What genre do Teasing Master Takagi-san and Kubo Won’t Let Me Be Invisible belong to?
Anime titles like Teasing Master Takagi-san and Kubo (Kubo-san) Won’t Let Me Be Invisible, often referred to as the “〜san Series” in Japanese, don’t have a widely recognized genre name in English. A defining characteristic of these titles is that they prominently feature the name of a character in their titles.
The San-Series or Teasing-Series anime primarily falls under the slice-of-life, romantic comedy, and school genres. These series typically focus on the budding relationships between middle school or high school boys and girls. The central theme often involves a timid boy being playfully teased by a more outgoing girl who harbors feelings for him.
Teasing Master Takagi-san stands out as a pioneering work in this subgenre. However, criticizing subsequent similar works as mere copies is an over-simplification. Each work boasts its unique characters and shines in its episodes. It’s essential to remember that almost all anime and manga have been influenced, to some extent, by the works that came before them.
What exactly is “san”? Let’s check out which “san series” anime you should be watching now.
First of all, let’s get acquainted with the terms “san” and “chan” as foundational knowledge to further enjoy these anime.
What is “San” or “Chan”?
San (さん) is a general honorific suffix in Japanese, similar to “Mr.” or “Ms.” in English. It’s used out of respect when referring to someone else, regardless of their gender or age. For example, “Takagi-san” can mean “Mr. Tanaka” or “Ms. Tanaka” depending on the context. Using “San” shows politeness and is a common way to address acquaintances, strangers, or colleagues.
Chan (ちゃん) is a diminutive suffix; it expresses that something is small or cute. It’s often used to address children, close friends, or younger women, much like “kiddo” or adding “-ie” to a name in English (like “Billy” for “Bill”). For instance, “Hana-chan” can be likened to “Little Hana”. It’s a more affectionate and casual term than “San”, and using it with someone you’re not close to can be considered rude or overly familiar.
When addressing someone in Japanese, choosing the right honorific is important, as it conveys the nature of your relationship with that person and shows respect.
When in school, if you’re not particularly close with someone, you add “San” to their name, especially their surname. Of course, there are also close relationships where people address each other with “San”.
1. Teasing Master Takagi-san
Teasing Master Takagi-san (からかい上手の高木さん), as the title suggests, can be seen as the pioneer of the San-Series or Teasing-Series. In terms of establishing this particular genre, it is considered one of the crucial anime works in the 2010-2020 decade. It’s delightfully simple and entertaining, with viewers often finding solace in Takagi-san’s endearing charm. The slice-of-life anime is based on a manga written by Soichiro Yamamoto, which began serialization in 2013. The anime studio, Shin-Ei Animation, masterfully brought the allure of the manga to life in the anime adaptation. Three seasons aired from 2018 to 2022, and in 2022, Teasing Master Takagi-san: The Movie, which is based on a completely original story, was released.
It can be said that about 70-80% of the appeal of this anime is attributed to the heroine, Takagi-san. Of course, Nishikata, the shy boy who’s often teased by her, is endearing to watch, but it’s undoubtedly Takagi-san’s harmless pranks that soothe the viewers. The frequent “mini-competitions” that arise between the two have outcomes that everyone can predict. However, the real charm lies in the process, specifically how Takagi-san will win (or how Nishikata will lose).
Indeed, this anime wouldn’t work without these two characters. Their personalities, relationship, and daily interactions are what make this anime popular. Their friends also add a delightful touch, enriching the narrative. All in all, Teasing Master Takagi-san stands out as the best anime in the San-Series genre.
Aired: 2018 (Season 1)/2019 (Season 2)/2022 (Season 3)
Episodes: 12 (Season 1)/12 (Season 2)/12 (Season 3)
Released: 2022 (Teasing Master Takagi-san: The Movie)
Studio: Shin-Ei Animation
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2. Kubo Won’t Let Me Be Invisible
Kubo Won’t Let Me Be Invisible (久保さんは僕を許さない) is a series reminiscent of the renowned San-Series anime, Teasing Master Takagi-san. While the English title features the heroine’s name as Kubo, the original Japanese version refers to her as Kubo-san (久保さん). Much like Teasing Master Takagi-san, where the heroine, Takagi-san, takes the initiative in approaching the male lead, in Kubo Won’t Let Me Be Invisible, the heroine Kubo-san does the same. Yet, this series stands out with its own unique flair, showcasing distinct character personalities and their daily life episodes. Its original manga series was penned by Nene Yukimori and serialized in the Weekly Young Jump from 2019 to 2023. The animation responsibility was shouldered by Pine Jam, a studio known for its depictions of student life in series like Just Because! and Do It Yourself!!.
The story revolves around the vivacious Nagisa Kubo and the protagonist Junta Shiraishi, who is so inconspicuous that he goes unnoticed by classmates and teachers alike. What sets Nagisa apart is her unique ability to instantly recognize Junta, unlike others. At first glance, it seems the story paints a picture of the heroine Nagisa proactively approaching the incredibly shy protagonist Junta. However, in reality, Nagisa is also embarrassed to show her affection towards him and often finds herself flustered and smitten by his casual remarks and actions.
