- Titles: Moyasimon, Tales of Agriculture
- Genre: Surreal, comedy, slice of life, school
- Episodes: 11 + 11
- Studio: Telecom Animation Film and Shirogumi
Sawaki is probably going to inherit his family’s business. They run a mould starter company, which people use to create all sorts of foods. That’s why Sawaki has decided to attend an Agricultural University in Tokyo. Not only to help with his future career but also to get a taste of city life while he still can. That and his best friend Yuuki is also going so you know it’s going to be fun. It is a little intimidating though. First time in a big city and attending university at that. Will Sawaki fit in? Will he do well in his classes? Will people think he’s weird if they find out that he can actually see microorganisms with the naked eye and communicate with them? It’s not like he has much of a choice in the matter after all…
I tried to write my summary as tongue in cheek as I could. Moyashimon is at once a fairly standard if generally pleasant school-based slice of life while being a completely original premise that I have never seen before. In my opinion, it works!
I watched both seasons of Moyashimon in a row. By the way, season two is called Moyashimon Returns. Crazy, I know!
Anyways, I bring that up because although the studio didn’t change between seasons, they completely revamped the character models to the point that some characters are difficult to recognize at all. Others remain more constant though. The change was a little confusing to me and I have no idea what motivated the decision. Both seasons look good enough if you ask me, they just changed up the art style and designs. It’s the most striking production aspect by far. If I absolutely had to choose, I think I prefer the look of season 1 a bit more. But that’s up to personal taste.
Pretty much all other aspects of the production remain constant throughout both seasons, It’s a decent show. I would say the voice acting is probably the best asset as the cast not only have a good grasp on their own characters but pretty palpable chemistry with each other.
Oh, and I guess I should put this here. The OP of the first season is one of my favourite OPs of all time. It took me a while to find it but here it is!
Story & Characters
You read the summary, right? That’s kind of it. Well, there’s more to it than that of course. In a way, Moyashimon is your classic school-based anime. It follows freshman Sawaki as he discovers his new school makes friends, participates in school festivals and deals with assignments. And of course, there is a cast of zany eccentric older students and a teacher to keep things interesting.
But there’s also a lot that sets Moyashimon apart. I mean sure there’s the microbe thing. But that’s just a gimmick. No wait, I’m not fair. Sawaki’s ability to see and communicate with microbes and such is a core part of the story and it’s actually very well integrated into everything else that happens.
However, it’s treated in such a casual way, that pretty quickly, it seems almost commonplace. Like I started to wonder if people didn’t regularly have those types of experiences. Sawaki is calm about it, everyone around him is mostly practical about his particular skill and it doesn’t really grant any special abilities or anything. As such, it quickly slots into the events as more of a character quirk than anything else. And that naturalistic approach is, in my opinion, what makes Moyashimon charming rather than just weird.
Not that there’s anything wrong with weird!
It is telling that a show with a premise as out there as Moyashimon isn’t entirely defined by it. At the end of the day what I remember most about it, isn’t necessarily how different the main character is but rather how nice the dynamic was.
One thing that I personally appreciated, for instance, is that Moyashimon is set in a university and not a high school. These are older characters and their concerns and worries are not the same as those of high school students. They are more mature, they are thinking about career paths and balancing practical concerns with their own dreams for the future. As such, the humour that naturally comes from these circumstances is a little different and I don’t watch shows like this that often.
I also appreciated a large mixed cast with a lot of different types of relationships between them. Not every boy and girl have to be paired up as a couple and not everyone has to be best friends. This means that we get to see how different sorts of relationships evolve which I enjoy.
Of course, there are plenty of zainy story arcs as well. Mainly, the characters we follow are all part of the same lab that specializes in fermentation and a lot of the storylines involve making sake. I learned so much about it and found it fascinating. In fact, Moyashimon occasionally has a Cells at Work vibe as the bacteria directly explain to us what they do in nature. That was fun.
I think my favourite arc was the school festival in the first season which combined surprisingly eventful action-filled episodes with the normal crazy goings-on and really cemented Misato and Kawahama as main characters. I had always enjoyed their inclusion in the show so it was nice to see them get fleshed out a bit.
This said, there were some things that I liked less regarding character evolution. In the first season, Mutou was my favourite. even though she was introduced late, the character had all these different aspects to her that made her a great counter to the rest of the cast. Unfortunately, she’s pretty heavily pared down in season 2 and gets reduced to sort of a caricature of herself. I thought that was a real shame. I guess the upside to that is that Hasegawa which was a little bit of a caricature in season 1, gets really developed and by the end of the show, I liked her a lot. I was even shipping her with Misato. And I don’t ship!
The there’s Yuuki. I really liked Yuuki. He disappears for a bit in season 1 and I was constantly waiting for him to come back. And he does but… Ok, so I don’t think this is a spoiler or anything, Yuuki has a transgender storyline. Some people may object to the word, it’s never actually spelled out in the show. However, at some point, Yuuki decides he wants to start dressing as a girl and from that point on, we never see him in anything but a very feminine gothic lolita dress. His old friends start referring to Yuuki as a she and the girls share their bath time with Yuuki.
The storyline is treated very positively. There is only one moment in one episode that has a character who has a slightly homophobic reaction (which I guess is also transphobic on one level) and it gets shut down epically. In fact, I would say Moyashimon did the best response to homophobia that I have seen in anime. It’s not treated as a big deal or anything, and that just makes it better.
Now, I don’t dislike Yuuki’s arc in the least but we don’t really get to see it. Yuuki goes away for a while then comes back different and everyone in the main cast accepts it pretty quickly. So for me, it all kind of came out of left field. I didn’t expect it at all and I have no idea what Yuuki was thinking this whole time.
That’s actually fine. It’s not bad storytelling and I love the idea of having an important character transition during the series without it being an important part of the story. It is none of my business, I get that. It’s just… I like Yuuki and I wanted to see more of them. That’s all… I also put it here just in case I have some readers that for any reason want to know about these details in advance.
I feel like I did a bad job on this post. I’m sort of all over the place. Let me try to get my thoughts all together here. Moyashimon is a lighthearted comedy about agriculture and fermentation, from the point of view of a group of university students as well as a ton of microbes. That’s not an anime you see every day. So if that sounds interesting to you, definitely give it a try. It’s on Crunchy!
You might like this anime if:
You want a wholesome university comedy and you think bacteria can be kind of cute!
My favourite character:
I think it ended up being Misato
Sake of course!
- Every time there’s a sudden bacteria/mocrobe surge – cover your mouth
- Every time Hasegawa is wearing inapropriate lab attire – take a sip
- Every time the professor has a fermented snack – get some snacks
- Every time anyone drinks – join them
- every time anyone has a hang over – switch to water
- Every time sensei appears out of the blue – take a sip
- Every time Kei gets passionate about sake – sympathize
- Every time a microorganism cares about Sawaki – awwwww
- Every time we see a new type of microbe – take a sip
- Every time there is some serious disinfection happening – take a sip
- Every time Kawahama and Misato are sceming – take a sip
- Every time microbes wanna brew – admire their hard work
- Every time Hasegawa wants to climb a three – take a sip
- Every time Misato is having a smoke – take a deep breath
- Every time Marie is wearing inappropriate farming attire – take a sip
I save all my screencaps on my Pinterest and you can find more there if you are interested. But I still like to show you a few in the post. If you’re like me, screencaps are something that really helps you decide to watch an anime or not.