…and the rest is to feed the addiction. It’s been a while since I’ve been utterly addicted to a show and watching a rapid number of episodes not on assignment for an article–and putting off my class reading in the process. This show is slapstick enough, likeable enough, and similar-and-yet-original enough to the various harem/romance conventions to be a winning comedy in my book. And with relatively little fanservice too!
My first article, which was based solely on episode 1, suggested that maybe the parents would steal the show away from the kids, especially San’s yakuza gang but also the hilarious slapstick visited upon Nagasumi by his own mom and pop. The former turns out to be more true than the latter, since it’s one of the most original aspects of the show; I’m not sure anyone’s ever thought of merpeople societies being like organized crime, with all the cliches of the yakuza life which I first learned when watching Gokusen. It’s frequently the real source of the show’s humor too, much moreso than the otherwise fairly standard romantic hijinks–stepping into the bathroom accidentally, the childhood friend rival, etc. Though one thing I guess I found somewhat unclear is whether the Setouchi group and all the other merpeople gangs really are wanted by the terrestial police, which was implied by the uneasiness San feels around the policeman’s daughter Mawari. Then again, if they were able to infiltrate Nagasumi’s school to the point where every key staff member was replaced by one of them…their money must talk as well on land as on the sea!
And let’s talk about San’s own ridiculously inflated sense of chivalric honor, which is always accompanied by a traditional song and falling sakura petals. Not only is it really funny, winking at the popular media perception of yakuza being the last bastion of samurai values, but it’s one of the more refreshing aspects of San’s character. She is actually a self-directed girl with a real backbone, and chose all the difficulties that have ensued lately freely and for her own real reasons–no simpering simple harem girl is she. One actually gets the impression at times that she cares more about the family name of Setouchi (or at least her interpretation of it–since it often gets her in serious trouble!) than Nagasumi per se, though…Nagasumi has yet to break out of the blank slate syndrome that afflicts most anime romance leads. His parents are still more colorful than him. Though I find it just a little unsettling that Masa has the same effect on him that he has on his mother…all googly-eyed and submissive. I suppose giving your first kiss to a desirable Afro’d man does that to you. 🙂 (I nominate Samuel L. Jackson for the dub!)
I love how over-the-top everything got in the whole San vs Runa miniarc, without descending into wink-wink self-referential humor in the manner of more and more shows these days. (Though it could be seen as a parody of at least two different conventions of anime, the shounen quest and the harem convention of having “factions” for different girls–if anything it reminds me of a similar situation in Shuffle!) I’m not as impressed with the constant introduction of new characters in general, though; once the Mikawa boy came along I started to fear a loss of focus, though it’s in less danger of that given that the show just ended (unlike Hayate) and so we know that it can’t continue indefinitely. The wild contrast between cutesy girliness and cynical belligerence in both Maki-chan and Runa is starting to become an overused comedy trope too, not just in this show but Akira in the Lucky Channel segments of Lucky Star. (Which is exactly who Runa reminds me of.) Maybe it’s based on the growing realization of how much the “moe” stereotype is not worth taking seriously anymore.
I’m still kicking myself for neglecting this show all the way back in the spring, when Hayate looked like the original star of the season. The descriptions at the time made it seem like just another generic harem show, and to a certain extent it is, but to a large extent it isn’t–the side characters are much more prominent and the harem girls have much stronger self-will than usual. The families of the two leads play a much more prominent role than is typical in anime, period. The OP and EDs are both genuinely infectious and memorable, not oversynthesized J-pop like most harem shows have–I never skip them, which is a high compliment from me. If anything, this is an example of how to do a formula genre show right: it has just enough energy and sass to make it stand out from the crowd, with plenty of belly laughs to boot.
Don’t be surprised if I’m ready to write a series review already by the end of the week. I can’t stop watching this.