Drones hover in the bright morning sky as a driverless bus pulls to a stop in a cheery watercolor town. The mood is peaceful and full of promise. Or at least it would be, if Serufu had not spaced out and messed up her high school entrance exam, much to the chagrin of her neighbor and childhood friend (now frenemy?) Purin, who clearly was banking on their being in the same school together. Serufu herself isn’t all that bothered, being the very epitome of the clumsy clueless slice-of-life type, and is oblivious to Purin’s displeasure. (Or is she?) Anyhow, the two girls head off to their separate schools which, it turns out, butt up against one another so that they literally appear like night and day, with the fancy school overshadowing (and directing a wind tunnel toward) the, ahem, less fancy school. They go about their first week, Purin huffing and puffing in tsundere frustration and Serufu injuring herself repeatedly due to general incompetence in life, something she’s suffered from since the womb, when suddenly, Serufu has a fateful encounter with a handywoman senpai on wheeled shoes who fixes her bicycle for her after she gets up close and personal with a telephone pole. Serufu later tracks down the elusive tool-belted senpai to a tool shed tucked away in a corner that is home to the equally neglected DIY Club, which boasts a sum total of one current member. Is this the beginning of a beautiful high school club story with a subplot of saving a fraught childhood friendship by building a replica of the wooden bench where said childhood friends bonded through shared snacks but which has since mysteriously disappeared possibly as a metaphor for the way in which the ease of that childhood friendship has likewise evaporated???
This episode was an absolute delight! The art is striking, as to be expected of Pine Jam. The backgrounds have that gorgeous textured watercolor feel that makes the incredible amount of detail in the set design and decor feel almost nonchalant. (What are all those trophies in Serufu’s room from? Does this mean she is capable of feats of concentration worthy of recognition?) Paired with this, is the simple, yet non-standard character design and animation style, which recalls Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken or even works by director Masaki Yuasa of Tatami Galaxy and Inu-Oh fame. It’s refreshing and comfortable at the same time. Serufu’s cluelessness is a bit much, if I’m honest, but her character is saved by that brief flash of melancholy as she recalls the easy companionability once shared with Purin and wonders if she might get it back somehow. I appreciate the subtle nuancing of standard slice-of-life tropes that is in evidence here, and have high hopes that this could be the kind of series that will fit nicely next to Yuru Camp or Non Non Biyori in the way that it combines cute girls doing cute things with deeper themes about friendship and coming of age. I’m also intrigued by the juxtaposition of a slightly futuristic setting for a do-it-yourself, power tools and sawdust kind of show. Perhaps a more universal take on the “traditional arts revival” slice-of-life subgenre? Most importantly though, the gentle humor hits the spot: from Serufu’s pet pig who is named Meat and shakes in terror as the family chows down on pork shabu shabu, to Serufu’s full name, which is Yua Serufu (in a show about DIY, get it?)—this is some fun writing. I mean, who doesn’t appreciate a good pun, right? So I’ll be tuning in again for sure, and likely for the season!
Do It Yourself!! is streaming on Crunchyroll.