A Galaxy Next Door
Ichirou Kuga is a mangaka who lives in an apartment and raises his two little siblings Machi and Fumio after the death of their parents. Far away, a beautiful young island princess named Shiori Goshiki, with the permission of her late grandmother, goes to visit Japan, where she meets up with Ichirou. Having been a long time fan of his manga, she becomes his assisstant, even staying at the apartment.
One night, when she falls asleep, Ichirou notices a strange slither sticking out of Shiori's body. He decides to touch it, which makes them literally connected to one another in an engagement pact. Shiori even explains afterwards they're unable to seperate too far from each other, or else Ichirou might die.
Thus starts a new and complicated relationship between two young people...
Tim: You know a romantic comedy series is slow-paced when the biggest event that happens in it is a visit from the female lead's parents.
So yeah, for me at least, A Galaxy Next Door isn't the most exciting series out there. Aside from the angle of Shiori being a space princess (?), the show is about as down to earth as Non Non Biyori or Hidamari Sketch, but even slower paced with its characters. Somehow.
Yeah, I'm not going to sugarcoat it; A Galaxy Next Door has to be one of the most vanilla shows I've ever reviewed for T.H.E.M. Anime. That doesn't make it a bad show by any means, but there weren't really any big highs or low lows like many other series I've talked about on here. And I would know; I've reviewed over 190 anime on this site in the past 20 years. It's so middle of the road to me, I find it fascinating.
Stig: Like Tim, maaaybe even more so, I do like the gentle, drama-free shows I've seen and the ones I have yet to. (Probably.) It is not the first and will not be the last and whatever other reviewing cliches I can start this off with. Now, I wouldn't necessarily call A Galaxy Next Door cliched per se, but I kind of get the feeling it's picked... quite a few inspirational sources to dress up the almost hilariously adorable wish-fulfillment that make up the core portion of this show.
A Galaxy Next Door has only four main characters: Ichirou, his two younger siblings (Machi and Fumio), and Shiori. Aside from Ichirou's cousin Chihiro, there's not much in the way of other characters, aside from the ocassional neighbor at the apartment.
To give points to A Galaxy Next Door, the fact that Ichirou and Shiori are both adults means we avoid needless teen melodrama that could have otherwise annoyed us. Ichirou himself is about a standard as a male anime lead as you can get: kind, caring, and has short, black hair. Shiori is a bit more interesting with the whole princess angle, and the implication that she's possibly from space. While she is a kind, sweet girl, she can also be blunt with her words and loves to help out others, NOT just Ichirou and her siblings. Her more adorkable side shines through when it comes to manga and romance, as Shiori is a bit of a romantic who wants to fall in love. She doesn't try to hide her falling for Ichirou either, again a nice touch from the usual "will they or won't they" spiel a lot of anime couples go through, regardless of age.
Machi and Fumio are just, well, kinda there. Machi is a caring, supportive big sister to her brother Fumio, as well as helping out her older brother when she can. But aside from one episode about her relationship with neighborhood kids, almost all of her scenes revolve around her family and Shiori. She occassionally gets a bit snarky, but nowhere near the levels you'd see in, say, the female lead of Teasing Master Takagi-san. Fumio, meanwhile, mostly repeats the words of his older siblings, though it does make the few times he breaks out of this habit all the more special. He's actually in some of the sadder, sweeter moments of the show when he does this.
A Galaxy Next Door starts in the spring and ends in the winter, in a little bit of a subervsion of the year-round cycle some slice-of-life anime do. So the series does break the mold now and then with a fireworks show not in the summer, but in the winter. It's not a lot, but it's something.
Tim: And I do mean it is a very slow-paced show. One episode, for example, is entirely about a trip to the zoo, and another is about a Christmas party. Conflict and pacing is so minimal in some episodes, it makes Non Non Biyori look like Terminator 2. While it does pick up again in the last couple of episodes, when the series explores more about Shiori's past, for the most part A Galaxy Next Door is the anime equivalent of wrapping up in a nice, warm blanket. But the episodes not having segmented parts like other slice-of-life anime Stig and I have watched means that if you're not invested in the basic premise of an episode for the next 23 minutes, it's gonna be a long 23 minutes.
Stig: Shiori is definitely the centerpiece of A Galaxy Next Door, awkwardly objectifying as that statement is, but this does mean that she often skirts dangerously close to some kind of unattainable idolizing, not helped with the fact that our main character is a mangaka...in a manga made by a mangaka (that this anime is based on). But it's OK, because she has a stinger and is an alien. Supposedly. Either way, as much as I liked this show, it is a little cheeky in a way I haven't really seen since Ah! My Goddess.
