Reviewby Theron Martin, Aug 20th 2012
So, I Can't Play H!
episodes 1-6 streaming
Ryosuke Kaga, a high school student who lives alone while his single mother works abroad, is a perverted young man with a bad habit of accidentally spouting off out loud about things that he is thinking, though his busty childhood friend Mina doesn't usually mind. One night he encounters a pretty girl standing out in the rain, seemingly lost, who turns out to be Lisara Restor, an elite Grim Reaper from the alternate dimension Grimwald who has come to Earth to look for the one-in-a-million person who has vast natural energy reserves. (Lisara and her kind are essentially succubi, you see, as they drain energy of certain types from people that they make contracts with in order to fuel their power use - and combat outfit creation! - on Earth.) Lisara takes advantage of his kindness to force a temporary contract on him that allows her to draw upon his energy to sustain herself and her combat abilities, but when she is beset by bizarre attackers she quickly discovers that, in Ryosuke, she has gotten much more than she bargained for: the energy she drains is fueled by his libido, and he finds no end of creative ways to charge himself up – and thus her up – for crucial battles, occasionally at her direct expense. As other Reapers come into the picture, and the threats from a mysterious source continue, Ryosuke undergoes rigorous training so that he can arouse himself at will to help Lisara out in battle. In exchange for doing so, Lisara will help his extend his soon-to-expire life.
The concept for this one sounds about as trashy as they come: a horny male lead has super-powered adventures while forming a partly-supernatural harem, and his arousal is what fuels the powers of his first and most prominent harem member. For all of the eye-rolling lack of potential this concept shows, though, and for all of its emphasis on fan service, the first half of this series can surprise viewers with the unusual amount of genuine charm it generates for a series like this.
Most of the credit goes to the portrayal of Ryosuke. Rather than being cast as crassly devilish (Heaven's Lost Property's Tomoki Sakurai) or a timid innocent regularly thrown unwittingly into sexy situations (To Love-Ru's Rito Yuki, among many others), Ryosuke takes the less typical anime path of the lovable goof. For all the time that he spends contemplating the merits and physical attributes of the girls around him, he also shows a certain degree of respect for them; “girls are to be treasured” is practically his mantra whenever someone questions why he goes out of his way – even putting himself at great risk – in order to help them out and/or protect them. That certainly doesn't keep him from regularly getting in some risqué situations, such as one case where he simultaneously fondles two girls at the same time, but even the way he gets in those situations is more often bemusing than bothersome. The extremes he goes to later in this run in order to get himself horny so he can help fuel Lisara's powers are even comically inventive.
The girls that surround him are a more typical lot who do more common (for the genre) things like squabble over bust sizes, play up to Ryosuke at first with ulterior motives but get genuinely interested in him later on, get catty over petty rivalries, and so forth. Lisara plays fairly well as the more serious-minded female lead who initially beats on Ryosuke some for his behavior but gradually comes to appreciate him, while Mina is instantly likable as the very tolerant and loving childhood friend who understands perfectly when it's best not to take offense from what Ryosuke inadvertently does inappropriately, such as accidently comment out loud on her steadily increasing bra size. Grim Reapers Quele and Iria, contrarily, are more disposable add-ons.
The series does actually have a plot revolving around some rebellious activities in Grimwald, which starts to hint at its full extent in episode 5 and impacts with much more weight in episode 6. For the most part, though, the first few episodes are dominated by fights with tentacled alien beasties, character and relationship establishment scenes, and fan service – and the latter, more than anything else, is the series' featured element. The series cleverly explains away the whole “clothes getting shredded in fights” gimmick by showing that maintenance of a Grim Reaper's combat dress is dependent on power reserves, so when their powers get depleted, so do their costumes. Unlike Ikki Tousen, though, this series is not shy about using detailed and lovingly-depicted frontal nudity; its closer, in fact, is rife with it, and an episode has yet to go by without at least some shots of bared breasts (which are, of course, heavily-censored on Crunchyroll's current stream of the series). And yes, those fond of tentacles in their fan service will have plenty to appreciate here, too, although they aren't used as exploitatively here as in some other parodies of hentai titles.
The artistry beyond the fan service is very good in general, ranging from some appealing character designs (especially Lisara) to weird alien designs to some amusing touches, such as the dorky-looking glasses that two characters use to witness a fight inside a Grim Reaper's sealed space and the radically different ways that Mina and Quele envision Ryosuke when he uses his “special technique.” Power uses result in many of the series' flashiest displays so far. The animation is otherwise good enough but nothing special, as is the music – except, of course, for the gratuitous nudity-stocked closer.
So I Can't Play H is hardly a sterling example of intellectualism and doesn't really do anything that is boldly new. It does deliver good fan service, but what makes it work where many of its kindred don't are its more subtle tweaks, minor touches which make even its raciest content at least a bit less abrasive. Signs of a more dedicated story in episode 6, now that the entire principle cast has been established, also don't hurt.
Overall (sub) : B-
Story : B-
Animation : B
Art : B+
Music : B
+ Good fan service, harem lead is more likable than most, plot picks up towards the end.
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