REVIEW: ‘Insomniacs After School’ Episode 1 — “Capella”

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Insomniacs After School Episode 1 - But Why Tho

Based on the manga written and illustrated by Makoto Ojiro, Insomniacs After School Episode 1 offers a twist on the romance-based slice-of-life story with a specific element that ails our lead characters — sleep deprivation. Set in the small city of Nanao, the series adopts a whimsical tone, mimicking the sleepiness of its characters with patient and dreamy animation that gives the atmosphere a romantic atmosphere despite what’s plaguing Ganta (Gen Satō,) our protagonist, who suffers from insomnia. A downbeat character at odds with the persistently upbeat and school-spirited peers of his high school, his characterization and dejection over lack of sleep is established fast, making his main company an even greatest contrast. 

Isaki (Konomi Tamura,) the girl he meets when trying to sneak a nap in the school’s abandoned astronomical observatory, is his polar opposite (a good trope is a trope for a reason.) Despite her sociable nature and carefree attitude, which ruffles against Ganta’s more rigid, downturned-mouth approach to life, they bond over their shared insomnia. In a refreshing move, the friendship is struck up quickly, rather than requiring an initial setup and slow-burn friendship. Recognizing a kindred spirit when they see one, Insomniacs After School Episode 1 introduces a friendship of equals, as both strive for purpose in the hours when everyone else is asleep. 

Part of the appeal of the first episode, “Capella,” is the tone from the start, which gets to the heart of those who’ve suffered from insomnia or sleep disorders in the past. There truly is nothing quite as disheartening as getting through another night and beginning to hear the first signs of life, see the first hints of the sun, and realize that another opportunity for rest has flown by. Ganta bemoans hearing local’s dogs out on early morning walks and the hustle of the first-wave commuters, and it’s striking in its accuracy. Insomnia may look different for everyone, but we’ve all experienced a level of this pain caused by others’ nonchalant pleasure of sleeping eight hours straight. 

Insomniacs After School Episode 1 takes time to make Ganta and Isaki relatable, with the two being the only fleshed-out characters. While, like most slice-of-life anime, there will likely come a time when more characters and plotlines are introduced, part of the inherent charm of the genre being the likable cast of characters who inform the series as a whole, “Capella” argues the case that the series could often work with just the two-night owls alone, viewers happy to set sail on their nightly adventures

Insomniacs After School Episode 1

Part of what makes insomnia so profoundly lousy is how lonely the affliction is. Insomniacs After School allows for comfort through the characters as they’re given someone to share their time with, as they decide to keep one another company while everyone else resets their internal clock. The two get to know one another in those after-hours, from Ganta revealing he’s nicer than his outward demeanor at school suggests to Isaki confessing that she hides her insomnia due to being sick, often growing up and not wanting to burden anyone with her struggles. These moments convey an easy chemistry between the two, engaging on their own, wandering the streets of their town. 

Directed by Yūki Ikeda and written by Rintarō Ikeda for Liden Films, the only cause for concern is how long a story with this premise can sustain itself. The manga has been serialized through Shogakukan’s Seinen manga magazine Weekly Big Comic Spirits since 2019. While slow burn works best in these intimate character studies, there’s still the potential to wear itself thin. The first episode doesn’t show any immediate signs of this, though, with beautiful animation, distinctive character designs, and a gorgeous score by composer Yuki Hayashi who has worked on projects such as My Hero Academia, Haikyu!!, and more. The story allows for lack of urgency, and the creative team utilizes that by giving time to the characters themselves so that by the time the first episode is over, we’re already attached. 

Insomniacs After School might take a few episodes to engage with casual viewers who prefer binge-watching week-to-week viewings. For fans of the genre, though, Insomniacs After School Episode 1 is a confident debut with strong characterization and vivid artistry. 

Insomniacs After School Episode 1 is available now to stream on HIDIVE.

Insomniacs After School Episode 1
  • 8/10
    Rating - 8/10


Insomniacs After School Episode 1 is a confident debut with strong characterization and vivid artistry. 

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