You remember the old days, back when the number of panty shots found in Najica Blitz Tactics was the exception? Now it seems odd that of the three shows thought most likely to contain fanservice galore at the beginning of the season, only one is delivering on all the expected tropes. Maken-ki is the story of a rather, ahem, healthy young man who picked a high school because it didn’t have an exam (this appears to have been changed to no fee), and also because it’s going co-ed for the first time, and he’s been stuck at an all boy’s school for junior high. “Those three years at that sausage-fest had me on the verge of going mad!” I don’t know if that’s courtesy of the fansubbers or in the original, but I attended an all-boys jr. high myself, and my experience there was much the same, so that line had me in stitches.

Speaking of the fansubbers and the writers, it’s entirely possible that both are taking liberties. JNE did this fansub, and it’s obvious that English is not their first language. (Edit: Actually, it turns out the fansubber was using a google translation based on the Dutch version that came out a couple of days ago.) There were a few botched lines, bad spellings, and the ED was translated into either German or Dutch, not English. However, in contrast to my earlier comments about writers not altering the original properties for the better, it looks like there has been an active attempt to polish this turd, and it’s not going too badly. They’ve dropped Takeru’s slightly homo-erotic vision to start, changed up the first boob-grope to make it a bit funnier, and altered the first pair of duels to make them a bit more logical. I’m afraid to be optimistic, but maybe it means something at least not too vomit-inducing or brain-cell killing. The manga it is drawn from was pretty much a total trainwreck, but at least the anime handles the tropes a bit better.

Boing, boing, boing, boing... what? Oh, this is Amaya Haruko. Moderately violent tsundere for the hero, but at least she admits to herself that she's after him. Mostly.

The school has boarding dorms and she’s outbound to go pick up Takeru, who she’s not seen in two years, despite the fact that they were childhood friends — er, “We attended the same dojo!” Whatever. She’s not the model of discretion, continuing into Takeru’s room despite his cry not to —

A pretty girl! Banzai!

A clumsy, one-legged hop behind all his packed boxes later, Haruko is about to kiss a lot of cardboard, leading to Takeru making a sans-pants dive to save her…

This is no ordinary boob-grope! This is the NO-PANTS boob grope! Ph3ar my leet groping powah!

No, he wasn’t that absurd. Well, after some violence and an idyllic walk to school, Haruko tries to explain the school to Takeru, but he misunderstands. Before she can correct him, the announcement calls new students to the assembly, which she has to prepare for separately, as she’s the student council vice president (and technically, his sempai). So of course he starts following some pretty girls, only to get lost, and wander into a magical duel that leaves him slack-jawed. (This, by the way, is one of the things they handled better than the manga-ka.)

Kinua Garreto, junior. She lost something precious to Azuki, and wants it back.

They make it sound like the two of them are fighting over possession of a boyfriend, but…

Shinatsu Azuki, from the same class. Your teddy bear is MINE, bitch!

Also observing/monitoring is Himegami Kodama, who take a moment to understand what Takeru is pantomiming to her.

Your. Panties. Are. Showing.

So, of course, a moment later, a deflected attack severs the branch she’s on and the result is the inevitable accidental kiss…with sparklies? Well, anyway, trope #37 accomplished!

These panties are too short. I feel horribly guilty for objectifying the female sex. Well, ok, maybe next week.

But seconds later, when the inevitable violence is about to happen…

Nani? The mark! He is my enemy!

From that moment on, she’s plotting more than revenge for seeing her panties and stealing her first kiss. She intends to kill him, although why is not explained. It does seem she’s got a grudge against Haruko later, but she doesn’t know they’re friends at this point. But hey, now we know he’s got A Secret Power, right? Trope #57. Moving right along…

Rokujo Minori, the director of Tenbi Academy. So is that a habenro on her necklace or one of her own fangs?

After a brief explanation of “Element” and “Maken” that doesn’t really explain anything , Minori calls up Ganetto and Azuki, but they decline to hold a duel, since they just settled theirs. (Manga knowledge: Maken are devices for manipulating magic. There are only 8 real ones in the world, supposedly sealed in the mountain behind the school. All the ones used by the students are inferior copies made by the school’s maken-smith.) Himigami takes advantage of the opportunity to take the stage and call up a new student, why…Takeru would do. Haruko is highly suspicious, and knows that Takeru didn’t have a clue, but the director doesn’t realize that and Haruko can’t stop the match. Indeed, it’s a setup, as Himegami discusses with her familiars (which no one else can see), it’s her plan to implant a time-delay shock in his heart, which will go off a couple of days later and kill him. “Just strike a few karate poses and fake it, I’ll go easy on you.” Never trust a blond who says that…

She moves in for the kill, and both Haruko and Takeru sense it, but before either can act, the plan goes terribly wrong when a defender appears out of nowhere… and her Maken is real.

'Hi! I'm Kushiya Inaho, Takeru-sama's fiancee!' Trope #23, check!

She also declares that she’s there to protect him, and gives him a chaste kiss on the cheek that puts Takeru in heaven… and shortly thereafter, hell.

Prepare. To. Die! So why doesn't Inaho protect him from this?

Well, after that, Takeru moves into his dorm room, and when Haruko goes to visit him (she’s the dorm manager, as well as vice president), she gets a shock.

Trope #14: the Mysterious Fiancee moves in. 'The director said it's ok since it's a 3-bedroom unit and we're affianced!'

Oh, but then it gets worse. MUCH worse. Unfriendly rival has moved in. What number is that trope?

Chotto Motte!! What the hell is HER excuse for being here?

Of course, the reaction has to be “ABSOLUTELY NOT PERMITTED!!!! Unless I live here too!”

Her speed-packing skills are awesome. She was back in less than five seconds.

Trope #83, I’m Keeping An Eye On You!” “But it’s only a three-bedroom-!” “Takeru can sleep on the roof!” The “roof” ends up being an attic-like space over Himegami’s bedroom. It’s not nearly as funny that Haruko falls asleep at the bottom of his ladder, as it is that…

...she's apparently a piss-poor guard.

Oh, and just in case there’s any doubt, Yes, there’s going to be de-censoring. Sure, light-beams and fog are lazy, but they get the point across.

Or would it be more accurate to say 'they obscure her points?'

The manga-ka didn’t seem to have an idea of where he wanted to go, once he got the situation set up, so a lot of time was wasted with subplots about lost cats and onsens. Takeru ends up being pulled into a group that assists the council with problems, and that barely gets underway before a rival group composed of graduates descends on the school. Why Himegami wants to kill him and how Inaho became his fiancee are never explained — the Blood Pointer (Takeru’s power) wasn’t explained by as far as I could stand reading. One hopes that the writers of the anime are willing to cut through a lot of the crap-on-the-wall aspects of the manga-ka’s work and craft a real story out of this cloth. Otherwise, it’s going to be a torture to watch for just the fanservice alone.

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