Reviewby Theron Martin, Nov 3rd 2012
So, I Can't Play H!
episodes 7-12 streaming
In pursuit of the kidnapped Mina, Ryosuke journeys with Risara and Quele to Grimwald. There Ryosuke tries to assert his heroic side with his newfound control of the sword Gram, but he quickly learns how hard and dangerous it actually is to play the role of hero. While he recuperates in the Restall family estate under the watchful eye of Risara's mother, Risara and the reluctantly treacherous Iria (who has separately come to Grimwald ostensibly to help out but actually under orders from Merlot) set off with the aid of some loyal troops to rescue Mina. Risara soon finds that dangers come not just from the enemy, Galderbroug soon discovers that he may have gotten more than he bargained for in taking Mina to lure Ryousuke (and thus Gram) into his clutches, and Ryosuke soon decides that he can't let Risara do all the work for him, even though going to help wouldn't be wise for a number of reasons. Being a hero again proves to be a tricky business, one where even a grand triumph can spin off a terrible consequence if one is not careful. Ryosuke's biggest problem – that his life expectancy is supposedly very short – also has yet to be resolved, as yet another Grim Reaper arriving on the scene pointedly reminds everyone. In such a situation, what hope can there be for everyone's romantic aspirations?
The first half of this summer 2012 series was mostly a mix of supernatural action and harem romantic comedy elements, all laced together with a pronounced focus on fan service and wrapped in generally light-hearted, high-spirited fun. While certain parts of the second half recapture that, overall episodes 7-12 represent a dramatic – even stunning – shift in tone, especially for a series whose bread and butter is detailed, lovingly-rendered nudity and hijinks involving how the male lead's libido virtually makes him a battery for the lead heroine. Fan service-focused harem series have shown in the past that they typically struggle with any attempt at a serious turn, but few have made as concerted an effort at it as this one does. That may be why this one is surprisingly successful at pulling it off – to a point.
Although the turn of events in episodes 5 and 6 involving the discovery that Ryousuke had within him the second half of the sword Gram, and thus can now manifest the full sword, seemed to be taking him in a classic Tenchi Muyo! direction (i.e., the harem lead, who up until this point has been protected by the powerful girls around him, discovers that he has his own power which can allow him to fight on equal footing with the girls), the series pulls a surprising twist by actually not making Ryousuke suddenly be a competent warrior. Even with the power at his disposal, he has no real experience in supernatural fights, and that actually makes him a liability more than a help, which is painfully driven home in his first battles in Grimwald. There are consequences for ignoring wise advice and going off half-cocked, and it is to the series' credit that it drives this point home forcefully on two occasions. Ryousuke isn't made to be so dense that he doesn't understand the lesson that impresses on him, either; almost lost in one of the most blatant fan service scenes in episode 7 is the way Ryousuke's forceful rejection of the attention he gets is a sign of how visibly shaken he is by his failure. Harem series normally don't have scenes like that which are played seriously. Much of what happens when the gang returns to Earth after the climactic battle against Galderbroug also gets played seriously and with unexpected weight. While not as weighty, the story also gets a nice twist out of the revelation of who the special person that Risara originally came to Earth to seek actually is.
Of course, this is still a fan service series at heart, so even in the most serious parts of the story it finds the time and energy for sexual references, bouncing bosoms, and displays of undergarments and outright nudity; not an episode goes by without at least some of it, including a strip poker session carried out by the girls to keep Ryousuke distracted from some very bad things going on. The series also, unfortunately, continues its penchant for abusing Risara (she ends up wrapped up in tentacles ridiculously often), though it does at least partly balance that out by also making her the major power player and giving her most of the flashiest action scenes. Her relationship with Ryousuke also advances quite a bit, although the series' ending falls back on more typical anime relationship patterns and thus misses a golden opportunity.
Although the second half packs quite a bit of action, the artistic effort is rarely at its strongest during the action scenes, resulting in fights and flashy displays of power that are entertaining but nothing particularly special. (The fan service, contrarily, looks as sharp as ever.) The threat level posed by the globular enemy creatures leaves a lot to be desired, too. In an interesting move, the scenes in Grimwald and affected spaces on Earth use a filter which has a filmy, faded effect around the edges of the picture – a cheap way to give an otherworldly motif, but it definitely does set those settings as distinct from the norm. Also noteworthy is the series' unusual willingness to actually let one of its characters continue for a few episodes with consistently visible injuries.
The musical score varies dramatically in effectiveness, with some action scenes backed by chintzy, low budget-sounding action music while others use more effective dramatic sounds. The strongest moments actually come when the soundtrack opts to run silent – again, something that harem series do not typically do. Rapidly up-tempo opener “Reason Why XXX” gets each episode off to an enthusiastic, energetic start, while closer “Platinum 17” is a fun-loving song most notable for open with brazen displays of nudity.
The end of the series brings the story to a sort of conclusion but definitely leaves the door open for more; indeed, a follow-up OVA episode is scheduled for release in March 2013 with the advertising tag that parts of it will “stir male instincts.” (In other words, it will be a full-on fan service barrage.) A recap episode narrated by Risara and Quele, which covers the series up through episode 7 and is listed as episode 7.5 in some sources, has been released but is not currently available as part of Crunchyroll's official stream of the series. Taken as a whole, the series never does fully ascend above the trashy level that it started out at, and thus viewers normally averse to fan service-laden harem series are unlikely to find enough here to override their aversion, but at least the second half of the series does make an effort to do more than just wallow in its most base instincts.
Overall (sub) : B
Story : B
Animation : B
Art : B
Music : B-
+ Quality fan service, higher aspirations than most harem series, central relationship develops nicely.
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