Reviewby Theron Martin,
Heaven's Lost Property
Blu-Ray + DVD - Season 1 Complete Set Limited Edition
High school student Tomoki claims to love peace and quiet but is also a world-class pervert, as neighbor/childhood friend Sohara (who regularly uses karate chops to try to keep him in line and, of course, has a secret crush on him) knows all too well. A recurring dream where an angel seems to be asking him for help becomes partly manifest for Tomoki when his investigation of an apparent meteor strike instead turns up a sexy, scantily-clad, angel-like being, who introduces herself as Ikaros, a “pet-type” Angeloid (class Alpha) from a place in the sky called Synapse, and immediately imprints him as her new master. Devoid of memories and emotion, Ikaros uses her fantastic powers to cater to Tomoki's every perverted whim, though even he soon realizes that he has to be careful what he wishes for since Ikaros literally has the power to depopulate the world. Things get more complicated when a more petite and mentally intact Beta class Angeloid, who calls herself Nymph, shows up and starts hanging around as she positions herself to carry out orders from her master in Synapse involving Ikaros, but the oblivious Tomoki instead concentrates on trying to humanize Ikaros – when not pulling stunts like getting Ikaros to turn him into a cute girl so he can covertly invade the girls' locker room, of course.
Fan service-heavy series often succeed despite themselves because their producers know that that the fan service content alone, if played up sufficiently, can usually carry the title. Such is the apparent intent with this fall 2009 TV series known in Japan as Sora no Otoshimono, which was sufficiently popular enough to spawn a much-needed (in a plot sense, anyway) sequel series and a follow-up movie. The series does produce an occasional good episode or scene and some passable humor, but much more often it is perfectly content to wallow in crass, fan service-laced stupidity.
The basic premise is a perverse variation on Ah! My Goddess: a gorgeous, divine-themed young woman with tremendous power comes to earth, grants a young man a wish (or multiple ones in this case), and winds up staying when said young man asks her to. Beyond that, though, this one spins off into more recent harem and fan service standards, including the requisite sexy childhood friend who is also the girl who always beats up the protagonist for his prurient behavior (although most of the time Tomoki genuinely deserves it) even though she has a crush on him. Naturally, for all of his devilish behavior, Tomoki also has a kind streak when it comes to wanting the best for his female satellites, and naturally a newcomer who originally came to interfere instead gets drawn in. This one does take the master/servant relationship sometimes seen in this content to a stronger and more disturbing level than others, though, including Ikaros and Nymph wearing collars with chains that literally and/or metaphysically connect them to their masters and living only to serve their masters, even if that means doing something heinous; Nymph, in fact, is completely directionless and yearning for a new master when she gets freed of her connection to her old one late in the series, even to the point of being envious of Ikaros for having a master. Yeah, there's no subtext going on there. . .
More than half of the fourteen episodes are awash in one scheme or another involving Tomoki's voyeuristic inclinations, the funniest of which is the aforementioned one where Tomoki gets Ikaros to use a “quantum manipulator” to turn him into the girl Tomoko, in which form he deliberately and skillfully proceeds to play up every common, cutesy, fan-pandering fetish imaginable as a way to ingratiate himself to everyone. Much more hit-or-miss is the tasteless early episode which establishes the series' infamous “flying panties” gag or an ensuing episode involving panties exploding when Tomoki looks at them (which is, of course, a major problem when you use panties for decorations in your house and have made a panty robot to protect your porn collection). Other times gags involving Tomoki's pastime simply fail, and for a guy so dedicated to peeping he seems incongruously reluctant to peep at the one person who would allow him to do so without hesitation (i.e., Ikaros). That Sohara still fantasizes about marrying him even despite all of the crap he pulls also is an incongruity one must accept for sake of the premise, especially since Tomoki seems to sacrifice his good qualities whenever they would get in the way of a gag. Never explained is why Tomoki lives alone, either.
When not burdened by Tomoki's less entertaining schemes, the series manages some better content. Scenes which explore Ikaros and Nymph's backgrounds add in ominous and sometimes sad undertones and cast suggestions about why Ikaros is there and in the form that she is, although that is not ultimately resolved by the end of the season. The brief glimpses of Synapse suggest that it is an ugly place for all of its angelic beauty, and a couple of episodes which wind up in all-out Angeloid battles reinforce that. That whole business does not feel tacked on just to give a semblance of conflict in the late episodes, either, as it is all part of a larger plot which began in episode one. Tomoki's attempts to humanize the seemingly emotionless, unsmiling Ikaros also are genuine. Bemusedly sadistic Student Council President Mikako makes a great supporting character, while Eishiro, the only one with the sense to express reservations about the situation, has some good scenes as the tent-dwelling geek obsessed with building gliders and discovering mysteries, especially about Ikaros's origin.
The fan service is what anchors the series, though, and it is surprisingly tame for being such an integral element. Undergarment and peeping shots abound, and Ikaros's normal outfit is unappealingly risqué, but AIC Astra's artistry never resorts to actual nudity and, outside of a couple of episodes, is not especially pervasive. The artistry does dedicate loving detail to its depiction of undergarments and never hurts for attractive female character designs, although Ikaros does not rank highly as big-breasted anime babes go (in part because of her constantly morose expression). The battle scenes also look good, and the animation is typically serviceable, but the overall quality of both the artistry and animation varies significantly over the course of the series; one scene involving Tomoki and friends giving a band performance has animation quality far above the norm in an apparent effort to duplicate similar scenes in The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and Angel Beats!, though the song involved is nowhere near as strong. The series is notable for its extensive use of SD artistry; Tomoki, in fact, appears in SD form nearly as often as he does in regular form.
The musical score also does a solid but unremarkable job of enhancing both the silly moments and the rarer dramatic moments. Opener “Ring My Bell” by blue drops gives each episode a peppy, nicely-animated start, but the real production stars of the series are its inventive closers, which change from episode to episode. Some are parodies of classic anime or live-action genres, others reference the episode content, and still others contain random weirdness, but regardless of approach they are often at least as entertaining as the preceding episode content.
The series does at least excel in its English dub; in fact, this is one of the better recent Funimation efforts. All of the roles are well-cast and appropriately performed, with Jamie Marchi being a particularly good fit for Mikako and Kara Edwards giving Nymph an interesting vocal quality. The dub's only flaw is that Brittney Karbowski is a decidedly inferior singer to her seiyuu counterpart as Ikaros, and that, unfortunately, shows in the featured band performance in the Cultural Festival episode. A more conservatively-interpreted script than the norm for Funimation is also a plus.
Funimation's combo pack release, which contains both DVD and Blu-Ray versions, is typical of their previous combo releases, with the episodes and Extras spread across three disks on the DVD side and across two on the Blu-Ray side. All are contained in one case for the regular version, while the Limited Edition version uses a separate case for each version and puts them in an artbox. All cases have bonus interior artwork and both versions have a clean opener and complete set of clean closers for Extras. The OVA episode “Project Pink,” which directly followed this TV season, is included here as episode 14. Picture and sound quality see some improvement between the two versions, but the artistry is not fine enough here to demonstrate a big jump.
The first season of Heaven's Lost Property does show some potential to be better, and does show some signs of developing a more substantial plot in its later stages, but it runs out of time here to delve much into that. Fortunately a second series does follow which will hopefully deal with the plot threads left dangling here. Even considering that, though, it ranks no better than average as fan service-laden harem series go and too often falls short at using its crude content in a funny fashion. There are better and sexier series of this type out there.
Overall (dub) : C+
Overall (sub) : C+
Story : C
Animation : B-
Art : B
Music : B
+ Creative closers, actually has a plot, good dub.
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