Two adults doing tai chi while wearing high-tech goggles and hand gear are watched by three enraptured boys. When they’re done swooshing their arms and tiptoeing through the tulips, the parents—for that is surely what they must be—share their fancy goggles with two of the boys, the third already having a set. Suddenly, the world is alight with virtual Easter eggs! That’s right, this is anime’s first-ever, honest-to-goodness Easter episode! Or not. The colorful floating eggs and digital dandelions are the product of a new form of art, Perception Art, and the three boys announce that they will dedicate their lives to following in their parents’ (?) footsteps to become Perception Artists. An inter-title announces a ten-year time skip, and reintroduces us to the boys: red-haired Kazuya, blue-haired Kyo, and blondie, who doesn’t need a name. Just to make sure we understand that these are the same boys, we flash back to what they looked like as children, which is exactly what they look like now, minus the ear piercing for Red and the stern frown for Blue, who is now a tsundere. It’s the first day of Perception Art high school for Blond and Red, but Blue, a third-year, has been there for a while. There are no second-year students at the school. (We don’t speak about the second-years.) The boys may not be brothers after all. Suddenly, a massive picture frame is rolled out into the courtyard and a goblin boy (?) walks around a cave before sprouting three wings and flying to the moon to the sound of an inoffensive pop song. It’s the most grandiose display of Perception Art ever seen! Sugoi! Just to make sure we caught it, the sequence is recapped immediately. Apparently, special goggles are no longer needed to see the virtual art—except later they are again. Two sets of characters catch us up on the history of Perception Art through dialogue that doesn’t even pretend not to be an info dump: Perception Art was rejected by Proper Art for many years, to the point of violence and death. (This society is very passionate about bad art. Which is ironic.) Also, Perception Art requires two people: an Artist and a Grader, and despite having literally fought side-by-side in battle in order to establish their medium as a genuine art form, all Artists and Graders despise each other on sight, and so must be separated by an escalator on the campus of the Art School. (So how did the parents end up together??) It turns out that Red and Blue are brothers. But wait, the music and dialogue are coding their interactions more like a tragic love affair gone wrong. Maybe they aren’t brothers, or maybe this is just a really, um, complicated family. Anyhow, surprise surprise, Red and Blue are paired up as one of six teams competing for this year’s big prize. Red is happy; Blue is not.
Guys, this is it: the boy version of Kizuna no Allele and the second most disastrous premiere of the season. I say second, because at least the plot is linear, even if the world-building repeatedly contradicts itself on a fundamental level, the writing is the very picture of lazy composition, the animation is wooden, the characters as generic as they come with flat expressions and eyes as vacant as the Abyss, and absolutely nothing even remotely interesting about it, even as a “it’s so bad that I just can’t look away” kind of thing. No rubbernecking at this crash site. What makes this one so bad is not so much the ridiculousness—it’s not even energetic enough to excite such a dynamic description—but the utter mundanity and mediocrity of every single aspect of the episode. The only remotely interesting thing about this is how on earth C-Station, the studio responsible for one of the greatest slice-of-life, “cute girls doing cute things” series of all time, Laid-Back Camp, pulled off such a nonentity of an episode. It’s not even a whole lot of fun to roast, in contrast to Kizuna no Allele, which begged a photo essay to supplement the review. This one just flops around limply like a dying fish, not even making enough noise to draw the attention of passersby. It’s so underwhelming that I’m not even going to bother daring the rest of the BtT team to make it through this one.
Oops.ARETHEYBROTHERs is streaming on Crunchyroll, in case you want to bother listlessly rolling some tomatoes in its vague direction.