Majikoi Oh! Samurai Girls Episodes 1 and 2 – Random Acts of Violence
I made a pledge to myself this season that I would review every single new series starting up this October. I have no doubt I will regret that by the time the month is out, and this show is as good of a place as any to explain why. Ordinarily, I can take a look at a show’s promo material and maybe a trailer or two, and immediately get a feel for which shows I’m just not going to like. Majikoi Oh! Samurai Girls (marketed in Japan as Maji de Watashi ni Koi Shinasai!! or “Love me seriously!!”) is yet another harem game turned into a anime, with a ridiculous cast and equally ridiculous concept—and in this case, a cliched ridiculous concept.
One problem with visual novels, particular harem visual novels with adult content (that is, most of them), is that they never bother investing any energy into side characters, a background setting, or anything other the idealized portrayal of a set of 2D girls to be romanced. Majikoi avoids that problem by going in the opposite direction: It’s so filled with random crap that it’s hard to remember what the show is ostensibly about.
Majikoi starts off in a remarkably similar way to Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere. Rather than provide any real feel for the show, instead the audience is treated to a massive battle sequences as two classes at Kawakami Academy engage in mock warfare as a way of solving a class dispute. I can’t remember what the dispute even was (I don’t recall it even being mentioned), and I doubt it will be important, but what you need to know is that it pits the highest ranked class against the lowest ranked one, and of course the underdogs win.
They win through the skillful generalship of Yamato Naoe, who is the acknowledged leader of their class. While not a particularly skillful fighter, he has a keen mind and uses that to make up for his martial shortcomings. He also has a gaggle of female admirers who make up the harem, each with her own unique fighting style and one or two personal ticks that will be substituted for real character depth.
The first episode also introduces a couple dozen characters of varying importance, without ever giving an indication about which of them will ultimately matter. Again like Horizon, there’s plenty of remarkably silly content, from robots to maid armies to disgustingly over-the-top racial stereotypes, but it feels like the animators are throwing ideas on the wall to see what sticks. It’s just a bunch of anime stockpieces put together without any regard for thematic consistency, too overloaded for anything to make a proper impression.
I thus waded into the second episode to see if that would be more representative of the series as a whole. I think it is, but that doesn’t make the series any better. The plot this time around is “wander around the city looking for a lost dog.” In come a new set of stockpiece moments, such as chasing the dog through a ladies’ changing area and a bath house. If you’re at all a longtime anime watcher, you’ve seen things like this done before, and better.
Perhaps the only intriguing thing about the series is the relationship between Yamato and Momoyo Kawakami, the one girl out of the five female leads who isn’t in love with him. He is in love with her, and has been constantly trying to win her affections for years. It’s not clear why he’s in love with her, given she’s borderline psychopathic and regularly uses him as a whipping boy, but I’m more impressed that there’s a girl in the cast who isn’t begging to be deflowered by Yamato. That just isn’t seen in harem games and their adaptions.
That doesn’t keep Momoyo from being milked for sex appeal, much like the rest of the cast. Fanservice-wise, the show is hardly as bad as it could easily be with a little effort, but perhaps that is most indicative problem about the entire production: It seems like no effort was put in at all. The writing only barely holds the story together, the characters are remarkably bland, and even the combat animation, arguably the strongest element of the show, doesn’t really inspire. It’s a pro forma effort through and through, and I think everyone (including me) would rather be elsewhere.
There’s also some hints of a dark conspiracy as Yamato and crew constantly (and sometimes unknowingly) cross paths with another faction of fighters. Given that Majikoi has failed to eek even the tiniest semblance of originality from its “battle academy” setting, almost all of its characters and relationships, or even the way it implements its fanservice, I doubt any attempt to spice up the plot will save the show. This really isn’t a show worth saving.
Horizon might be a far less admirable show (it certainly has a much less admirable protagonist), but at least there, I had a sense that someone involved in the production gave a crap about how it all turned out. Sunrise might occasionally do stinkers, but they do have some semblance of quality control. Here, the entire production feels like a second rate studio adapting a third rate game. Maybe that’s because that’s exactly what this is.
Majikoi is streaming on Crunchyroll. Try it only if you have way too much free time on your hands.