Oh my goodness. Let it be recorded that this show is (or will be) the final straw in forcing me to make a `harem' genre. It's also proof that being able to draw pretty, brightly colored young girls and following a well established tradition is not enough to make a show actually worth watching.
Enter our young protagonist, a nice guy but a bit shy and far from being destined for success. The only job he's had was in a company that went bankrupt and family, friends and girlfriend are noticeable only in their absence. He lives in a barely furnished apartment, on which he is two months behind on rent, and it is currently raining on his head. As a mysteriously appearing fortune teller notes he's not a very lucky guy. However, given that she fires some sort of mystic charm into his mobile phone, perhaps things are about to change.
And indeed he wakes from sleep to find his goldfish, hamster and parakeet have returned. Apparently he has a rather shocking history with pets and animals. It seems he's had a lot of pets, or semi-pets, and rather a lot of them had tragic ends. But now, through the mystic power of the maid world, these pets are back in his life. And in the best anime tradition they've been transformed into beautiful young girls, ranging in age from innocent and cute to cute and date-able, who want nothing more to serve his every desire.
Bleehhh, I can't recall when I had more trouble watching something than this. Which is really odd, because in general an anime fan does not expect much from this sort of show, and has a fairly high tolerance as long as there are enough cute girls around. I mean all you expect is a bit of comedy, lots of cute interaction and perhaps a bit of external threat to push the story along. It simply has to be the simplest, most saleable, form of anime there is.
Yet, to my immense surprise, it just doesn't work. Perhaps one element is the foundation, which is painfully weak. Apparently there's an entire mystical dimension whose chief purpose is nothing more than resurrecting this guys pets? And shouldn't we be suspicious of someone who has gone through quite so many pets in his relatively short lifetime? But, even more importantly, we have to fear for their brains. What this guy needs is a job, friends and a romantic interest. He probably doesn't need a full 12 (as revealed in the opening song so not much of a spoiler) attractive young girls to get him in trouble, eat all his food and bicker with one another. Its so contrived, artificial and downright stupid, even by the standards of this genre, that it blows the mind.
And unlike the other shows there's barely any romantic spark to keep us caring. Although for that matter there's precious little personality at all. The lead is simply a vacuous `caring' guy, who fades out of the story as more and more polychromatic girlies are added in. And, even for the most dedicated `cute anime girl addict' 12 characters is way excessive. How much character development, or interaction with the lead, can there be when there are 12 characters sharing a one room flat? As a result the only memorable things about them are their `animal' natures. These give them a simplistic personality, some past life fear to angst over and even some influence on their character design so we can tell them apart. Does it make them actually interesting as characters, do we want to know their past and understand their minds? nope, not really, there's simply not enough time or skill to develop 13+ deep and interesting characters.
But ultimately the real flaw has got to be weak design and average writing. There's no huge, obvious, flaws to pick on but it really doesn't work very well. The foundation is stupid and feels intensely artificial, the rate at which girls are added is insane and many of the story events are cliched and shallow. And what is meant to be `cute' ends up feeling mawkishly sentimental and really corny. It's got all the depth of a cheap greeting card. In reality this show is probably a lot more enjoyable if you watch it in raw Japanese, just watch the cute girlies and their expressions without having to realise how simplistic it all is. Even if you can cope with this I think most will admit there are a huge number of very similar, but far superior, shows out there.
Any chance of recovery for the show? Well, possible but unlikely I would suspect. I would imagine there is a `mystery' behind the maid realm, and some special background to the male lead, that will be revealed eventually. There's also some `darker' guy around who brings an element of threat to the story and sets up some interesting scenes, as well as trying to kill the main lead. Once again, these elements are absolutely standard for this sort of anime, and add no originality what so ever to the show.
The animation is nice enough in general with the occasional moment of quite attractive, high quality work. The backgrounds and scenery are noticeably solid and attractive, as is some of the motion. However the characters have been very carefully designed to be `cute', each with carefully styled appearance and accessories. This does work, but it also makes them look maddeningly familiar and quite artificial. It also breaks down a bit when they're in motion, I suspect they've been designed for cute `still' shots to help sell the series. The character linework is relatively simple and uninspired and the colors are bright and varied. Ultimately it's nice enough to watch but little to get excited over. The voices are decent but the roles are small and the music is cloyingly cute.
I couldn't find a review of this from any of my regular sources. Though I would be hugely surprised if any of them find some quality that I missed.