Shelf Life
Good Luck! Ninomiya-kun

by Paul Jensen, Gabriella Ekens,

Anyone making any anime-related resolutions for the new year? Maybe catching up on that streaming backlog, trying a new genre, or picking up a long-coveted piece of merchandise? Personally, I'll be trying to fill in a few gaps in my knowledge base by finally watching some popular shows that I skipped the first time around. Now I just have to find time to actually do it. Welcome to Shelf Life.

Jump to this week's review:
Good Luck! Ninomiya-kun

On Shelves This Week

Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket DVD
Right Stuf - 180 min - Hyb - MSRP $29.99
Currently cheapest at: $17.29 Amazon

Synopsis: Rookie Zeon pilot Bernard Wiseman is shot down during a mission in a civilian colony, where he meets a young boy and the pilot of the Federation's new Mobile Suit.

Extra: While we don't have any official reviews of this six-episode OVA series, we do have a Buried Treasure article that covers it pretty thoroughly.

Rurouni Kenshin Part 3: The Legend Ends BD+DVD, DVD
Funimation - 134 min - Sub - MSRP $34.98|$29.98
Currently cheapest at: $19.96 Amazon|$17.96 Amazon

Synopsis: While Kenshin trains with his old master to learn the final technique in his fighting style, Shishio and his army continue to spread chaos throughout the country.

Extra: We have two reviews of the first movie in this live-action trilogy, which you'll find here and here. The first movie is also available streaming on Funimation.

The World God Only Knows - Ultimate Collection BD, DVD
Sentai - 1000 min - Hyb - MSRP $99.98|$79.98
Currently cheapest at: $60.50 Barnes and Noble|$49.39 Right Stuf

Synopsis: High school student Keima Katsuragi is famous for his skill in dating sim games, but his knowledge of love is put to a new test when a demonic contract forces him to interact with real girls.

Extra: We have reviews of the first and third TV seasons of this series, though apparently nothing for the one in between. You can stream everything but the OVA episodes on Crunchyroll and Hulu, and the third season is also available on The Anime Network.

Shelf Life Reviews

What better way to start the new year than with an underwhelming harem comedy? For better or for worse, Gabriella takes on Good Luck! Ninomiya-kun in this week's review.

Welcome to another installment of "Mid-2000s Ecchi Shows That Time Forgot." Tell me if you've heard this one before – Shugo Ninomiya is an ordinary teenage boy. He's a little more domestic than usual, save for being an avid practitioner of martial arts, but otherwise, there's nothing at all unusual about his life. That is until his mercenary sister brings a succubus home to live with him! This succubus, Mayu Tsukimura, is the complete opposite of what you'd expect – shy, clumsy, and actively fearful of men. The goal is to cure her androphobia via exposure therapy with Ninomiya, thus allowing her to do succubus things, which she must do to live. Shugo is flustered by the situation but eventually accepts, becoming Mayu's keeper. Shugo's ordinary life is suddenly overcome by the wackiness of living with a girl who has sex powers, but this may not be the first time that they've met, as Ninomiya has begun to recover memories of a similar girl from his childhood…

It's a tale as old as time, a Japanese high schooler and an inexperienced sex demon shyly cohabitating. Well, as old as anime at least. Jokes about the played-out premise aside, the most notable thing about Good luck! Ninomiya-kun is how incredibly by-the-book it is. It's part of that ecchi trend from the mid-2000s exemplified by the likes of Shuffle! and Negima!, and seeing how those two franchises have barely stuck around in fan memory, you can imagine how well their imitators are remembered. As an entry in the genre, Good luck! Nionomiya-kun sticks to the formula without adding much. Love Hina!'s shadow is evident from the forgotten childhood friend romance angle, and there's also a tsundere rival whose jealousy drives the dramatic climax, but that's about it. The attempts at humor are either forced wackiness or entries from the old “woman can't cook?!” and “I touched a boob?!” stable. While it does manage not to be the most irritating thing in the world, it's hardly something that I can recommend on its own merits.

Really, the only reason I can see someone seeking this show out is as mildly entertaining softcore, but Good Luck! Ninomiya-kun falls flat even by those standards. First of all, it's not very explicit. Most shows of this type that I've seen at least throw the audience some bare breasts every once in a while, but there's very little of that here. Many other ecchi shows get by on crafting creative sexually charged situations rather than showing the actual goods, but the production on Good Luck! Ninomiya-kun is just so workmanlike that it can't pull this off. The exceptions prove the rule in this case. There are a few inspired moments where the direction tries something different and the drawings start resembling the actual contortions of human bodies, which mark the few moments that the show becomes watchable. For some reason, these scenes usually pander to a domination fetish - whenever a bound-and-gagged Ninomiya is being manhandled by commanding schoolgirls, the production discovers a spark of life. Someone behind the scenes knows what they like, I guess. If the idea of getting topped by a Shuffle! character sounds hot to you, then I might have been able to recommend this show, if only those scenes weren't so few and far between. Unfortunately, there are only a handful of them that come late in the game, after several hours of the most rote ecchi antics. Otherwise, the show is actually quite tame. Mostly it's the usual “someone fondles a girl's rubber anime boobs” thing. We still get that around a dozen times a season, so there's no reason to go all the way back to 2007 for it.

The production values are on the low side of average. The character designs are fairly attractive though not distinct, resembling something like a halfway point between Shuffle! and the original Fate/stay night anime. The release is sub-only, and besides the usual textless OP/ED, there are no extras.

Some shows score a Perishable because they're incompetent, but those are the rare interesting ones. The vast majority of perishables are just barely functional product, not worth picking up over hundreds of other titles in the already crowded anime boob show market. Good Luck! Ninomiya-kun is one of these, a wallflower in the crowded field of fantasies about having a succubus and an heiress maid competing for your affections.

That wraps up this week's review section. Thanks for reading!

This week's shelves are from Frank B:

"I've been collecting since the late 90's, just recently got all new shelves for the huge figure collection, over a 1000 figures. All protected by plexiglas fronts, so no more dusting. Over 600 volumes of manga and countless other merchandise from various series. The room has gotten so big that it has taken an entire floor of my house. But, I'll just let the pictures do the talking."

I've seen some rooms full of anime while working on this column, but this might be the first time I've seen an entire floor of a house full of anime. Truly, truly amazing. Thanks for sharing!

Whether your house is covered in anime merchandise from floor to ceiling or you've just started collecting, this is the place to show the world what you've got. Send me your photos at [email protected]!

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