The portrayal of these inner emotions is captivating. Supporting characters, including Nagisa’s friends and the families of the two main characters, also play an essential role, providing a robust backing to the relationship between the duo.
Studio: Pine Jam
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3. The Dangers in My Heart
The Dangers in My Heart (僕の心のヤバイやつ) is unmistakably a part of the San-Series, even though it’s not directly implied in the title. The heroine, usually referred to as Yamada (without san), is a popular and beautiful student. The original manga, written by Norio Sakurai, began its serialization in 2018 and was adapted into an anime for the first time in 2023. A second season is scheduled for release in 2024. Notably, the production studio behind this anime is Shin-Ei Animation, the same studio responsible for Teasing Master Takagi-san. That’s why the quality of The Dangers in My Heart is evident with just a simple viewing.
Set in Tokyo, the everyday life of middle school students unfolds. The protagonist, Kyotaro Ichikawa, exhibits the typical symptoms of chuunibyou (eighth-grade syndrome), often daydreaming about killing his classmates whenever he has a spare moment. Contrasting with this dark character is the heroine, Anna Yamada, who is the class’s popular girl. Ichikawa addresses Yamada by her last name without the respectful “san” honorific, simply calling her “Yamada,” which makes it seem like he’s keeping a considerable distance from her.
However, in reality, it’s evident that Ichikawa is more interested in Yamada than anyone else. The story’s highlight is watching how these two find common ground and gradually close the gap between them. Thanks to the beautiful animation and other elements, it’s a heartwarming anime.
Aired: 2023 (Season 1)/2024 (Season 2)
Episodes: 12 (Season 1)/TBA (Season 2)
Studio: Shin-Ei Animation
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4. Komi Can’t Communicate
Komi Can’t Communicate (古見さんは、コミュ症です。) is an anime that clearly falls under the San-Series genre, as evident from its original title which includes “Komi-san.” While many anime tend to focus on male characters who struggle with communication, this series stands out as its heroine, Komi-san, is extremely challenged when it comes to speaking with others. The anime gained global popularity after its first season was broadcasted in 2021 and subsequently distributed worldwide by Netflix. The original manga on which the anime is based surpassed 30 volumes in July 2023, making it an impressively long-running series for its genre.
The protagonist is Shoko Komi, a high school girl known for her long black hair, stunning beauty, academic prowess, and athletic abilities. However, contrary to her apparent perfection, she struggles with communication. Her counterpart is Hitohito Tadano, an unassuming and average male student. Yet, he is unique in that he can interact with Komi-san, who is often put on a pedestal by others, without any preconceptions. He assists her with her discreet goal of making 100 friends.
Have you noticed the ingenuity in their names? Notably, Komi-san’s surname evokes the idea of “communication,” while Hitohito Tadano suggests the image of “just an ordinary person.”
Aired: 2021 (Season 1)/2022 (Season 2)
Episodes: 12 (Season 1)/12 (Season 2)
Studio: OLM Team Kojima
There are plenty of anime that focus on flawless, adorable heroines. However, Komi Can't Communicate draws attention to […]
5. Kaguya-sama: Love Is War
Kaguya-sama: Love Is War (かぐや様は告らせたい〜天才たちの恋愛頭脳戦〜) is actually a type of San-Series anime. In Japanese, the term “sama” is a more formal honorific than “san” and is often used in contexts such as “God” (神様) or “king” (王様). This anime strongly emphasizes a psychological rom-com aspect, where characters engage in a strategic battle of wits around their romantic feelings. Due to this unique angle, it might not always be recognized as a typical San-Series anime. However, in a broader sense, it can be considered within the genre, especially since it revolves around high school students teasing each other while harboring romantic feelings, which is a common theme in San-Series anime. Kaguya-sama: Love Is War is an adaptation of a popular manga by Aka Akasaka. The anime has been ongoing since 2019, spanning multiple seasons. While the manga has concluded, the anime adaptation is still continuing and has yet to reach its end.
The story is set in the prestigious private high school, Shuchiin Academy, focusing on the student council president, Miyuki Shirogane, and the vice-president, Kaguya Shinomiya. Both of them have immense pride and, despite their feelings for each other, find it impossible to confess their love directly. They even believe that the first to admit their feelings would be the “loser” in their romantic battle of wits.
Consequently, they constantly devise various strategies to make the other confess their love first. However, their inner feelings are meticulously depicted in the series. It’s heartwarming to see these two students, who are admired by their peers, blush or become shy due to certain incidents.
Aired: 2019 (Season 1)/2020 (Season 2)/2022 (Season 3)/2023 (TV Special)
Episodes: 12 (Season 1)/12 (Season 2)/13 (Season 3)/4 (TV Special)
Studio: A-1 Pictures
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