When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace (Inou-Battle) Review

From the creators of Kill la Kill, Studio Trigger, comes Inou-Battle wa Nichijou-kei no Naka de, translated as When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace, or Inou-Battle for short, a series that follows a high school Literature Club, whose five member receive mysterious new powers without explanation, and with no enemies to fight, the characters live out their daily lives with their newfound powers. 
Anime about clubs are a dime a dozen, and while there are several recent anime that have used the setting to tell unique stories, like Kokoro Connect or Hyouka, or even the classic, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (review here), most in the genre are more or less the same thing. So, does Inou-Battle set itself apart from the other anime in its genre? Let's find out!

Plot: 7.8/10- Conceptually, Inou-Battle delivers the most unique twist to a club series since Kokoro Connect by giving the characters powers, yet not giving them superpowered adversaries to fight, at least not at first. The first half of the series tells slice-of-life stories with a superpowered twist. However, after the first few episodes, the series shifts focus from superpowered antics in daily life to almost straight up slice-of-life romantic comedy, and even though it somewhat squanders its fascinating concept, the development given to the characters is rather excellent. While I wish that it have balanced both elements, the heavier focus on the characters made me genuinely care about each one. 
Towards the later portion of the series, the secret behind the powers is revealed, and what little we get to see is satisfying. Unfortunately, the series ends on a potentially strange note. Once the entire secret behind the powers is revealed, certain events are set in motion, yet the series just ends. In Inou-Battle’s defense, the ending is consistent with the themes of the series, and while it is a solid conclusion for a first season, if this all we get, I will be disappointed.

Characterization: 8.0/10- Technically, Inou-Battle is a harem anime. A common misconception is that the harem genre automatically entails fanservice, and while that is often the case, technically the term "harem" in relation to genre defines any story where there is one main character (MC) has three or more potential romance interests that actively pursue the MC's affection. On the other hand, the ecchi genre is what defines anime with fanservice, because a series can be ecchi without being a harem. With that cleared up, Inou-Battle uses the harem aspect of multiple girls vying for the affection of one guy better than most other harems because it gives specific attention to each individual girl and her story, while providing ample reason for why the girls are interested in the main male protagonist, in this case, Jurai Andō.
Andō himself is chuunibyou, roughly translating to "Middle School 2nd Year Syndrome." Chuunibyou generally refers to someone who has delusions that they have magical powers or are someone of great importance, although there are many different varieties of chuunibyou. Andō pretends to have special powers trapped within his hand, and eventually, he does receive a power, albeit a seemingly useless one. However, his previously useless knowledge of what are the morally right and wrong ways to use certain powers that come from reading manga, light novels, ect, is what makes him incredibly useful to the club. 
Unlike the other characters, we rarely receive an insight into his thoughts, whereas the other characters are often the focus of inner monologues, so as to almost give us the same view of Andō as the girls do. Whereas many harem protagonist are annoyingly weak, so as to make you wonder what makes him a "chick magnet," and while Andō might be a little on the bland side, he is a likable and caring guy. 
As for the girls, each one is surprisingly fleshed out with moments of unexpected emotion. Of course it is nowhere as powerful as top notch drama anime, but for a comedy harem, it will surprise you. Also, the interaction between the characters is a lot of fun to watch, especially the loli character Chifuyu, whose affection for Andō is executed in a tasteful and sweet way.
Action: 6.0/10- Despite featuring "Battle" in the title, Inou-Battle has very little action, and that is not a bad thing by any means, although that appears to be one of the reasons so many viewers did not like the series.

Acting: 7.0/10- No one stands out among the Japanese cast in either a good or bad way, but the actors do execute the more emotional scenes well.

Animation: 7.7/10- Compared to their work on Kill la Kill, Studio Trigger's animation is more typical for the genre, yet very consistent for the majority of the series. The character designs are all very appealing without being too moe at any point, and when the powers are used, the animation holds up incredibly well. For the most part, the fanservice is mild with only a few swimsuits.
Soundtrack: 6.4/10- Honestly, Elements Garden's score is not all that memorable, but it was never bad either.

Humor: 7.7/10- Inou-Battle contains some of the typical pleasant humor like most club anime, while mixing in some superpowered humor. It is generally humorous when it tries to be, and thankfully the series never devolves into fanservice humor.

Opening and Ending: 7.4/10- The opening and ending are fun and energetic just like the series itself.

Entertainment Value: 8.4/10- Inou-Battle might not have been the off-the-wall insanity fest that Kill la Kill fans expected from Studio Trigger, but its consistently lovable characters and fun use of the concept made every episode a pleasure to watch.

Overall: 7.9/10- Providing you have the correct expectations going in, Inou-Battle is fun, pleasant, and often sweet anime that uses the harem concept to further develop the characters. Sure, it might not be the over-the-top madness fest that Kill la Kill was, but it is a well executed comedy drama that desperately needs another season.

Closing comments: When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace is an all around underrated anime. It might not have been groundbreaking, but the characters made it fun to watch every week.

Watch if you like: Comedy, High school genre, Superpowers, Fantasy, Haruhi Suzumiya, Studio Trigger,

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