Image source: TVアニメ「Room Mate」公式‏ on Twitter

Last season, an anime series named One Room offered up a “first-person narrative” experience with a male protagonist and three different girls. Essentially, it was meant to simulate playing a dating sim game where the protagonist interacts with a “harem” of potential love interests. This season’s answer to One Room is, predictably titled, Room Mate, and it follows the same premise—only with a female protagonist. It’s a lot like playing a virtual reality dating sim. 

One Room Lets You Star in Your Own Romance Anime

The story plays out as though you’re the main character in the story, and everything is from a first-person perspective. And so you arrive, the new female apartment manager, with three tenants to take care of. And that’s basically the extent of the exposition. From there on, you begin spending time with the guys themselves. What results is a story not unlike the relationships depicted in Ouran High School Host Club.

There’s a selection of guys. Ashihara Takumi is rather aloof, the typical handsome guy who doesn’t really seem too keen on getting too emotional. Then you have the actor Nishina Aoi, whose personality you can peg from the moment you meet him. Lastly, the arrogant and irritating Miyasaka Shinya is hiding a mischievous side—he loves to insult you, indicative of a dominant male. He’s still annoying, but I found his segments the most engaging. None of these characters were really like the suitors I’d normally choose in otome games (dating sim games aimed a women with a female protagonist) or any other dating sim, for that matter, but I can see how some viewers would be intrigued by the attention shown to them by this group of pretty boys.

Image source: TVアニメ「Room Mate」公式‏ on Twitter

Every shot of the characters speaking or interacting with each other is framed as though you’re sitting near them as they discuss the day’s events or interact with you. It’s meant to feel as though you’re up close and personal with them—or occasionally watching them from afar.

It is fun when they sometimes turn to the camera and speak to you as if you were actually there in the scene with them. Whether it’s Takumi talking about his passion for rock climbing as he takes you to one of his favorite, highest spots in the city, or Shinya pushing his advances on you because he’s really a player deep down (duh), there’s a lot of chances for interaction. You might even choose to play along like I did, because I’m just that type of person.

As you get “close” to each character throughout each episode, you’re treated to short vignettes that switch back and forth between the character whose “path” you’ve chosen (the anime chooses for you, of course). Though the guys weren’t typically the kind of characters I’d get excited about personally, they did tend to grow on me from episode to episode. If you’re familiar with visual novels and dating sims (and the particular “routes” you can choose to get from point A to point B with the suitor you’ve chosen), you should feel pretty at home with this series.

The warmth and friendliness they begin exhibiting despite their typically trophy personalities is infectious, so I really looked forward to seeing more from each character as the series cycled around. A few of the episodes give you time with all three characters at once before going back to the individuals again. And if you don’t like one of the guys, the episodes are only four minutes long, so no great loss there. 

It’s a fun, if predictable, ride, sitting back and pretending the guys are actually talking to you. While I prefer One Room, it’s simply because I find the girls more interesting than the guys. It’s an interesting experience, however, watching a series that you’re meant to pretend you’re taking part in. I’m looking forward to possible future installments with interesting twists, like, aliens perhaps? Maybe vampires? A Diabolik Lovers-esque series with the same setup would really capture my attention.

Room Mate can be viewed with English subtitles on Crunchyroll.

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