Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE!
Episode 7

by Amy McNulty,

Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE! is so much fun that it's hard to be disappointed in it. Still, while episode 7 has enjoyable moments and finally takes the show in a different direction, it's not cohesive enough to really pull off the transition.

The show returns to parodic form this week, but instead of taking magical girl tropes to task, any number of shojo, harem or school life anime that feature a beach/onsen episode gets the parody treatment. Even Case Closed is lampooned during an overly long segment in which Io is desperate to discover who used his toothbrush. The magical girl genre is pushed aside entirely until the last few minutes of the episode.

Changing up the "monster of the day" formula is refreshing, and the short magical boy segment is on point. (Poor Mr. Tawarayama.) However, it's too unfocused to be one of the better episodes. Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE! has always had slice of life moments, but they've never dominated an entire episode. The Conquest Club may as well have not come along at all, except for fanservice. (Their cartoonishly extravagant lifestyles are also good for a few chuckles.)

The show gets away without showing a single female yet again despite the change in venue, although there is a cross-dressing character who suggestively takes Yumoto's beverage order in a bizarre bondage outfit and then completely disappears from the plot. Because they did so little with him (or her), I have to question the point of including the character at all, unless some seiyuu wanted a cameo and the producers thought an okama was the perfect segue into the homoerotic tension that consumes the rest of the episode.

Fans who love yaoi and bishonen shipping rejoice: this episode is laden with romantic tension. Unfortunately, the overall mood of the episode causes the protagonists to act out-of-character. A quick joke about Ryuu having a crush on Io since they're close, and a tongue-in-cheek acknowledgment that no one ever actually sees Ryuu's girlfriends are jokes that work; every character suddenly over-thinking all their words and actions during a test of courage is something else entirely. Every touch brings a blush to their faces, and "molesters" lurk around every corner because, as Io points out, they're beautiful boys who are bound to attract perverts. There's even an uncomfortable allusion to sexual assault when Yumoto takes his usual unreciprocated Wombat hugs too far. The fanservice is so over the top that it's more a parody of fanservice, but it's still a lot of fanservice to handle.

That's all well and good for the fans who tune in for such things, but this isn't a yaoi series that viewers expect to value ecchi situations over plot. Shows like Free! manage to balance fanservice and plot without any filler episodes of nothing but booty shots and romantic tension. Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE! takes itself far less seriously than a show like Free!, but that's no excuse for putting all semblance of plot on hold for a disjointed summer episode.

Rating: C+

Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE! is currently streaming on Crunchyroll and Funimation.

Amy is a YA fantasy author who has loved anime for two decades.

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