Photo Kano is a 2013 anime from Madhouse, based on 2012 dating sim game for the PSP. This release comes to the UK on both DVD and Blu-ray courtesy of MVM Entertainment. Madhouse have previously worked on a range of anime including Death Note, Chobits, and The Girl Who Leapt Through Time; more recently, Madhouse are responsible for the current series All Out!! The series was directed by Akitoshi Yokoyama, who has also worked on The Tatami Galaxy and RahXephon as Episode Director; he also provided series composition and the scripts for the first five episodes. The remainder of the scripts were mainly provided by Soutarou Hayashi; he has previously written scripts for Neuro: Supernatural Detective, and Himitsu: The Revelation.
Sophomore high school student Kazuya receives an old camera from his father and opts to get stuck into photography as a hobby and give his social life an overhaul. To this end, he joins (one of) the Photography Clubs at his school. This begins his journey towards new friendships and romance. Photo Kano, rather than just adapting a sole route from the source material instead has four episodes adapt the common route and then proceeds to adapt the eight routes, one per episode, except for the childhood friend/Haruka Nimi route, which is a two-parter. This probably isn’t the first anime to choose this method of adaptation, but it certainly confused me back when it was originally airing and I reached the second route episode. As a rewatch though, I found it to be implemented rather well.
Each of the routes is enjoyable, but everyone will have their preference as to which girl is the best, so some of the episodes are likely to be less appealing to each individual. Overall, there is no bad route, and you could always choose just to omit the routes you have no interest in when watching it if you’re that adamant Kazuya belongs with a particular heroine. The True Ending is the first adapted, so by the end of episode 6 it feels like you’ve already completed the anime; I’d have preferred they save the true ending for last, but there is logic behind the alternate routes being adapted after the true route. Unless your favourite girl is the true heroine, you’ll likely feel that your choice’s episode feels a bit rushed, as I did with Mai Sakura, but that can’t be helped when adapting all of the routes within a single cour anime. Photo Kano has plenty of fanservice throughout its 13 episodes, but it never really overdoes it, and it allows the ecchi comedy to spread its wings; it’s not original, but it’s implemented well. For an ecchi anime, Photo Kano fleshes out each of the characters more than I expected. Unfortunately, not all of these characters will remain in your memory after watching, just your favourites, as there are so many girls, and they only really play a part in their individual episodes.
Being from Madhouse, you know to expect great animation, and Photo Kano does not disappoint. Madhouse caters to a wide range of anime fans, buy producing anime of all genres, and I’ve yet to see one that looks unimpressive visually. This release is subtitle-only, and the Japanese cast offers a pretty good performance throughout. The soundtrack, including the OP and ED, are unfortunately incredibly forgettable. Something that really did surprise me about this release is that, despite being a Sentai Filmworks title in the US, MVM’s release utilised white subtitles, rather than the usual yellow. The white subtitles fit this series much better than yellow subtitles would’ve; the yellow would’ve been obnoxious during scenes shown through the camera.
In terms of bonus features, this release is limited to the usual Sentai suspects; textless Opening and Ending, alongside some trailers.
Photo Kano may not be the greatest anime to come from Madhouse, but it's an enjoyable ecchi series that doesn't really try to be anything more than what it is. It's by no means a series you need to go out of your way to watch immediately, but it's a title worth adding to your library.