What a cute series. A series that teaches the good little boys and girls that the man’s needs are more important than the woman’s. Yay!
I’ll get right to it. The above statement was not because this series is a harem. It’s not because it’s an ecchi, either. No. The above statement is due to the series’ direction. The characters’ actions and the plot progression are all the evidence one needs to view this anime in a more liberally stimulating light. To put it vaguely, feminists need not watch this anime.
The plot is strange at first and gets stranger with each passing story arc. It begins with the main character being “chosen” (assumedly at random… by both races… chances?) by two races that aren’t human but look strikingly human except for the ears to become the husband of their respective princesses. This goes along splendidly for the first half of the series, along with introducing many other various characters for the main character to choose from.
This kind of plot is just brewed perfectly for controversy. As the main character of a harem, the main character has to do everything he can to make everyone around him happy. When you have five women vying for you, you can’t pick ’em all. So, what’s a man to do? Drag out the series by being incredibly indecisive. And the ensuing indecisiveness by the main character causes an unbelievable amount of… wait, no it doesn’t. NO. IT DOESN’T.
All of the drama that takes place in this series has nothing to do with the main character’s indecisiveness. Really? There are three major dramatic story arcs within Shuffle!. There’s one before the main character chooses his lover, but has nothing to do with his indecisiveness, and the other two are AFTER he chooses his lover. Hmm. Wouldn’t you think that his indecisiveness (I need to stop saying that) cause something? I would. Shuffle! wouldn’t.
Besides the nitpicking, the plot of Shuffle! takes a similar path as most dramatic titles do; make it silly and carefree at first, then bombard the viewer with drama. When you compare the second episode to the second to last episode, the atmosphere of the show is so drastically different that it may not even be the same show anymore. Like with Kuro Asagi’s consistently dark plotlines immediately following one another, Shuffle! takes the same course of action with its drama, albeit a little more flexible. Once it feels its time for drama, it will give you far more drama than you asked for.
The biggest and most prominent part of Shuffle!’s flaws is that it is both a harem and a drama. Drama typically becomes more emotionally investing when the viewer connects with a character in which the drama is focused on. With a harem (and despite 24 episodes), when you have so many characters to try and develop, this makes it hard for the viewer to really care about more than one or two characters. With this in mind, was Shuffle doomed to fail in character development from the start? Probably so.
Every character in Shuffle! has something wrong with them. By that, I mean they have something wrong with their character. Like, the childhood friend being an obsessive psycho or the God princess having a split personality. This makes the drama more enlightening because… uh… uhhhhh? I’m not sure why it’s necessary for all of your characters to be so flawed, Shuffle!. Why do it? Ah, well.
The main character is the main character, on top of being unbelievably stupid and selfish. The childhood friend is dedicated, loyal, and worship’s the main character’s dick. The other childhood friend is the best character in this show… until the last episode. The God princess has a split personality, crater nipples, and worship’s the main character’s dick. The Satan princess is probably the most likable character among the cast, but isn’t very well developed. Also, she worships the main character’s dick. Finally (among the “main cast”), there’s the loli, who’s a kuudere, and is pretty much the “fan service fiesta” character of the series. I don’t mean that she shows a lot of skin (even though she does), but her whole character is one that seems like it was thought up of by a hardcore weeaboo.
There’s something about the art…. There was a particular scene where the childhood friend was having a flashback of her mother’s funeral, and she falls over unconscious because whatever… and the way she falls over is reminiscent of a fish out of water. I laughed a little too hard at that scene. Other than God princess’s strange-looking crater nipples, I had no problem with the overall design of the show. The atmosphere fit with the color of the mood splendidly… it rained a lot during the second half.
Warning, the following will spoil the entire ending of this series. If you don’t want to be spoiled, then go get a job.
By the beginning of episode 24, we learn that other childhood friend is the daughter of an artificial intelligence model… which makes no sense. She becomes sick because of the magic within her body is too much for her to handle. If she were to use magic, however, her illness would leave and she’s be fine and dandy. Fortunately for melodrama enthusiasts, she doesn’t want to break the image she implanted for herself as a “normal human girl,” so she refuses to use magic. The main character, upon many fruitless attempts at trying to convince her to use magic, actually TRIES TO KILL HIMSELF BECAUSE HE CAN’T STAND THE THOUGHT OF HER DEATH (By the way, the other childhood friend is the girl the main character chooses as a lover). He even floats in there that if she won’t use magic, he’ll have to FORCE HER to use magic. This implies that he knew the act of slitting his wrist would cause her to use whatever magic she had inside her to save him from death and save her from death. Everybody lives happily ever after… except that’s FUCKING AWFUL. There are two problems with this whole situation. 1. The main character basically stomped all over the girl’s feeling toward her absurd desire to “remain normal” for his own selfish deeds. Shame on him. 2. The girl is WAAAAAAAY too dedicated to her desire to “be normal” in the first place. What harm will it do her to use magic ONCE to SAVE HER LIFE and then NEVER HAVING TO USE IT AGAIN? This is truly teenage angsty stupidity at its finest. And to add the shitty cherry on top, the scene aterwards shows that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with their relationship afterwards. No “HOLY SHIT, YOU FUCKING ASSHOLE. YOU MADE ME GO AGAINST MY WISHES FOR THE SAKE OF YOUR DICK.” No friends or parents saying “WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU?! YOU’RE, LIKE, SIXTEEN. YOU DON’T NEED TO GO OFFING YOURSELF FOR ONE FUCKING GIRL.” No nothing. Just a happy ending. HAPPY. HAPPY. HAPPY. HAPPY. HAPPY. HAPPY. HAPPY. HAPPY. HAP-
That ending really killed it for me. I seriously considered dropping this title after I witnessed that “touching” scene. It’s beyond stupid and maybe even sexist? Who knows? All I know is it did nothing for my view of the show as a whole; but should the show suffer just from its ending? The show in and of itself was stupid altogether, but it wasn’t intolerable. It had some memorable scenes and some likable characters. It was funny when it didn’t want to be and enlightening when it didn’t want to be. I had a good time watching this anime… but that ending… ugh.
Personal Score: C-
Critical Score: D+