This just isn't right. There is absolutely NO reason why something as cookie-cutter as "harem anime" should be good or even remotely moving in the least. Yet here I stand about to tell you just that -- I'm about to tell you that yes, I was moved by an anime based on a hentai, harem, dating sim. I'm pretty embarrassed about the whole thing myself, but here goes.
I usually base most of my anime picks on one or two retards' suggestions on a few of the message boards I frequently visit. Some of the time the choices are obvious (like with Ghost in the Shell SAC 1st and 2nd Gig, or R.O.D TV), but most of the time I try to pick something that either I've not really heard anything about, or something that sad-cases like GokuVegetaPrime69 piss their pants over, which therefore pretty much guarantees raw suckage. Yeah, I do like to watch things that suck because they're so much more fun to write about, but I digress.
In the case of Shuffle!, I read a couple of posts from people (i.e. 14 year-old, otaku LARPers... hardly "people" by the strictest definition, I know) who couldn't contain the gizm gushing from their pants as they praised this series with every fiber of their beings. At that point I just KNEW that I had a real winner here. Not only was it based on a hentai game, but it it looked as clichéd as a harem show could possibly be! It just had to suck. It'd been a long long time since my last anal-ripping review -- I simply couldn't wait.
Just looking at some of the promo art for the show got me stoked for shittiness. The girls were cute, true, but they looked to be clichédly color-coordinated by personality -- every girl in the show had different color hair: bright red, green, blue, light purple (i.e. the token albino), orange, and yellow (well, the blonde turned out to not be an option for porking, but she was still the ditz of the group). How untired and creative!
Then I started watching it... The first 10 or so episodes, though animated very well (very smooth and barely any "talking head" scenes), were kind of scary. First of all, every girl interested in the hapless protagonist, Rin, was totally and completely INFATUATED with him. And each one for seemingly the same reason (he did something kind for every girl when they were children). The girls are totally single-minded in their quest to bag Rin, and everything that they do in their daily life seems to revolve around capturing his horny heart. It was very stalker-like, and I began to have flashbacks of my time with that Sarah chick from a few years ago... Note to self: Make sure restraining order is still legal and in effect.
Then came the one episode title that made me laugh and start rubbing my hands together maniacally in anticipation of shredding this show to chunky bits in this review... The title in question? Why that'd be "A Date of Panties." This made me think that skewering this anime was going to be like shooting retarded fish in a frying pan. But then something happened... The episodes started focusing not just on each girl's attempt to go on a date with Rin/obsession with Rin, but instead we started to find out more about each cutie's past, and what actually drove them to become almost serial-stalker-like on their boy toy. Not only was each girl's history really really fucked up and depressing, but each background was well told and interesting. One girl had a clone made out of her who she became very close to, and now can't tell where her and her clone's memories begin and end. One girl was like a female Damien for most of her childhood, doing everything in her power to force one specific person to try and commit suicide. One was a genetic test subject for an experiment that left her emotionless and... well, weird, in an Ayanami or Ruri kind of way. One girl is and always has been sick from a mysterious illness, and one girl has a split personality that comes forth in scenarios and self-conversations that would put Gollum to shame. All of their histories were very twisted to say the least.
Anyway, the whole plot (well, maybe I wouldn't go that far, saying that there was a real plot of this thing) of Shuffle! goes a little something like this... 10 years ago, a portal to both the Demon Dimension and the God Dimension opened in our world. Since then, gods and demons have been living and visiting our world like it was a cheap hotel with tasty, high-class hookers manning the doors. The gods and demons look like humans though, except for their loooong and pointy ears, so humanity isn't too freaked out about the whole thing. Plus they bring some of their godly and demonic magic with them, so mankind is all like "Fuckin' A! Magic is the RoXor!"
