Well, here we are again. A hiatus, a promise to write more reviews, watch more anime, etc, etc.
Ey, I’m busy, whattaya gonna do? Here’s a review.
Let’s get straight into it. Majikoi ~ Oh! Samurai Girls – formerly known in more Japanese parts of the world (ie Japan) as Maji di Watashi ni Koi Shinasai!, which roughly translates as “Love Me, Seriously!” – is an anime based on an adult visual novel. So we’re off to a roaring great start!
My first introduction to Majikoi came through a couple of YouTube videos taken from the anime. In the first, a girl asks a guy to prove his manhood, so he unzips his pants and traumatises her. In the second, the same guy is comatose in hospital. A harem of girls fawn over him, willing him not to die, and he miraculously comes back to life by getting an erection. Since both videos featured penis, you know I had to get in on that!
But seriously, I saw it cheap, figured it would be a bit of sleazy fun, packed with boobs and the usual harem tropes, and figured I had to see it to offset all the serious animes I last reviewed. So how did it measure up?Well, I’ll be honest. I went in with my expectations set to rock bottom, and I was actually pleasantly surprised.
The first thing that strikes you is the rockin’ opening theme by SV Tribe, titled “U-n-d-e-r-STANDING!”. It’s loud, upbeat and full of energy, and sets the tone of the series perfectly.
The very first episode is packed with action and fun characters, and sets up the main cast very nicely. It takes the Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood route of opening up with a full on battle between major and minor characters as part of a war between classes to settle a dispute.
You see, the cast of Majikoi are students attending Kawakami Academy, an academy in which people study martial arts. Or something. I think. To be honest, it’s not entirely clear at any point during the series. But hey, fight scenes!
The main cast mostly consists of six characters (plus a whole huge bunch of others who only appear in a couple of episodes each so we won’t mention them). First up is our hero, Yamato Naoe, the tactician of the group. He’s the object of the affections of pretty much every girl in the world, apparently, and just so happens to live with five of them. I’d like to make mention that Yamato is quite possibly my favourite harem series protagonist ever. He’s confident and not at all shy about expressing his love for the ladies, but manages to avoid being a sleazeball or a wimpy wet blanket prude. Instead of “Er, well, I mean, um, girls? Oh. Gosh.” and more “Meh, I totally would. But I’m not going to right now.” And though he may be useless at combat, he makes up for it by being a genius at tactics, ensuring that he stands on the same level as the girls without stealing their thunder. So yeah, thumbs up!
The only one seemingly immune to this is his big sister figure, Momoyo Kawakami, who is ironically the only girl he is interested in. Also she likes girls a little too much. And is a total badass at fighting.
Then we’ve got her step-sister Kazuko. She’s affectionately referred to as “Doggy” due to her boundless energy and yappy nature. She’s a little annoying.
After her we have Miyako Shiina. Yamato saved her from bullies before the start of the series and now she wants to do filthy, filthy things to him. I smell a running gag! And it’s a hilarious one.
The youngest of the group is Yukie Mayuzumi (or Mayucchi to her friends). She’s handy with a sword and has a talking horse phone strap named Matsukaze who may or may just be Mayucchi ventriloquizing.
And lastly we have the token foreign girl, Christiane Friedrich (henceforth referred to as Chris). She’s handy with a sword and delightfully out of place. I like her because I learned German in high school.
Oh yeah, and then there’s a robot. Because anime.
Regardless of cliché, the main girls – and the rest of the cast for that matter – are all interesting and quirky. Though their actual designs are less than inspired (“That’s the one with Hime hair! That’s the one with huge breasts! That’s the one with balls in her hair!”), their personalities are distinct enough that their appearance matters little.
This is helped in large part by the stellar voice acting provided by the English dub cast. This dub comes courtesy of Sentai Filmworks, so many actors overlap from Clannad and Angel Beats. Personal highlights include Josh Grelle as Yamato, Carli Mosier’s leering Momoyo, and the always enjoyable Brittany Karbowski as Miyako. Due to the source material, it’s clear that they were able to have fun with their parts, and it shows. I found myself at times being so impressed by the enthusiasm of their performances, taking into account the fact that most of this series is filler and raunchy jokes.
As you can probably see, the series’ art is pretty strong. The animation is average quality, but it helps that the colours used are bright and vivid. Scenes are pleasant to look at, and there are no complaints from me on that front. In fact, the art style is my personal preference – not too old-school like One Piece, not too jaggy and ‘modern’ like Yu Gi Oh!, striking a perfect balance that is easy on the eyes.
So, this series has great action scenes, characters, music, voice acting and art. We’re on our way to a great score, right?
Unfortunately for Majikoi, even a series with so many plus points can’t hope to do well if the negative points are so darn negative. In the same way as Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Prometheus, Majikoi puts together extremely talented individuals and posits them with a horrible, confused plotline.
Though much of the series is filler, you know it’s a bad sign that whenever the plot rears its ugly head you emit a genuine groan of despair. Basically, in one episode, out of the blue, Yamato bumps into a Big Boss lookalike who goes on about Yamato’s dad leaving Japan because its not cool any more and how terrible Japan is and…
You hear that sound? It’s the sound of me falling asleep.
And every time it comes up, THAT’S THE PLOT. The conversation barely changes EVERY TIME. The bad guy’s motivation is that they’re getting back at the government because they betrayed them but maybe they are but maybe they aren’t. And there are some bumbling arms/porn smugglers who are far more likable than the main villains. Don’t mix fanservice and politics, kids.
And don’t even get me started on the uncomfortably racist “girl with a hot body but she’s black so she can’t be hot” thing. It’s just not cool – if you want to emphasize the unexpected ugliness of a character, try not to make them the only person of colour in the series, y’know?
Majikoi is a series at it’s best when its focus is on the main girls. The two or three episodes covering their backstories are by far the most interesting in the series, but the rest sadly fall victim to the half baked, dreadful plot. Many of the problems in pacing and plot the series suffers from can be attributed to an episode run shortened to 12 episodes from 23. Maybe it’s just wishful thinking, but I can’t help but hope we see Majikoi return to our screens once again with a bit more effort put into making it work and capitalizing on its strong points.
It’s worth noting that, according to a friend of mine who has played it, the original visual novel of Majikoi was far better written and the characters far better realised.
Regardless, as it stands, Majikoi gets a verdict of NOT PROVEN.
I want to give it a not guilty, really I do. But there’s just too damn much wrong with it. Better luck next time, eh guys?