Another enforced anime club viewing brings you, dear readers, a first impressions post of a summer show when everyone else seems to be doing their fall preview posts. It’s great to be so current! And so out of character from my tastes….
One thing I noticed right off the bat is how, at least in the first two episodes, this show is the shounen fan-service version of a standard shoujo plot: ordinary schmoe suddenly gets thrown into the life of the super-wealthy and transfers to the uber-exclusive private school, and must adjust to the class system therein. This is the basic plotline in Hana Yori Dango, parodied in Ouran High School Host Club, given the kid treatment in Gakuen Alice, etc. Of course there is also Hayate no Gotoku for an all-purpose parody, as well as the various butler shows like Kamen no Maid Guy and Kuroshitsuji that have come in its wake. But since this show is called, after all, Princess Lover, and moreover it’s based on an eroge, we should come to expect that the conceit is mostly going to be used in the service of the fan, so to speak.
In fact, this show seems to be primarily known for one thing: the ridiculous lengths to which fan-service is both offered and censored in the same breath. Clumsily rendered black blurs replace panty shots, though most of the boob gropage remains, oddly enough. Anyone have any idea what timeslot this is getting placed in? Either this is a very inept ploy to boost DVD sales, or some wildly inconsistent censoring going on. I mean, considering the show’s origins, I can’t imagine this being shown on anything other than a very late night time slot anyway, whose primary audience are otakus. In a world where Kanokon and Queens Blade can become TV shows it just seems bizarre. I mean, really, if you’re going to make a show based on an eroge with this premise….who exactly are you trying to placate here?
As for the substance of the show: given that I was fully expecting a fanservice show, episode 1 came as a surprise. It was a relatively serious, slow-paced episode with a car-chase action sequence that seems inspired, more than anything else, by the Castle of Cagliostro. The realism of a horse-drawn carriage carrying a princess in modern Japan notwithstanding, it was a competently directed chase scene that really deserved more butler combat scenes than it got–but perhaps that’s for a different show to specialize in. It naturally ended up where all scenes where characters fall down on top of each must end, but, surprisingly, it was one of the few in the introductory episode. It takes the much more typical second episode to do the standard harem introductory scenes, though we are telegraphed pretty heavily who the two main girls are from the start (hint: they are the two introduced in the first episode, not the second!). The row upon row of maids are just a bonus for Mr. Lucky Teppei.
I think I once described this show to someone who asked as “harem and a little swordfighting.” As long as you know what you’re expecting, this show actually isn’t too bad. Some of the jokes are funny, especially in the outsize depiction of the rich, somewhat like in Hayate. (I’m amused by how the moment he gets a famous name attached to him, everyone wants to be Teppei’s friend.) If you don’t like panty shots you won’t get them, though they are frequently implied and once even verbally described, as if in apology for their absence. Charlotte is a somewhat charming character if you like that type of girl, and Sylvie is being a very typical ojou-sama (duhhhhh…what was this show called again? :)) if you like that type of girl, with some decently animated fencing scenes to add. Also, I hear the show gets a lot more serious later on, and that may indicate something substantial and interesting is on the way.
Argh–what the heck. This show has been extensively covered by Ray already, so for up-to-minute reviews, he’s your man. Jaded seminarians like me probably can’t write about this show properly anyway. :)