This article sat in storage for about six months. It’s actual date should be May, 2008. Just because it was so close to completion, I decided to dust it off, and post it, as is. It was a mid-season comparison of the various fan-service shows of the Spring ’08 season. It seems like that was all I was watching then, so I might as well go with the flow.
So, without further ado:
To be clear, I am not considering shows that might contain fanservice; I’m sticking with those that are clearly designed around it. For spring ’08, that means four shows: To Love-Ru, Kanokon, Kamen no Maid Guy, and Penguin Musume. (One reason for the delay in this article was that I managed to overlook the subs of Penguin Musume until Wonderduck set me straight on where to look.) None of the four shows is of super-high quality although a couple of them are reasonably good. Each has its points that will appeal to viewers looking for certain things, and hopefully this article will help viewers determine which, if any, fits their tastes. And since the screenshots are likely to be NSFW, the rest of this article goes below the fold and sometimes behind spoiler tags too.
First up: Kanokon. To summarize:
Watched: 10 episodes and bleh.
Fanservice level: Very high, pushing into
ecchi (situational and suggestive rather than graphic) outright pr0n. I thought episode 6 was bad…then came 7, which was so far over the line that two online distribution services pulled the series.
Art & Animation: A little bland. Sometimes Chizuru’s tail looks like a badly shaped banana.
Humor: Uneven, but occasionally brilliant early on; fades to ordinary. Some of the secondary characters are very funny, as they comment on the crazy leads.
Male Lead: Sucks. Not in a good way. He comes across like he’s 8 years old. And looks it. There’s times I think Chizuru must be into child rape, it’s that bad.
Female Lead(s): Magical, cute, & hot to trot. They’re not Mayu & Reika, but then again, they don’t swallow your life-force.
Secondary Characters: Superior, as previously mentioned. The class rep’s a one-note pain, but the other girls are a riot. Tayura, (Chizuru’s younger brother) is totally whipped.
Plot: Occasional hints that there is one lurking in the background, but that’s all. But whether they’re “bad” bad guys, or “good” bad guys remains to be seen. The only recurring conflict seems to be other spirits testing Chizuru and Kouta’s “bond”, which allows her to possess him and throw large energy blasts.
Storytelling: Periodically sloppy or unclear; the time slip in the first episode was particularly badly handled. Adults do not seem to exist. Logic behind many events and situations is threadbare. People routinely go stupid to advance the plot.
This show has a serious SEP field in which people notice things, but don’t think about them; twice Chizuru has been seen stark naked on campus, once she was naked in the middle of the street; and once half the girls in the school had their clothes transformed and then blown off. Yet episode 7 seemed to confirm that most of the students are normal humans; there’s only six, maybe eight spirits there (the twins are also special? See ep. 9), and only the teacher and nurse seem to know.
To Love-Ru. To summarize:
Watched: 6 episodes and out.
Fanservice level: High, but uneven. Sometimes also a bit ecchi.
Art & Animation: Serviceable. Some CG, which doesn’t mix well.
Humor: A weak point; tends to be rather clichÃ©
Male Lead: Mediocre. Sad thing is, Riko is probably the best harem lead of the season.
Female Lead(s): One’s a cardboard cutout, starting at about 0.2 Rushunas, but reaching 0.3 by episode 6. The other is a braindead bimbo from outer space 0.75 Rushunas. (At Bridgebunnies, we prefer our meido at about 0.85 Rushunas, a measurement we hereby dub one Lyar.)
Secondary Characters: Straight from Central Casting, with one possible exception (Mikan, the little sister) who gets little screen time. Am I weird, in that Mikan is my favorite female of all these series? Nothing really throws her — naked alien bimbo in onee-chan’s bedroom? Not a problem. Aliens move into the house? Not a problem.
Plot: None visible.
Valkyrie Lala, a cute alien princess, crash lands on Riko (in the bathtub, as opposed to bathhouse) while running away from home to escape an unwanted marriage. Yeah, that’s different.
Storytelling: ClichÃ©-ridden, terribly derivative, and excessively ordinary.
More: The show is increasingly driven by the antics of Lum and her family. Oops, I mean Lala and Zastin, her brother, or guardian, depending on translator. Continuity is out the window, and common sense doesn’t dare approach this show. Very strong SEP field; folks don’t seem to notice that Lala has a tail. When they do notice, it’s assumed to be a “cultural difference.” It is increasingly becoming work to watch this show for the fanservice, although episode 6 seemed to be a bit darker than average — at first — it got silly enough at the end. I think this show is trying to make tentacle porn respectable, based on a few of the scenes. I jumped to episodes 11 and 12 and fast-forwarded. Ok the fearsome alien that’s really a laughably stupid shrimp has been overdone. And is Riko getting a harem? Sigh.
Penguin Musume. To summarize:
Watched: 3 episodes and hit the snooze button.
Fanservice level: Middling low.
