Gakuen Handsome is… weird (…The chins…My god, the chins…). But that weirdness is its charm. That weird charm is also what allowed the new anime series to be funded beyond its original goals, which in turn gives the series one of its more hilarious features.
Gakuen Handsome is a slice-of-life story of a young man who returns to his home town after seven years. He transfers into one of the most prestigious private high schools in the prefecture where he is reunited with an old childhood buddy. From there he meets some of the most handsome boys he’s ever met.
As can be seen from the promotional trailer, the character design and animation of Gakuen Handsome are a little… unique. The original Gakuen Handsome was something born of the internet. Remember, the internet tried to give the world “Boaty McBoatface.” There’s no accounting for taste. What started out as just a trailer has become multiple video games for PC and smartphones, a novel, and, eventually, an OVA.
This past June, a crowdfunding site was put up for the creation of a new Gakuen Handsome anime series. The goal was met and passed in five days, eventually gathering roughly six million yen, over three times the original goal.
Thanks to the extra cash, the anime has two voice casts: A cast of professional voice actors and the cast of the original indie game. This double casting is only available in Japan, though. The anime is aired on TV with two tracks and two versions of the first episode have been posted on Youtube—one with the new cast, and one with the original cast. This gives the anime twice the viewability, since after watching it with one cast, you can go back and switch the track to watch it again with the other.
Professional voice actor version:
Original cast version:
Watching with both casts is simultaniously hilarious and fascinating. The original cast sounds very amateurish and baby’s-first-voice-acting-ish. Yet it matches the overall tone and really gives you a feel of what you’re in for. The professional cast does an excellent job, but the stark contrast in voice quality and acting really drives home just how good these actors are. The dialogue and timing are all exactly the same, and yet the result is worlds apart. It really makes one appreciate the subtleties of the profession.
Personally, I don’t really have a preference for either the original or professional voice track. Overall, it feels like both tracks are part of the whole package, making me watch and rewatch the anime and enjoy it all the more.
Gakuen Handsome can be viewed with English subtitles on Crunchyroll (professional voice actor track only).