Posts Tagged ‘harem’

Maken-Ki! Episodes 1 and 2 – Worst of All Possible Worlds

When I got down to looking over the offerings for this fall season, there were three works in particular that I singled out as pathetic pieces of trash that wouldn’t even be worth one episode to watch through. Those series were C3, Mashiroiro Symphony, and Maken-Ki! As it happens, I was wrong about the first two; neither would qualify as high art, but C3 is far more effective in its drama and Mashiroiro Symphony is far less offensive in content than I was expecting.

By contrast, Maken-ki! was exactly what I was expecting: non-stop, unmitigated perversion. It’s pretty upfront about being as trashy as possible, such that I don’t even know if this review will do justice to how disgusting it is. To do that, I’d need to break my own personal rules about what was acceptable to include as a screen cap.
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Mashiroiro Symphony Episodes 1 and 2 – Reluctant Opposition

I wrote yesterday about a series that I went into with extremely low expectations, and how I was thus pleasantly surprised when it turned out not to be the bottom of the barrel sort of show I anticipated it would be. Mashiroiro (“Pure White”) Symphony is another show I thought would be utterly wretched, and, to be fair, it’s not. It’s not particularly interesting or innovative, or even worth your time. But it’s not flat-out offensive, which is a shock in itself.

The basic premise is that Shingo Uryuu’s school is closing down, in preparation for a merger with a local all-girls academy for the elite. That by itself should set off multiple warning bells, partially because it would make absolutely no sense for a school whose reputation is built on providing a female-exclusive educational community catering to the upper crust would let in plebeians of any sort, much less male ones. But aside from destroying the school’s brand, it also offers a hackneyed excuse to get Shingo into a female-heavy classroom with an opulently wealthy setting.
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C3: Cube x Cursed x Curious Episodes 1, 2, and 3 – Nothing to Fear but Fear Itself

For reasons I might explain in a later post, I made a pledge to myself to cover every series debuting this season, with the exception of obvious kid stuff and Hunter x Hunter. (I’ll let other people have a flame war over whether I just repeated myself.) That did not get me out of reviewing C3, even though it was a show I didn’t even want to waste my time watching. The basic outline sounded suspiciously similar to last season’s The Dark Rabbit has Seven Lives: a contemporary fantasy harem show whose pretensions to horror would be promptly deflated by harem antics and absurd amounts of panty flashing.

I was not wrong about the harem problem, or about the fanservice. Where I was wrong was in thinking that these elements would overwhelm the show, keeping it from succeeding at the darker content inherent in the show’s premise. Because, when C3 decides it does want to be serious, it pulls that off far better than it has any right to.
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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.
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Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai Episode 1 – Friendship Isn’t What it Used to Be

October 6, 2011 3 comments

High school is an odd time of life for many people, who are desperate to find affirmation and affection from people like them, but are still uncertain about who they even are in the first place. Everyone wants a sense of belonging and camaraderie, but when tastes and interests are constantly changing, and one’s deepest beliefs and values also undergoing continual revision and upheaval, it’s difficult to keep track of what—or who—is really important.

That’s really disruptive to the formation of genuine friendships, so instead much of a high school student’s “friends” are really “friendly acquaintances,” regardless of whether he would admit it. They aren’t relationships based in real trust or commitment, but that doesn’t make it any less painful when they fall apart, or are denied in the first place. Finding real friends, who care for you, understand you, and do not betray you—that’s the hardest thing of all.

Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai (literally, “I don’t have many friends”) is openly interested in that dynamic. Well, that’s not quite right. It would be more accurate to say that the show is openly interested in classic harem hijinks with a cast of eccentrics that could only be found in anime, and is using the dynamic of high school friendship as a way to spice up what is otherwise a stale formula. At least if the first episode is any indication, if the show succeeds, it will be in spite of itself.
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Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko Episodes 1, 2, and 3 – A Little Loony

We here at antiotaku have something of love/hate relationship with Shaft, which as an animation studio has been almost completely beholden to the vision of Akiyuki Shinbou. Known for incredibly experimental artistic styles, Shinbou has been the creative force behind one of the best shows of the past year, some relative stinkers, and a bunch of stuff that falls somewhere in between.

If you take the time to read through the above reviews, you’ll find that in general we like it more when Shinbou is being melodramatic than when he’s being funny, although I have slightly more patience with his comedic style than bear does (and I still haven’t seen enough of Arakawa to back his opinion on it). Here Shinbou is taking a backseat on the production, letting his Madoka (and Arakawa) co-director Yukihiro Miyamoto take the lead.

Aside from viewers not having to pause the video every five seconds or so to catch the flashes of wry fourth wall breaking text in the background, what does that mean? Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko (loosely: “Crazy girl and young man”) has plenty of surface similarity to Arakawa, with a female lead who claims to be an alien and the male lead who has to put up with it. Unlike Arakawa, and probably more a result of the source material than anything else, there’s an underlying current of seriousness to the whole affair. I’m still trying to figure out if that’s the show’s main flaw or its saving grace.
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Steins;Gate Episodes 1 and 2 – Everything’s Just a Little Off

April 30, 2011 1 comment

Once upon a time, there was a show called Chaos;Head, about a borderline hikikomori (and flat-out insane) high school otaku who was embroiled in a series of murders linked to some epic conspiracy involving mind control. Only the appearance of several beautiful girls over the course of the show would tip viewers off that the show was based on a harem visual novel.

Now Nitroplus and 5pb, the creative teams that gave us Chaos;Head, are getting another one of their visual novels put on the tv screen. Unlike the previous show, this one involves a cast of mostly college students, much better art direction and character design, and a plot about time travel rather than mind control. Like the previous show, it kicks off with a remarkably disorienting presentation style made worse by an unreliable (and mentally unstable) narrator.
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