In a sense, the mundanity (and we mean that in a good way) of Ichirou and his family and friend circle does bounce nicely off Shiori's mild eccentricities. While her and her family's alien roots are never really explored in any meaningful way - we suspect it's because it's only there to explain her eccentricities, in addition to her stinger being an element - outside of her, most of the people from the island don't really act differently from the other. Unlike how Keiichi made a conscious wish to a goddess, Ichirou's induction to his relationship status with Shiori is purely accidental. He touched her stinger thinking it was a pen that had gotten stuck in her clothes, after a long work session that pretty much knocked them both right out.
One can wonder why any members of the star people would have such an important part of their physique so easily reachable, especially since any contact with it binds two people together like that. Fortunately A Galaxy Next Door does go on about the importance of choice when it comes to forging friendships and, more importantly, romantic relationships. In that respect, the contact with Shiori's stinger created a bond that neither actually chose, and this does become one of the core issues Shiori and Ichirou have to contend with. The two are relatively caring and supportive by default, so it's not surprising the two would be a good fit for each other. Despite that, the two still question whether their feelings are genuine attraction, or because of the stinger. It's a bit of an artificial hurdle that has to be dealt with, but it thankfully doesn't get too much in the way of what is otherwise a fairly normal and gently romantic process.
Ichirou for his part plays the role of the parental figure with all the gusto he can muster. Which isn't necessarily that much of a challenge given that Machi is an easy child to care for and also, as we mentioned, helps with looking after Fumio. Too giving and selfless for someone her age, one might even say, and that is thankfully not entirely lost on the show itself. It's actually kind of interesting that, despite Ichiro taking more of a parental role among the trio, he is in fact their brother. Despite being an adult with an actual career, that doesn't mean he and his siblings can't appreciate having a support structure among his friends, mainly the ones who live in the apartment complex where the three live (and which Shiori adds to when she joins the household as Ichirou's assistant). The whole thing is a bit reminiscent of other manga and/or shows where the male protagonist is looking after children. Kakushigoto is the first that comes to mind, but there's also some shades of Sweetness and Lightning (it IS the same author after all), albeit with less of the more difficult parts of child rearing.
A Galaxy Next Door's visual are alright as well. The characters go for a cute, typical seinen look, with Shiori sticking out the most to her blonde locks compared to the more traditional cast around her. While she occasionally dons a hoodie when working, she also has a penchant for black clothes, mostly long dresses. Whether this is done to reflect her very traditional upbringing or not we're not quite sure, but she kind of skirts (no pun intended) around the goth stylings without coming across as one.
There isn't really much to ding the animation for, even if A Galaxy Next Door was never meant to be a visual spectacle. The character designs are nice enough, and for the most part, they move around with the kind of measured grace you'd expect of each of them. The show is at its most interesting in the opening and ending sequences, with suitably pleasant songs to support them. (The ending in particular seems like an interesting arts project montage with a certain geometrical shape doing a surprisingly good job at painting pictures showcasing our alien eccentric and her general personality.)
Tim: I really do still wish A Galaxy Next Door had a bit more to it than just being wholesome and cute. It's not a bad show; it's just kinda there. The alien angle isn't explored enough, the characters aren't fleshed out enough, and the pacing isn't fast enough to give it more than a middling recommendation. It sits directly in the center of our star rating, where it sits in perfect balance.
Stig: The worst thing I can say about A Galaxy Next Door can kinda be summed up with "I don't regret watching this". Which is to say I enjoyed watching it, but it didn't really wow me in any particular way. It's nice and pleasant, and I'm actually glad there isn't any big dramatic moments or contrived inconveniences rolling into town to create unnecessary drama. The main problem is that if you're new to the sort of thing this show offers, there's already a big laundry list of shows you should prioritize over this, some of which are mentioned in this review. That being said, if you're aiming to devour every single gentle romantic story in animated form, definitely put this on your list.
Recommended Audience: The show is so utterly clean that, if it had any fanservice in it, our brains couldn't compute and thus excised it from our memories. Either way, this is super wholesome.
Version(s) Viewed: crunchyoll stream, Japanese with English subtitles (Tim)/English Dub (Stig)
Review Status: Full (13/13)
A Galaxy Next Door © 2023 Gido Amagakura / Kodansha / A Galaxy Next Door Production Committee
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