Gakuen Handsome is the wikiHow art of anime. Maybe it’s sincere. Probably, it’s winking at you with an ironic smile. Definitely, it is disorienting and hilarious.
Originally a romantic adventure game, the Gakuen Handsome anime’s first episode aired today on Crunchyroll. It its three and a half minutes, a protagonist who was maybe drawn in Microsoft Paint by me when I was ten transfers to a new high school and then goes home. The content of “Episode 1" is the protagonist Takuya’s unexplained sexual tension with every man he encounters, including his homeroom teacher and childhood friend, while he expresses absolutely no defining characteristics what-so-ever. Literally, he has no face. It is amazing.
Gakuen Handsome is a parody of “boys’ love” anime, a trope that often sees a coy male protagonist pursued by a more aggressive man. After anime featuring platonic friendships between men exploded in popularity in the ‘80s, fans’ imaginations went wild, coloring homoerotic undertones into G-rated interactions. Soon, artists caught on, making those undertones more overt. Gakuen Handsome is a parody of “boys’ love” fan service anime, to the extreme.
Introducing Takuya to his new class, his homeroom teacher says, “He’s pretty cute, isn’t he?”
About a minute and a half later, Takuya’s kid sister meets him walking home with a friend. “I bet he made your heart flutter, huh?” Takuya’s sister says.
“Th- that’s ridiculous!” he responds, in classic “boys’ love” form. Ah, yes. What a world.