Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE!
Sub.Blu-Ray 1+DVD - [Collector's Edition + CD]
Atsushi, En, Io, Ryuu, and Yumoto are five ordinary high school boys with the usual obsessions: girls, money, cute fuzzy animals, and taking long baths together. Then one day a pink wombat from outer space comes to Earth and gives them magical “lovracelets” that allow them to transform into the Battle Lovers! Now the boys must don their short-shorts and tailcoats and save the world from the evil Lord Zundar (an adorable green hedgehog) and his minions with the power of love. Girls aren't the only ones who can be magical.
From the director who brought you Daily Lives of High School Boys comes another comedy about high school boys...who have to dress up in frilly outfits to save the world. Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE!, winner of winter 2014's unwieldiest title, is a strange combination of the fantasy silliness from Ixion Saga DT (also directed by Shinji Takamatsu) and the everyday shenanigans of Daily Lives of High School Boys, with a large helping of Pretty Cure thrown in for good measure.
The story begins when high school seniors Atsushi and En are hanging out after school at their local bathhouse talking about oden ingredient chikuwabu when suddenly a large pink wombat falls into their tub. To their combined horror and surprise, the wombat speaks, but is soon chased out of the room by the overly affectionate embraces of first year and animal lover Yumoto. Later the wombat, and Yumoto, show up again when the guys go to their club and meet up with their buddies, lady-killer Ryuu and avaricious Io. This time the wombat, who appears to be controlling their probably deceased teacher's corpse, tells the boys that they have been chosen to defend the earth from evil with the power of love, and he gifts them transformation bracelets called “lovracelets.” It's pretty much all downhill for the boys' dignity from here, but hilarious for the viewer.
Apart from the obvious gender swapping, with high school boys substituting for the more usual middle school girls, Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE! does its best to mimic a magical girl show. Each boy has a signature color and slightly different outfit (for the uninitiated, this is much more of a Pretty Cure standard than some of the older magical girl shows of the Sailor Moon era), a naked transformation, and a compulsory cheesy speech. In another nod to Pretty Cure, not all of the boys Love Battler names quite line up: some are colors, some are elements, and there's one guy named after a sword. (Take a look at the names of the Pretty Cures from HappinessCharge PreCure! to see what I mean.) The little blond one, Yumoto in this case, is the perky leader in pink, and their enemies, Caerula Adamas, don't seem to have much motivation beyond wanting to destroy love. In these first four episodes, the guys fight four different baddies who were transformed from ordinary, albeit unhappy, people into weird monsters, and the same basic combination of attacks takes them down each week, much to the surprise of Caerula Adamas...despite the fact that they did the exact same thing last week. What makes this all funny is not just the fact that it's boys and not girls, but the combination of seriousness and disbelief that all of these tropes are handled with. The transformations are far more naked than any non-hentai magical girl's (barring Cutey Honey), and the weapons, particularly Ryuu's, are distinctly phallic. To initiate transformation, the boys have to yell “love making,” and the way that no one recognizes them is because when transformed, their faces are pixillated and their voices altered to those observing them. The show and the characters know that all of this is patently ridiculous, and ultimately that's what makes it work, from the fact that their weapons combine to make what looks like a love kebab to one of the boys looking at them transformed and commenting, “We look like a third rate idol group!” All of this is interspersed with random conversations while they're all hanging out in the bathtub, making everything seem even more surreal.
These first four episodes cover the boys getting used to their mission, such as it's possible, and are less episodic than you might expect, with episode four introducing what may turn out to be a major plot point as the show goes on. While there is a certain amount of plot repetition due to it being a monster-of-the-week show, Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE! still does its best to add something new to each episode, such as the fact that their all-boy high school has monthly pretty boy contests or a scene of the evil Lord Zendar hoisting his pudgy little hedgie body into a teacup. The set also includes six minute-long “short shorts” which make use of Takamatsu's favored volleyball tossing scene while the boys discuss the events of the show and whether or not the title is too long. They're not as funny as some of the bathtub conversations, but they work because of their brevity. Physical extras are the requisite huge case with clear slipcover, a pencil board, and a booklet of pin ups, showing En in increasing stages of disgruntlement as the pictures go on. There's also a music CD with the opening and ending themes in both regular and karaoke versions. It feels a little sparse compared to what came with Denki-Gai, to be honest, and while the images and sound quality are very good on the discs, the previews consistently feel as if they have been cut off, ending with an abruptness that does not seem intentional. For the usual high price of a PonyCan release, perfection should be standard, and this doesn't feel like it is.
Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE! isn't big on plot and is at this point a monster-of-the-week show, but it's also a very funny parody of the standard magical girl show. With its double-entendres, over the top attacks and transformations, and just generally a very funny story with plenty of fanservice for those who aren't into boobs. (In fact, there isn't a single female character present.) The price is an issue, but the show is a blast - especially if you're a fan of magical girl shows or pretty boys making fools of themselves in the name of love.
Overall (sub) : A-
Story : A-
Animation : B+
Art : A-
Music : B+
+ Very funny magical girl parody, revels in its own satiric elements. Metafictional way the boys talk about the show adds to the humor.
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