is more styled like a sitcom, as nearly the entire series takes place in the titular Kawai Complex with only a select few other recurring settings, like the school and Usa's workplace. Such a set up heavily reminds me of sitcoms which have a similar type of set up. Also, much like sitcoms most of the comedy comes from the characters talking to each other. Conversely, that also means there isn't much of an overall story to this series.
Kawai Complex would be nothing without its primary supporting cast of Mayumi, Sayaka, Shirosaki, and Sumiko. It isn't that the leads aren't engaging or are bad, but rather if the two of them had to carry the entire show, it would be more of a generic romantic comedy. But thanks to these four, the show is a really funny comedy series and gives us much, much needed breaks from the romance fueled melodrama between Usa and Ritsu.
As stated before, most of the comedy in Kawai Complex comes from the characters talking to each other. More specifically it comes from the characters lobbying some particularly potent, if not even toxic at times, disses at each other. It is so second nature to them that most of their conversations sneak in at least one dig at another character. And no character aside from Sumiko is safe from them. Usa, Ritsu, Mayumi, Sayaka, and Shirosaki all get a good amount of burns over the course of the series, and by the end I couldn't help grinning when some particularly juicy secrets about some of the characters get revealed because I know the other characters who heard said secrets are stocking them up for use down the road.
The entire show has this iridescent coloring style to it and it just makes the show look beautiful and unique. It is a rather nice visual treat that I wasn't expecting going in.
While I may think the romance between Usa and Ritsu can be a little too dramatic at times, Ritsu makes up for it the times when she is adorable. Any time Ritsu breaks out of her stoic nature and actually shows emotion, she is just hopelessly cute.
One of the few recurring side characters not part of the main supporting cast is Chinatsu, an elementary school student who hangs around the Kawai Complex from time to time. And according to Shirosaki, she has the makings of being a great sadist one day. And he's not far off the mark. Chinatsu can be down right scary sometimes with her razor sharp verbal attacks that belittle the inhabitants of Kawai Complex.
Despite the outward appearance that they all hate each other, when one of the members of Kawai Complex get into trouble, the rest will band together to help them. The six of them act more like a family than most blood-related families do in anime.
Aside from Sumiko, there isn't a single person in the Kawai Complex that isn't pitiful. Mayumi is a drunkard that keeps bemoaning her relationship woes, despite constantly crawling back to her exes who have cheated on her in the past. Sayaka is a man-eater who seemingly likes to watch the world burn, but at the same time is extremely fake. Shirosaki is one of the biggest masochists I have ever seen. Ritsu is extremely antisocial and cares so much about reading that she becomes blind to everything around her, which could be dangerous given the situation. And Usa....well I'll get to Usa later.....
In a few of the episodes in this show, both Ritsu and Usa are individually placed into challenging situations that neither can escape on their own, and their sufferings are palpable. Only through the help of the other do they escape their situations. On top of that, in the episode Chinatsu debuted in, she felt so hopeless that she actually wished she was dead, which needless to say was an absolute gut punch.
Kawai Complex is an adaptation of a still on going manga. By now I hope I don't really need to explain what that means for its ending. Without going too much into detail, it is still extremely open ended, with a lot of side characters not in the main cast still underdeveloped and unredeemed from when we last see them. However, unlike most open ended endings, there is still some tiny bit of closure as Ritsu and Usa do make some progress with their relationship in the form of Usa accomplishing one of the goals he wanted to accomplish.
I'll just be blunt....Usa is a god damned stalker. And it is damn creepy. He spends an unhealthy amount of time watching Ritsu from a distance, even working in the school library just to have more time to watch her. This is just about the only thing I don't like about Kawai Complex; how damn creepy Usa really is as a person. And it leaves me to question why I even want to see this guy succeed at getting Ritsu. Which sucks, because when Usa isn't perving on Ritsu and is instead taking part in the verbal comedy, he's really funny!
Despite my dislike of Usa's creepy stalker nature, I enjoyed just about everything else that Kawai Complex had to offer. The show is beautiful to look at, it is incredibly funny, the cast is made up of heavily flawed individuals, and it can be surprisingly emotional at times. All in all, I think Kawai Complex is my third favorite show to air this season and still think people should definitely watch it. Just....try not to be too creeped out by Usa during the romantic side of the show, and focus on the hilarious comedic antics of the cast instead.