Art & Animation: Usually cheap, but not excessively so. (nothing like a certain vampire series from last season…)
Humor: They try. I’ll give them that. For the sake of humor, whenever Penguin cosplays as an animÃ© character, she gains that character’s powers. Usually, this has, um….unpredictable results.
Male Lead: None; unlike the first two shows, it’s not a harem comedy.
Female Lead(s): Sakura, a braindead female otaku, nicknamed Penguin Her new friend/archrival, Kujira, could lead her (yes, her) own show.
Secondary Characters: So-so. Her third-grade little sister, Kaede, evidently got all the brains in the family. Family servant is cut from the usual “super-butler” cloth. Marianna is apparently a hanger-on, Cha-Chi is a lovestruck martial artist, and I have no idea who Mary Chupacabra W. Whitebear is going to be; she hadn’t shown up by episode 3. (But I love the name.)
Plot: What’s a plot? This is all about absurdity and the
occasional constant panty flashes.
Storytelling: Not really. It’s mainly about Penguin and the chaos around her, some of which she is actually responsible for causing. This is a show that depends on zaniness and misunderstandings for entertainment, and it delivers the zaniness. If that’s to your taste, this show should be for you.
More: Penguins! They don’t fly, except in this show — the theme is repeated everywhere; in fact the school’s mascot is a penguin. Penguins (and chibis) adorn the OP, which has different animation each episode, but invariably features a penguin-craft that would make a fully-loaded F-111 look anemic. All the people in this show are weird or crazy, none more than Sakura (Penguin) herself. She obsesses over Kujira, who looks just like her favorite animÃ© character. And if Kujira did have her own show, it would probably be named Ranma 1/2. See, her father wanted a son to take over the dojo… and refuses to believe he got a daughter instead. Kujira was raised as a boy, leading to one of the most hilarious lines I’ve ever seen in animÃ©:
Shampoo (known here as ‘Cha Chi’) shows up in episode 3, and she’s awesomely cute in this show too. Of course she refuses to believe that her beloved is really a girl; why is he trying to back out of their promise, made 8 years ago?
“Once Cha Chi defeats you, she must become your bride!”
“But I thought I was a guy, back then!”
Yep, she’s an otaku, all right.
Kamen no Maid Guy. To summarize:
Watched: 6 episodes and damn, there’s only how many left? Hey, would someone start fansubbing this show again?
Fanservice level: Middling to occasionally high.
Art & Animation: Overall, average. Maybe above average for a fanservice show, though the usual shortcuts are present.
Humor: Over the top, and very high. “No, no, you’re just a big-breasted kendo girl; your panties would only be worth Y70,000!” Also, I have to hand it to her brother; he’s always saying what I’m thinking about Fubuki. Except when he’s being stupider than usual.
Male Lead: Kogarashi, the Maid Guy, although it’s not that kind of show.
Female Lead(s): Big-breasted, athletic, and mathematically challenged. Also violent, when provoked. Probably the best lead of the lot.
Secondary Characters: Best. Maid. EVER. And no, I don’t mean the guy. Fubuki rocks. Think Siesta crossed with Najica. A sweet, short-tempered Najica. A sweet, short-tempered, big-breasted Najica. Longer skirt, though, dammit…
Plot: Lurking in the background; probably will get left there. Naeka is six months from inheriting the huge family fortune, but someone’s been killing off the rest of the family. Grandpa arranges meido bodyguards, one of whom is a “Maid Guy.” Think Souske Sagara with most of Superman’s powers, plus some new ones tossed in. And less sense.
Storytelling: I haven’t stopped laughing long enough to notice. There really isn’t much of a story here; the inheritance and threat are more for the setup than for the plot. I do think it’s a bit odd that Naeka and her brother haven’t noticed their lack of cousins…
More: Make that “more, please.” This show also depends on zaniness, only it’s much more original. It’s not a maid show; it’s a parody of maid shows. A typical episode involves Kogarashi coming up against a pseudo-threat and over-reacting in his own hilarious way. It’s not as brain-dead a reaction as SouskÃ© Sagara’s; it just lacks… perspective. Like the time he determined that a female threat to Naeka could be identified only by her green polka-dot panties. He contrived to steal the panties off every girl in the school–while they were being worn.
“Bah, saw that in Inukami,” right? Wrong. That guy was so slow, the women knew they’d been plundered. Not the subjects of Maid Guy’s investigation! “Stupid girls have no awareness! Kukukukukukuku!” In retaliation, Fubuki, as his keeper (of sorts) promptly detonates the bomb she put in his phone. Then there was the epic battle against the ninja meido twins. The older sister is scary, but I give the younger one points for ‘best use of an innocent bystander.’ “Maid Guy does not harm civilians!” As for the differently-aged twins…. “Yeah, I heard something… her expiration date passing!” Oh, did I mention that Naeka’s boobs have their own fan club? And of course there’s a lesbian stalker chick!