The Summer 2014 Anime Preview Guide
INVADERS of the ROKUJYOMA!?
Rating: 2.5 (of 5)
Review: Satomi Koutarou has moved into an apartment for high school while his (widowed?) father has moved for a new job. To make things easy for his father, he took great pains to find the cheapest apartment he could, in Corona House, a complex whose landlady is one of his female classmates. Supposedly it's haunted, but he's seen no signs of it, until a tumble at an archeological dig he works at brings him into contact with an apparent spirit. After that he's able to not only see but touch the very tsundere ghost inhabiting his apartment, who doesn't want him there and is willing to resort to violence to get rid of him. But Satomi isn't about to give up without a fight. Problem is, the ghost Sanae is far from the only girl or woman to show up over the next few minutes with an interest in the room, and it gets to be such a problem that the landlady has to put her foot (and fist!) down and enforce a peace treaty, putting everyone under oath to settle the conflict over the room peacefully.
So this is one of those series where you can start out with a haunting and then within a few minutes escalate to anti-matter cannons. Yes, it's that random. Before everything's said and done we have a ghost, a magical girl, a member of the Earth People, an interstellar princess, and a landlady who may not be human herself all showing up in Satomi's room and throwing around various powers and/or wanting his room for various reasons. There's also another girl at school in the Knitting Club Satomi is joining (the implication is that he wants to finish a sweater left behind by his mother) who may figure into this harem-like set-up, too, although at this point none of the girls (except maybe the landlady) seem specifically interested in Satomi yet. On the downside, a few bland (but mild) fan service moments ensue, but on the upside, Satomi isn't pathetic and the humor does sometimes show some inspiration.
Throwing this much seemingly random stuff together requires a delicate balancing act that series in the past which have attempted it have typically failed, and this one only has mediocre technical merits to fall back on. However, a structure is actually present to contain it all, and despite a few stereotypically lame antics this one does show some signs of not being just another pathetic harem series. Hence it gets a very provisional recommendation.
Invaders of the Rokujyoma!?is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Review: The first episode of Invaders of the Rokujyoma!? conjured a very different image in my mind than the show was probably aiming for. You remember that scene at the end of Disney's Pinocchio where Gepetto and the little puppet are throwing furniture and wooden knickknacks of all kinds onto a fire to whip up enough smoke to make Monstro sneeze? They smash every wooden thing they can get their hands on into a fiery pile that reaches higher and higher at a frenetic pace until the whale starts to sniff and snort and wheeze. Monstro wheezes and howls louder and louder and it all gets more violent and tense until it culminates in a surprisingly silly "AHCHOOOOOOOOO."
Well, the "wacky" members of bland lead Koutaro's harem are the knickknacks. I am the whale. After my frustration with the lameness of the show had mounted to its very peak, I literally blew a raspberry at the screen as the credits rolled.
Look, there's a reason these harem shows introduce the love interests gradually most of the time. Most shows don't pitch out a ghost, a magical girl, a priestess and two sexy aliens at the viewer all at once and expect us all to just ride along in harmony because it's not any fun. It's just exhausting. I guess in theory it could be funny, in a satirical sort of way, but this show isn't. It's not meant to be a satire or self-aware or any of that, it's just lazy. The whole episode is a bizarre free association of slightly novel fetishes being tossed into some boring boy's lap at breakneck speed, and that's supposed to be the joke in and of itself. We have no reason to care about him or any of the other girls. It comes across as a harem comedy written by a committee that's just plain fed up with having to stretch its beats and character intros out over six episodes or so. They decided it was better to toss them all into the first episode and hope everyone buys the figures and blu-rays anyway, I guess.
There's nothing inherently terrible about this anime, but it doesn't impress in any way either. It has an aesthetic (and loads of conceptual elements) in common with last season's Kanojo ga Flag o Oraretara, so if you fancied that show, maybe this one will do something for you, but Kanojo ga Flag started slower and more deliberately than this, and that show was a breakneck wisecracker too. It's hard to say what kind of fan might enjoy Invaders of the Rokujyoma!?, but most people will probably just find it annoying.