So high school junior Rin Tsuchimi is living with his childhood friend, the orange-haired Kaede, and has been staying at her house for 8 years now. His parents and her mother are long dead (of course) and her father is away on an extended business trip (aren't all living Japanese parents?). Kaede does everything for Rin (wakes him up, prepares his bath, fixes his meals, tries to cuddle with him while naked, and pretty much has a heart attack if he's out of her sight for more than 30 seconds), but Rin seems kind of distant to her despite all her attention/stalker affection. One day at school, after almost getting killed by Kaede's fan club (the Kito Kito Kaede Defense Club... Who like to refer to themselves in English as the "KKK"......... That will definitely need to be edited out if this ever makes it to American TV), Rin and Kaede find out that they have two new students in their class: The red-headed daughter of the King of the God Dimension, Lisianthus, and the blue-haired daughter of the King of the Demon Dimension, Nerine... Two princesses from an evil and good dimension. Though there are no major rivalries between the two, strangely enough. Personally I was expecting a "Ryoko-Ayeka" relationship, but Nerine and Lisianthus are like close sisters instead, both cheering the other on in their attempts to suck Rin's cock and balls. Their dads, the Kings of demons and gods, appear to be old drinking buddies too. Strange.
Soon we meet Asa-sempai (the upper-classman friend of Rin and Kaede, who's got the green do) and Primula (the underaged, bland, and albino demoness with light-purple locks), who round out the full harem of the show. Then wackiness ensues... Well, not really. As I stated above, the story gets really weird and strangely dark a little before the midpoint of its 24 episode run. There were so many story threads in the whole series too! Each one more creepy than the previous... Oddly enough each following episode made it harder to stop watching. I actually breezed through the last 10 eps in one sitting. Like popcorn, Pringles, or cheap Asian hos, once you pop you just can't stop!
And the ending... I actually applaud it. Like Chrno Crusade before it, the finalé totally made up for any subpar storytelling that the first part of the series was smothered in. Not only does Rin actually choose the chickie that I would have drilled if I were playing the hentai game instead, but the way that he gets her to see that his love is genuine and not some knock-off brand, bootlegged in Taiwan, brought tears to my eyes. For all the pussiness that Rin showed through most of the series (like not being able to confess to the girl that he liked, not being able to even kiss her on his own once his feelings eventually came out, and basically acting like a castrated eunuch for a good part of the show), Rin proved to be more of a man than I could ever be at the very end. Seriously, he may as well have whipped out a 16 inch cock and a set of balls the size of coconuts! Rin's got chutzpah... Nobody will ever be able to call him a pussy ever again. Shit on me!
This strange and brightly-haired show was charming in parts, but it did remind me a bit too much of the time that I spent in that one sub-dimension that I found out later was called "The Love-Love Bishoujo World of Super Heart Love."
I was trapped in that hellish world for two full weeks, while I waited for that super-brainy, outcast girl to fix my time/space rhythmic transponder. During that time, that fiery red-head girl and her quiet and shy, but good at cooking, blue-haired friend kept me busy by taking me to the local aquarium, the amusement park, the high school roof, that giant tree overlooking the town, and the beach. Their friends, the athletic and peppy, but sad on the inside, green-haired girl, and the childish orange-haired girl who only referred to herself in the first person, joined us on occasion, but the underaged, brooding girl seemed to keep me at a distance at first, at least until I bought her an ice-cream and helped patch up her skinned knee. Soon I found that I had about 20% of the entire female population of the Love-Love Bishoujo World of Super Heart Love (one must note that 100% of the entire population of this world is female, 95% is nothing but cute teenage girls, and the remaining 5% is made up of sultry nurses, attractive school principals and sexy mothers) pawing at me and threatening to massage my genitals into pudding!
Yes, you THINK that such a dimension would be precisely what you would want, but trust me, when you have 15 girls trying to rip your fingers and toes off at the same time just so that they could each keep a piece of you with them forever... well, you will never have safe dreams again.
After the hu-man known as "Bob" got out of that "Love Love" gay world, I reopened the portal and sent in a 13,000,000 megaton hydrogen bomb and detonator. Robot Pedro had to make sure that so much hu-man love never made it into our own dimension. Be thankful that I did not have to blow us all up instead... Well, at least not yet.