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Some viewers have complained that there's not enough soccer/football in "Clean Freak! Aoyama-kun". Having seen those complaints before watching the show, I was surprised to see how much soccer actually did feature in this anime. In nearly every episode, there's practice, or training, or a game. Very few characters who don't play soccer are given screentime (although there are two who get their own Special Episodes). It's not that those viewers are totally off-base, though; rather, the soccer serves as a setting for various characters to deal with their problems and learn to tolerate differences. For example, early on one of the other players is irritated by Aoyama's need to clean everything, and feels that this means Aoyama couldn't possibly be committed wholeheartedly to soccer. Another player shows him how Aoyama stays for hours to clean all the soccer balls, and how his accommodations during the game are not as big of an issue as being intolerant would be. This could've been much more poorly executed than it was, but the show does a good job with this.
This didn't make my list of favorite anime, but it's not bad. I liked the humor, and the occasional silly plot, including the two Special Episodes (I loved figuring out that one of the non-soccer characters was an expy of Nozaki from Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun; however, *this* manga-ka is less friendly and writes easy shonen rip-offs). I suppose I didn't find most of the characters interesting enough to remember (generally, characters were at a minimum inoffensive and ranged up to pleasant). Also, there's no resolution of any kind - they continue to play soccer, there's no championship in sight, there's no new friends or relationships, status quo ad infinitum. I like those types of stories, but I rarely *love* them. It's worth watching at least once, though!
My reviewing system for films and shows that are NOT anime: 1-5: I hated it. I also don't think it has redeeming qualities, so you shouldn't watch it either. 6: I didn't like it. It's not my thing, I didn't like the execution, I don't want to see it again. However, I don't think it is a BAD film or show - it has qualities that will recommend it to those who like that kind of thing. 7: It was fine. I didn't love it, and I don't need to see it again. I won't be sad if I never see it again. 8: I liked it. I didn't love it, and while I'd like to see it again, I wouldn't want to see it often. 9: I loved it. I would be sad if I never saw it again. I might want to see it every few years. 10: I loved it beyond description. I wouldn't mind re-watching it every year.
Clarifying my Anime rating system: My number key below is an attempt to parse the small differences between 5 and 6, 7 and 8, & 9 and 10. When I rate, I consider my own enjoyment, the characterization and the plot, the appearance of the animation, and occasionally the soundtrack - in roughly that order. An anime will lose at least 1 point for presence of deal-breaker tropes (for example, comedic pedophilia), and more if the trope(s) ruined my enjoyment. On the other hand, it will gain at least 1 point for artistry in animation or sound.
Never Recommend: 1-4, inclusive. Further clarification: I don't expect to rate anything 1-4, as I would probably never finish watching something in this range of rating. It's likely to have bad plotting, subpar animation, bland characterizations, silly and/or irritating tropes, etc.; I would consider it to be pure excrement.
Cautious Recommending: 5: In this case, it started out with a higher score and slipped over time... because I normally don't watch anything that I would score below 6, except for movies (small time commitment). 6: I may or may not have watched the whole show, but I recognize deal-breaker issues in it, and I'm unlikely to rewatch. It just wasn't enjoyable enough for me to forgive its flaws. There would be huge caveats to any recommendation.
Likely to Recommend: 7: Not my thing, but usually I at least respect it. Generally, I didn't like it enough to think I would rewatch it, but also didn't see huge problems in the plot, characterizations, etc. and thought it was worth finishing. I might suggest it to someone if I know they like the specific sub-genre or other work by the studio. 8: I had a good time watching it, but it didn't move me the way a 9 or a 10 does; it's possible that over time I would upgrade it if I liked it more on reflection. I would be willing to rewatch it. I'd recommend it with the occasional caveat.
Highly Recommend: 9: I enjoyed it very much. It may have had one or two issues, but not enough to diminish enjoyment. It's possible that over time I would downgrade it to an 8 (changing tastes) or upgrade to a 10 (realize it's never left my mind). I'm likely to rewatch, and likely to buy the DVDs. I'd recommend it to most audiences. 10: Virtually flawless. I'd definitely rewatch, and definitely want to buy DVDs. I would shill this to anyone.
EDIT: for 2021, I'm participating in the MAL Anime Challenge. Any anime in the Completed section with a * in the note was watched for the challenge.
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