Reviewby Theron Martin, Jul 13th 2012
Heaven's Lost Property Forte
DVD - Complete Season 2
Tomoki Sakurai is widely-renowned as one of his town's biggest perverts, but his kind and sincere nature when not being perverted has also resulted in his home playing host to the Angeloids Ikaros and Nymph. As the second year of his association with the Angeloids begins, the dreams of the angelic being he will eventually come to know as Daedalus resume again, warning of further threats from Synapse. The newest one is the Delta class Angeloid Astraea, a close-combat specialist who is sent to claim Tomoki's life but is such a blithering idiot that she proves wholly incompetent at the task and instead winds up gradually getting drawn into Tomoki's harem. A later and bigger threat comes in the form of Chaos, a much more powerful, borderline insane “second generation” Angeloid tasked with eliminating the rebellious earlier Angeloids. Meanwhile, Nymph frets about the loss of her wings and lack of a master, Tomoki continues to pull all kinds of perverted schemes (including a few returns to Tomoko form), Sohara continues to violently punish Tomoki for his indiscretions despite having racy dreams about him, Mikako continues to amuse herself with all manner of outlandish schemes, and Eishiro continues to try to investigate Synapse, including finding a way to actually visit it with Nymph's help.
Fan service-focused romantic comedies tend to flounder when they try to turn serious, usually because they have put little time and effort in establishing a foundation to adequately support serious content. This fall 2010 continuation of fall 2009's Heaven's Lost Property is one of the rare exceptions, as it actually gets considerably better when it sheds its cumbersome harem trappings, fan service, and emphasis on Tomoki's perversions and actually tries to deal seriously with the matters at hand. Unfortunately it rarely sheds that weight for long, resulting in a season where the storytelling quality and entertainment value can vary drastically from episode to episode.
The problem with the fan service here is not that big chunks of some episodes entirely consist of fan service-related gags; plenty of other series have gotten away with that and still been entertaining. The difference here is that so much of the fan service content is so incredibly crass, even at times mean-spirited. Fan service can be passed off as mostly harmless if it remains light-hearted and/or mildly voyeuristic, but many of Tomoki's schemes go beyond that into realms of truly tasteless or just outright bad; using a pair of panties as a face mask while imitating a pro wrestler is just dumb, not titillating or amusing, and let's not even get started on the bicycle which incorporates panty motifs into just about every design aspect. Few anime protagonists have ever deserved the physical abuse they get from the tsundere girl in their harems more than Tomoki does (though even that gets quickly tiring), and one nice touch is that nearly all of the girls in school outside of his harem treat Tomoki with some degree of disgust or outright contempt.
The humor is also more “miss” than “hit” through these 12 episodes. The writing does manage an occasional genuinely funny series of jokes; one mid-season episode which involves Tomoki going into monastic training to try to get control of his urges is punctuated by comments by his penis when he's in situations that might give him an erection (“Need me, boss?” or something else along those lines), an amusing treatment of a subject that so often gets skirted around in content like this. One late episode has a good series of jokes about various modifications that Ikaros does to hidey-holes that Tomoki uses for privacy, Mikako's bemused sadism is often still good for a laugh or two (one of the series' best jokes involves the one class that she has to make up), and occasionally Astraea's stupidity works, but much more often the jokes fall painfully flat.
The more serious parts do better even though Tomoki's serious behavior is so completely incongruous with his lecherous side that the transitions between the two can be jolting. The parts involving Chaos are played straight, allowing those scenes to carry an amount of gravitas and darkly-tinged drama not otherwise present in the series, and the way Nymph's laments about her wings and self-worth are handled effectively makes her such a sympathetic character that seeing her situation ultimately improve towards the series' end is quite satisfying. The business involving the conflict between Daedalus and the Master of Synapse, and what exactly Synapse is up to in one certain building, is also potentially interesting, but the series ends before elaborating on that anywhere near enough to get a sense of what's really going on. Action scenes, which are played with an almost invariably serious tone, also generally work and provide a lot of flash and pop.
The technical merits for this series are little changed from the first series. It still shows Tomoki in SD form whenever he's not being completely serious and often puts other characters in that form, too. Newcomer Astraea is as well-endowed as Ikaros but with blond hair and a vastly more animated expression, while Chaos begins as a smaller girl in a nun's habit and later turns into an adult form wearing a more ragged nun's outfit – and really, there is no seeming point to putting her in a nun's habit other than just to give her a distinctive look. The big visual treat in the background art is the look viewers get at Synapse, which is an interesting-looking place which makes perfect sense for a race sporting wings. Animation quality continues to be good in the action scenes but takes lots of shortcuts elsewhere.
The musical score is a solid job which effectively enhances the comedy, dramatic, and action elements as needed; it may even be a slight upgrade from the first series. The first series' opener is reused for the first episode but after that the opener sports the even less interesting “Heart no Kakuritsu” by blue drops, with Ikaros's seiyuu as a guest singer for episode 11. As with the first series, the closers are different nearly every time, but instead of doing genre parodies they serve either as epilogues or as side scenes from the episode content. Song quality varies but is generally good.
The English dub returns the entire cast from the first season, with Carli Mosier giving an enthusiastic “brainless bimbo” interpretation on Astraea that is better-suited to English and Carrie Savage doing an effectively crazy Chaos whose vocal style and tone is dead-on to Aki Toyosaki's original performance. Rather than maintaining Tomoki's regular voice, the penis voice is dropped dramatically in pitch in English to give it more of a Barry White-like resonance, which is much funnier than the Japanese version. Other performances are consistent with the first season, with Jamie Marchi's droll interpretation of Mikako still being a highlight. The biggest English script tweaks come in the altered ways Astraea is made to sound even stupider; for instance, instead of answering “50” (as in Japanese) for the question “what is 1+1?” she answers “purple.” It's even funnier the second way.
While the first season was released in a DVD/Blu-Ray combo pack, this season is getting only the DVD treatment. This appears to have been a late-in-the-game change, as the artbox it comes in is sized for a second case (like the first season was) and instead uses a filler box which has bonus art on it and contains four fan service-oriented color art cards. The DVD case has a reversible cover, and the two DVDs contain a few Extras. On the first DVD is an English director/voice cast commentary for episode 4, while the second disk has a like commentary for episode 9, series trailers, and a collection of clean versions of all of the openers and closers. Both commentaries have little of interest or insight beyond discussion of some of the vocal tricks used in the series, and both pitch the regular dialogue so softly that even when the commentators stop talking for a moment to listen to what characters are saying, the characters can't be heard.
Forte does have entertaining content, but it is dragged down so much by the abysmally poor attempts at humor and fan service in other places that the series is only sporadically enjoyable. It also ends feeling very unfinished, although one of the items that is dropped in but not dealt with (i.e., a classmate of Tomoki saying that she actually finds him likable even though that classmate is simultaneously also present in Synapse) is apparently elaborated upon in the 2011 movie which follows up this season. Funimation has yet to announce anything about licensing that one at the time of this writing, however.
Overall (dub) : C
Overall (sub) : C
Story : C-
Animation : B-
Art : B
Music : B+
+ A few good jokes, flashy battle scenes, strong English dub.
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