Reviewby Carlo Santos,
DVD - Series Set
Haruo Yoshikawa thought he was destined to lead a normal school life. He thought wrong. What Haruo doesn't know is that a powerful magic lies dormant within him, and his attractive new classmate Ayumi Mamiya is a witch who will do anything to awaken those powers. For Ayumi, this means moving into Haruo's house as a maid and constantly sneaking into his bedroom to arouse his manly urges. Standing in the way of Ayumi and Haruo, however, are Haruo's three loving and protective sisters, who just happen to be witches-in-secret as well. Thus begins an epic magical battle right under Haruo's nose, while he remains blissfully unaware of the truth about the girls around him. Can Haruo's sisters keep him safe, or will Ayumi's seductive wiles prevail?
What does Magikano bring to the harem comedy genre? Absolutely nothing, of course. This is a collection of gags in search of a plotline, and when it finally does find a story to tell, the change in tone is so abrupt that you end up wishing it had stayed pointless and stupid. As a slapstick comedy, it runs out of ideas too soon and gets mired in clichés; as a showcase of bishoujo fanservice, the characters stop being interesting after the first couple of girls; finally, as a fantasy tale of witchcraft and wizardry, it starts out with too thin of a backstory and becomes needlessly complex at the end. In other words, the series is unable to excuse itself with the "it gets better" clause, because it starts out mediocre and only gets worse.
On the other hand, some might actually say it starts out promising. That's because the premise of the story sets the bar so low that any improvement on this formula could be considered an accomplishment. In that regard, the early episodes actually accomplish quite a bit, with screwball comedy at every turn: mallets to the head (a convenient device for wiping Haruo's memory), inappropriate sexual advances, and plenty of double-takes and wacky facial expressions. The real show-stealer, though, is the "Shop Magikano" infomercial segment that usually pops up once an episode to advertise some hilariously useless gadget. It's one of the fundamental principles of comedy: if you can't be clever, just be fast, and pepper the audience with enough dumb jokes that they'll forget how awful the show is.
About halfway through the series, though, the dumb jokes start running out. The fake infomercials stop coming. The episodes shift from the magically ridiculous—getting stuck in Haruo's dreams, traveling through time—to plain old stuff that happens during the calendar year: sports festival, cultural festival, Christmas, New Year's. The magical elements are still there, but they take a back seat to the banal antics of various girls fighting over Haruo. And that's the other area where the show goes from average to worse—by adding more characters, it actually loses its focus on energetic screwball comedy and becomes more and more like every other generic harem series.(One could make an exception for the Cat Panties episode, however, which goes so far beyond the boundaries of taste that it could almost be considered creatively daring.)
The final dagger that kills Magikano, however, is the moment when it stops being a harem series and tries to pull out this convoluted fantasy twist that's been hinted at throughout the show. Of course, all the hints are about as subtle as a brick to the head, and the final victory is a hollow one that makes it feel like nothing has been accomplished. If this is what it takes to achieve a serious ending, then no ending at all would have been better. The girls should've just chased Haruo into the sunset.
Although the story travels along a downhill curve, at least the visuals remain consistently bad: every episode is rife with animation shortcuts, static images, and various technical gimmicks (soft filters are great for hiding mistakes while also adding texture, it seems). The sheer energy and visual gags of the early episodes help to mask these shortcomings, but when the jokes start running low, the cheapness starts running high, especially in the bombastic finale where third-rate CGI becomes the crutch of choice. Even the character designs, which ought to be the selling point of the show—hey look, cute girls!—fall back on the same old bishoujo templates that we've seen everywhere. To make matters worse, the characters aren't even drawn consistently from scene to scene.
The soundtrack is just as inconsequential as the rest of the series, with bubblegum theme songs and synthesized musical cues occupying each episode (plus a mildly amusing parody of the Harry Potter theme that accompanies any mention of the magical world). If anything, the sound effects are more creative, with all manner of zany noises accompanying the more absurd moments in the series. Similarly, the English dub takes an over-the-top approach, with hammy overacting and stereotypical accents adding entertainment value for fans of lowbrow comedy. After all, the show has no intellectual or artistic aspirations, so why not have some fun, ad-lib a few lines, and forget about "proper" acting and "accurate" translation. It's not like the script was a sacred text in the first place anyway.
So there goes Magikano, tickling our brains with its wild harem antics but ultimately leaving a bad aftertaste as the latter half of the series goes down the hole. It's not like expectations were particularly high in the first place, but when the jokes start to drop off noticeably, and the episodes start to follow the pattern of every bog-standard school comedy, and the grand finale takes a bewildering left turn, even low expectations can end up being dashed aside. All Magikano had to do was to show us cute girls (from certain angles, when the animation staff gets it right), magical acts of slapstick (as long as it doesn't take too many frames per second), and keep us laughing often enough to forget how dumb the series is. But in the end, this brand of magic just fizzles out.
Overall (dub) : D+
Overall (sub) : D
Story : D
Animation : D
Art : C
Music : C
+ Over-the-top comedy and rapid-fire visual gags keep the series fun in the early episodes.
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