I've just finished watching episode 1 of You and Me. You and Me is a slice of life anime about 4 childhood friends, Shun, Kaname, Yuki and Yuta. It's spring and they are entering their second year of high school together. Shun is the happy, cute and optimistic one. Shun wants everyone to get along and have fun together. Kaname is a top student, who wants Yuki too try harder. And Yuki and Yuta are twins, who are both laid back, and enjoy making Kaname angry. The main plot of the first episode is Kaname trying to get Yuki to join some sort of athletic club so that Yuki can open his eyes to the world! But this ends up a almost back where they started. However Shun is optimistic that although "things haven't changed so far, there's room for change in the future. Like cherry blossoms, the unchanging things and changing things all whirl together."
I think this is what sets You and Me apart from the recently popular slice of life series K-ON. Throughout the entire first episode of You and Me, there seemed to be a deliberate undertone of laziness, boredom or comedic hopelessness. The main humor in this episode is the fact that even since these 4 boys were children, it doesn't seems like much has changed at all. Kaname's efforts to try and get Yuki to change (by getting him to join a club) end up fruitless by the end of the episode. Nevertheless, Shun is optimistic about things, he tries to reassure Yuki that Kaname cares about him, but has his own way of showing it.
Throughout the episode there were quite a few scenes with cats. And they are shown doing what cats do best, laze around. It's pretty easy to draw a comparison between the 4 boys as lazy cats. There is one specific scene where this comparison is drawn almost directly, Kaname takes away Yuki's manga, it cuts to a scene of a cat trying to catch a "cat tail" toy, then when the cat finally catches the toy, it cuts back to Yuki who has his manga again. I have a guy friend who likes cats, particularly lolcats. He finds them cute. What I found interesting what in this episode, the cats weren't depicted as overly cute. There was even one particularly wet, fat, white cat that looked like it was ready to claw the next person that tried to pet it. In another scene, a girl is tickling a small cat and the cat looks like he doesn't have a care in the world.
I like the opening and ending themes. The visuals are pretty clean and simple. This makes it easy to watch. There was some good use of wind near the start of episode, and when the boys were having lunch on the rooftop. Also, falling sakura blossoms are as pretty as ever. Like I said the overall tone of the show is fairly relaxed and has a slight feeling of irony, because of the talk about how little they have changed, and the fact that it is a slice of life.
I'm interested to see if it maintains this feel throughout the series and what it decides to do with it. At this point it doesn't look like it's going for the K-ON route, where everything is happy-go-lucky, nothing changes and characters all stay the same and do the same things. Though it could easily do that, it seems like You and Me is going to be more laid-back, slower and self-aware as it develops its characters.
By the end of the episode, as Shun is speaking optimistically of the future, you begin to wonder what the point of change is anyway and how these 4 boys will turn out. This is something that I had never bothered to consider about the girls in K-ON when I watched the K-ON series.
If you are interested, you can check out the plot summary I wrote for the wiki here, and also the screenshots I took, for easier access I have below. (however this may not be all the screenshots I took, because this new image uploading system is so weird... just go to the episode page to make sure you're seeing all the screens I took, or here.)