Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE!
DVD 2+DVD - [Collector's Edition + CD]
The Battle Lovers are back for more adventures with Mr. Tawarayama's dead body and Wombat! In this set of four episodes, they combat mold and boredom during the rainy season, got to the beach, almost lose Io to the Student Council, and, of course, learn the power of True Friendship.
Episodic shows can run into trouble pretty early on if they aren't careful, and that's doubly true of episodic formulaic shows. Fortunately Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE! knows enough to mix up its formula and to poke fun at itself, and while this set won't make you laugh uproariously if the first one didn't, it's definitely still a ton of fun if you enjoyed the first four episodes. Partially this is because it knows which jokes to reuse – other than the fact that everyone hangs out in the bathhouse, nothing is done to death, with most of the gags resurfacing less than once an episode. A good example is the “cloaking technology” which makes anyone who is transformed look like a cosplaying mass of pixels to outsiders; not only the Battle Lovers, but also Caerula Adamas to the Battle Lovers, with the scrambled Chipmunk voices just the icing on the cake. It isn't harped on or overplayed, so when it does come up, each occurrence is just as funny as the first. As with most comedy, it becomes a question of timing, and this show largely understands that.
One repeated joke that does work even though it comes up at least once an episode is poor Mr. Tawarayama. After arriving on Earth in episode one, you may recall, Wombat accidentally killed the elderly teacher and is now possessing his dead body in order to blend in...inasmuch as an old guy carrying around a large pink wombat can blend in, anyway. These four episodes see the teacher getting increasingly deader as they go on, with one major exception during the beach episode, and it's pretty entertaining every time, if not a little gross when the poor fellow's corpse begins to get moldy. Likewise Yumoto's constant perkiness and the way it wears on the other guys makes for a good dynamic, even if everyone is basically a one-note character and the hint of a little development we got in the first set has pretty well vanished.
That's not to say that Caerula Adamas has gone away, of course! They get their own episode, episode eight, where they all-unknowingly try to recruit Io to their team, or rather, to the student council. They can't understand why he hangs around with a group they perceive as freaks and/or losers, and by applying to his love of money (his chief characteristic, naturally), they get pretty close to succeeding. This is one of two episodes that have a classic magical girl “power of the friend group” vibe to them, and other than Caerula Adamas' bigger role, episode eight is the stronger one. It practically runs like a straight Sailor Moon parody in its villain and how the episode runs, and it even shakes up the final attack sequence. More importantly, it gives us a different side of En and Atsushi, which is needed at this point to avoid too much of a recycled feeling, as well as featuring the amazing line, “Come out of there! I'm gonna love you!”, which sounds like it belongs in a cheesy romance novel and nicely sums up the craziness of this show.
Aspects which don't quite work as well in these four episodes include the very sexual aspect of Yumoto's need to cuddle Wombat, which gets uncomfortable really quickly. Yumoto has always been the perky, slightly brainless member of the group with a weird attachment to fuzzy animals, but now his attention is solely focused on Wombat, and he basically throws himself on the alien and “cuddles” him until he is replete while Wombat makes noises like he's enjoying it against his will. I get what the humor is supposed to be, and to a degree it is a pretty good parody of the basic unhealthy romance we see in a lot of shoujo and BL titles, but that doesn't make it any less awkward. Done once, it would have been weirdly funny; reused every episode it just gets weird. It also makes the worries about being gay in episode seven seem more absurd, since clearly if anyone has to question his sexuality, it's Yumoto, so in that sense it works. (As a side note, episode seven features the most fanservice in the form of lots and lots of bare butts.) Also less than well done is the repeated use of a camera flash in that same episode – while it is intended to show that a series of photos is being taken, I found it annoying. Surely the same effect could have been made with shutter noises? The pictures themselves are very funny, at least, with only Yumoto smiling as everyone else just looks pained.
As with all PonyCan releases to date, this set is oversized and comes with a clear plastic sleeve that's honestly more of a pain than anything, a booklet of pinup art, a pencil board of the Battle Lovers, and a CD of the ending theme plus a song by Caerula Adamas, plus two karaoke tracks. It feels a little thin for the price, but the art is very nice, and I definitely enjoyed the CD – I just might have preferred a little more bang for the many bucks this costs, since it only has four episodes, even if there's both a DVD and BD version included.
Cute Earth High Defense Club Love is, despite these issues, still one of the funniest parodies currently being released, and probably of the magical girl genre in general. From its totally self-aware short shorts to the very naked transformation sequences and nutty monsters, all handled with a mix of cool and panic by the Battle Lovers, it's over the top and awfully funny. It might be too much for people who don't like this style of comedy or the genre it parodies, but this second set proves that the magical boys still have what it takes to vanquish evil with panache – and a wicked hip bump.
Overall (sub) : B+
Story : B+
Animation : B+
Art : B
Music : B
+ Good use of timing and not repeating gags too close together, Mr. Tawarayama('s corpse) is always funny. Nice fanservice for the ladies, generally very funny.
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