Miss Bernard Said. (Bernard-jou Iwaku.) is a series of shorts (3 minute episodes) which focus on Mochida Sawako who wishes to be perceived as well-read, and her friends who are genuinely interested in reading.
I think particularly in this day and age with sources of information so readily at our fingertips, there’s plenty of people out there who give off the air of being knowledgeable about a particular subject without having an in-depth knowledge of said subject. There’s a natural desire to want to fit in with those around us, and if our friends or acquaintances are passionate about a particular area of interest, I can understand the desire to feel informed about this area so that you can feel included. Miss Bernard pokes fun at both those who want to absorb the culture of a particular interest without being involved in the interest, and also those who think that only serious fans are true fans of a subject.
There’s a great manzai humour relationship between Mochida Sawako and Kanbayashi Shiori, where Sawako will say something ridiculous about the books she is reading and Shiori will get infuriated at how ill-informed it is. Throughout the series though, while the humour persists, there’s actually some character development where the two learn to understand and appreciate each other and both mellow out somewhat.
The other thing which this series has to offer is books, lots of them! Each episode usually introduces a few titles, and provides a brief synopsis and some general background information for each title. I found I had to pause to actually take in the text as it appears on the screen fairly fast, but it was interesting, both seeing what they had to say about books I was already familiar with, and also finding out about some new titles. There’s a fair few titles mentioned which have been translated from English, so if you’re an English-speaking bookworm, you may find some things to interest you. I know I’m keen to hunt down a few of the sci-fi titles mentioned.
The visuals are simple but competent. They’re not amazing even by shorts standards, but they do the job of telling the story, and I didn’t find they detracted from the show. I was a little disappointed that the book interiors shown in the series mostly had ‘filler’ text instead of actual text, but I suppose that with issues like copyright and the extra animation involved in having real text inserted in the books, this is understandable. The character designs are cute and expressive, and there’s some excellent manga-styled panels with reactions.
As someone who loves reading, I really enjoyed this series as a light-hearted look at bookworms, and as a brief overview of some interesting titles. It was actually a little heartwarming watching Sawako come to gradually appreciate books for their own merits instead of merely being involved in book culture for the sake of fitting in with her friends or seeming intelligent. The series was humorous, but it wasn’t the break-neck paced humour which is pretty common in comedy shorts (which I also love, but it’s nice to have a change). I’d recommend this series for bookworms, or also people who just want a bit of a laugh at people who try to fit in with an area of interest by finding out as much as they can without really participating.