Alright. So, we close out this trilogy of reviews looking at ‘Complicated Relationships,’ with the one that is truly as complicated as it can get; that, being the harem anime series. But there are so many to choose, right? Yes indeed, though most of them are either pretty bad or mediocre. But today I’ll talk about one that is likely one of the better harem anime of recent history. Which is……
Majikoi Oh Samurai Girls (review edited by Ryugama628)
Fall 2011 TV Series, 12 episodes
Director: Keitaro Motonaga
Script: Katsuhito Takayama
Now this show, I will admit, opens with a bit of a tease. It sets up this battle royale/elaborate ‘capture the flag’ scenario. Now while this scenario, aptly named the Kawakami Conflict, doesn’t actually follows the rest of the series, it does start up some crucial plot/story for explanation later on. Anyway, this Kawakami Conflict is between Classes 2-S and 2-F. Class 2-F is headed by Yamato Naoe, a brilliant strategist who happens to have an extended family which includes some loyal classmates and, of course, a bevy of beauties with a proficiency in either a weapon or martial arts. (Remember, this is a harem series, people.) We have Christina the noble German swordswoman; Yukie the sweet demure swordswoman; Kazuko, the imouto who’s good with a boken; and Miyako, the archer girl who is a bit of a pervert. But the one that has Yamato’s attention, somewhat, is Momoyo, the tough and well-endowed fist fighter. Despite Yamato’s numerous attempts at showing his love for her, she has rejected his love confessions a few times already. (Which for some reason just convinces him to keep trying regardless.) Thus begins the slice of life adventures of Yamato and his harem of fighting babes.
So, I mentioned that Majikoi is likely one of the better harem anime series of recent history. Well, I stand by that assertion. That is due, in part, to the fact that it works very well as an adaptation of a visual novel. Yes, Majikoi Oh Samurai Girls is based on a visual novel series done by MinatoSoft, a software development group headed by Takahiro-san (yes the future creator of Akame ga Kill and Yuki Yuna is a Hero among a few other things). And I must say, it works very well in terms of both story and characters.
In terms of story, I like how Majikoi plays against expectations. From the rather odd first episode, to the gloriously ridiculous finale which is just brilliant. It also tells its story very effectively and efficiently, with the right amount of episodic, character-specific stories and also a balanced overarching story arc concerning Yamato and his growth into a young leader of his own right. This leads into how much of a self-assured worldview this work has; that being, despite all our hardships, with friends and family we can accomplish great things and overcome any form of adversity. Wait, why does that sound familiar?
For characters, we got something unique to the extent when it comes to harem anime with regards to Yamato Naoe. He is perhaps the best example of an MMC (male main character) for any harem anime, at least from the ones I have seen. He’s smart, determined, and got goals of his own that he wants to fulfill. He’s also a morally upright guy, not afraid to jump in when the situation calls for it. There’s also a strong dynamic that exists between him and the ‘harem-ettes’ that I really like and it’s this dynamic that makes the dramatic moments/scenes all the more interesting. Majikoi also contains the only harem where they are really antagonistic towards each other, instead of either just moderately tolerating each other or behaving like passive-aggressive bitches. The fact they are well trained in martial arts and/or weapons does lead to some interesting moments, like one episode where they get so riled up that they end up engaging each other in a five way combat duel.
If I have to pick my favorite episode of the series, it would have to be episode 6 titled “Carry It with Me, Seriously!” Here the show just drops all pretense and becomes a straight out ecchi sex comedy. See, at a special local festival, Yamato and crew are making preparations with building a shrine that is, well, phallic in shape. There are a lot of sex jokes in this episode especially, and it is like the funniest shit I’ve seen in a show. There’s one scene where if you cut out the visuals and just have the audio, you’d swear it was a porno.
In terms of production, this is a solid effort by Lerche, though not known for that most times. I think that’s likely down to director Keitaro Motonaga, who storyboarded and directed about half of the show himself. He has helmed shows like Katanagatari and Yumeria, among many others. (some more infamous, hello School Days) But he has a long career of anime directing that spans back to the 90s. He seems very good at executing the fight scenes for them to turn out this well done. This show doesn’t skimp on the fanservice either, with the bodacious babes getting some very ‘OH YEAH’ moments. The OP and ED songs are good and worth a listen, with a soundtrack that just one level above wallpaper music.
Now, the English dub is a 2012 Sentai Filmworks effort and it’s rather good, at points better than it has any business being. Christopher Ayres and John Swasey co-directed this one, as well as showing in minor supporting roles in the dub. The dub script by Christopher Ayres (and assisted by Josh Grelle) is a fairly adaptive script with some liberal lines thrown in for good measure. Next to the Horizon series, this is another large ensemble cast dub with a veritable who’s who of SF actors/actresses of the time. Besides helping out with the script, Josh Grelle does a great job as Yamato and proves his worth as a leading man with this dub performance. Harem members voiced by a great cast of voice-over ladies including Carli Mosier (Momoyo), Brittney Karbowski (Miyako), Tiffany Grant (Christina), Emily Neves (Yukie) and Cynthia Martinez (Kazuko) each infusing their own personality to fit those characters greatly. Of course there can be found some neat bit parts from future talent like Meg McDonald, Genevieve Simmons and Caitlynn French and some surprises from veteran Houston talent like Hilary Haag, Rob Mungle, Monica Rial and Allison Keith.
So, Majikoi works very well as a visual novel adaptation and harem anime series. It got some very engaging characters with a focused story wrapped in a well done production also coming with a better then expected english dub. I recommend it to anyone who feel burnt out of recent stagnation of harem anime series.
Next month I will be doing just one review, continuing my look at a particular old school franchise….. (Oh yeah I’ll have a piece up over at AnimeHerald.com later this month be on the lookout for that one)
Til next time, dear readers.