Invaders of the Rokujyōma is available streaming on Crunchyroll.
Review: The Laws of Thermodynamics. The Laws of Quantum Mechanics. The Laws of Anime Romance. Of them all, the latter may be the most immutable. For instance, when a teenaged boy moves into his own apartment, perforce a cute girl or two must also move in. This is the… uh… Fifth Law of Anime Romance? I don't know. There're so damned many of them. And by god, Invaders means to fulfill them all. And in record time if the rate at which hero Kotaro acquires his harem—the 2nd Law? The 3rd?—is any indication. Kotaro's uninvited guests pile up at an alarming rate: First there's the mischievous loli ghost. Then the scatterbrained magical girl. Then the seductive underground invader. Then the imperious alien princess. Then the princess's levelheaded assistant. Add in the outside romantic interests—teenaged landlady Shizuka; refined knitting club president Sakuraba—and Kotaro has a harem of seven in less than half an hour.
The dogpile of romantic interests would almost be funny—as it was obviously intended to be—if the girls themselves weren't so dispiritingly hackneyed and distractingly annoying. The chaotic ensemble is depressingly short on chemistry and horrendously long on laser-shooting, magical-shielding, broom-riding, accidental-groping, tear-squirting, ghostfire-hurling, panty-flashing, apartment-destroying mayhem. That Kotaro is self-collected and reasonably quick-witted is a relief, and the humor is decent, if sparse and frequently sabotaged by the cast (watch how magical scatterbrain Yurika destroys a perfectly fine recurring cosplay gag). The warfare aspect—all the girls are battling Kotaro and each other to claim his apartment—is also a decent twist. Still, it's basically an unstoppable harem nightmare. It bears a passing resemblance to Is this a Zombie?, another harem comedy with girls who seemingly came from their own wildly different shows, but where Zombie drowned its flaws in buckets of imaginative weirdness and demented gaggery, Invaders only has a thimble's-worth of wan giggles to fling.
Invaders of the Rokujyōma is available streaming on Crunchyroll.
When I was nine years old, I wrote a play called “Bud and Fanny's Nature Flick” about an animal show where things went drastically wrong in an escalating pattern. Had I been aware that I was an anime fan at the time, Invaders of the Rokujyoma might have been what I wrote instead. The basic plot of this show's first episode is that high school student (and apparent part-time archaeologist) Koutarou has just moved into a cheap apartment in order to help his dad, presumably financially, since his father now lives in a company dorm. His landlady is his perky classmate and he's just joined the knitting club, which naturally boasts a hot, sweet, and sickly sempai. Aw, how nice and normal.
But wait! While he's at work, he falls into a hole and finds a shrine where a statue tells him that she's been waiting for him for a long time in a scene that's sure to give you El Hazard flashbacks. Oh, but then he wakes up in a hospital, so that's okay. But wait! Then he goes home to find that a ghost lives in his room! He's fighting her when all of a sudden a magical girl flies in on a broom! They're arguing when a hole in the floor opens up and an underground lady with huge boobs walks in and offers Koutarou a pile of gold for his apartment, and she's in the process of rubbing her breasts against his arm when a magical symbol appears on the wall and an alien princess comes in and he gropes her and then she tries to blow things up and then her helper/friend/babysitter who is also an alien shows up and then!!!!
So yes, if ever a show felt like it was written by an excited nine-year-old, this would be it. And there is something fun and appealing about that – this is wacky and zany and the escalation mostly works. All of the girls look different, the shabbiness of the apartment is very well portrayed, and the general lunacy doesn't feel nearly as overdone as it might. Underneath it all, however, is the fact that this is clearly going to be another story about a guy living with a bunch of hot supernatural girls when all he wants to do is live a normal life. It is difficult to see this maintaining its frantic pace for very long, and frankly it's kind of exhausting to watch. But it's also silly fun, so it really may be worth it to let your brain take a nap and check this out, if only to watch everyone, even the ghost and the underground lady, assume that the magical girl is a cosplayer.
Invaders of the Rokujyoma is available streaming on Crunchyroll.
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